Poland is a lesser-known destination, for a long time overshadowed by more popular Russia and Ukraine programs. As a Hague program, it offers stability and transparency of the process, even more valuable today in light of Russia’s moratorium. At a first glance, Poland might appear to be more selective when it comes to adoptive families requirements, preferring younger families of Catholic faith and/or Polish heritage, with no prior divorces and smaller families. However, exceptions are routinely made when it comes to special needs or hard to place waiting children.
Polish children reside in state orphanages and foster care. Many older children attend regular public schools, receiving more exposure to family life through their friends and classmates. Polish authorities take a very child-centered approach to their adoption process and require 2-3 weeks bonding period to ensure successful placement.

Central Adoption Authority of Poland is the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, which delegates international adoption placements to three National Adoption Centers (NAC)s. Two of these centers are Catholic and have strong preference for Catholic adoptive families, while the third one is non-denominational. Please see U.S. Department of State overview for more details.

Status

Although our Polish program is new, our partner attorney in Poland has been handling international adoptions for years and will represent AAC families with the same professionalism and joy.

The Children

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 5 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 Caucasian, of Slavic descent.

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 Poland, dossier includes USCIS 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 Poland. There, it is translated into Polish, authenticated and delivered to the NAC. After the dossier is processed and registered, NAC 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, parents apply for final pre-approval through USCIS for the referred child. Once a bonding periods is set, the family travels for 3-4 weeks to Poland to get acquainted with their kid(s) and stand a court hearing. After court, there is a 21 day waiting period, which might be shortened or waived by the judged (though not very likely). After the waiting period is over, one of the parents (or both) can travel to pick up the child and complete immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.

In U.S., parents are asked to register their child with the Polish 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.

Timeframe

Adoptions from Poland may take anywhere from 9 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.

The Cost

Polish adoption program is on average more affordable than those of other former Soviet Republics. While it involves substantial travel expenses and resulting missed work income, the benefits of a stable and relatively quick adoption program might outweigh higher total program cost.