International adoption from Bulgaria is less restrictive but the process is complex and long. As a prospective adoptive parent, you have to be well prepared and patient. What’s Bulgaria’s international adoption process like? What’s the cost of adopting from Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a Hague Adoption Convention country. Its international adoption process is based on the Convention’s strict adoption steps and the Bulgarian laws. The Convention’s process ensures:
- The best interest of the child
- The prevention of exploitation, abduction, and trafficking of children
- Enhanced communication between Central authorities in countries involved
Preparation for your Bulgaria adoption dossier can take up to 6 months. After your international adoption application documents including the dossier finally arrive in Bulgaria, it will take 45 days before the adoption process commences.
The average referral wait time is between 12 to 24 months. This period is determined by the child’s age and gender. The younger the child you want to adopt at referral time, the longer will be the wait time.
After you successfully receive and accept a child referral, your adoption process will take about 4 to 6 months to be legally finalized. You’ll be required to make 2-3 trips of about 2 weeks each before you finally bring your child home.
The following are cost estimates for Bulgaria Internationa Adoption:
- Average total cost estimate: $30,000 to $40,000.
- Adoption Program- $10,000 to $12,000.
- Home Study Expenses & Post-Placement Fee-$3,000 to $5,000.
- Preparation and Authentication of Documents –$2,000 to $3,000.
- Adoption Trips (Travel Expenses)- $8,000 to $12,000
During the initial trip, you’ll be required to spend at least 5 days with your child within Bulgaria before the adoption process is finalized.
By the way, did you know that when Bulgarians shake their heads from side to side they actually mean a “Yes”, and their nods mean “NO”? Well, as a prospective adoptive parent who may have to travel to Bulgarian, we thought you should know 🙂
Children For International Adoption
Bulgarian children who qualify for International adoption are healthy, and Special Needs Children who are given priority. These refer to children with significant health conditions and those above 7 years and as old as 14 years. Most of the needy children are cared for in orphanages.
While most are well cared for with adequate medical support, they lack a place to call home and family love. They need you!
Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice is mandated to ensure that they find suitable parents for their needy children. It’s the Central Authority with the Inter-country Adoption Council that plays an advisory role as well as approving the matching of children.
It’s important to note that before a child qualifies for international adoption from Bulgaria, they have to be in a special registry waiting for domestic adoption for 6 months. It’s after this period that they qualify for international adoption.
Bulgarian Children Who Need Loving Families Are:
- Both boys and girls aged between 12 months to14 years in need of families
- Special needs children of up to 6 years. Include children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, chronic illnesses, cleft lip, differences in limbs, and any other medical conditions that require special care, and family love
- Sibling groups who need to be placed together.
- Romani descent children commonly referred to as “gypsies”, and who often face discrimination
- Children from Bulgarian families who cannot be cared for due to the economic or medical condition of their parents
- Requirements for International Adoption from Bulgaria
Who Qualifies to Adopt From Bulgaria?
- Be 25-55 years of age or above
- Older than the child you wish to adopt by at least 15 years
- The prospective adoptive parent must not be 45 years older than the child to be adopted
- If a couple should be married for a minimum period of 1 year
- Single man or woman within the desired age range
- If you have more than 4 children you can only adopt a child with special needs.
- Proof of your financial ability to support your adopted child
- Must not have major criminal violation records
Bulgaria International Adoption Process
The following are the key stages for your International Adoption from Bulgaria:
1. Find accredited Agency
2. Prepare all required documents ( Home Study and Dossier)
4. Submission of your dossier documents for approval
6. Accept or decline the referral. After acceptance, you’ll prepare for the initial trip to meet the child
7. Give your consent for the process to proceed
8. Your second trip to bring the child home. This will take 10-12 days
9. Submission of Scheduled Post- Adoption/ Post-Placement Reports
While the Bulgarian government has ensured that adoption processes move much faster than before, some of its adoption programs may take you much longer to complete.
The priority is placed on the children with special needs, and who are desperate to get loving families. The process for these categories of children, therefore, takes shorter compared to healthy infants.
Detailed stages-Bulgaria’s adoption process:
1. Identification and selection of Accredited Adoption Service Provider (ASP)
You’ll begin by selecting only accredited ASP operating within the U.S specialized in the Convention adoptions between Bulgaria and the United States.
Your selected ASP will, therefore, work hand in hand with Bulgarian adoption agencies that are accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice.
You can find details on adoption agencies and related details by visiting the U.S Embassy in Bulgaria website.
2. Submitting Your Application for eligibility.
U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which is the U.S Department of Homeland Security will evaluate your application accordingly.
After your application is approved by the US government, your adoption service provider will then contact Bulgarian authority, through the Ministry of Justice, to assess if you qualify to adopt based on the countries laws and policies.
Upon clearance from Bulgaria, all the necessary adoption documents such as the dossier and Home Study report, are filed accordingly at the Ministry of Justice by the Bulgarian ASP, and your name(s) is/are placed on a registry as a prospective adoptive parent(s).
3. Being Matched With Your Child
Referral Wait time can last from 2 months to 2 years depending on the child’s age and your specified program.
When both Bulgaria and the United States are satisfied with your adoption eligibility, you’ll then be provided an Adoption Child Referral by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice.
The international adoption referrals you’ll receive will be based on the details you had provided during your Home Study process.
As a prospective adoptive parent, you’ll be furnished with the child’s photos, medical records, and all the necessary information.
When a suitable child is identified and you agree and sign the referral file, you’ll have got your match! This will surely bring a smile on your face!
Different agencies have different timelines and matching processes. You’ll have to be in close contact with your service provider for relevant updates.
Before you finally sign the file, you’ve to be certain that you’ll provide a permanent home for the child, and cater for all his/her needs
As a prospective adoptive parent, you may choose to decline the referrals until you finally get your match.
Your agency will simply have to inform the Bulgarian Inter-Adoption Council (IAC) within two months of the referral for the Council to propose a new match for you.
After successful matching, the Minister of Justice receives the case for approval.
The document will then be transferred to Sofia CityCourt for the legal process to follow.
At this stage, you’ll be required to travel to Bulgaria to stay with the child for 5 days.
Your agency will update you accordingly and help you in arranging for your travel.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States:
Upon your successful match with your Bulgarian child, you’ll need to apply for provisional approval to adopt the child.
You’ll be required to submit an application Form I-800 to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security-U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCS)
After the child is found to be legible to enter and have permanent residence in the United States as an immigrant, you’ll be able to commence an electronic visa application for the child through form DS-260
During the process, you will be required to submit the child photo and pay the required visa fee. Your service provider can as well conduct the process on your behalf.
Upon successful evaluation of the child’s details, Consular Office at the US Embassy will formally update Bulgarian Central Authority through an Article 5 Letter indicating that the child is legible and can migrate to the United States.
It’s very important that this confirmation letter is received before you proceed to the final stages of the Bulgaria International adoption process.
5. Getting Your Child’s Legal Custody (Final Adoption)
This is the stage where you will now get the legal rights as the child’s adoptive parent.
After the mandatory 5 days stay with your child after matching, the Court will evaluate all the documents during a hearing.
During this stage, the Court may request any other relevant documents, not in their custody.
When everything is in order and the court is fully satisfied, the court will issue a final adoption decree.
It is at this stage that as the adoptive parent, your Bulgarian agency can now process a new birth certificate and passport for your child.
The birth certificate will facilitate the processing of the child’s Bulgarian passport which is mandatory for visa insurance.
It’s important to note the significant roles played by the Adoption Authority, Courts, and your chosen Agency in ensuring that this final stage is effectively completed.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home.
You now need to apply for your child’s birth certificate, passport, and immigration visa.
- Birth Certificate and PassportYour Bulgarian Service Provider will first need to apply for a new birth certificate and Bulgarian passport for your child.
Your name will be included in the documents as the child’s legal parent.
The process of obtaining these two documents can take 3-4 weeks
- Applying for U.S Immigrant Visa
After your child gets the passport, either you or your Bulgarian representative can then schedule a telephone visa interview.
Required documents for Visa processing:
- The Passport
- Birth Certificate
- English version of Adoption Court Decree
- Medical Examination Certificate by either one or two “Panel Physicians” stationed in Sofia
The U.S Embassy will have the final power to review and approve your child’s submitted I-800 forms before issuing a visa.
It’s important to note that your child’s Medical Examination results will be needed before the visa can be finally issued.
The U.S consulate Officer will only issue your child’s visa after receiving the child’s medical report from the U.S Embassy authorized physicians also known as Panel Physicians.
After the successful issuance of your child with all the documents necessary for his travel to the United States, your service provider can then start making the necessary arrangements for your trip
7. Making Your Travel Arrangements.
Bulgaria International Adoption process will require that you make a total of 2 trips to the country.
The first trip will be to meet your identified child while the last trip is to bring him home. It’s therefore necessary that your traveling documents are in order much earlier.
These are the main documents that you’ll require:
- Applying for the U.S Passport /Ensuring your Passport is Valid
To travel in or outside the US, you will need to apply for the US passport online. If you already have a passport, ensure that the passport is valid, and have enough blank pages for your planned travel.
Contact the U.S Department of State for the issuance and renewal of your passport
- Applying For Your Visa
Having ensured that your passport is valid, you’ll be required to obtain a visa for your planned travel to Bulgaria
- Child’s Adoption Documents.
When traveling to bring your child home, it will be necessary that you have all your adoption documents in order.
These are the documents that will allow you to travel with your baby home. Your service provider will provide you with full details of all the requirements including required documents.
8. Post-Adoption Reports
After finally bringing your child home, it’s important to note that part of your adoption process will still have to continue. Well, sounds interesting but, yes!
You will be required to submit reports in the interval of 6 months, 12, months, 18 months, and 24 months. This process is to safeguard your child’s rights as a US citizen.
The submission of the reports commences from the date the court finalized the child’s adoption process in Bulgaria.
Your social worker will be responsible for the submission of all the 4 reports to Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc for the necessary approval.
In each of the reports, 8 to 10 pictures of both your adopted child and your family will have to be included in the report for submission to the Post Placement Adoption Coordinator or to the Director of Clinical Services, Hopscotch
As the adoptive parent, you’ll have to ensure that all the reports are apostilled and at your own costs.
It’s only after all the reports have been received that you, as the adoptive parent, will receive the post-placement deposit refund.
Table Showing Stages of Bulgaria International Adoption Processes and Estimated Durations
|Process||Estimated Duration For Normal Child( Months/Years)||Estimate Duration For Special Need Child (Months/Years)|
|1. Identification of a Professional Service Provider, Application, Registration, and Completion of Home Study||3 to 6 Months|
|2. Collection & Submission of Documents for Adoption Eligibility||5 to 8 Months|
|3. The waiting period to be matched with a suitable child||2-3 Years||2-12 months|
|4. Initial Trip to Stay with the child||6 to 8 Days|
|5. Legal Clearance processes and Applications for adoption approval||4 to 6 Months|
|6. Final Trip (Bringing the child home)||9-12 Days|
- Ensure that your travel documents are prepared in advance to provide you with ample time to prepare for your new child
- Be in close contact with your agency for your travel arrangements
- Update the U.S Department of State about your travel details so that you can be easily reached in case of an emergency
- Learn more about the country’s culture and take not of any security or safety alerts
The Cost of Adoption From Bulgaria
Different Bulgaria international adoption agencies and professionals have different rates and breakdowns with regard to costs. A detailed breakdown
Other factors constant, it’s estimated that the total cost would be in the range of $30,000 to $40,000
The Main cost expenses to consider when adopting from Bulgaria include:
- Adoption Registration and Application expenses
- International adoption Program Fee
- Home study Expenses
- Training fees
- Documentation Fees
- Travel expenses
- Legal Fees
Table showing Expenses and Costs Estimates For Bulgaria International Adoption
|Expense Description||Estimated Amount (In USD and Euros)||Payment Period|
|Agency Application Fee||$300||During your application|
|Agency Fee||$6,200||As agreed by your agency|
|Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) Oversight Fee||$500||As stated in the contract|
|Upon Ministry of Justice Approval||$ 1,600 Euro||After the Ministry of Justice approves your application|
|Dossier Preparation Cost||$6,500||6 to 9 Months|
|1st Trip Expenses||3,000 Euro and $3,000||Before the first trip|
|Payments After the 1st Trip||1,400 Euro and $3,000||After you’ve been given the consent to adopt|
|2nd Trip Payment||1,000 Euros and $2,000||After court approval|
|Total||$21,500 and 8,000 Euro|
|Less Adoption Tax Credit||($14,000)|
|Total After Tax Credit||$7,500 and 8,000 Euro|
Important note: The costs indicated may vary from time to time, and do not include travel expenses, state or federal fees for apostilles and authentications, USCIS costs, Embassy fees, and other expenses.
Table showing Additional International Adoption From Bulgaria
|Expense Category||Estimate Cost ( $)|
|Agency’s Program Fee||10,000-12,000|
|Home Study Expenses & Post-Placement Costs||3,000-5,000|
|Documentation Expenses & Authentication||2,000-3,000|
|Travel Expenses (Including Accommodations)||8,000-12,000|
|Other Expenses (Third Party expenses)||1,000-4,000|
Related Questions For International Adoption From Bulgaria
Do you need to undergo a Medical Examination before your Adoption Trips?
Yes indeed! To protect yourself, your family, and your child from possible infections, you will have to visit a pre-travel clinic for medical guidance.
Your travel health provider will assess your health condition, and medical records to ensure that your health and immunization requirements are fulfilled.
He will also evaluate your child’s medical records, and recommend the necessary vaccinations for both you and your family members.
This is done to ensure the wellbeing of your family as well as that of your coming child. Read more on the mandatory vaccinations that you and your family will need.
Where can you get financial assistance for your international adoption process?
International Adoption is a noble but expensive undertaking but this should not dampen your heart.
There are diverse funding options available that can enable you to get the funds that you may need for the adoption process
Research on reputable institutions that offer grants and loans in order to identify the most suitable options that suit your needs. Read more here on Financial Assistance Available for International Adoption