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How to Adopt from Ukraine

Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle at night
Source: Wikipedia.org.

Adoption Authority

Ukraine's Adoption Authority

State Department for Adoptions and Protection of Rights of the Child (SDAPRC)

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Ukraine generally includes the following steps:


  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child in COUNTRY
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bringing Your Child Home


1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider:

The first step in adopting a child from Ukraine is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.


2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:


To bring an adopted child from Ukraine to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how. In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the country's requirements as described in the "WHO" tab.


3. Be Matched with a Child:

The SDAPRC, the central adoption authority in Ukraine, maintains the database of adoptable children available for both domestic and intercountry adoptions, and will help you meet and identify an eligible child to adopt. If you are eligible to adopt, and the SDAPRC approves your application, you will receive an appointment (invitation) to visit the SDAPRC. At this appointment SDAPRC officials will show you information about orphans eligible for intercountry adoption, and issue a letter of referral to allow you to visit an orphanage to meet and establish contact with a child, and check his or her medical records.


As of December 1, 2008 the SDAPRC will allow only three appointments to each adoptive family to look at the children's files. If you have not chosen a child after the third appointment, your adoption dossier will be returned to you immediately. You will need to submit a notarized statement to request a second/third appointment with your dossier to the SDAPRC and then they officially have ten business days to respond with the date of your second/third appointment. The SDAPRC also limits the number of adoption referrals issued to each family to two referrals.


Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.


The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Ukraine's requirements, as described in the "Who" tab. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.


4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Ukraine:

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Ukraine generally includes the following:


  • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The SDAPRC processes the documents submitted by the prospective adoptive parents and enters them into its database (within 20 working days). Upon approval of the application, the prospective adoptive parents receive an appointment to visit the SDAPRC to view information on eligible orphans for intercountry adoption and who are within the parents' specified age range. SDAPRC issues a letter of referral allowing the parents to visit an orphanage to meet and make contact with a child. In addition to the referral letter, the prospective adoptive parents receive their documents (bound, numbered, sealed, and signed by an official in charge of SDAPRC) along with a separate sheet specifying the number of pages and the prospective adoptive parents' registration file code. NOTE: SDAPRC officials will not meet with prospective adoptive parents who arrive without an appointment or on a day other than when their appointment is scheduled. Ukrainian law does not allow adoption intermediaries. No private interpreters or facilitators are allowed to interpret during the meetings between the prospective adoptive parents and the SDAPRC. The private interpreters can be used at later stages of the adoption process.
  • ROLE OF THE COURT: After the parents have identified and accepted a child for adoption, the file for the case is presented to a judge in the region where the child lives. The power to approve or deny an adoption lies solely with the judge, who bases his or her decision on a review of various case-specific documents during the court hearing. Adoptive parents must attend the hearing. If one parent cannot be present (e.g., major surgery, disability), a judge may permit the parent to provide a power of attorney to the attending parent. The judge's decision is announced and issued the day of the hearing. However, it will not take effect for 10 days. During the 10 days the adoption can be appealed. If an appeal application is submitted, an additional 20-day period is granted for the appellant to file his/her complete appeal. This additional time can be shortened or waived if the court finds that delaying the final court decision would be contrary to the child's best interests. Once the final decision takes effect, the adoptive parents have full parental rights and legal responsibility for the child.
  • TIME FRAME: Three to 12 months can pass between the prospective adoptive parents' submission of their application dossier and the SDAPRC appointment date. In addition, there is usually a three-to-four week wait between the initial filing of the adoption petition in the local court and issuance of the final adoption.
  • ADOPTION FEES: There are no Ukrainian fees except those for court filing, notarial, translation, and similar services. Adoptive parents of Ukrainian children have reported paying between $10,00and $40,000 USD to the adoption agencies for services. This payment has included lodging, transportation, authentication of Ukrainian documents, fees for expedited services, and interpretation/translation services. Note: Some adoptive parents have reported additional and unexpected fees after arriving in Ukraine. You are advised to inform the U.S. Embassy or the Department of State of any unexpected or seemingly inappropriate fees.
  • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The following is a list of the documents required for an intercountry adoption in Ukraine:
1. Home Study - Certificate of completed home study, issued by a competent authority in the prospective adoptive parents' country. If completed by a non-governmental entity, a copy of the license authorizing this entity to conduct home studies must be included. As of December 1, 2008, the home study should include the following:
A. to register the adopted child with the respective Consulate or Embassy of Ukraine (indicating the name and full address of the Consulate/Embassy);
B. to provide the adopted child with the opportunity to keep their Ukrainian citizenship until 18 years old;
C. to submit annual reports on the adopted child to the Consulate or Embassy of Ukraine at least once a year for the first three years after the adoption and once every three years afterwards, until the child's 18th birthday;
D. to provide an opportunity to the representatives of the Consulate/Embassy of Ukraine to communicate with the adopted child;
E. to inform the Consulate/Embassy of Ukraine about any change of address of the adopted child.
The home study must also include the recommendations regarding the number, age and health condition of the children that can be adopted by the prospective adoptive parents. The conclusion should clearly state that it is the agency/social worker's recommendation for this family to adopt this particular child or children, not just the family's own preference.
2. Form I-171H, Notice of Approval of Advance Processing, entrance and permanent residence permit for the adopted child.
3. Proof of Income, including bank statements, W-2 forms for the most recent six months or tax returns for the last calendar year, certified by the issuing authority or notarized, and a statement from the parents' employers indicating salary.
4. Home ownership/Rental Documents - A notarized copy of the document confirming ownership or rental rights of the adoptive parents for their house or apartment, indicating total and living area as well as number of bedrooms . *
5. Medical Information - A specific medical form must be completed. Although the form instructs parents to visit eight separate specialists, the parents may simply visit their family doctor. The doctor must complete the form in its entirety. The doctor must also include an official and authenticated statement that the parents are not drug addicts, and that they do not have syphilis or HIV/AIDS.
6. Two notarized copies of marriage certificate.*
7. Copies of the passports or other identification papers of prospective adoptive parents. If one prospective adoptive parent is not an American citizen, a copy of the Permanent Resident Card must be included.
8. "No criminal record" statement from a competent authority, attesting to his/her/their having no criminal record at the State level.
9. Registration Commitment - The prospective adoptive parents must commit, in writing, to register their child with the Ukrainian Embassy or Consulate in the United States within one month of the completion of the adoption. The parents also agree to complete the post-adoption progress reports. This document must be prepared in duplicate and should include the following commitments:
a. to register the adopted child with the respective Consulate or Embassy of Ukraine (indicating the name and full address of the Consulate/Embassy);
b. to provide the adopted child with the opportunity to keep their Ukrainian citizenship until 18 years old;
c. to submit annual reports on the adopted child to the Consulate or Embassy of Ukraine at least once a year for the first three years after the adoption and once every three years afterwards, until the child's 18th birthday;
d. to provide an opportunity to the representatives of the Consulate/Embassy of Ukraine to communicate with the adopted child;
e. to inform the Consulate/Embassy of Ukraine about any change of address of the adopted child. NOTE: The SDAPRC will not accept any notarized statements in place of W-2 forms or other proof of income, nor will they accept notarized statements or affidavits instead of the documents confirming property rights. On the date of submission of your documents to the SDAPRC, they should remain valid for at least six months. Documents are valid for 12 months from the date of issuance or notarization, except for the I-171H form, which is valid for 18 months. Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how .


5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Ukraine, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how .


6. Bringing Your Child Home:

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

Once the final decree has been issued, the local Vital Records Office (RAGS) issues the child a new birth certificate. In order to receive the revised birth certificate, parents must submit both the court decree and the child's original Ukrainian birth certificate. Parents should make a copy of the pre-adoption birth certificate because it will not be returned.

2. Ukrainian Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Ukraine.

After receiving the post-adoption birth certificate, the parents may apply to the Office of Visas and Registration (VVIR) for a Ukrainian passport for their child. Parents must present a written and notarized request that the travel document be issued. Along with the request, parents should provide the post-adoption birth certificate, final court decree, and four passport photos of the child. Issuance of the passport takes at least 10 days following the application submission.

Because the child's new name in the passport will be transliterated directly from Ukrainian into English, it may be spelled differently from how the parents would spell it in English. This difference should not cause concern as long as the child's name in Ukrainian on the travel documents is the same as in the court decree.

At the time the passport is issued, a special, mandatory stamp is put in it showing the child is departing Ukraine for permanent residence abroad. The stamp is called a "PMZh-stamp" for the words "permanent residence" in Ukrainian.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more .

NOTE: In Ukraine, the 10-day waiting period for the passport issuance is in addition to the 10-day waiting period following the final court hearing.


To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Back to Adopting from Ukraine

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