Step-by-step description of the process of adoption from Bulgaria:
The adoption procedures of candidate-adopters with habitual place of residence in New Zealand should always be facilitated by an accredited intermediary. The candidate-adopters should work with an accredited agency if they would like to adopt a child from a country of origin, for which the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services at the Ministry of Social Development of New Zealand does not provide intermediary adoption services, and for which the accredited agency is licensed to operate.
- The Central Authority sends 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 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. Upon receiving the referral, the Central Authority of New Zealand should first make an assessment and give their preliminary approval, before the referral could be presented to the candidate-adopters. The referral should be correspondent to the conditions under which the candidates have been evaluated as suitable and eligible adopters. The referral for adoption should be in the child’s best interest and the child’s characteristics should correspond to the candidate-adopters’ expectations and abilities. In case the Central Authority decides that the referral does not correspond to the candidates’ profile, they inform the adopters in writing and also include the motives for their decision. Following the Central Authority’s preliminary approval, the referral is sent to the candidate-adopters through the accredited agency that represents them. The Ministry of Social Development of New Zealand offers the services of a doctor, who could consult the prospective adopters if needed. The adopters could also seek the services of independent external specialists/pediatricians.
- 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 respective Central Authority of New Zealand 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 issuance of permission for the adopted child to enter New Zealand. The permission for the child to enter and permanently reside on the territory of the receiving country is issued by the Immigration services of New Zealand and the Department of Internal Affairs. An important requirement is for the children who are adopted by citizens of New Zealand to have been approved for New Zealand citizenship before traveling to the receiving country. There are two ways for an adopted child to enter the receiving country: 1/ with an international passport, issued by the country of origin, and a New Zealand visa allowing the child to stay in the country for up to 6 months, provided that the Department of Internal Affairs confirms that there are no apparent obstacles for the child to be granted New Zealand citizenship and the child’s birth certificate is presented, from which the adopters’ citizenship is evident; 2/ with a New Zealand passport, which could be issued only after the child has been granted New Zealand citizenship;
- “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;
Specific requirements regarding the documents for inscription in the register that are prepared for candidate-adopters with habitual place of residence in New Zealand:
- Permission for adoption – issued by the Central Authority of New Zealand in the form of an approval to adopt;
- Document certifying that the prospective adopters have not been deprived of their parental rights – the competent authority to issue such a document is the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services at the Ministry of Social Development of New Zealand;
- Home study report – prepared by a registered adoption social worker at the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services or at the accredited agency “Adoption First Steps”;
- Updated Home study report or a document certifying the lack of any changes in the circumstances described in the report – the authority competent to prepare such a report/document is a registered adoption social worker at the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services or at the accredited agency “Adoption First Steps”;
- Documents about the adopters’ health condition – issued by a Doctor of Medicine; The period of validity of the document has not been limited in any way.
- Documents regarding the adopters’ criminal record – issued by the Judiciary Department of the Ministry of Justice of New Zealand in the form of certificates of criminal record;
- Marriage certificate (for married prospective adopters) – issued in the form of an extract from the marriage registry of New Zealand;
- 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 candidate-adopters as per the New Zealand legislation: .
Both married couples and single candidates can apply for adoption. Married couples should meet the requirement about the length of marriage in case there is such a requirement in the child’s country of origin. Single candidates and same-sex married couples can apply for adoption in countries where their application would be accepted. The candidates should have reached the minimum age of 25 years and they should be at least 20 years older than the adopted child. If the candidates apply for the adoption of a special needs child, they should provide evidence for their ability to meet the child’s needs. Whenever the candidates already have a child/children in their family (regardless of whether the children are biological or have been adopted), they should meet some additional requirements: if the age of the child in the family allows that, the child should have an independent consultation so as to check his/her attitude towards expanding the family through intercountry adoption.