Bulgaria Adoption Information
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Process of Adopting from Bulgaria
IN COUNTRY PROVIDER: To place children available for international adoption, Hope International works with the Association for International Adoption and Reintegration (AMOR), which is a registered non-profit association in Sofia, Republic of Bulgaria.
TIME FRAME: To adopt the youngest child with no known special needs, you will likely wait five years for a referral. If you are open to adopting a child with an identified special need, the wait for a referral will be shorter but the time frame depends on the how open you are to different issues and what age child you are willing to adopt. If you are matched with a “waiting child” your adoption can be processed in 12-18 months. This may happen in the frame of 6-8 months if you are already signed in the register of candidate adopters and already have submitted a full dossier in Bulgaria.
THE CHILDREN: Children available for adoption in Bulgaria are of Roma, Turkish, and Bulgarian heritage. The youngest children available for international adoption from Bulgaria are 18 months old. There are many older children, of whom many are a part of sibling groups, and children with special needs currently available for adoption.
Process of Adopting from Bulgaria – Hague Convention country
As with all of our adoption programs, you must first participate in a general information meeting prior to contracting with the agency. This can be done via telephone for families who reside outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Once this meeting has taken place, and you have signed our contracts and paid the initial agency fees, we immediately begin working on your home study, foreign dossier, and USCIS approval. Our agency strives to offer the fullest level of support and services possible – even sending for apostilles and document authentications on your behalf in order to complete your adoption dossier in the quickest manner possible. While there are many aspects outside of our control with adoption and foreign adoptions in particular, we have found during our years of experience that our hard work on things we can control – paperwork, preparing and authenticating dossiers, etc. – usually quickens your overall adoption process.
1. Completion of an international home study – For families that live in Texas Hope International will conduct the home study. If you live outside of Texas then we will assist you to find an Agency to conduct your home study. Hope International must supervise this agency which must meet the standards for a Hague approved supervised provider. Your final USCIS approval is contingent upon the recommendation for approval given by your home study agent. Your completed home study is valid for 12 months. An update will be necessary annually until a child is placed in your home and if your living circumstances change prior to your adoption; such as change in employment or residence. You are also required to obtain at least ten hours of pre-adoptive training. We will assist you with referrals for this training.
2. Apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – USCIS must pre-approve you as potential adoptive parents in regards to an international adoption. Hope will assist you by submitting an I-800A petition to USCIS on your behalf once your home study is completed. USCIS has to approve your ability to provide proper parental care for a child and then will issue your adoption approval in the form of an H-797. Your USCIS approval will be valid for 18 months, and your fingerprints will be valid for 15 months.
3. Completion of a dossier – Once you have completed the home study and submitted your petition to USCIS then you are ready to work on the remainder of your dossier documents. Your dossier consists of all the documents necessary for processing your adoption in the foreign country of operation. Hope will assist you as you gather all the necessary documents. We will go over the preparation of your dossier in detail and will send all your documents for authentication as needed. Most dossier documents require authentication through notarization and some of them need an apostille. Once you receive USCIS approval then your dossier is ready to go to Bulgaria for translation, legalization and submission to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). You will be given a dossier number. Our staff is available to answer any questions you have regarding the dossier. The dossier completion time-frame is up to you; however, you are not eligible for a child referral until the dossier is completed, and in Bulgaria.
*For a waiting child adoption, the parents may be matched with a child, after submission of an Application, Letter of Support by the Primary Provider, Declaration, and Concluded Contract with the Foreign Supervised Provider. After approving the application for a specific child, MOJ gives a 6-month term for presenting the Home Study – reflecting the specific needs of the selected child, immigration approval with the characteristics of the specific child, as well as all necessary documents for submission of the full dossier in Bulgaria.
4. Child referral – Once your dossier is complete and you have received notification of your USCIS approval; you are ready for a child referral. During the home study process you will have clarified the type of child you feel most equipped to parent. It is important to be honest in identifying the type of child you would like to adopt. It is helpful to take an inventory of your child preferences and to prioritize the most important characteristics (i.e. – sex, age, health status, etc.) Please be advised that if your list of criteria is too restrictive, you may significantly narrow your referral options.
The issuance of a referral depends on your child characteristics and can take several months if you are open to a variety of special needs, to several years for minor special needs, to five years for a child with no known special needs. Translated referrals come in the form of a medical abstract, complete with pictures, and (occasionally) video, as well as Certificate under art.17/c/ from the Hague Convention, which represents the agreement by the Minister of Justice of Republic of Bulgaria to adopt the specific child. Medicals often include birth information (weight, height, head, and chest circumferences), Apgar scores, availability information, medical diagnoses, and other updated measurements. Information regarding birth parents is minimal, if available at all.
We will require you to have the information evaluated by a doctor skilled in evaluating international adoption referrals. You will also be given the un-translated documents so you can obtain your own translation if you desire. Once your doctor has given you their evaluation of the child’s referral information you will notify us if you are comfortable proceeding with an adoption of this particular child. Barring extenuating circumstances and based on the child’s need for a more immediate response, you will have at least two weeks to consider the referral information.
5. Acceptance of a referral and travel
Trip One: If married, both parents must travel. Once you have accepted a child referral, you must travel to Bulgaria within two months of receiving the referral information to spend five days with the child. If you decide to move forward with the adoption of this particular child you will sign acceptance paperwork and return to the US. The Ministry of Justice can then approve your application after US Embassy in Sofia issues Letter Article 5, which represents agreement for continuation of the adoption procedure under art.17 from the Hague convention by US side. For such issuance US Embassy have to receive the approval I-800 form ex-officio from DHS and also to receive filled form DS-230 and the document with the case and invoice numbers. After presenting Letter Article 5 in MOJ, the Minister signs an agreement for the adoption of the specific child and this agreement is being forwarded to the Sofia City Court.
Trip Two: Once the decision from the Bulgarian court comes in force, then travel arrangements will be made for you to return to Bulgaria for your visa interview at the US Embassy in Sofia. The time between trip one and trip two will vary depending on a variety of circumstances (such as the time necessary for receiving I-800 and respectively Letter Article 5) – you can tentatively expect 3-5 months between the two trips. Only one parent is required to make this second trip –the non-traveling parent must authorize him/her with a notarized Power of Attorney, to represent both of them in all procedures during the contact, signing documents and immigration procedures for visa.
The second trip will be a minimum of 12 days. The Bulgarian passport is usually received within three days after submitting the necessary documents. After receiving the passport, visa medical exams are made in two of the certified hospitals in Sofia. The results of the examinations are ready in 48 hours. After receiving the full package with medical information from the clinic, a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy can be scheduled.
6. Preparing to Travel – You must have a valid US Passport and a Visa to travel to Bulgaria. Some immunizations are recommended by the CDC to travel to Bulgaria. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by an AMOR representative and led through each step of the adoption process.
Upon Returning Home
When you return home, and for the first 2 years following adoption, Hope International and your home study agency will provide post-adoption supervision as required by the State of Texas (or your state of residence) and Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Ministry of Justice requires four post-adoption reports, one every six months. Hope International or your home study agency will prepare these reports and forward them to Bulgaria. At the completion of the initial six-month post-adoption period, you will be ready to proceed with your Registration of Foreign Decree. Hope International will help facilitate this process for Texas families. If you reside outside of Texas, we recommend that you contact a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA) regarding the completion of a registration or re-adoption in your state.
Adopting from Bulgaria
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- You must be a U.S. citizen. If you are married, your spouse must also be either a U.S. citizen or in legal status in the United States.
- If you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old.
- Prospective Adoptive Parents must be at least 15 years older than the child.
- Bulgarian law does not specify a maximum age for adopting parents.
- Marriage Requirement: prospective adoptive parents can be a heterosexual married couple or a single person.