PLEASE NOTE: Because of the January 1, 2013 ban placed by the Russian Duma on American families wishing to adopt from Russia, we are not currently accepting applications for this program
"And whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this
for My sake and in My name receives and accepts and welcomes Me. Matthew 18:5"
From June 1995 until January 1996 a moratorium on adoptions was instituted, the most significant result of which was the Federal Databank of adoptable children. In most cases, if a child is relinquished at birth at the local maternity hospital, he or she will then be placed as soon as is possible at the local orphanage (commonly called "baby home," a direct translation of the Russian, "dom rebyonka") for children up to the age of approximately 4 years old. The children are then transferred to a "children's home" (in Russian, "detsky dom") for older children.
Usually when a child reaches the age of 16, he or she will be released from the orphanage and the available statistics for such children are bleak, with many falling into lives of prostitution and crime; approximately 10 percent eventually commit suicide.
According to the laws that were enacted during the moratorium, children should be registered within 1 month of their arrival at the orphanage with the regional Education Departments that oversee all adoptions. They are then registered by the regional Education Department with the Federal Ministry of Education for 3 months, after which time international adoption becomes a possibility for any child who has not been adopted by Russian nationals. Usually it is not possible to adopt a child who is under 6 months old at the time of adoption. The accepted procedure at this time is to submit a family's initial registration documents with the regional Education Department in order for the family to be on the Department's waiting list. Depending on the region, the time on the waiting list will vary, but once the family reaches the top of the list the remaining documents of their dossier will be submitted for them and they will then be given the date for their first trip to Russia.
The first trip involves meeting and accepting a child who has been chosen by the Education Department officials for the family based on the information the family has included in their dossier. The first trip usually lasts one week. The family will then return home for approximately 4-6 weeks while the remaining paperwork is completed and a court hearing is scheduled with a regional judge. The second trip usually lasts 10 to 14 days during which time the court hearing will take place, the family will receive their child's new birth certificate and passport at ZAGS (the Russian Office of Vital Records) and OVIR (the Russian Office of Visas and Registrations) respectively, and they will then make their way back to Moscow with their child to complete the required medical examination at the designated clinic and the final interview to receive their child's immigration visa from the US Embassy. Each and every one of these steps is done with our help and assistance.
Adoption is not a popular idea in Russia. Most domestic adoptions are closed and not a matter of public information. Most children are not even told they are adopted. Many Russians believe they are "selling" their children, or that the children are used for organ transplant or other medical experimentation. They see the violence on television about America and wonder if it is a good idea to allow children to go there. Although the ban was imposed as a result of a variety of factors, several incidents that were widely reported in the Russian press were also prominent among the reasons cited by the members of the Duma. These included a 7-year old boy who was returned unaccompanied to Russia and the deaths of several Russian adoptees at the hands of their American parents
Needless to say, the balance is a delicate one. It must be fostered with love, diplomacy, and understanding. It is so important for the Russian people to be able to see the benefits of international adoption and what a wonderful gift of life that it is for the children. So as each of us goes to Russia to adopt, we must understand that we are an ambassador of good will and our "people to people" diplomacy will have an impact upon how adoptions will be handled in the future.
More information about requirements, as well as current notices can be found at the US Department of State country-specific webpage. US Customs and Immigration Service regulations and requirements can be found here.