Ukraine and Russia were previously united by a political
treaty for over 300 years until Ukraine regained its independence
in 1991. Although greatly influenced by Russia
throughout the years, Ukraine retained its unique language
and culture, as well as genuine warmth and hospitality of
its people. New Yuschenko administration places a specific
emphasis on children's rights and bright futures. Like
any nation, Ukraine is prioritizing domestic adoptions and
emerging foster care over international adoption. But
they also recognize the right of every child to have a
family, and give a chance to find new homes abroad to
children who weren't adopted or taken under guardianship in
over a year.
The unique aspect of
Ukrainian adoptions is its prohibition on photolistings and
pre-selection. Families are required to submit their
dossiers and travel to Ukraine to choose their
children. Some exceptions are made for older (over
7-10 years old) and special-needs children who became known
to families through missionary trips, hosting and other
adoptive families. These rules are designed to protect the
children and are strictly enforced: any agency or facilitator offering
healthy infants to foreign families are severely persecuted.
Central authority on adoptions is currently the State Department of Adoption and
Protection of Children's Rights (SDA) under the Ministry of
Family, Youth and Sports. Please see U.S. Department of State overview
for more details.
Although state adoption authority in Ukraine is being transferred to a new ministry,
adoptions continue to be processed without interruptions. A short hiatus is
possible in the future, but no long-term moratorium is expected at this time.
Children up to 16 years old are waiting for new homes,
though by recent regulations "healthy" kids are available for
international adoption only starting 5 years old. However,
many young kids with various degrees of special needs qualify
for an exception from this rule and sibling groups are intact,
allowing foreign families to adopt younger healthier kids with
their older siblings. Most kids
are of Caucasian heritage, primarily Christian
Orthodox. Depending on the region, children
speak Russian and/or Ukrainian. Many children
over 12 years old take English as a foreign
language. Starting Feb. 23, 2004 most families
are not allowed to adopt two or more unrelated
children. Cases of older and special needs
children will be considered separately. Parents
must be at least 15 years older than adopted
While in the U.S., prospective families are
required to prepare an adoption dossier (a set of
documents required for adoption processing by local
authorities abroad). For Ukraine, dossier
includes USCIS (former INS) permission to adopt
internationally, homestudy prepared by a licensed
agency or social worker and a number of documents
verifying family marital status, income, health
condition, criminal clearance, etc.
Once the dossier is completed, it is mailed to a
facilitator in Ukraine. The facilitator gets the dossier
translated into Ukrainian and submits it on the family's
behalf to the SDA. After the dossier is processed
and registered, the SDA invites family for an appointment
in Kiev. Except for special circumstances, both
parents must travel. During the appointment,
parents are given a non-binding referral for a
specific child or sibling group.
Parents then travel to the orphanage to meet the
child(ren). The family has a right to
refuse their referral for any reason and go back to the
SDA for a new referral. When looking for an
older child, parents may sometimes be presented with
other adoptable children in that orphanage (per
director's discretion). Once parents accept
their referral, the paperwork approval process begins and
a hearing at the local city court is scheduled. By the new Ukrainian law as of September 2005, the adoption
becomes final 10 days after the court.
During the wait, one of the parents may
leave Ukraine after signing the spousal power of attorney at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev. The other
parent would complete the final paperwork in the
region and return to Kiev to attend the exit interview at U.S.
Embassy and obtain the child's medical clearance.
Once in U.S., parents are required to register their
child(ren) with the Ukrainian Embassy within one month of
arrival. After that, parents need to submit
progress reports about the child's well-being to the Ukrainian
Embassy or Consulate. The reports are due once a
year for the first three years and then once every
three years thereafter until the child reaches 18
years old. No post-placement reports
done by a licensed agency are required.
On average, adoptions from Ukraine take anywhere from
6 to 9 months depending on how quickly families can
prepare their dossiers. Typically, it
takes 3-5 months to for dossier preparation, but
unexpected changes in SDA requirements and USCIS
delays might extend the wait time. Because of
the recent transfer under the new ministry, additional
delays may occur.
Although the length of stay in Ukraine is
unpredictable, most of our families adopting after the
10-day mandatory wait spent an average of 4 weeks in-country
completing their adoption.
Ukrainian adoption is relatively inexpensive
compared to many other programs in Eastern Europe. One
trip rather than two helps save on airfare, U.S. citizens no
longer need to pay for visas to Ukraine and progress reports
are done by the parents, thus sparing extra fees for
agency-conducted post-placement reports.