Top Ten Factors to Consider When Adopting from Ukraine

10 Factors to consider when adopting from Ukraine. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.
10 Factors to consider when adopting from Ukraine. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.

*Please note that during the current military crisis happening in Ukraine, the links to Ukraine’s governmental offices may or may not be accessible. We will post updates regarding the state of affairs from the US State Department here as the events continue to unfold.*

Updates from the US Department of State:

6//9/22 Update: Information for U.S. Citizens in the Process of Adopting Children from Ukraine. Per the US Department of State’s Ukraine Intercountry Adoption Information notice, adoption from Ukraine is impossible. (Previous updates from the US Department of State are also linked within this notice.)

1. The Parents

Applicants must be at least 21 years old to adopt from Ukraine, with one parent at least 15 years older than the prospective child. There is no maximum age difference requirement. The age difference is not considered if a relative is adopting a child. Only married couples can adopt from Ukraine unless the child is a relative, in which case single parents are considered.

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. Parents with a history of mental health issues should contact an adoption agency to determine their eligibility. Adults with parental rights or a previous adoption, guardianship, or foster care relationship terminated involuntarily are not eligible. Same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt from Ukraine.

2. The Family

There are no restrictions on applicant family size. There are no specific income requirements to adopt from Ukraine; however, the minimum household income must be 125% of the poverty guidelines established by the U.S. Health and Human Services.

3. The Kids

Children available through Ukraine adoption include those with special needs, ages five and younger; sibling groups ranging from 2 to 16 years old (one child must be older than five years); and healthy children from 6 to 16 years old. Special needs can range from minor and correctable to severe. For more specific needs, Ukraine maintains this list of what is considered special needs under Ukrainian law. The child must qualify as an orphan under U.S. immigration law to qualify as an orphan AND under Ukraine law requirements. In 2022, 44% of the adopted children were males and 56% were females.

4. The Process

Prospective parents will receive approval to proceed after assembling a dossier and submitting it to the Department for Adoption and Protection of Rights of the Child (DAPRC) through an adoption service provider. If parents are moving forward with a “blind referral” – meaning they have not pre-identified a specific, named child they are pursuing – then both parents travel to Kyiv to receive a referral and medical records for a child that meets their home-study approved profile.

Once a child has been identified, parents can travel to the orphanage to meet the child and review the medical records before deciding whether to accept the referral. If the parents turn down the referral, they return to Kyiv and receive a referral for another child. Families are allowed three possible referrals on that trip.

When 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 that 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. Once those documents are in process, the parents and child leave together to wait for the passport in Kyiv (usually 3-5 business days). While there, the American Embassy completes the medical exam and finalizes the remaining documentation for the child. The final step is obtaining an American visa that allows the child to enter the U.S. legally. Adoptions from Ukraine are usually finalized within a year of submitting the dossier.

5. The Travel

Ukraine adoption typically requires 2-3 trips, each about 2-3 weeks long, though occasionally, it can all be completed in two trips. Both parents must 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. If the adoptive family remains in the country during the 30-day waiting period, they can continue to visit their child at the orphanage. Once the waiting period is over, one or both parents return to Ukraine to finalize the process as mentioned above, obtain the child’s immigration visa and escort their child home.

6. The Program

The Ukraine adoption program is not part of the Hague Convention. In 2022, Ukraine placed 82 children for adoption. (These cases represent finalizations of processes that began before the war with Russia.) This total compares to 235 in 2021, 211 in 2020, and 298 in 2019.

The program fluctuates in stability, and the war with Russia is still significantly impacting the program.

7. The Cost

Ukraine is not a Hague-convention nation, so no Median Adoption Service Provider Convention Fee is documented in the State Department’s FYE 2022 Annual Report. However, according to country information data on the State Department’s Intercountry Adoption – Ukraine page, adoptive families report the cost to range from $10,000 to $40,000, considering documentation, adoption service provider fees, travel, and in-country lodging expenses.

8. The Needs

The special needs most common in Ukraine adoption range from minor and correctable to complex. Prospective adoptive parents should be prepared for various cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and environmental pollution. There are also concerns about a family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Alcoholism is a serious social and medical problem in many Eastern European nations. International adoption doctors have reported a higher incidence of FASD in Ukraine than in other placing countries. One report estimated the FASD rate in Ukrainian orphanages as eight times the worldwide average: approximately 15 per 1000 births (Aronson 2003b). Ukrainian orphans are at an increased risk for FAS and FASD.

For more specific needs, Ukraine maintains this list of what is considered special needs under Ukrainian law.

9. The Post-Adoption Reports

Upon returning home with the adopted child, Ukrainian adoption law requests that parents register the child with the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine. The process is detailed on the Embassy’s website.

Parents must provide post-adoption reports to the Consular Office of the Embassy of Ukraine annually, during the first three years following the adoption, and then once every three years thereafter until the child’s 18th birthday. Post-adoption reports should contain detailed information about the child/children’s development and family photos. The adoption service provider should provide a form, a template, or other guidance for a report’s content.

Creating a Family always urges families to comply with post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your cooperation contributes to the program’s stability and supports Ukraine’s history of positive experiences with US-citizen parents.

10. The Additional Resources

The following additional resources can help you learn more about adoption from Ukraine:

This information is current as of September 2023 and represents our best estimates and approximations. Depending upon your individual circumstances, even the widest ranges can vary greatly. Please always refer to your chosen adoption service provider for specifics regarding your process.

This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency approved to place from this country for the most current information.

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