Adoption Process for Russia / Adoption Process for Russia

Adoption Process for a Russia

This section walks you through the process of adopting a Russian child.

What is involved to Adopt a Russian Child?

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. A dossier is the set of documents required by the U.S. and Russian governments, as well as your U.S. based adoption agency, to complete the adoption of a Russian child.  Preparing a dossier, on average, takes between 2-4 months and getting INS approval takes about the same amount of time.  Most of the documents in the dossier will need to be notarized locally and apostilled at the state level.  Your U.S. base agency should be able to help you with this process.

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 then 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 cannot 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 the United States and then 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 to the U.S. for review by a physician, but this 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 the U.S., 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.

Laws and Procedures of Russia Relating to Adoption

The information which follows is taken from the U.S. Department of State website.


PLEASE NOTE: Please plan to stay a minimum of three business days in Moscow to obtain documents and complete the medical exams necessary for the immigrant visa interview. Parents should calculate a five-day "cushion time" in the validity dates they request when applying for a Russian visa. The U.S. Embassy recommends that flight arrangements for departing Russia not be finalized until the immigrant visa is issued.

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans

ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN RUSSIA: The government office responsible for international adoptions in Russia is the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.

Ministry of Education and Science
#11 Tverskaya Street
Moscow, Russia 125993 GSP 3
Tel: 011-7-095-229-6610

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Married couples may adopt. Single parents can adopt but there must be at least 16 years difference between the parent and adoptive child. Russia also has medical requirements for adoptive parents. Anyone considering adoption in Russia should consult their adoption agency about medical conditions that may disqualify them from adopting in Russia.

RESIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for adopting parents.

TIME FRAME: The average time for the adoption process is 5 months from the time US CIS approves the I-600A petition to the issuance of the immigrant visa.

ADOPTION PROCEDURES: Russian law requires that a child must have been registered in the state database for children left without parental care for at least three months before he or she is considered eligible for international adoption.

With assistance of an adoption agency accredited by the Russian Government, parents first apply to a regional Ministry of Education, which directs them to an orphanage. Adoptive parents are required to travel to Russia to meet prospective adoptive children. There they select a child and apply to the court to get a court date. Adoptive parents may return to the United States after applying for a court date. However, the prospective adoptive child must remain in Russia during this time. Adoptive parents travel a second time to Russia to attend the court hearing. After the court hearing, they obtain the adoption certificate and a new birth certificate (showing the child's new name, and the adoptive parents as the parents) from the ZAGS (civil registration office), after which they can obtain the passport for the child from the OVIR (visa and registration department). Parents then can contact the Embassy to make an appointment to apply for the immigrant visa. (Note: the child's passport will be issued in the child's new name, which will appear in Cyrillic characters and in "English." However, the Russian officials will transliterate the name from Cyrillic into English and the result usually will not be spelled as your family spells it. For example, Smith will be Smit (there is no "th" in Russian); Callahan will be Kalahan, etc. The fact that the child's name is "mis-spelled" in the passport will NOT cause a problem when you travel and should not be a cause for concern.)

REGISTRATION OF RUSSIAN ORPHANS WITH THE MFA: Adopted Russian children must be registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before they leave the country. For U.S. citizen families, this is done after an adopted child receives an immigrant visa to the United States.

The Consular Section of the MFA is open for the registration of adopted children
Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for intake and 3 p.m-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday for issuance. The process takes two days; issuance takes place the day after the intake of documents. The fee for the registration is 2,040 rubles.

The following documents are needed for registration:

  1. Original of the child's passport;

  2. Copies of the parents' passports;

  3. Letter from the orphanage (orphanage release);

  4. Letter from the Ministry of Education of Russia;

  5. Court decision;

  6. Adoption certificate;

  7. Immigrant visa of the child (original).

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN RUSSIA: The following documents are required by the Russian court for an adoption:

  1. Home Study;

  2. US CIS approval notice (I-171H or I-797);

  3. Copies of prospective adoptive parents' passports;

  4. Marriage certificate/divorce certificate (if applicable);

  5. Police certificate;

  6. Medical examination report;

  7. Financial documents: employment verification letter, bank statements, tax forms;

  8. Evidence of place of residence.

All of these documents should be translated into Russian and apostilled (see below for information on authenticating documents).

After prospective parents identify the child they should fill out the adoption application, which can be obtained at the Russian court where the adoption hearings will take place.

Additional required statements for the court hearings from the parents, which should be signed in front of a Russian notary, are:

  1. Prospective adoptive parents have been informed about the health conditions of the child and they accept them;

  2. They will register their adopted child with the MFA; and

  3. They will provide the Department of Education with periodic, required post placement reports on time.


Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: 202-298-5700
Fax: 202-298-5735

The Russian Federation also has consulates in San Francisco, California, New York, New York, and Seattle, Washington.


APPLYING FOR A VISA FOR YOUR CHILD AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN RUSSIA: Parents are strongly advised to read the instructions for applying for an immigrant visa for an adopted child found at

U.S. Embassy of Russia
#19/23 Novinsky Blvd.,
Moscow, Russia 123242
Tel: 728-5000 switchboard
728-5567 (orphan visas)
728-5058 (orphan visas)
Fax: 728-5247 (orphans only)

Additional Information

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