Ukraine Adoption Information
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Process of Adopting from Ukraine
PLEASE NOTE: Adoptions in Ukraine are not possible at this time due to the war with Russia.
IN COUNTRY PROVIDER: Hope International works with a local facilitator in Kyiv who handles all of the in-country processes. He has over 20 years of experience with international adoptions from Ukraine to the U.S. Either the facilitator or one of his regional facilitators will travel with the family to all government appointments and court and collect all the necessary documents for court and the U.S. visa appointment. The facilitator maintains contact with all families in country until they return home when their adoption is completed.
TIMEFRAME: From start to finish can be about 12-24 months depending on the length of time it takes to complete the home study, receive USCIS approval, and submit the dossier. A home study can take 2-6 months; USCIS approval can take 2-4 months; dossier completion can take 2-4 months. The time from when the translated legalized dossier is submitted to the National Social Services (NSS) of Ukraine until a family travels for their appointment with the Ministry of Social Policy (Ministry) can be about 2-4 months if the dossier is approved on first submission. Then the in-country process can take 3-6 months to complete.
THE CHILDREN: Children are primarily of Caucasian descent and range in age from six years to teens unless they are part of a sibling group or have an identified special need.
As with all of Hope’s adoption programs, you must first participate in a general information meeting/phone call prior to contracting with the agency. Once this meeting has taken place and you decide to work with Hope International, you will submit an application. Next the Executive Director will prepare your contracting documents. Once you have reviewed and signed the contracts and paid the initial agency and service fees, Hope immediately begins working on your home study and USCIS approval. Hope 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 Hope’s control with adoption and foreign adoptions in particular, Hope has found during years of experience that hard work on things that can be controlled – paperwork, preparing and authenticating dossiers, etc. – usually quickens your overall adoption process.
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, Hope will assist you to find an agency to conduct your home study. Hope International will supervise this agency, and the agency must meet the standards for an exempted provider and use employees to conduct the home study. Your final USCIS approval is contingent upon the recommendation for approval given by your home study agency. Your completed home study is valid for 12 months; an update will be necessary annually until a child is placed in your home and is also required if your living circumstances change prior to your adoption, such as change in health or residence. You are also required to obtain a physical, at least ten hours of pre-adoptive training, and to have both criminal and child abuse background checks. Hope will assist you with referrals for this training and in obtaining the clearances.
Apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – USCIS must pre-approve you as potential adoptive parents regarding an international adoption. Hope International will assist you by reviewing and submitting an I600A application to USCIS with your completed home study. USCIS must approve your ability to provide proper parental care for a child. Your USCIS approval will be valid for 18 months, however, your fingerprints are only valid for 15 months and must be valid at the time of the child’s visa appointment.
Completion of a Dossier – Once you have completed the home study and submitted your I600A application to USCIS, 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 Ukraine. Hope International will assist you as you gather all the necessary documents. Hope 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 as well as an apostille. Once your dossier has been completed, Hope will forward it to our foreign facilitator who will translate the dossier and then submit it to the National Social Services of Ukraine, the central adoption authority in Ukraine.
Traveling to Ukraine and Child Match – You may be able to travel 3-5 months after completing your dossier. Because of Ukrainian law, pre-travel videos and photographs of children are not available. The Ministry maintains the database of adoptable children available for intercountry adoptions. If you are eligible to adopt, and the NSS approves your application, you will receive an appointment (invitation) to visit the Ministry. Both parents are required at this appointment unless special paperwork is submitted as part of the dossier. At this appointment, Ministry officials will show you three referrals (a referral is information about orphans eligible for intercountry adoption). If you are interested in learning more about one of the children, you will be issued a letter of referral to allow you to visit the orphanage to meet and establish contact with the child(ren) and request his or her medical records. You will travel with an escort/facilitator to the town where the child is located. You will decide whether to adopt a specific child only after seeing the child in person and reviewing medical and developmental information.
During this stage, you can choose to hire a doctor to visit the orphanage with you to assist in determining the child’s health and development, and you can also correspond with doctors in the U.S. via phone, fax, and email. Hope strongly encourages you to seek any and all available medical consultation available to you in assessing the child’s health and in making this important decision. Once a doctor has given you their evaluation of the child’s referral information, you will notify the Ministry and Hope International of your decision about adopting this particular child. You will have at least two weeks to consider the referral information, barring extenuating circumstances and based on the child’s need for a more immediate response.
If you decide not to pursue the adoption of the first child you visit, you may return to Kyiv and request another appointment with the Ministry. The Ministry will allow only three appointments for each adoptive family to look at the children’s files. If you have not chosen a child after the third appointment, your adoption dossier will be returned to you.
Adopting your Child in Ukraine – most adoptions now happen in 3-4 trips to Ukraine After choosing a child to adopt on the first trip, it could take 1 to 3 months to be given a court date. However, depending on many variables, it can take even longer. While you are waiting, if you choose to remain in Ukraine, you would be able to visit your child in the orphanage, or you may return to the U.S. to wait for the court date.
After court, the judge’s decision will not take effect for 30 days. During those 30 days, the adoption can be appealed; this 30-day period is almost never waived. If an appeal application is submitted, an additional 20-day period is granted for the appellant to file his/her complete appeal. This additional time can be shortened or waived by the court. After the court hearing you can decide if you want to stay to complete the adoption process, or you may choose to both return to the U.S. and one or both of you return in 5-6 weeks to complete the final paperwork for the U.S. Embassy to receive the child’s visa. This final trip could take about 2-4 weeks, or longer for a child over 14 years old.
Obtaining your Child’s Visa – To request a visa appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, there are many documents to gather. The facilitator must first obtain and translate the adoption decree and then apply for the child’s birth certificate and passport with your name as parents. While the facilitator will accomplish as much of the paperwork before you return to the child’s region, you as the parent may be required to pick up the birth certificate and to apply for your child’s new passport. If the child is over 14 years old, then he/she must first obtain a national ID before applying for the international passport. A police clearance is also required for older children. Once the child’s new passport is obtained, then you can complete the I-600 Petition and submit it to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. You will then complete the online DS-260 Visa form and submit it along with all required documents to the U.S. Embassy requesting an interview. Prior to the visa appointment, the child must obtain a visa medical exam at an approved clinic. The U.S. Embassy must receive the full package with medical information from the clinic prior to the visa issuance. Following the visa interview, you will be told when the child’s visa will likely be available for you to pick up. Once you have the child’s visa, you can schedule your return flight back to the USA.
Preparing to Travel – You do not need a visa to enter Ukraine for visits up to 90 days in any 180-day period for tourist or business purposes. However, you must provide proof of valid health insurance and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. Some immunizations are recommended by the CDC to travel to Ukraine.
Upon arrival in Ukraine on your first trip, you will be met by a VIP service to guide you through passport control. You will be assisted with your luggage and to get through customs where the facilitator will be waiting to take you to lodgings for the night. You will be led through each step of the adoption process.
Post-adoption Supervision – Upon returning to the U.S. with your child, adoptive parents must register their child’s Ukrainian passport with the Ukrainian Consulate in the U.S. within 30 days. Families must also submit post-adoption reports to the Ukrainian Consulate annually for the first three years and then every third year until the child is 18 years old. For the first six months following placement, Hope International or your home study agency will provide post-placement supervision as required by the State of Texas or your state of residence. At the completion of the initial six-month post-placement period, you will be ready to proceed with your registration of foreign decree or re-adoption so that you can obtain a local birth certificate. Hope International will refer Texas families to local family law attorneys. If you reside outside of Texas, Hope recommends 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, if needed.
- Certificate of Citizenship – Since adoptions are finalized in Ukraine, your child most likely traveled home on an IR-3 Visa, so you will receive the Certificate of Citizenship (COC) in the mail automatically within about 90 days. If your child is over 14 years old, he/she will have to attend a ceremony at a USCIS office and take an “Oath of Allegiance” in order to receive the COC. If your child traveled home on an IR-4 Visa, the adoption will have to be finalized in a U.S. court, and then you can apply for the Certificate of Citizenship.
Adopting from Ukraine
- You must be a U.S. citizen. If you are married, your spouse must also be either a U.S. citizen or have legal status in the United States.
- If you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old.
- You cannot currently be on probation or parole or have any pending criminal proceedings.
- Department of State now requires children immigrating to the S. to complete the COVID vaccine if it is available for their age.
- You cannot have a felony conviction against a person.
- You cannot have a child abuse referral with a finding of “sustained or unable to determine.”
- Only married couples can adopt.
- Under a Ukrainian law which came into effect on October 4, 2011, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old, and at least 15 years older than the adopted child
- There are no restrictions regarding the number of children already in the family’s home or the length of a couple’s marriage.
- Past criminal history, substance abuse, or mental health diagnosis or treatment of the prospective adoptive parents could be an issue for Ukraine and must be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
- To be eligible for international adoption in Ukraine, and to be matched with a child with no known medical, physical, or mental conditions: a child must be at least 5 years of age or have a sibling over 5 years old. Children under age five with special needs may be considered for international adoption. Prior to this age, children are registered with the government and available only for domestic adoption.
- Families may adopt more than one child at a time as long as they receive home study and USCIS approval to do so.