BulgariaLast Updated: April 2008
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES
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- Hague Convention Information
Bulgaria is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore all adoptions between Bulgaria and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more .
- Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Bulgaria is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Bulgaria, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Bulgaria also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements to complete an intercountry adoption in Bulgaria. However, prospective adoptive parents are expected to spend five days with their adoptive child before the orphanage director will release the child.
- Age Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than their adoptive children.
- Marriage Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single.
- Who Can Be Adopted
Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Bulgaria must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Bulgaria attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. Under Bulgarian law, a child may become eligible for intercountry adoption only if three Bulgarian families have declined to adopt him/her. In addition to Bulgaria's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Learn more about the Convention's requirements for adoptable children.
- How To Adopt
Bulgarian Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Bulgaria must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
Note: If you filed your I-600a with Bulgaria before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Bulgaria
- Bring your Child Home
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. Government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Bulgaria. Bulgaria's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Bulgarian law.
After completing the U.S. pre-adoption requirements through USCIS, U.S. citizens specifically interested in pursuing an adoption from Bulgaria must also contact a Bulgarian or U.S. adoption agency which has been licensed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. All required documents must be deposited at the Ministry of Justice by the accredited agency. If the prospective parent(s) application is accepted, their names are placed on a registry.
Separately, the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice (MOJ) also maintains a registry of Bulgarian children eligible for intercountry adoption. Under Bulgarian law, a child may appear on this registry only if three Bulgarian families have declined to adopt him/her.
- Be Matched with a Child
If both the United States and Bulgaria determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Bulgaria may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. Learn more about this critical decision.
The Bulgarian Government does not process prospective adoptive parents' applications in chronological order. Priority is given to persons willing to adopt a handicapped child. Furthermore, the Adoption Council abides very strictly by the principle that its goal is to find appropriate parents for a child in need, and not to find a child for prospective parents who want one.
The Adoption Council within the Ministry of Justice reviews the registries of prospective parents and available children, including all relevant documentation, and proposes a match. The MOJ provides the adoptive parents through their accredited agency photographs of the child and information about his/her medical condition. If the family declines to adopt a specific child, the Council should be informed within two months and a match with a different child will be offered. There is no limitation as to the number of times prospective adoptive parents may decline to adopt a Bulgarian orphan. The decision to decline is passed by prospective adoptive parents to the MOJ through the accredited adoption agency. It is important to note that if prospective adoptive parents decline to adopt a specific child, they must notify the MOJ within two months of the referral.
Once the prospective adoptive parent(s) select a child and the Council approves the application, the case is forwarded to the Minister of Justice for final approval. When the Minister signs the parents' application, the paperwork is transferred directly to Sofia City Court, which sets a date for a court hearing. The judges take into consideration the MOJ's referral and review the documentation related to the adoption process. If they require additional documents, the court sets a date for a new hearing. After all requirements have been met, the court grants custody of the child to the adoptive parents.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Bulgaria's adoption authority (Article 5 letter).
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Bulgaria, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Bulgaria.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Bulgaria generally includes the following:
- Time Frame: If there is a child available for intercountry adoption, it normally takes several months to complete the adoption process in Bulgaria; however, there are very few children on the waiting list, which means that the adoptive parents may wait many months and even years until the Ministry of Justice offers them a Bulgarian orphan for adoption.
- Adoption Fees: The U.S. Embassy in Sofia is aware of the following Bulgarian fees for adoption. These fees are subject to change. All fees are given in Euros as the Bulgarian currency is linked to the Euro.
- Application fee at the MOJ: € 100.00 EUR
- Court fee: € 750 EUR
- Transcript of the Court Decree: € 25 EUR
- Passport fee for child under 14: € 7.00 EUR
- Passport fee for child over 14: € 14.00 EUR
- Birth Certificate fee: € 3.00 EUR
In addition to the above, U.S. adoption agencies may charge fees for the services they provide.
The U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Bulgaria at risk.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. Learn more.
- Application, including personal data, family history, financial information. The application is a letter prepared by the accredited adoption agency.
- Document certifying that the adoptive parent(s) has/have not been deprived of custody rights. An FBI fingerprint clearance shows whether there were prior arrests or criminal convictions which would render them ineligible to adopt a child in Bulgaria.
- Home Study
- Medical Certificate(signed by a general practitioner)
- Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
- Approval by the USCIS (I-171H)
- All documents should be submitted should be originals. They must be translated and apostilled.
- Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Note: The process of obtaining a birth certificate and passport takes 3-4 weeks. The parents are not required to do anything in order to apply for these two documents. Their accredited adoption agency authorizes an attorney to represent them at court and deposit documents at various Government entities.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Bulgaria.
After the new birth certificate has been issued, the representative has to apply for a passport of the child. The process of obtaining a birth certificate and a passport takes 3-4 weeks.
- U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
The visa interview may be scheduled by the adoptive parents or by their Bulgarian representative over the telephone as soon as the child obtains a Bulgarian passport. They must first make sure that their fingerprint clearances have not expired. The visa interview may be scheduled a few days before the intended interview date.
Immigrant visa interview appointments should be arranged a few days in advance. Interviews can be scheduled by calling (359-2) 937-5444 each working day from to 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. This is the direct line to the Immigrant Visa Unit. In case of emergency or if the line is busy, adoptive parents may reach the Immigrant Visa Unit through the Embassy's switchboard: (359-2) 937-5100. Embassy conducts immigrant visa interviews Monday through Thursday.
The first step in adopting a child from Bulgaria is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Bulgaria. Learn more.
Prospective adoptive parents also must use a Bulgarian-licensed U.S. adoption agency or a Bulgarian adoption agency accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing license applications for several U.S.-based adoption agencies. For a complete list of adoption agencies accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, please visit the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria at http://bulgaria.usembassy.gov/adoption3.html
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Bulgaria. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Bulgaria, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Bulgaria, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does Bulgaria require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Bulgaria requires adoptive parents to submit post adoption reports. We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Bulgaria and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Bulgaria's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here is a good place to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
Bulgarian Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Slavyanska Street # 1, Sofia 1000
Tel: (359 2) 923-7303 (Bulgarian only)
http://www.mjeli.Government.bg/ (Bulgarian only)
Embassy of Bulgaria
Embassy of Bulgaria
1621 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: 202-387-0174 (main), 202-387-7969 (consular section)
Email: office@Bulgaria-Embassy.org, Consulate@Bulgaria-Embassy.org
*Bulgaria also has consulates in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)