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25 Factors to Consider When Adopting from Russia

Also available in a printable version

 

As of February 2013, the situation in Russia is highly unstable. Please visit the State Department for more the latest information.

 

As of July 2011, the US and Russia have signed a bilateral adoptions agreement to help strengthen and safeguard adoptions between the two countries. This agreement will help protect the interests of all parties involved in intercountry adoptions. The agreement will create a better framework for adoption between the United States and Russia and largely eliminate independent adoptions from Russia. To find out more: Please visit the Department of State's FAQs on the Agreement and the Department of Homeland Security's FAQs on procedural implications. More details of the Bilateral Agreement can be found here.

Also, please refer to Creating a Family's radio show episode on the subject.

This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency that places from this country for the most current information.

 

Parental Age

Russia has no specific age requirements, but generally agencies have found that Russian judges expect the mother to be no more than 45 years older than the child; there are exceptions depending on the region. In general, Russia doesn’t make an issue of the father’s age.

Length of Marriage

No country requirement, but some agencies and some Russian judges impose a requirement

Divorce

No specific requirement, but some Russian judges have not looked favorably on more than 2 divorces per person

Children in Family

No restrictions in most regions; income must be sufficient to support. Typical guidelines are $10,000 in income per family member.

Single Applicant

  • Single women are allowed to adopt and in a few regions, single men may adopt.
  • Must show above-average financial resources.
  • Look for evidence of extended family support and opposite-gender role models.
  • Singles must submit a psychiatric evaluation.
  • More documents in dossier required of singles.

Sexual Orientation

Does not knowingly place children with homosexuals.

Children Available

9 months to teens at time of referral; special needs also available; sibling groups

Race/Ethnicity

Caucasian; some Asian, some of Roma (gypsy) heritage, and other minorities

Gender

Girls and boys; families may request gender in most regions and with most agencies; usually longer wait for girl

Adopting more than one unrelated child at same time

Allowed by Russia, but not be some agencies.

Travel in Country

  • Many regions now require 3 trips, although it is possible in a few regions to still make only 2 trips. Check with your agency about the regions where they work.
  • With some regions, only one parent need travel on 1st trip.
  • Both parents must be present for court date on 2nd or 3rd trip.
  • 1st trip is 3 -7 days, depending on region. 2nd trip approximately 4-5 days. 3rd trip 7-10 days.
  • Parents usually do not travel in groups.

Referral Method

Standard, semi-blind, or blind; referrals are assigned by regional governmental agency

Wait for referral (after dossier submitted)

  • A great deal of variation exists between agencies and regions within Russia; therefore, ask your agency.
  • Infant and toddler girls: 6-24 months
  • Infant and toddler boys: 2-10 months
  • Older children, sibling groups or special needs: varies, but usually shorter wait

Wait after referral

  • A great deal of variation at this time; therefore, ask your agency.
  • Wait between trips varies greatly due to court schedule and region; ask agency current wait for your region

Approximate Cost

$50,000-$60,000, including travel

Youngest Age Upon Arrival Home

9-12 months

Orphanage/Foster Care

Orphanage. Quality varies considerably.

How children enter government care

Relinquishment, removal, and abandonment. Removal more common than in many other countries due to abuse and neglect, often related to alcohol.

Prevalence of FAS

The Creating a Family radio show has addressed Fetal Alcohol Syndrome extensively in the following shows:

  • Creating a Family show with Dr. Julian Davies, one of the world’s leading experts on FASD and adoption
  • Interview with Dr. Dana Johnson, the founder of IA medicine and the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota. The show was on how to spot red flags in a referral, but we discussed FAS at length. Dr. Johnson reported that they were not seeing an increase in FAS as some predicted with the increase in domestic adoptions in Russia.

Alcoholism is a serious social and medical problem in countries of the former Soviet bloc. The IA doctors interviewed reported seeing a higher incidence of FAS in Russia than with other placing countries. One report estimates the FAS rate in Russian orphanages as 8 times the worldwide average; approximately 15 per 1000 births (Aronson 2003b). One recent large study of all the orphans (234) in the baby homes of the Murmansk region of Russia found that over 50% had a high to intermediate score (13% high, 45% intermediate) on an assessment tool suggestive of prenatal alcohol exposure, and showed significant developmental and growth delays compared to the other orphans in these baby homes (Miller et al. 2006). Russian orphans are at an increased risk for FAS and FASD.

Adequacy of medical reports

  • Fairly good. Some diagnoses may be confusing to western trained doctors, but International Adoption doctors are well versed in interpreting.
  • Lab results are fairly accurate.
  • Can usually get growth records over time.
  • Usually little birth family or prenatal history available.
  • Usually not much developmental data.
  • Additional data and testing may be available if not too costly.
  • You can hire a western-trained doctor to visit the orphanage and evaluate the child.

Program

Stability

Variable

Number of children placed in the US 2002- 2008

32,231

Growing/Declining

Decreasing

Post Adoption Reports

Required at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months after returning home. Must be prepared by a home study agency. Occasionally a judge will require additional post adoption reports to be prepared by the family.

Hague Treaty

Russia signed the treaty, but has not taken the steps necessary for the treaty to be in force; therefore, the Hague rules do not apply.

Additional Information

1. Low birth weight common.

2. Small head circumference common.

3. Adoptions finalized in Russia.

4. Adoptions vary considerably between regions within Russia, just as adoption laws vary considerable between states within the US. Interpretation of adoption laws can vary with different judges within the same region. Different agencies work with different regions, so if you don’t qualify to adopt with one agency, check with a different agency that works in different regions.

5. Russia accredits agencies that are allowed to place children for adoption. The US Embassy in Russia maintains an up to date list of accredited agencies. A similar list is also available at the US State Department site.

6. Certain medical and psychological illnesses of adoptive parents may preclude adoption. Discuss any issues with agency at the beginning.

7. Many Russian judges now require adoptive parents to submit a psychological evaluation as part of the dossier.

8. Many regions require both parents to receive a medical exam by a panel of 8 specialists in Moscow at the beginning of trip 2.

9. There was a Creating a Family show devoted to discussing adoption from Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

Useful Links

US Department of Russia Adoption Information at http://adoption.state.gov/country/russia.html

Joint Council on International Children's Services www.jcics.org, click on country information

Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption www.frua.org. Active forum.

Eastern European Adoption Coalition www.eeadopt.com

Creating a Family Sponsors

Nightlight® Christian Adoptions

Spence-Chapin Adoption Services

 

 

© Creating a Family

Available from www.CreatingaFamily.org, a nonprofit providing education and resources for adoption and infertility. Please do not reprint without giving credit to Creating a Family and a link to the website.

 
 
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