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At the start of 2009 intercountry adoptions in Ukraine are open. However singles are no longer accepted, and tight quotas and lack of available children make the future of adoption from Ukraine cloudy.
In the U.S., adoption numbers were down, from 606 in 2007, to 457 in 2008. Canada showed a big increase in 2007, up 100%: from 23 to 46.
Ukraine has a tight quota for international adoptions: for 2008 it was 1,453 applications from all countries. Moreover the U.S. State Department reported on Dec. 4, 2008 that there are currently no healthy children (or children with minor, correctable health problems) under three years old and very few under six ... and the Ukrainian Adoption Authority has the right to refuse your application if there are no children available who meet the recommendation in your home study.
Adoption from Ukraine was temporarily suspended in January 2006, when the central adoption authority moved to the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports. The new authority took over in May 2006. Ukraine re-opened in December 2006, but with new restrictions: singles could no longer adopt, and prospective parents could not be more than 45 years older than their child-to-be. Limits on the number of applications accepted from each country meant that adoption agency quotas were soon filled.
2005: halt for about two months -- Ukraine will temporarily stop accepting applications by foreigners to adopt children, the government said Monday, calling the move necessary while it creates a new department to better protect children's rights. It's expected to be operating within two months, at which time applications will be accepted again. Parliament is expected to consider the measure to create the new department and to ratify Ukraine's participation in The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption this week. [L.A. Times, latimes.com, June 13, 2005]
Licences for intermediaries -- The General Office of the Public Prosecutor has started licensing adoption intermediaries. "Mediatory activity must be licensed, this question is to be decided on legislative level," said the deputy prosecutor general Tatiana Korniakova. She said there are 300 officially registered middlemen in Ukraine, who demand four-nine thousand euros for their activity from foreigners. She also mentioned that several criminal cases had been instituted in connection with illegal activity of middlemen. [Forum, Ukrainian Internet Newspaper, www.for-ua.com, July 18, 2005]
Adoptions suspended temporarily -- According to the July 11 decree of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, by Sept. 1, 2005 Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers should submit draft legislation to transfer adoption authority from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports and create a new National Adoption Center there. During the transition period, Ukraine will temporarily suspend intercountry adoptions. The U.S. government has urged Ukraine to institute the planned changes as quickly as possible to allow for a prompt resumption of intercountry adoptions. [U.S. State Dept., travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2544.html, July 20, 2005]
On Sept. 19, 2005 Ukraine's National Adoption Center stopped accepting adoption applications from six countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.S. The ban would stay in place until all the parents in each country submitted their delinquent post-placement reports. About 900 American parents hadn't sent in their reports. The ban on Canada was later lifted when ten missing post-adoption reports were supplied. Ukraine lifted the ban on Spain on Nov. 3.
In its November 2005 posting, Alberta Children's Services reported on a meeting with the National Adoption Center (NAC). At the Nov. 24, 2005 meeting with the Canadian Embassy the NAC director announced a partial resumption of adoptions to countries where there were suspensions, but only for older children (over ten years old) with disabilities, and for reasons of family reunification. The director justified this action on the grounds that these children were very difficult to place, and that NAC did not wish to preclude a possible adoption for them during the suspension period.
With respect to Canada, NAC said they are still missing reports on ten children adopted before 2004. The Head of the Adoption Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed that MFA would get confirmation from their Consulate General in Toronto that outstanding reports were submitted, and then the suspension on Canada would be lifted.
The Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports is scheduled to take over responsibility for adoption processing on May 1, 2006. The minister, Yuriy Pavlenko, said that Ukraine is missing reports on nearly 900 children adopted by U.S. citizens between 1996 and 2004. Minister Pavlenko said he can't reinstate U.S. adoptions until American parents whom Ukraine views as delinquent have filed their missing reports.
In its Jan. 31, 2006 notice, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev announced that on Jan. 31 President Yushchenko signed the law giving interim authority over adoptions to the National Adoption Center (NAC) at the Ministry of Education, until authority for adoptions is transferred to the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports on May 1, 2006. Until the transfer, NAC will process adoptions in Ukraine, including suspended cases and cases previously scheduled through Jan. 31. The Kiev embassy notice answered frequently asked questions about what will happen to adoptions during the interim period. NAC will reschedule appointments which were cancelled during the suspension. NAC will accept new adoption dossiers, but under severe restrictions, because of Ukraine's concern about American adoptive parents who haven't sent in their mandatory post-adoption reports. NAC will accept dossiers only for these categories of orphans: siblings of previously adopted children; older children; and children with serious health problems. For children outside those categories, parents are advised to submit applications when the new adoption authority is open and operational, after May 1, 2006.
Alberta Children's Services wrote in January 2006 that the law has passed giving interim authority for adoption processing to the existing National Adoption Center. NAC will resume full processing during the transition period, including new registration of prospective adoptive parents and of children available for adoption, and continued processing of existing cases.
Alberta Children's Services spelled out the NAC's priorities: first to reschedule the appointments of families whose December 2005 and January 2006 appointments were delayed, and second to schedule appointments for priority cases involving children with severe medical problems, older children, and sibling groups. Any dossier not scheduled for an appointment during the transition period will be transferred to the new adoption authority.
Officials of Ukraine's Ministry for Family, Youth and Sports continue to recommend that parents submit new applications only when the new State Authority for Adoption and Protection of Children's Rights becomes operational (after May 1, 2006). Ukrainian adoption officials stress that most children available for adoption from Ukraine are special needs children -- prospective adoptive parents should be aware of this.
Alberta Children's Services also noted that NAC now has all post-adoption reports from Canadians who adopted from 1996 to 2003. As a result, NAC has lifted the suspension on processing Canadian dossiers. For the other countries subject to the September 2005 suspension, restrictions stay in place. (The suspension happened because some parents failed to file post-adoption reports ... sending countries need the reports to assure politicians and officials in their own country that intercountry adoption is in the best interests of their children.)
In a notice in February 2006, the U.S. State Department informed Americans who had adopted from Ukraine that Ukraine had halted adoptions because some of them had not submitted post-placement reports. It asked them to carry out their reporting obligations, to ensure that other Americans will be able to adopt from Ukraine in the future.
In a Feb. 3, 2006 news release, Joint Council on International Children's Services said Ukraine will likely maintain its ban on intercountry adoptions with the U.S. until U.S. families submit missing post-placement reports. Ukraine says it is missing reports for about 900 of the more than 5,760 children adopted by Americans between 1996 and 2004.
The American Embassy in Kyiv said that on March 25, 2006 the Ukrainian government ordered the creation of a new adoption authority under the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports. The State Department for Adoption and Protection of Children's Rights (SDA), located at #14 Desiatinna Street, Kyiv, will open in July 2006. The National Adoption Center will be dissolved and its files sent to SDA.
An Alberta Children's Services update in July 2006 reported on a July 3, 2006 news conference at which the Ukrainian Ministry for Family, Youth, and Sports announced the opening of the State Department for Adoption (SDA). The ministry is trying to increase the number of domestic adoptions by making the process easier for Ukrainians and offering incentives such as an extended "baby bonus" to include adopted children regardless of age. The minister stressed that embassies should give true information on the children available. The biggest problem faced by the old National Adoption Centre was that foreign adoptive parents had unrealistic expectations, that Ukraine was full of young, healthy children available for adoption. Only 16% of children available for adoption in Ukraine are under five and reasonably healthy, while 95% of adoption requests from Canadian families seek these children.
The American Embassy in Kyiv said that at the July 3 news conference the Minister for Family, Youth and Sports, Yuriy Pavlenko, reported that the National Adoption Center had been dissolved; the new SDA is completely separate from the previous system. He said that while Ukraine didn't intend to restrict intercountry adoptions, the first priority will be to promote domestic adoptions. The embassy summarized the main points for Americans who wish to adopt in Ukraine:
Adoptive Families magazine (Sept./Oct. 2006) said Ukraine will not accept any new international adoption dossiers before Jan. 1, 2007. Families registered with the old adoption authority must apply again.
In October 2006 Ukraine's Minister for Family, Youth and Sports released his draft National Action Plan on child protection which includes plans for smaller orphanages (at most 50 children each) and makes domestic adoptions easier.
The State Department notice of Feb. 5, 2007 said Ukraine started taking new adoption applications from abroad on Dec. 19, 2006, with the limitation that each adoption service provider in Ukraine (who represents prospective adoptive parents) can submit no more than two dossiers a month. The notice listed ten documents (Decree #313 of Feb. 25, 2007) to include in an adoption application dossier destined for SDA. (SDA is my abbreviation for the State Department for Adoptions and Protection of Rights of the Child in Kyiv.) SDA is the central adoption authority of Ukraine and maintains the database of adoptable children.
Quota for 2007: According to the U.S. State Department SDA issued Decree #16 on Feb. 24, 2007, giving the numbers of adoption dossiers which SDA will accept from abroad during 2007. The top three are the U.S. (558 dossiers), Italy (494) and Spain (380). (Canada: 24 ... see below.)
The U.S. State Department announced changes to Ukraine adoption laws. On March 20, 2007 the Parliament of Ukraine passed bill #2562, which makes these changes: 1) prospective adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old; 2) the age difference between each adoptive parent and child cannot exceed 45 years; 3) single foreign citizens cannot adopt Ukrainian children. (Disallowing adoptions by singles is a major change.) The law is not retroactive -- adoption applications already approved will not be affected. The bill will come into effect after President Yuschenko's approval, and publication in the official newspaper of Parliament, likely in May or June 2007.
Resignations, and temporary halt: In its notice of Apr. 5, 2007 the State Department said that on Mar. 20, 2007 SDA Director Ludmyla Volynets, First Deputy Ludmyla Balym, Deputy Director Inna Savchuk and Head of the Intercountry Adoption Unit Olena Remen resigned. No replacements have been appointed. SDA is not accepting any new dossiers from abroad. Those already submitted are being registered, but processing time could exceed the regular 20 working days. The main reason for this, State Department was told, is the large number of submitted dossiers and lack of staff at SDA. SDA said this temporary suspension would last until Apr. 16, 2007. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv said that adoptions were back on track -- on Apr. 16, 2007 the SDA resumed accepting new adoption applications from U.S. citizens.
On April 26, 2007 the adoption authority in Quebec, Secrétariat à l'adoption internationale, in its report on adoption agency status, said that Ukraine sets a quota of applications for each country -- Canada can submit 24 applications in 2007. Quebec agencies have reached their quota and are taking no new applications. Files already in process are proceeding normally.
Adoptive Families magazine summarized the Ukraine situation in its May/June 2007 edition. After a year-long suspension, Ukraine re-opened in December 2006, but with new restrictions: Singles may no longer adopt, and prospective parents may not be more than 45 years older than their child.
Ukraine does not allow pre-selection of children eligible for intercountry adoption, so parents don't know the exact age, sex and health of their child-to-be. They may have to accept a child with characteristics different from those specified in their home study. The process in Ukraine is described in much detail at the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.
For more resources on Ukraine adoption, see Adoption Resource Central, Country-specific Resources - Ukraine.
For more on adoption in Ukraine, see Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption.
Find an agency for Ukraine: Agency Chooser, www.familyhelper.net/ad/chooser.html
Descriptions of agency programs are at www.familyhelper.net/arc/agy.html
Country News is written by Robin Hilborn,
Country News is written by Robin Hilborn,