Russian Adoption Information
following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting
a child in Russia and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to
come to the United States.
The adoption of a Russian child involves complex foreign and U.S.
legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each file careful consideration
on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both
countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive
parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens
are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Russia before
formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures
have been followed, which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue
a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.
CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION:
Recent U.S. immigration statistics reflect
the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans from Russia (IR-3 and
IR-4 visas combined)*:
*Immediate Relative (IR)-3 visas are issued to orphans adopted in Russia.
IR-4 visas are issued to orphans whose adoption will be finalized in the
Russian law requires
that a child must have been registered in the state database for children
left without parental care for at least three months before he or she
is considered eligible for international adoption.
The government office responsible for adoptions in Russia is the Ministry
of Education of the Russian Federation.
Ministry of Education
#6 Chistoprudny Blvd.
Tel: 7-095-237-9763 (Russian only)
Fax: 7-095-924-6989(legal office) 236-0171(main)
AGE AND CIVIL STATUS
REQUIREMENTS: Single parents can adopt a Russian child but there must be at least
16 years difference between the parent and adoptive child.
There are no residency requirements for adopting parents.
The average time for the adoption process was 5 months from the time BCIS
approved the petition to the issuance of the IV visa.
AND ATTORNEYS: Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research
any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services.
For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents
contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department
of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.
The U.S. Embassy in Russia has a list of agencies accredited by the Russian
authorities to provide adoption services. The list is available at the Russian adoption agencies.
U.S. Passport Service Guide cannot vouch for the
efficacy or professionalism of any agent or facilitator.
on interviews with adoptive parents by U.S. Embassy officials, the average
cost of an adoption is approximately $20,000.00.
Parents first apply to a regional Ministry of Education, which directs
them to an orphanage. Adoptive parents are required to travel to Russia
to meet prospective adoptive children. There they select a child and apply
to the court to get a court date. Adoptive parents may return to the United
States after applying for a court date. However, the prospective adoptive
child must remain in Russia during this time. Adoptive parents travel
a second time to Russia to attend the court hearing. After the court hearing,
they obtain the adoption certificate and a new birth certificate (showing
the child's new name, and the adoptive parents as the parents) from the
ZAGS (civil registration office), after which they can obtain the passport
for the child from the OVIR (visa and registration department). Parents
then can contact the Embassy to make an appointment to apply for the immigrant
visa. (Note: the child's passport will be issued in the child's new name,
which will appear in Cyrillic characters and in "English." However,
the Russian officials will transliterate the name from Cyrillic into English
and the result usually will not be spelled as your family spells it. For
example, Smith will be Smit (there is no "th" in Russian); Callaghan
will be Kalahan, etc. The fact that the child's name is "mis-spelled"
in the passport will NOT cause a problem when you travel and should not
be a cause for concern.)
RUSSIAN ORPHANS WITH THE MFA: Adopted Russian children must be registered
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before they leave the country. For
U.S. citizen families, this is done after an adopted child receives an
immigrant visa to the United States.
The Consular Section
of the MFA is open for the registration of adopted children
Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; on Friday - from 2 p.m.
to 4 p.m.
The fee for the registration
is $65 (the equivalent in rubles)
The following documents
are needed for registration:
1. Original of the
2. Copies of the parents' passports
3. Letter from the orphanage (orphanage release)
4. Letter from the Ministry of Education of Russia
5. Court decision
6. Adoption certificate
7. Immigrant visa of the child (original)
The following documents are required by the Russian court for an adoption:
1. Home Study
2. BCIS approval notice (I-171H or I-797)
3. Copies of prospective adoptive parents' passports
4. Marriage certificate/divorce certificate (if applicable)
5. Police certificate
6. Medical examination report
7. Financial documents: employment verification letter, bank statements,
8. Evidence of place of residence
All of these documents
should be translated into Russian and apostilled (see below for information
on authenticating documents).
parents identify the Russian child they should fill out the adoption application,
which can be obtained at the Russian court where the adoption hearings
will take place.
statements for the court hearings from the parents, which should be signed
in front of a Russian notary, are:
1. Prospective adoptive
parents have been informed about the health conditions of the child and
they accept them;
2. They will register their adopted child with the MFA; and
3. They will provide the Department of Education with periodic, required
post placement reports on time.
PROCESS: All U.S. documents submitted to Russian government must be
authenticated. Russia is a party to the Hague Legalization Convention.
Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates,
must bear the seal of the issuing office and an apostille must be affixed
by the state's Secretary of State where the document was issued. Copies
of tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should likewise
be authenticated. Prospective adoptive parents should contact the Secretary
of State for the state where documents originate for instructions and
fees for authenticating documents.
Documents issued by
a federal agency must be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State
Authentications Office. Their address is Authentications Office, Department
of State, 518 23rd St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-5002.
Fee: $5.00. For additional information, call the Federal Information Center:
1-800-688-9889, and choose option 6 after you press 1 for touch tone phones.
Walk-in service is available from the Authentications Office from 8 a.m.
to 12 noon Monday-Friday, except holidays. Walk-in service is limited
to 15 documents per person per day (documents can be multiple pages).
Processing time for authentication requests sent by mail is 5 working
days or less.
Russian Embassy in the United States
Embassy of the Russian
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
continues to be a concern in areas near the Russia-China border. Prospective
adoptive parents traveling to these areas are advise to read the State
Department notice on SARS
and the CDC Web site for the recent information on SARS.
Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which became effective on February
27, 2001, children automatically become U.S. citizens when all of the
following requirements have been met: at least one parent is a U.S. citizen;
the child is under 18 years of age; there is a full and final adoption
of the child; and, the child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant.
A foreign-born child who enters the United States on an Immediate Relative
(IR) -3 visa, the child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen that day.
A foreign-born child who enters the United States on an IR-4 visa and
is adopted in a U.S. court, will become a U.S. citizen when the adoption
is finalized in the United States (the child will be a legal permanent
resident until then).
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication
M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children,
as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.
The BCIS publication is available at the BCIS Web site. The Department
of State publication can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web
site under "International Adoptions" (see link below to return
to International adoptions page).
Specific questions regarding adoption may be addressed to the Consular
Section of a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Parents may also contact
the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747
with specific questions.
Information is also
available from several sources:
- Telephone -
Call Center -Toll Free Hotline: Overseas Citizens Services in the
Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/OCS) has established a toll free hotline
for the general public at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS hotline can
answer general inquiries regarding international adoption and will forward
calls to the appropriate Country Officer. This number is available from
8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday
(except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free
numbers, such as those calls from overseas, may obtain information and
assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.
- State Department Visa Office - recorded information concerning
immigrant visas for adoptive children, (202) 663-1225.
- Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services - recorded information
for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).
- the Consular Affairs section of the Department of States has a wealth of information on their Intercountry Adoption,
website. The site contains international adoption information
flyers and the International Adoptions brochure.
The information in this notice concerning the legal requirements of specific
foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions
involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be referred to
a local attorney.
Please plan to stay a minimum of three business days in Moscow to obtain
documents and complete the medical exams necessary for the immigrant visa
interview. Parents should calculate a five-day "cushion time"
in the validity dates they request when applying for a Russian visa. The
U.S. Embassy recommends that flight arrangements for departing Russia
not be finalized until the immigrant visa is issued.
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- Consular Information
Sheets - The State Department has general information about hiring
a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement
the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition,
the State Department publishes Consular
Information Sheets (CIS) for every country in the world, providing
information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions,
political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country
poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens
that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department
may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security
situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the
State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens
avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the
Internet at http://travel.state.gov.