International Adoption Russia / International Adoption Russia

Child Adoption from Russia

The basics about adopting a child from Russia.

International Child Adoption from Russia

Russia (officially The Russian Federation) is almost twice the size of the United States. It is the largest country in the world with approximately 6.5 million square miles. The population of Russia is approximately 150 million and Moscow, the capital, has more than 10 million residents. The people of Russia do not have much of a chance to enjoy leisure activities because they must spend so much time procuring the necessities of life.  Russians do have a deep connection to their culture and to the arts, and they enjoy attending theaters and movies in the cities when possible.

Given its vast land mass, its multiple regions, its multicultural population and many ethnic languages, Russia's cultural heritage is remarkably diverse and its people very proud. While many people living in the U.S. imagine Russian physical features to be light skinned and fair eyed, this is far from the whole picture. While the people in many regions of Russia are fair skinned, there are a great many ethnic minorities throughout the country whose physical characteristics can range from tan-skin Slavic to Eurasian to Asian.  Russia is a "melting pot", and if you want to know what a Russian adoptive child might look like - look to your left or to your right - because, in general, they look just like Americans.

The international adoption process in Russia has changed many times over the years. In the late 1980's, it became possible to adopt children from Russia. Yet it was not until the early 1990's that American families began bringing adopted children home from Russia. Since that time thousands of Russian adoptions have been completed by U.S. adopting families.

Despite the economic reforms that have taken place in Russia since the December 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, many families in former Soviet countries continue to struggle to survive.  Over half of the population is living below the poverty line and unemployment is frequently at double digits.  There is an enormous disparity between the wealthy and the poor. This gap affects the opportunities for the less fortunate to seek quality medical care, education, or jobs. In general, Russian society is merely trying to sustain itself at whatever level possible.  Accordingly, poverty continues to be a major factor in the abandonment and relinquishment of the children available for adoption.  Related to this poverty issue is the way of doing business in Russia.  All too often, in Russia, much more so than in the U.S., things get done on the basis of not only who you know, but even more importantly, on the basis of what he/she has done for you lately.  This often takes the form of "gifts" which look like bribes to Americans, but are just part of the Russian way of life.  An adopting family should not get in the middle of the "gift" issue, but should have their U.S. based adoption agency representatives advise them how to handle this issue.

Every region in Russia has infants, children, and sibling groups living in orphanages that can be adopted. Each available child is unique, most are healthy, some have minor correctable problems, and some have severe special needs. The Russian government has approved a limited number of adoption agencies to work in Russia.  These agencies must be accredited by the Ministry of Education.  Americans adopting in Russia will either work directly with one of these Russian accredited agencies or work with a U.S. licensed adoption agency that in turn sub-contracts with a Russian accredited agency.  As long as the family checks out their U.S. based agency with the state licensing authority to assure the agency is a U.S. licensed agency, the family should be fine working with either the Russian approved agency or the U.S. approved sub-contracting agency.  In fact, since the number of Russian accredited agencies, as compared with U.S. approved licensed agencies, is miniscule, the majority of  U.S. adopting families do not work with a Russian accredited agency, but rather work with a U.S. licensed sub-contracting program.

In 2002 approximately 4900 Russian children were adopted by U.S. citizens and in 2003 this number increased to approximately 5200, making Russia the second largest sending country after China. In 2003, of the 5200 adopted children, approximately 30% were under the age of 1 at the time of adoption and 50% were between 1-4 years old.

Additional Information

If you want additional information and help regarding a Russian adoption, please contact our adoption agency.