Bulgaria is quickly becoming of the most popular adoption programs in Eastern Europe. In the past few years, adoptions out of Bulgaria have been steadily increasing and special-needs children have been put on a waiting list renewed on a regular basis. Prospective families are able to officially request additional information about these children prior to financial commitment. Families that prepare and submit their dossiers receive full referral including pictures and medical information prior to travel.
Bulgarian children reside in state orphanages, where they receive comparatively good care and prompt access to medical treatment when needed. Many older children attend regular public schools, receiving more exposure to family life through their friends and classmates. Their education also tends to be more academic than that offered in Russian and Ukrainian internats with in-house schooling. Bulgaria does not require a long bonding period between adoptive parents and children, but most orphanages are accommodating to extended daily visits by adoptive parents during their trip.
Ministry of Justice is the Central Authority in Bulgaria, which is part to Hague Convention on international adoption. MOJ licenses private agencies/attorneys to work directly with proper foreign authorities, in our case with American Hague-accredited agencies. Because of the Convention regulations, the process is transparent, stable and designed in the best interests of the children. While MOJ assigns referrals centrally, adoptions are completed through local adoption authorities and attorneys represent American families in Bulgarian adoption court. Please see U.S. Department of State overview for more details.
AAC has an established and repurtable adoption program in Bulgaria, we work with three MOJ accredited agencies in Bulgaria, each with an excellent track record and positive reviews from adoptive families.
Children from 1 to 16 years old are available for international adoption. However, healthy infants are usually adopted by local families. But there are a lot of healthy children over 3 or 4 years old and special-needs children waiting for their forever families. It may be possible to adopt a younger child with her older sibling in a reasonable amount of time. Siblings groups are available, but it is possible to adopt unrelated children as well. Most kids are of Roma descent, but there are some Caucasian children available as well.
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 Bulgaria, dossier includes USCIS (former INS) permission to adopt internationally, homestudy prepared by a licensed agency, and a number of documents verifying family marital status, income, health condition, criminal history, etc.
Once the dossier is completed, it is mailed to Bulgaria. There, it is translated into Bulgarian, authenticated and delivered to MOJ. After the dossier is processed and registered, MOJ issues an official referral with pictures and complete medical information for family’s review. About A Child does not withdraw a referral until the prospective adoptive parent(s) have had two weeks (unless extenuating circumstances involving the child’s best interests, including but not limited to, a sudden change in the medical condition of a child, the need for immediate medical treatment, or a decision by the country of origin not to permit the adoption, require a more expedited decision) to consider the needs of the child and their ability to meet those needs, and to obtain physician review of medical information and other descriptive information, including pictures of the child. If a family accepts the referral, a first family visit to Bulgaria is arranged. At this point, a family can no longer “lose” their referral to another agency or international adoptive family that might be interested in the same child.
At least one of the parents must travel on the first trip to meet the child(ren) and accept proposed referral. Upon arriving to Sofia, parent(s) will travel to the orphanage to meet referred child(ren) and visit him/her/them for 5 days, at which point a family decides whether to proceed with adoption or not. If a family decides to proceed, parent(s) can return home, while the attorney prepares the documents to be filed in court.
The court is held two to four months after parents’ visit, depending on the final adoption clearance received from the U.S. State Department. Parents don’t have to be present at court, our partner attorney will be representing them. After the court one of the parents (or both) can travel to pick up the child and complete immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia.
In U.S., parents are asked to register their child with the Bulgarian Embassy within three months of arrival. After that, parents are asked to submit four bi-annual reports about their child’s well-being, done by a licensed agency.
Adoptions from Bulgaria may take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years depending on the child(ren) requested. Older or special-needs children may be referred right away, while the wait for an infant may be over two years long. Typically, it takes 3-5 months for dossier preparation, but unexpected circumstances and USCIS delays might extend the wait time. Once the dossier is mailed to Bulgaria, it usually takes one to two months to be registered as prospective adoptive parents and be placed in the waiting queue. An average waiting time for a healthy referral 3 to 6 years old is currently estimated to be 12-18 months.
Bulgarian adoption program is on average more affordable than those of other former Soviet Republics. Most of all, it affords a convenience of a planned one-week stay (for one of the parents) for families with one parent on a tight work schedule.