Formerly a Soviet nation, Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, resulting in economic instability and a rise in the number of children needing families. These children age out of the orphanage system at 16 years of age, and they are offered very few opportunities in their home country at that point. Most of the children available for adoption in Ukraine are older and very much in need of loving forever families.
Here, you can find everything you need to know to pursue an adoption in Ukraine.
Ukraine Adoption Quick Facts
- Hague Convention Country: No
- Adoption Authority: State Department for Adoptions and Protection of Rights of the Child (SDAPRC)
- Average # of U.S. Adoptions per year: 400-600
- Average cost of adoption: $30,000-$40,000
- Expected travel time for adoption: 3-5 total weeks
Who Can Adopt in Ukraine?
Families who want to adopt from Ukraine must meet United States and Ukraine adoption requirements. An outline of these requirements is listed below.
Adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old and 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt. In previous years, parents could not be more than 45 years older than the adopted child, but that requirement has been removed.
Ukraine accepts adoption applications from married couples.
Ukraine does not have an income requirement in numbers, but you must be able to show proof of a steady income and ability to support a child.
Who Can Be Adopted in Ukraine?
Ukraine has standards that children must meet to be deemed adoptable. If a child is listed in the SDAPRC database as adoptable, then that means all of the standards have been met. The specific criteria for eligibility can vary from case to case.
In general, families who adopt from Ukraine should be open to an older child adoption. Most of the children available for adoption are between 7 and 15 years old. Younger children may be available for adoption if they have older siblings.
Because the United States is a Hague Convention country, many steps of your adoption will follow the Convention standards even though Ukraine is not a Hague country. You must also meet all of Ukraine’s requirements during the process, the steps of which are outlined below.
How Long Does it Take to Adopt in Ukraine?
Compared to other countries, adoption in Ukraine can take place relatively quickly – sometimes less than a year. A basic adoption timeline and breakdown of times is listed below:
- Home Study: 2-3 months
- Dossier Preparation and USCIS Approval: 6-8 weeks
- Ukraine approval and invitation to travel: 3-6 months
- Travel and adoption: 4-8 weeks
- Obtain a visa and return home: 2-3 weeks
In the following sections, you can find the basic steps in the Ukraine adoption process.
How do I find An Adoption Professional?
Although Ukraine is not a Hague Convention Country, your U.S. adoption professional will still be Hague-accredited in compliance with U.S. law. A few of the agencies that complete adoptions in Ukraine include:
- CCAI Adoption Services
- Nightlight Christian Adoptions
- MLJ Adoptions
- Children of All Nations
- All God’s Children International
- Small World Adoption Agency
View our state and city adoption resources to determine if there are any international agencies near you.
How do I Become Eligible to Adopt?
In order to adopt from Ukraine, you must complete a Hague-compliant home study and apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be found eligible to adopt. To do this, you must fill out the Form I-600A to send in with your dossier. Be sure to work closely with your adoption professional to ensure that all your documents are properly notarized and authenticated.
From there, USCIS will approve your documents and send them on to the SDAPRC in Ukraine. Once you have been approved by Ukraine, you will be invited to travel to the country, and upon arrival, you will receive a referral letter. This will allow you to visit an orphanage and find a child.
What Do I do After I Receive a Referral?
After you have received approval from both the United States and Ukraine, you will be ready to travel. There are three main stages of the adoption that you will need to complete in Ukraine:
- Have an appointment with the SDAPRC and identify a child
- Appear at court hearing and complete the adoption
- Obtain birth certificate, passport, and other final documents
You can complete these steps in one, two, or three trips, though it is most commonly done in two. The first trip always includes locating a child for adoption.
When you have your appointment with Ukrainian authorities and receive your referral letter, you may visit an orphanage. Under Ukrainian adoption guidelines, you may only make three appointments to look at children’s files and make a selection. If you have not chosen by the third appointment, your dossier will be returned to you.
If you do identify a child for adoption, you can move on to the adoption process, and you will have 2-3 weeks to prepare for your hearing. Some families choose to spend this time in Ukraine, while others return home until the date of their court hearing.
After you have gone through your court hearing and officially completed the adoption, there may be a 10-day waiting period before you can prepare to bring your child home. If the judge issues this waiting period, you can either return to the United States or remain in Ukraine until the process is over. In this case, only one parent will be required to make the final trip.
In the final steps of your trip, you will need to apply for a birth certificate and a Ukrainian passport for your child, which will then allow you to apply for your child’s visa. Once you have obtained these documents, you will be free to bring your child home.
How Do I Finalize My Adoption?
After you return home, you may be required to finalize your adoption in the U.S. if it was not officially completed in Ukraine. For families whose adoptions were not completed in Ukraine, finalizing the adoption upon your return is mandatory.
If you completed your adoption in Ukraine, then it is still recommended that you go through the formal re-adoption process, which will make it easier for you to obtain documents for your child and will secure his or her citizenship.
Following the completion of the adoption process, Ukraine requires you to send post-adoption reports annually for the first three years, and then every three years until the child turns 18 years old. In Ukraine adoptions, the adopted child remains a Ukrainian citizen until he or she is 18, at which point he or she can decide whether or not to maintain citizenship.
Financing Your Ukraine Adoption
Adoption costs in Ukraine can vary greatly depending on the agency you choose, how many times you travel, and how long it takes you to be matched with a child. Below, you can find a basic range of costs:
- Home study – $1,000
- Application and documentation – $2,000-$2,500
- Travel – $9,000-$15,000
- Agency Fees – $4,000-$10,000
- Foreign program fees – $5,000-$10,000
- Post-adoption applications and fees – $1,000-$1,500
For more detailed information on finances, speak to an adoption specialist. You can also talk to your specialist about whether or not you could qualify for international adoption loans and grants.
Ukraine Travel Tips
While traveling to Ukraine, you are subject to both Ukraine and United States laws. In order to avoid any complications, you may want to become familiar with Ukraine laws and customs as they pertain to travelers.
Some other facts to keep in mind for your trip include:
- Ukrainian law allows the police to stop you and check your identification documents at any time. For this reason, you must carry your passport at all times. If you are stopped by the police for an unknown reason, you are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy.
- There are many licensed currency exchange booths throughout the major areas of Ukraine, and you can easily exchange your U.S. dollars for Ukrainian hyrvnya. Be sure to keep any receipts you obtain while in Ukraine, as you will need them to exchange any extra hyrvnya back for U.S. dollars.
- If you are traveling to Ukraine for fewer than 60 days, you are permitted to drive using your U.S. driver’s license. Drivers and pedestrians alike should take caution in larger cities like Kyiv, where traffic can be heavy and sometimes dangerous.
If you have any other questions, speak to your adoption professional or view additional information from the Department of State.
Where is the U.S. Embassy?
As an international traveler, you should always keep the U.S. Embassy contact information on hand. Here, you can find where to contact the U.S. Embassy Kyiv:
Address: 4 A.I. Sikorsky Street, 04112 Kyiv, Ukraine
Phone: +(380) (44) 521-5566