Nightlight has programs in several regions of Russia, including St. Petersburg and Tomsk. Until we are able to obtain a permit for in-country activities, we are partnering with other agencies which hold permits and have temporarily assumed responsibility for our in-country staff. We continue to maintain an office and staff in Moscow as a registered Non-Governmental Organization.
The orphanages in Russia are called Baby Houses and Detsky Dom’s (Children’s Homes). Babies from a few months of age to about 3-4 years stay in Baby Houses, while older children stay in Children’s Homes. Children’s Homes are further divided between preschool orphanages (ages 4-7), school age orphanages (7-16) and combined orphanages. Some orphanages specialize in children with special needs, such as learning disabilities, vision impairments, orthopedic problems, etc. Many times children who have not been put in school by their parents will be assigned to orphanages where they will receive more remedial assistance, even though their intellectual capabilities may be good.
ELIGIBILITY TO ADOPT
Married couples or single women may apply to adopt from Russia. We require that the adopting parents be no more than 45 years older than the child, although this requirement may be relaxed somewhat in the cases of older children. The parents must be in good health. Questions as to the number of other children in the family and other considerations are evaluated on a case by case basis depending on the characteristics of the child who is sought for adoption. The orphanage director, the adoption officials or the court may impose other restrictions as they consider necessary or advisable.
It generally takes around 8-14 months to complete the adoption process (and sometimes longer for little girls). First you will need to complete your home study, get CIS (formerly INS) approval and prepare your dossier for Russia (about 3-5 months). Once your dossier has been filed with the local adoption officials in Russia, you will be considered for a referral of a child. The more flexible you are and the older the child you hope to adopt is, the shorter the time frame to wait for a child. No advance information on available children can be provided by persons other than the Russian adoption officials. Providing videos and medical information on children are specifically not allowed. (When older children have been identified through activities unrelated to adoption ( i.e., hosting programs or missionary trips, the referral of the identified child can usually be obtained if they are legally eligible for adoption.)
Both parents must make the first trip, lasting about one week, to Russia to receive the official referral of a child. On this trip, you will receive a referral and get to know the child. You will be able to ask a variety of questions concerning the child’s medical and social history. In addition, you will be able to access independent physicians to assist you in evaluating a child. If you do not accept the first referral, you may be able to receive a second referral on the same trip, depending on the age of the child requested. Once you have accepted the referral, you return home to await a court date. The court date is usually set around 8 weeks after your first trip (allowing time for verification to be received from Moscow that your child has been on the Federal Data Bank for more than six months and the court to review your dossier).
Both adopting parents are required to be present in court. Russian law provides for a 10-day waiting period before an adoption decree becomes effective. This 10-day period can be waived by the judge if s/he believes it is in the best interest of the child, but such a waiver is not common. Once the adoption is completed, a new birth certificate is issued for the child, a Russian passport is issued in the child’s new name and you travel to Moscow to obtain the child’s immigrant visa. You would normally travel directly home from Moscow.
Once your dossier is completed, we will provide you with a “Travel Package” which outlines all of the details of your travel (2-3 trips). We will make all of your in-country lodging reservations and you may make whatever air travel arrangements you prefer (although we will also help you with this step if requested). Your first trip will be about 5 days and your court trip will typically be 5 days. Assuming the 10 days are not waived, your third trip will be about 7 days (only one parent needs to travel on the third trip).
Once you return home, you will need to immediately register your child’s passport with the Russian Embassy (we will provide you with instructions). At this time, Russia requires that you complete a minimum of 4 post-adoption visits with your homestudy provider to evaluate your child’s adjustment into your family. Along with several pictures, these reports will be sent to the orphanage staff and officials for receipt in Russia at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years after your child’s adoption is finalized. (Please be prepared to be flexible as government requirements for post-adoption reports occasionally change and you will be expected to fulfill the most recent requirements.)
The costs for an adoption from Russia are explained on the current Fee Schedule and range from $33,400 to $42,300. The Fees and Costs include Program Fees, Orphanage Donations, and Estimated Client Coordinated Expenses including travel, lodging, CIS fees and misc. costs. The fees for children 7 and older are reduced to so that families can be encouraged to adopt older children. We make every effort to give you a realistic budget to avoid surprises. However, variations may result from differences in homestudy costs, travel and actual length of stay in Russia. If you receive the full tax credit of $13,170, then your fees and expenses can be as low as $23,230. Also, if you adopt a sibling group of two, you may receive up to $26,340 in the tax credit/ for each additional sibling, the tax credit/refund can be increased by $13,170. This may mean that the cost of your adoption could be nearly paid for by the tax credit. This usually takes a few years to recoup all these tax credits if you adopt more than one child.
In addition, your out-of-pocket expenses may further be reduced if you receive scholarships or other employer-provided adoption benefits.