Step-by-step description of the process of adoption from Bulgaria:
The prospective adopters with habitual place of residence in Finland, who would like to adopt a child from another country, should turn to the Municipal social offices or to an accredited intermediary agency for intercountry adoption.
- The Finnish agency/ the Municipal social office send to “Family National Association” the dossier of the candidate-adopters, which includes all the documents required for their registration;
- Once the dossier has been received and translated, our team prepares a petition, which is filed to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice along with the candidate-adopters’ dossier. The candidates get inscribed in the register, which is a list of the waiting prospective adopters with active status. The inscription in the register takes place within a 2-month period following the receipt of the candidates’ documents at “Family National Association”, provided that the documents are in the legally required form.
- The waiting period for a referral starts from the moment the candidates get registered. The waiting period varies in each specific case. It depends on the characteristics of the children, who are available for adoption at the time (for instance, age, gender, health condition) and on the characteristics of waiting candidate-adopters (namely, their general preferences, desired age of the child, the number of waiting candidates).
- The Intercountry Adoption Council reviews the applications following the order of their registration and refers the children to the candidates who are suitable for them. Once a child is referred for adoption, a package of documents is prepared, which is referred to as “referral”. Those documents are provided to “Family National Association”, who arrange their translation and then send them on to the partnering agency/ the Municipal social office, who then provide them to the candidates. The package includes a referral certificate, a certificate with a full-length photo of the child and a detailed report about the child, which is prepared in accordance with Art.16 of the Hague Convention. The partnering agency/ the Municipal social office check if the characteristics of the referred child are correspondent to the prospective adopters’ profile. The documents as part of the referral are provided to the candidate-adopters only after the accredited intermediary has established that there is such correspondence. The adoption service provider consults the adopters and assists them in arranging consultations with medical specialists or other experts, if needed, as well as during the discussion regarding their decision about the adoption of the child referred to them.
- The next step is for the candidates to meet the child. The meetings with the child take place for 5 working days. During that time a specialist from our team accompanies the candidate-adopters and provides translation services and support to them.
- If the candidates refuse to adopt the child, the waiting period for a referral starts all over again. However, they could keep their position in the register in case they have not been informed about some significant health issues the child has, if the characteristics of the child referred to them do not correspond to the preferences they have stated, or in case they have applied to adopt a special needs child and subsequently they decided not to adopt that child.
- If the candidates want to proceed with the child’s adoption, they should sign the necessary paperwork, which is provided by “Family National Association”, and that usually happens while they are in Bulgaria. In order for the adoption procedure to continue, the Finnish accredited agency/ the Municipal social office or, by way of exception, the Central Authority of Finland (in cases where the Adoption Council has permitted for the adoption procedure to be performed without the participation of an accredited intermediary) has to issue their consent for the continuation of the procedure.
- After that the dossier is sent to the Sofia City Court. An attorney from our team represents the candidates before the court and performs all procedural actions by the time the court decree for the adoption becomes legally effective.
- Once the court decree becomes legally effective (7 days following the court hearing), “Family National Association” assist the candidates with obtaining a certificate of compliance under Art.23 of the Hague Convention, a new birth certificate and a passport of the child.
- The adopters should travel to Bulgaria so as to pick up their child and complete the process of passport issuance and obtaining permission for the adopted child to enter Finland. There are two options for gaining permission for the adopted child to enter and permanently reside on the territory of Finland: 1) The child enters the country with a Finnish passport issued by the Finnish Embassy in the sending country; 2) The child leaves their country of origin with an international passport issued by the sending country and enters Finland, accompanied by their adopters. Subsequently, the adopters file an application for permission for the child to permanently reside in the country. The permanent residence permit for the adopted child is issued by the Finnish Immigration Services.
- “Family National Association” should receive a total of 4 post-adoption reports regarding the child’s development and condition – each of them is to be sent at every 6 months, for 2 years following the admission of the adoption;
The prospective adopters with habitual place of residence in Finland should obtain the following documents in view of their inscription in the register of candidate-adopters with habitual place of residence in a foreign country:
- Permission for adoption - issued by the Adoption Board;
- Document, certifying that the candidate-adoptive parents have not been deprived of their parental rights - issued by the competent adoption service provider (the Municipal social office or the adoption agency);
- Home study report - prepared by a social worker at the municipal social office or by an employee of the licensed accredited agency who has appropriate qualifications. The report is valid for a period of 2 years, after which it should be updated. The report should also be updated whenever a significant change in the circumstances around the prospective adopters occurs;4. Updated Home study report or a document certifying the lack of any changes in the circumstances described in the report – the authority competent to issue this document is the same specialist who prepared the initial Home study report;
- Documents about the adopters’ health condition – issued by a Doctor of Medicine;
- Documents regarding the adopters’ criminal record - issued by the Legal Register Centre at the Ministry of Justice of Finland;
- Marriage certificate (for married prospective adopters) - issued in the form of a reference/extract from the Population Information System (Population register);
- Authorization of representation from the candidate-adopters to the Bulgarian accredited agency that represents them;
- Declaration of information from the candidate-adopters under Art.20, clause 10 of Ordinance No.2/24.10.2014;
- Declaration from the candidate-adopters regarding the characteristics of the child they would like to adopt and their motivation for adoption;
Requirements for Candidates
Requirements towards the candidate-adopters, as per the Finnish legislation:
Both single candidates and married couples can apply for adoption. Two people, who are not spouses, could not adopt a child together. Spouses could only adopt a child together.
An exception from the above-stated requirement could be made in the following cases: a/ whenever one of the spouses is adopting his/her spouse’s child; b/ whenever the candidate is adopting their own child, who had been adopted by another person before that; c/ whenever one of the spouses is adopting a child on their own in case that the other spouse could not validly express their will due to a disease or disability; d/ whenever one of the spouses is adopting on their own since the whereabouts of the other spouse are unknown. In the first two situations the legislation requires that the other spouse has given their consent for the planned adoption.
Adopters should have reached the minimum age of 25 years. Whenever the adoptee is a minor child, the adopters’ maximum age is 50 years. Exceptions from this rule are possible in the following situations: 1/ whenever the adopted child is the biological child of the adopter’s spouse or the adopter’s own child, who had been adopted by another person; 2/ a relationship that can be compared to the relationship between a child and a parent has been established between the adopter and the adoptee; 3/ there are some other reasonable grounds for the admission of the adoption, based on the child’s best interest. The adoption of a minor child can be permitted even when the adopter is 50 years old or above that age, provided that the adopter had not reached the age of 50 years at the time of receiving the referral for adoption.
The required age difference is the following: In cases of adoption of a minor child, the age difference between the adopter and the adoptee should be at least 18 years and should not exceed 45 years. The adoption could be permitted regardless of whether the age difference is greater or smaller than the above-stated whenever: 1/ the adoptee is the biological child of the adopter’s spouse or the adopter’s own child, who had been adopted by another person; 2/ a relationship that can be compared to the relationship between a child and a parent has been established between the adopter and the adoptee; 3/ there are some other reasonable grounds for the admission of the adoption, based on the child’s best interest.