Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of January, 2017. In January 2017, Poland’s Central Authority for intercountry adoptions announced that the number of Polish adoption centers authorized to process international adoptions had been reduced from three to two. It is not known how this will affect the adoption process. Check with an agency that places from this country for the most current information.
There are no formal restrictions on parental age but in practice, parents must be at least 25 years old and no more than 40 years older than the child.
Length of Marriage
5 years. Parent can start the adoption process before they have been married for 5 years, so long as they have been married three years when they submit their dossier.
No country requirement, but some agencies may have a requirement. Some couples have found the Polish judges look unfavorably on divorce, and multiple divorces are problematic.
Children in Family
No official restrictions, although some preference is given to childless couples and agencies sometimes have difficulty placing with families that have more than 3 children. Adopted children must be the youngest in the household, although exceptions are sometimes made for special needs adoptions.
Parents should be in good physical and mental health, and not suffer from any infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis B. Parents with chronic conditions or who regularly take a prescription medication should contact an adoption agency with a Poland program to determine their eligibility. Families must show that they have current health and life insurance policies.
Single women are allowed to adopt children older than 10 years old or with severe special needs.
Healthy children 9 to 15 years old, children 2 to 15 years old with special needs and sibling groups of all ages. Sibling groups cannot be separated. Common specials needs include:
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Down Syndrome
- Speech Delays
- children who have been sexually abused
- Children with disabled parents
Boys and girls; parents may request a gender.
The dossier is submitted to both Polish adoption centers, which approve the parents and matches them with a specific child. The referral will include a medical history, pictures and other available information. Parents have 2-3 weeks to accept the referral.
Waiting Children:Lists of specific children are sent to adoption agencies by the Polish adoption centers. The children on this list will all have some sort of special need or medical diagnosis, be a sibling group, or an older child.
Travel in Country
1 long trip; approximately 6 weeks long. After accepting a referral, both parents travel to Poland for a 2 to 3 week bonding period with their child. At the end of the bonding period, the parents file a formal request to adopt the child with the Polish court. After the bonding period and the court hearing, either one or both of the parents may return to the US while the adoption is finalized or remain in Poland to continue bonding with their child. Polish courts have expressed a strong preference for at least one parent to stay in Poland during the finalization process. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for the adoption to be finalized. Once the adoption is finalized, one or both parents return to Poland to receive the immigration visa and escort their child home.
Wait After Referral
Parents travel 1 to 3 months after accepting a referral and the adoption is completed 5 to 7 weeks later.
Prevalence of FASD
FASD is the most common special need in Polish adoptions. According to a recent study, between 30-50% of children adopted from Poland showed signs of prenatal exposure to alcohol. However, a FASD diagnosis is almost never made in Poland 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
Good; parents receive several photographs and 2-3 pages of medical information, and can request additional test before accepting the referral. It is possible to have the child evaluated by an independent doctor during the first trip.
- There are two agencies in Poland that place children internationally: the Diocesan Adoption Center in Sosnowiec and the Catholic Adoption Center in Warsaw.
- It is not required that the adopting parents be Catholic, but it is viewed favorably by Polish agencies and there is a strong preference for Christian families.
- There is a great deal of variance between regions within Poland and with different judges in each region; therefore, choose an agency with experience in Polish adoptions.
- The Polish court can require that at least one parent stays in Poland for the entire adoption process, and have expressed a strong preference for at least one parent staying in Poland after the bonding period for attachment reasons. It is difficult for children to live with the adoptive parents for 2-3 weeks and then to have to return to their foster family or orphanage, and Polish officials would prefer for at least one parent to remain in Poland so they child can continue to bond while the adoption is completed.
- Children older than 13 must give their consent for adoption.
- Applicants of Polish heritage who speak Polish are given preferential status.
- It is customary, although not required, for adoptive parents to make donations of $300 – $500 dollars to the child’s orphanage, as well as a smaller donation to the adoption center that assisted in the adoption. Some agencies include these donations in the fee schedule.
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Image credit: Alberto Carrasco Casado