25 Factors to Consider When Adopting From Latvia
Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of February, 2017. 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 25 years old and at least 18 years older than the child.
No country requirement, but some agencies may have a requirement.
+ Medical Restrictions
Parents should be in good physical and mental health. Families with a history of health or mental health issues should contact an adoption agency about their specific situation.
+ Children Available
Healthy children 9 to 16 years old, children with severe special needs 2 to 16 years old, sibling groups of 3+ children.
Boys and girls; parents may request a gender.
+ Referral Method
The Ministry for Children, Family and Integration Affairs (MCFIA) matches the parents with a specific child. The referral includes medical information and pictures of the child.
+ Travel in Country
3 trips; approximately 3 to 4 weeks, 2 to 3 days and 1 week long. Both parents are required to travel on the first trip, but only one must make the second and third trips. On the first trip, the parents are granted temporary custody of their child and spend 2 to 4 weeks living together in an apartment or house (not a hotel) to begin the bonding process. During this period, a social worker will visit the family to observe the relationship. At the end of the bonding period, the parents attend the orphan court hearing to proceed with the adoption. The court can grant the parents guardianship, which allows the child to return to US with their parents until the final court hearing. One or both parents return 2 to 3 months later to attend the court hearing to complete the adoption. The adoption is final 20 to 30 days and one or both parents return to Latvia to apply for an immigration visa and escort their child home.
+ 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 Latvia 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.
+ Post Adoption Reports
Required annually for 2 years. Reports must be prepared by a social worker or adoption agency and include a Latvian translation.
+ Additional Information
- Latvian adoption law requires that a parent-child relationship be established between the parents and the child before the final court decision is made. This is done by sharing a household in Latvia for period of time determined by each orphan court on a case-by-case basis. In the past, this time period has been as long as 6 months. Recent laws, however, have allowed orphan courts to shorten the bonding period to their discretion, and parents are now only asked to spend 2 to 4 weeks in Latvia.
- Parents must register their child with the Latvian Embassy within one month of arrival to the US.
- Depending on their region, children will speak Latvian and sometimes Russian. Many children over 10 years old take English as a foreign language.
- Latvia uses a non-discriminatory queue system, meaning all referrals for a specific age group are assigned in the order the dossiers are received. However, due to the limited interest in older and special-needs children sought, any dossiers for such children are processed immediately and given priority.
- If parents are granted guardianship and bring their child back to the US after the first trip, the child enters on a tourist visa, which means they cannot attend school or daycare until after the adoption has been finalized.
- If parents are granted guardianship and bring child older than 12 years old back to the US before the adoption is finalized, they must return with their parents for the second and third trips. If the child is younger than 12 years old, they are only required to return on the third trip.
- By Latvian law, adoption becomes final 20 days after the court, and this waiting period is practically never waived.
- The child must agree to the adoption. While it is not common, older children sometimes have second thoughts and will not agree to be adopted.
© 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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