Bulgaria is one of the many countries that take part in the Hague Adoption Convention, which regulates international adoptions and protects the welfare of adopted children. In the last few years, international adoption in Bulgaria has increased, and there is always a need for families there. Many of the children available for adoption in Bulgaria are of Romani descent and face discrimination and a lack of opportunity in their country of birth. If you choose to adopt from Bulgaria, you can provide a loving home environment for a child in need of one.
If you think Bulgaria may be the right choice for your international adoption, then read on to learn more about the process.
Bulgaria Adoption Quick Facts
- Hague Convention Country: Yes
- Central Adoption Authority: Department of International Legal Child Protection and Intercountry Adoptions, Ministry of Justice
- Average # of U.S. Adoptions: 100-175
- Average Adoption Cost: $30,000-$40,000
- Average Adoption Travel Time: 2-3 total weeks
Who Can Adopt in Bulgaria?
Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, all adoptive parents must first meet the Hague eligibility requirements. Then, they must fit Bulgaria’s criteria for adoptive parents. The factors that play a role in your eligibility are listed below:
- Age: Parents must be at least 15 years older than the child they intend to adopt.
- Marital Status: Prospective parents can be either a heterosexual married couple or a single parent.
- Travel: Parents must spend at least 5 days in Bulgaria with the child before he or she can be adopted.
In some situations, you may encounter additional requirements regarding age or income. Contact your adoption professional for more details on their specific requirements.
Who Can Be Adopted in Bulgaria?
Children must meet the Hague Convention’s requirements for adoption eligibility, along with any additional requirements in Bulgarian law. In Bulgaria, children who are relinquished by their birth families first become available for domestic adoption. If they are unable to find a home in six months, then they become available for international adoption.
In all adoption cases, Bulgarian authorities must determine that international adoption is in the best interests of the child in question. They also give priority to special needs children, which they describe as children who are over 7 years of age or have significant medical needs.
Although the Ministry of Justice oversees adoptions in Bulgaria, you will not communicate directly with them for most of your adoption. Instead, your adoption agency will cooperate with an agency in Bulgaria, who will facilitate communications between you, your agency, and the Ministry.
Keep reading to learn about the steps of the Bulgaria adoption process.
How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child from Bulgaria?
The length of your Bulgaria adoption will be largely based on your adoption preferences. Healthy infant adoptions take significantly longer than other adoptions, and you may find yourself waiting years for a referral. On the other hand, there are many older children and infants with medical needs who are waiting for a family. Below, you can find an outline of the steps in the process and their average time frames.
- Choose a professional and complete a home study: 3-6 months
- Collect documents and be found eligible to adopt: 5-8 months
- Wait for a match: 2-12 months for special needs children, 2-3 years for healthy infants or toddlers
- First trip and adoption: 6-8 days
- Legal clearances and applications: 4-6 months
- Second trip and return home: 9-12 days
How do I Find an Adoption Professional?
If you adopt from Bulgaria, your adoption service provider will be cooperating with an accredited agency in Bulgaria. Agencies in Bulgaria are accredited by the Ministry of Justice.
Here, you can find a list of adoption agencies who work actively in Bulgaria:
- Carolina Adoption Services
- Children of All Nations
- International Family Services
- A Love Beyond Borders
- CCAI Adoption Services
- Bethany Christian Services
- Hand in Hand International Adoptions
- MLJ Adoptions
- Wasatch International Adoption Agency
How do I Become Eligible for Adoption?
To begin the adoption process, you will work with your chosen professional to begin compiling the documents you need and complete your home study. Then, you can file your Form I-800A with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). With this form, USCIS will determine if you are eligible to adopt by Hague Convention standards.
When you have received approval from USCIS, your adoption professional will send your information to a partner agency in Bulgaria, who will in turn file it with the Ministry of Justice. From there, your name will be placed on an adoption registry and you can begin the wait for a child referral. Because Bulgaria prioritized special needs adoptions, the wait for a healthy infant can be as long as four years. In the case of a special needs adoption, you may only wait a few months for a referral.
What do I Do After I Receive a Referral?
Once you receive a child referral, you must decide whether to accept or refuse the referral and respond accordingly. While there are no limits on how many times parents can decline a match, doing so can significantly delay the adoption process. Within two months of receiving a referral, you must either notify the adoption authorities of a refusal or travel to meet and adopt the child.
If you choose to accept the referral and prepare to travel, the first thing you must do is apply for the child to be eligible for immigration. To complete this step, you will apply again to USCIS, this time with the Form I-800. Then, after receiving approval from USCIS, you can complete and submit the visa application form (DS-260) for your child.
At this point, you will be able to take your first trip to Bulgaria to go through the formal adoption process. If you are adopting as a couple, then both parents must be present for this trip. After spending five days with the child, you will appear in the Sofia City Court, who will issue you an adoption decree. Then, you can obtain a birth certificate and passport for your child, which will take 3-4 weeks.
How do I Complete My Adoption?
Once you have received your child’s birth certificate and passport, you will be one step closer to obtaining approval for your child’s visa. You will need to make a second trip to Bulgaria a few months after your first trip to obtain the visa and bring your child home. In very rare cases, someone may travel on your behalf to pick up your child. Most of the time, however, both parents must make the second trip. This trip can take a little over one week.
Upon returning home, it is also recommended that you complete a re-adoption as a safeguard to protect your child’s rights as a United States citizen. Following your return home and some post-placement reports, your adoption in Bulgaria will be complete.
Bulgaria Adoption Costs
Your Bulgaria adoption will most likely cost between $30,000 and $40,000. Adoption professionals charge and break down their costs in different ways, so speak to your particular professional for details. Here, you can find an estimate of the primary types of adoption expenses in Bulgaria:
- Agency/Program Fees: $10,000-$12,000
- Home Study and Post-Placement: $3,000-$5,000
- Documentation and Authentication: $2,000-$3,000
- Travel: $8,000-$12,000
- Additional Third Party Fees: $1,000-$4,000
There are many ways to finance your Bulgaria adoption and achieve your dream of growing your family. Your agency will work with you to plan your budget and let you know what to expect. You can also apply for international adoption grants and loans, which you can learn more about in our international adoption expenses information.
Bulgaria Travel Tips
When you travel to Bulgaria to adopt, you may be unsure of what to expect in terms of culture and customs. Here are some suggestions to help you have a safe and happy travel experience:
- Because Bulgaria is still primarily a cash economy, it will be beneficial for you to carry cash on your during your trip.
- Public transportation, especially in populated areas of Bulgaria, tends to be old and very crowded. For both of these reasons, buses and trams may not be easily accessible. Fortunately, taxis are affordable and easy to find.
- Many museums and other sights in Bulgaria offer free or very cheap admission, so you will likely have many options for exploring if you have the time during your trip.
U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria
Whenever you travel abroad, you should keep the U.S. Embassy contact information on hand. Below, you can find the information for the U.S. Embassy Sofia:
Address: 16, Kozyak Street, Sofia 1408, Bulgaria
Phone: +(359) (2) 937-5100