Hungary is one of Eastern Europe’s most developed countries, with stable economy and politics. It is a member of both European Union and NATO. It has a good social welfare system that provides well for children left without parental care in both orphanages and foster homes. Although Hungarian government makes sure all basic needs of these children are met and they receive excellent care and good education, nothing can replace forever families that every child needs. Surprisingly, there have been very few American adoptions from Hungary up until now. One of the reasons may be a comparatively difficult adoption process that requires significant time commitment from the adoptive family. Hungary requires foreign adoptive families to spend at least a month fostering a child before adoption can be finalized. This allows for longer bonding time in a child’s familiar environment, easing his or her consequent adjustment to the new home and culture. Overall, the Hungarian adoption process is probably the most child-centered and family-oriented in Eastern Europe, ultimately designed to ensure each adoption is a positive match between parents and child.</p>

Although both U.S. and Hungary are now part to the Hague convention on international adoption, the central adoption processing authority, Ministry of Human Resources, Department of Protection and Guardianship of Children prefers to place children with European families that have strict post-adoption oversight from their equivalent of Social Services rather than private agencies. Please see U.S. Department of State overview for more details.

Status

About A Child has closed its Hungarian adoption program at this time due to lack of interest.  Long in-country stay, limited availability of preliminary information about waiting children and unpredictable wait time for the referral were the main reason for prospective doptive parents contacting About A Child to decide on another adoption program.

The Children

Children from 1 to 16 years old are available for international adoption. However, healthy infants are usually adopted by local families. Although in 2013 the Central Authority has removed its dossier acceptance restrictions, they still encourage apprlication from families looking for school-age kids or large sibling groups or open to some special needs; families looking for healthy toddlers may wait for several years for a referral. Some kids are Caucasian, but there are also a lot of Roma children with beautiful olive skin and dark hair.  Please note that Hungary respects children’s birth order and only refers children that are younger than the youngest child in the family.

The Process

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 Hungary, 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 income, health condition, psychological condition, etc.

Once the dossier is completed, it is mailed to Hungary. There, it is translated into Hungarian, authenticated and delivered to the Central Authority. After the dossier is processed and registered, Central Authority forwards the documents to the local child guardianship authority TEGYESZ (former GYIVI). TEGYESZ issues an official referral with video 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 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 video of the child if available. If a family accepts the referral, an I-800 form(s) for child(ren) being adopted must be filed with USCIS.  Once USCIS approves I-800(s) and U.S. Embassy in Budapest issues Article 5 Letter, an adoption trip to Hungary 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.

Due to the structure of the Hungarian adoption process, AAC allows families to formally accept referral before meeting the child(ren).  Both parents must travel to bond with the child(ren) and finalize their adoption. Upon arriving to Budapest, parents travel to the orphanage or foster home to meet the child(ren). Upon acquaintance, parents are required to rent an apartment, a small house, or any other family-type dwelling (not a hotel) where they will live for the next four weeks together with the child as a family. This time allows both parents and child(ren) to begin the bonding process and ensure a positive family match has been made. During the bonding period, the family has the right to disrupt their adoption process for any reason and go back to the SZMM for a new referral. Within two to three weeks, the family will be visited by a social worker who assesses how well things are progressing: if both parents and child(ren) want to proceed with the adoption, s/he makes a recommendation approving adoption to a local guardianship authority.  An adoption hearing is held (often informally) by a local judge. There is no waiting period afterwards.

After the adoption hearing, one of the parents may leave Hungary after signing the spousal power of attorney at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. The other parent would wait for child’s new documents to be issued, complete some final paperwork in the region and return to Budapest for an exit interview at U.S. Embassy and the child’s medical clearance.

Within a year’s arrival to U.S., parents need to submit two progress reports about their child’s well-being to the Central Authority .

Timeframe

Adoptions from Hungary may take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years depending on the child(ren) requested. Although regulations restricting dossier submissions to older, special-needs kids, and large sibling groups have been lifted, Central Authority still warns there are very few younger healthier kids available and it may take several years to receive such referral.  Adoptions of kids over 8, children with disabilities or large siblings groups can typically be completed within 12-18 months. 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 Hungary, it usually takes one to two months to be registered as prospective adoptive parents and one to seven months after that a family might expect to receive their referral.

The length of stay in Hungary is quite predictable, about four weeks on trip 1 and 2 weeks on trip 2, though one of the parents may leave soon after adoption hearing on trip 2 while the other parent stays behind with the child.

The Cost

Hungarian adoption is very affordable, especially to families able to take long vacations or FMLA leave at work. It costs only slightly more to adopt more than one child, and American families adopting siblings groups may cover their expenses entirely through the IRS tax credit.