Step-by-step adoption procedure in Bulgaria:
- The US agency will send us the dossier with all the required registration documents.
- Once the dossier has been received and translated, our team will submit it to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice along with an initial application. Then, the candidates will be enrolled in a Register, which is effectively a waiting list for adoptive parents. This enrolment should take place within 2 months of FNA receiving the documents, provided they are in the proper form.
- The waiting period for a child referral is counted from the enrolment in the Register and will vary in each case. The timeframe depends on the children currently available (e.g. age, gender, health condition) and the candidates on the waiting list (overall preferences, desired age, number of candidates).
- The Adoption Council will review applications by order of enrolment, and will match candidates to appropriate children. Once a referral has been made, the “Child Referral” pack of documents will be received by FNA and will be translated and passed on to the candidates. It will include a Child Referral Certificate, a full-length photo and detailed report about the child.
- The next step is for the candidates to meet the child. This will take place in the course of 5 working days, during which a specialist from our team will accompany and provide support to the candidate-adopters.
- If the candidate-adoptive parents refuse to adopt the child, the waiting period starts over again. However, they may keep their place in the line if they have not been informed about significant health problems of the child, if the referred child’s characteristics clearly do not match the family’s initial wish and in case the candidates have applied for a child with a special need and have subsequently decided not to adopt them.
- If the candidate-adoptive parents agree to adopt the child, they will have to sign the relevant documents given by FNA – usually while here in Bulgaria. A member of our team will then go to the US Embassy in Sofia for a provisional VISA interview. They will present the necessary documents proving that the adoption meets all requirements under the Hague Convention. Subsequently, a certificate of consent for proceeding with the adoption (“Article 5” Letter) will be issued by the US Embassy. Then, we will submit the documents to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice for the issuance of the final consent of the Minister of Justice.
- The dossier will then be sent to Sofia City Court and an attorney-at-law from our team will represent the candidate-adoptive parents in court as well as perform all procedural actions until the court decree enters into power.
- When the adoption decree becomes effective (7 days after the judgement is enacted), FNA will help obtain a Certificate of Completion, a new birth certificate and passport of the child.
- The adoptive parents will then have to travel to Bulgaria to pick up their child and finalize the passport issuing procedure. According to the US visa requirements, the adopted child must also be tested for tuberculosis and examined by an Embassy physician before an immigrant visa can be issued. The doctor will complete several forms and will hand them to the parents in a sealed envelope which they have to bring along to the final interview. The adoptive parents, their adopted child and the representative from Family National Association will go to the final interview together. At that point, they will give in all required documents and the child's immigrant visa will be issued on the next working day. Afterwards, the adopters and their child will be able to travel back home to the US.
- The FNA will need four post-placement reports on the child’s development and well-being within the course of 2 years after adoption.
Current partners: Agape Adoptions, An Open Door Adoption Agency, Children's House International, Hopscotch, Kids First Adoption, Lifeline Children's Services, Little Miracles, St. Mary International Adoptions, World Links International Adoption Agency.
Documents, necessary for the registration of the candidate-adoptive parents:
- “Letter of Approval” issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (I-797, Notice of Action-Approval Notice);
- “Certificate” (stating that the candidate-adoptive parents have not been prohibited to exercise their parental rights) issued by the American agency;
- “Home Study” prepared by licensed adoption agency accredited under the Hague Convention or authorized state body;
- In case the home study report is issued more than one year prior to submission, an updated HS report or a document, confirming that there are no significant changes in the circumstances, described in the HS report is required.
- “Medical certificates” for both candidates; In the medical certificate, the doctor's signature and seal have to be notary certified (so the notary's seal, signature,etc. should practically follow the doctor's signature on the medical certificate).
- “FBI Fingerprint Clearance” for both candidates issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services Division;
- “Certificate of marriage” (for married couples);
- “Authorization of Representation” by the candidate-adoptive parents to Family National Association;
- “Declaration of Information” according to Art. 20, Clause 10 of Ordinance No.2/2014;
- Declaration about the characteristics of the desired child(ren) and the adoptive parents' motivation;
All documents must be sent in original and with an Apostille.
Requirements for candidates
Bulgarian legislation does not set any significant restrictions to the candidate-adoptive parents. They must be above 18 years of age, to be at least 15 years older than the adoptive child and to meet all requirements of the applicable U.S. laws. This is the rule stated in the Family Code but the Intercountry Adoption Council firmly abides by the following age criterion: "There should not be more that 50 years age difference between the adoptee and the younger spouse in a married couple and there should not be more that 55 years age difference between the adoptee and the older spouse in a married couple. When a child is adopted by a single adopter, the lower age difference (of 50 years) should be considered."
US federal laws do not set restrictions with regards the family status: both single prospective adoptive parents and couples can apply.
When the prospective adoptive parent is a single person, he/she must have reached 25 years of age. Upon application by a couple, at least one of them must be a US citizen. No age restrictions apply towards married couples.