Adopting a Russian child can be a bit more complicated than adopting a child from other foreign countries. The process can be viewed and broken down into several parts.

The first part of the process, similar to any international adoption, is to apply to the INS for advanced approval to be eligible to adopt a foreign born child.  Additionally, as part of this first step is the completion of the adopting family dossier. The second part of the process involves submission of the dossier to Russia. This begins the adoption proceedings in Russia. You are not eligible to receive a referral until your dossier is complete and has been submitted to, and processed by, the Ministry of Education in a region in Russia.  After your dossier has been submitted, it is a matter of waiting until we are notified by our Russian staff that you are approved and that a child has been selected for you. The wait from the time of the submission of your dossier to Russia until the referral of the child is usually approximately 2-6 months.  The waiting time for older children and boys is usually shorter than for girls.

The third part of the process is for the adopting family to accept or reject the child referral.  When a family is given information about a child being referred to them the adopting family will receive a very limited amount of information regarding the child.  This information may include a physical description, a very limited medical report, and a limited amount of other information, or it may just include information as to the sex of the child and his or her date of  birth. The quality and quantity of this information will vary since each child's situation is different and each region in Russia operates differently.  (Russian adoption laws currently state that adopting families are to receive no information regarding a child prior to their first trip to Russia when they meet and see the child being referred to them.)  From the information families receive, they will be expected to make a decision whether or not to travel to Russia and meet the child that has been referred to them.  If they decide to proceed with a referral, the family will travel to the region in Russia where the child is located.  They will meet with officials at the Ministry of Education who will make the official referral, and than they will travel to the orphanage or baby hospital and meet the child.  At the orphanage or baby hospital they will also meet with the orphanage director, orphanage doctor, and the baby or child's caregivers who will provide additional, but very limited, information to the family regarding the child.   After receiving the child's information and meeting the child, the adopting family will be asked to accept or reject their referral.  If the family rejects their referral for any reason, they can be referred another available child in the region. But families need to understand that they must completely and unconditionally reject a child referral before they will be referred another child, and agencies can not guarantee that a particular region will have another child immediately available to show a family.  It might be necessary for a family to return to home country and than go back to Russia later to see a new referral.   Once an adopting family has accepted a referral, while they are still in Russia, they will go before a notary and execute the final documents necessary to complete the Russian paperwork.

During a family's first trip to Russia, the adopting family will be brought the child and have the opportunity to spend time with the child.  The adopting family will also have the opportunity to review all the available information regarding the child and they may also have the opportunity to have the child examined by an independent physician. This examination is done at the convenience of Russian officials and families are responsible for all costs involved with completing this examination. There are numerous regions in Russia where orphanage officials will not allow independent physicians to enter their hospitals and orphanages. Families also have the option of bringing all the information received in Russia regarding a child back home for review by a physician, but it delays the process of getting a court date, and completing your adoption.

If a child referral continues to be acceptable, then the adoption process proceeds to the fourth step. The adopting family returns to home country, without the child.  The adoptive family's dossier is processed and a court date is scheduled to complete the adoption. This part of the process, after the adopting family has met with the child, has given their final acceptance, and a court date is set, usually takes between 4 weeks to several months after a family's first trip to Russia.  The average wait has been between 4 weeks and 12 weeks.

The adopting family is then ready for the final part of the process which requires the adopting family to make a second trip to Russia for this court date and the required "after-the-finalization" waiting period.  We advise all families to expect the length of the entire second trip to be approximately 10-25 days.