The Republic of Serbia is a beautiful Balkan country in the heart of Eastern Europe. Serbia is a part of the Hague Convention on International Adoption and Protection of Children. Serbia has worked hard in the past few years to reconstruct their orphanages and institutions and to ensure that children living in state custody are receiving the best care possible. They have implemented many new policies and procedures and provided additional funding for state run orphanages and institutions to ensure that all children are well provided for while in government care.
Serbia has a very active domestic adoption program and an equally active foster care program. On average, fewer than 10 kids are adopted internationally each year, and all of these children have moderate to severe special needs. The Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran, and Social Issues (MLEVS) is the central authority of international adoptions in Serbia. Please see U.S. Department of State overview for more details.
Although About A Child has completed a couple of adoptions in the past, we have not received serious inquiries from qualified families willing to adopt children with severe special needs without without any preliminary information prior to submitting a dossier. About A Child has received accreditation/registration from MLSP in 2012, but have not received any applications for Serbia since that time. Therefore, we have closed the program for the lack of demonstrated need.
Due to Serbia’s commitment to domestic adoption, children that are placed on the international registry are children with special needs or (very rarely) older children that are outside the desired age range of adopting families in Serbia. Infants and young healthy children are not available for international adoption from Serbia. Children with special needs can be adopted as young as 1 year old and are eligible for adoption until they reach the age of 16. Children available for adoption will be of either Serbian or Roma decent. Most children in Serbia reside in children’s homes, where they receive medical care, therapy and the opportunity to go to school & receive specialized instruction. Some children with special needs are in foster care and available for international adoption.
Families wishing to adopt a child from Serbia must first submit a family profile for consideration to adopt from Serbia to ensure they meet Serbia’s requirements. Once a family receives pre-approval, they may begin working on the adoption dossier. Once the dossier is complete, it is mailed to Serbia. It is translated by our facilitation team and submitted to the central authority for review.
After the dossier is reviewed and approved, a family is issued a date to travel to Serbia for an appointment to review the child’s file and be issued the official referral. Both parents must travel to Serbia for the referral meeting. Upon receiving a referral, parents travel to meet the child and start daily visitations for about 10 days. The bonding process is overseen and documented by orphanage staff and/or adoption officials. Once observation reports are submitted by the ministry, a date for the adoption ceremony will be scheduled. Typically, the adoption ceremony takes place toward the end of week 2 in country. There is no court proceeding in Serbia. On the day that the adoption will be finalized, parents will travel to the child’s birth city to participate in an adoption ceremony at the social services center. After the ceremony, parents will obtain the child’s new birth certificate while in the birth city.
Children adopted from Serbia will keep their birth name and have their last name changed to that of the adopting family. Families wishing to change the child’s name will have to do so by readopting the child in the US. Once the passport is obtained, parents will complete the immigration process at the US Embassy in Belgrade. Children adopted from Serbia will enter the US on an IR-3 visa and immediately obtain citizenship upon arrival in the US.
Once in U.S., parents need to submit progress reports about the child’s well-being to the Serbian Embassy or Consulate. Four reports are due No post-placement reports done by a licensed agency are required.
Adoptions from Serbia can move very quickly. Children listed in the international registry will be immediately referred once the dossier arrives in Serbia. About A Child’s facilitation team has completed adoptions in as short of a time frame as 4 months from commitment to adopt through homecoming. The average adoption takes 6-9 months to complete. Serbia’s vacation and holiday schedule must be factored in to adoption time lines. Serbia does not process adoptions during the summer vacation months. This typically means that families will not be invited to travel from July-September. This can add additional wait time to the adoption time line.
Serbian adoption is relatively inexpensive compared to many other programs in Eastern Europe. One trip rather than two helps save on airfare, U.S. citizens don’t need to pay for visas to Serbia and progress reports are done by the parents, thus sparing extra fees for agency-conducted post-placement reports.