25 Factors to Consider When Adopting from Ukraine

Click on each factor to learn more. Current as of July, 2018. 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 and at least 15 years older than the child.

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

+ Sexual Orientation
Does not knowingly place with homosexuals

+ Medical Restrictions
Parents should be in good physical and mental health. Parents currently on medication for a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are not eligible to adopt. Families with a history of mental health issues should contact an adoption agency to determine their eligibility.

+ Children Available
Healthy children 6 to 16 years old, children with special needs of all ages and sibling groups.  Special needs can range from minor and correctable to severe; Ukraine maintains a list of what is considered special needs under Ukrainian law.

+ Race/Ethnicity
Caucasian; some children are of Roma (Gypsy) heritage

+ Gender
Boys and girls; parents may request a gender.

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

+ Referral Method
Blind referral. Once the Department for Adoption and Protection of Rights of the Child (DAPRC) approves the dossier, both parents travel to Kyiv and receive a referral and medical records for a child that meets their general criteria. Parents are able to meet the child and review their medical records before deciding whether to accept the referral. If the parents turn down the referral, they return to Kyiv and are given a referral for another child. Families are allowed 3 possible referrals.

Once a family has accepted a referral, the adoption petition is filed with the court in the child’s region. The adoption decree is approved in a hearing approximately 3 to 4 weeks later. Both parents must be present for the court hearing. There is a 30-day waiting period after the hearing, at which point the adoptive parents have full parental rights. Once the adoption is final, the parents apply for the child’s new birth certificate, passport and US visa. The process typically takes 1 to 2 weeks but might take up to twelve weeks.

+ Travel in Country
1 long trip approximately 8 to 10 weeks long or 2-3 shorter trips each 2 to 3 weeks long. Both parents are required to travel on the initial trip and for the court hearing, but one or both can return to the US after filing the adoption petition or during the 30-day waiting period. Families can continue to visit their child at the orphanage if they choose to stay in Ukraine during the waiting period. Once the waiting period is over, one or both parents return to Ukraine to apply for an immigration visa and escort their child home.

+ Wait For Referral (After Dossier Submitted)
Families receive their appointment with DAPRC 2 to 3 months after submitting their dossier and actually travel 3 to 4 weeks later. Adoptions from Ukraine are usually finalized within a year of submitting the dossier.

+ Approximate Cost
$30,000 – $35,000 + travel

+ How Children Enter Government Care
Relinquishment due to poverty and social stigma and lack of support for single mothers; removal; abandonment. Removal is more common than in many other countries due to abuse and neglect often related to alcoholism.

+ Prevalence of FASD
Alcoholism is a serious social and medical problem in countries of the former Soviet bloc. International adoption doctors have reported a higher incidence of FASD in Ukraine than with other placing countries. One report estimated the FASD rate in Ukrainian orphanages as 8 times the worldwide average; approximately 15 per 1000 births (Aronson 2003b). Ukrainian orphans are at an increased risk for FAS and FASD. For more information about FASD in Ukraine, listen to the following Creating a Family radio shows:

+ Adequacy of Medical Reports
Good; some diagnoses may be confusing to western trained doctors, but IA doctors are well versed in interpreting Ukrainian medical records.  The medical information provided during the referral meeting is usually limited, but there are more in-depth medical and development records at the orphanage.  Parents are allowed and encouraged to have the child examined by an independent doctor before accepting a referral.  Lab results are fairly accurate and parents can usually get growth records over time.  There is usually very little birth family or prenatal history available.

+ Post Adoption Reports
Required annually for 3 years, then every 3 years until the child is 18.

+ Additional Information

  • Adoptions are finalized in Ukraine.
  • Child must be registered with the Consular Office of the Ukrainian Embassy within one month of returning home.
  • Child must maintain dual US/Ukrainian citizenship until age 18 when child can decide to drop the Ukrainian citizenship.
  • The Ukrainian Adoption Authority (SDAPRC) has the right to refuse to register your dossier if, at the time of the dossier’s submission to the SDAPRC, the central database of Ukrainian children available for intercountry adoptions does not contain any children complying with the recommendation in your home study. Given the statistics published by the SDAPRC, there are currently no healthy children (or children with minor, correctable health problems) under three and very few under six years old. Therefore, if you are recommended for a healthy child or a child with minor/correctable health problems under six years of age, the SDAPRC is very likely to refuse even to accept and register your dossier.
  • As of July 2014, the Universal Accreditation Act requires all American adoption agencies, whether they work with Hague countries or not, need to be accredited under the same standards that apply to Hague Convention adoption cases.  This has the potential to effect adoptions from Ukraine, including kinship and independent adoptions.  Listen to this Creating a Family show for more information on how the Universal Accreditation Act will effect international adoptions.
  • While there is no law requiring a specific income for an applicant family, the husband does have to hold a job and the household income must be a minimum of 125% of poverty guidelines published annually by the Department of Homeland Security.

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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.

Image credit: Luba Petrusha

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