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  • 25 Factors to Consider When Adopting From Bulgaria

    bulgarian adoptions

    Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of December, 2015. This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency that places from this country for the most current information.

    + Parental Age
    Parents must be at least 21 years old (25 years old if a single applicant). The younger parent must be between 15 and 50 years older than the child, and the older parent must be between 15 and 55 years older than the child. There is greater flexibility for parents adopting an older child or a child with special needs.

    + Length of Marriage
    No country requirement, but some agencies may have a requirement.

    + Divorce
    No country requirement, but some agencies may have a requirement.

    + Children in Family
    Allowed, although preference in referring healthy young children is given to families who have 2 or less children. There is greater flexibility for parents adopting an older child or a child with special needs. Parents may be required to provide documentation of sufficient resources to support another child.

    + Medical Restrictions
    Parents should be in good physical and mental health.

    + Single Applicant
    Single women are allowed.  Single men are allowed on a case-by-case basis, although not all agencies will work with them.

    + Sexual Orientation
    Does not knowingly place with homosexuals.

    + Children Available
    Healthy children 2 to 16 years old, children with special needs of all ages. Sibling groups are common, although keep siblings groups together is not always a high priority. The Bulgarian government is specifically focusing on placing older children and children with special needs, and very few healthy infants or toddlers are placed.

    + Race/Ethnicity
    Most children are of Roma (Gypsy) or Turkish decent.  There are occasionally children of Bulgarian heritage, but they are usually special needs.

    + Gender
    Boys and girls; parents can request a gender.  There are more boys available than girls, and boys have shorter wait times.

    + Adopting More Than One Unrelated Child at the Same Time
    Allowed, but some agencies may have restrictions.

    + Referral Method
    There are two types of referrals in Bulgarian adoptions. In main procedure adoption, the MOJ approves the dossier, the parents are placed on the Registry for Foreign Adoptive Parents, and are matched with a child by the International Adoption Council. Once a referral has been made, parents have 2 months to accept it, during which time they must visit Bulgaria and meet the child. Parents receive photographs and information about the child, including medical records and a social, developmental and general background report, with the referral.

    Parents who are requesting a specific Waiting Child submit a mini dossier to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and if they are found suitable, the child is removed from the Waiting Child database while the parents submit the full dossier. Once the MOJ reviews the full dossier, they issue a referral for the child almost immediately. Parents that are already registered with the MOJ can request a Waiting Child at any time.

    + Travel in Country
    2 trips, approximately 5 to 7 days and 9 to 12 days long. Only one parents is required to travel, but it is strongly recommended that both parents make at least one of the trips. The first trip must take place within 2 months of receiving the referral or it is revoked. Parents meet the child, and if they choose to accept the referral, paperwork is filed with the MOJ at the end of the trip. The second trip takes place 4 to 6 months after the first trip, once the adoption has been completed in Bulgaria. Parents apply for the immigration visa, take their child to a medical appointment at an Embassy approved clinic and escort their child home.

    + Wait For Referral (After Dossier Submitted)
    4 years for a healthy child 2 – 4 years old, 18-24 months for a relatively healthy child between 4 and 8, less than 12 months for older children (7+ years old), children with special needs and sibling groups. The wait is significantly shorter for families open to adopting a Waiting Child, child with special needs or a sibling group. Families select a specific Waiting Child via their agency’s or the Ministry of Justice’s Waiting Child database and are approved for that specific match, bypassing the wait for a referral.

    + Wait After Referral
    4-6 months after the first trip

    + Approximate Cost
    $22,000- $29,000 + travel

    + Youngest Age Upon Arrival Home
    24 months, but the majority of children are 5+ years old

    + Orphanage/Foster Care
    Primarily orphanage, although Bulgaria is in process of closing their orphanages in favor of family style group homes and foster care.

    + How Children Enter Government Care
    Abandonment due to social stigma and lack of support for single mothers, poverty and cultural acceptance of abandonment; relinquished due to birth defects or other anomalies diagnosed at birth.  Most of the children available for international adoption were relinquished or abandoned at birth and have not been removed from the home due to abuse and neglect.  

    + Prevalence of FASD
    Not enough placements to get a consensus from IA doctors interviewed.  However, alcoholism is a serious social and medical problem in countries of the former Soviet bloc and IA doctors report seeing higher incidences of FAS in former Soviet bloc countries.  An FASD diagnosis is almost never made in Bulgaria or included in a child’s medical files, although some children are diagnosed once they have been adopted.  For more information on the prevalence of FASD by country, listen to the Creating a Family show with Dr. Julian Davies, pediatrician with the University of Washington FAS Clinic, the longest standing FAS center in the US. 

    + Adequacy of Medical Reports
    Limited; theoretically all information is shared with parents, but some agencies report that children sometimes have had undocumented surgeries.  Misdiagnosis of conditions is also common.  Limited information is known, especially pre-placement in the orphanage.  The orphanages tries to include information about the child’s daily routine, likes, dislikes, etc.  

    + Post Adoption Reports
    Required at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.  Reports must be prepared by a social worker or adoption agency.

    + Additional Information

    • Foreign adoption agencies must work with an accredited foundation in Bulgaria for placement of children, and American agencies that have a Bulgarian adoption program operate in partnership with a licensed Bulgarian adoption agency.  The US Embassy in Sofia maintains a list of licensed agencies, but this list is not up to date.  Make sure that your US agency is working with a licensed Bulgarian agency.
    • Bulgaria defines “special needs” as children with significant health issues or a child over seven years of age.
    • Access to orphanages in Bulgaria is not open to continual visitation.  Before you accept your referral, you will be allowed into the orphanage to visit with that child, but after this visitation, parents will not be allowed to visit without the specific permission of the Ministry of Social Welfare that oversees the orphanages.
    • Children are listed on the registry for domestic adoption if they are officially relinquished or abandoned by the parents.  If no Bulgarian family adopts a child from the domestic registry within six months of listing, the child is entered into the registry for international adoptions, maintained by the Ministry of Justice.
    • The US Embassy in Sofia states “approximately 80% of the children adopted have had medical conditions.” Unexpected developmental, emotional, and physical delays are common. Prospective adoptive parents should be well educated in post-institutional issues.
    • Bulgaria will not accept families with a history of criminal activity on their FBI check; however, a DUI may be accepted if it is at least 5 years prior.

    © Creating a Family

    Available from www.CreatingaFamily.org, the national adoption and infertility education and support non-profit. Please do not reprint without giving credit to Creating a Family and a link to the website.

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