Greece

Last Updated: September 2009

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Greece Adoption Notice: On September 2, 2009, Greece signed and ratified the Hague Adoption Convention; it will enter into force for Greece on January 1, 2010.

Greece 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 Greece and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

Greece is not a major Country of Origin for children adopted through intercountry adoption. There are many more prospective adoptive parents in Greece than there are children eligible for adoption. Over the recent 5 years, only 3 Greek children have received orphan immigrant visas to the U.S. following their adoptions by U.S. citizen parents.

Although there are no private adoption agencies in Greece, children may be adopted with the involvement of an attorney or gynecologist who will act as a facilitator. Whether a child is adopted through one of the government-run institutions and orphanages, or privately, a lawyer is required.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.

Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Greece is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Greece, 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 adoptive parents, Greece also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: You must be a resident of Greece to adopt a child from any of the governmental institutions and orphanages in Greece which care for orphaned or abandoned infants. Exceptions for prospective adoptive parents who do not reside in Greece will be made only for children with health problems who live in Greek institutions. In the case of a private adoption, no restriction applies as to the place of residence of the prospective parents.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: You must be between the ages of 30 and 60 in order to adopt a child. At least one of the adoptive parents must be at least 18 years older but not more than 50 years older than the adopted child. Only minors can be adopted, except in the case of step-parent adoption. Although the legal process of adoption cannot be started before the child reaches 3 months of age, in almost all cases of private adoption biological parents give the child to prospective adoptive parents immediately after birth.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: You must provide evidence of financial status.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: There is no religious requirement in order to adopt a child in Greece.
Who Can Be Adopted

Because Greece is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Greece must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Greece attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Greece's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment Requirements: The consent of biological parents and a court decision.
  • Abandonment Requirements: The court process replaces the consent of biological parents as necessary and facilitates procedures between the adoptive parents and the interested party, providing a judicial guarantee.
  • Relinquishment Requirements: Only minors can be adopted, except in the case of step-parent adoption.
  • Sibling Requirements: The court takes into consideration the perspectives of the children of the adopting family.
  • Requirements for Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Medical Reports are needed in addition to all other documents.
  • Waiting Period: Due to a limited number of children available for adoption and a large number of prospective adoptive parents, the waiting period to finalize an adoption is approximately five years for a child living in an institution. For children with health problems, the waiting period usually takes up to three years. An attorney is necessary in order to present the case in court and finalize the adoption. Court decisions concerning adoption cases usually take from 1-6 months before a final decision is made.
How To Adopt

Greece's Adoption Authority

Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity
Aristotelous 17
104 33 Athens, Greece
Tel. 210-5232821-9
Fax 210-5234768
website: http://www.yyka.gov.gr/

The Process

Because Greece is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Greece 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 Greece 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 .

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in Greece
  6. Bringing your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

    The first step in adopting a child from Greece 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 Greece. Learn more.

  2. 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 Greece. Greece's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Greece's law.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If both the United States and Greece determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Greece 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.

  4. 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 and enter the United States. 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 Greece's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.

    Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

  5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-country:

    Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in COUNTRY, 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 COUNTRY.

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Greece generally includes the following:

    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: According to Greek Law, 2447/1996, all petitions submitted to local orphanages by the prospective adoptive parents are followed by an extensive and thorough field investigation performed by the social services of the institution, which is supervised by the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity. When the investigation is over, the case file is forwarded to the local institution's committee.

      The local institution's committee approves or disapproves the petition of the prospective parents. This committee then matches prospective adoptive parents with children, taking into account the specific needs of specific children and the corresponding ability of prospective parents to meet those needs.

      If the child is 12 years of age and over and of sound psychological condition, the court takes the child's wishes into consideration. In addition, the court takes into consideration the perspectives of the children of the adopting family. Because of the relatively small number of adoptions in Greece, this matching process can be detailed and precise. Adoptive parents' applications are processed by the local institutions strictly in chronological order; with the exception that priority is given to persons willing to adopt a child with special physical or psychological needs.

      If the petition is approved, the case file is forwarded to the appropriate court for endorsement.

      In order for prospective parents who live abroad to initiate an adoption, they must communicate with the respective office of the International Social Services in their country of residence, www.iss-ssi.org (for the Greek branch, issgr@otenet.gr). For private adoptions within Greece, the social service arm of the respective Prefecture (Nomarchy) of the area where the parents reside will conduct the field investigation. The law requires that a home study be conducted by local social services, prior to the court hearing, so that the family and the social status of the adoptive parents can be determined.

      There is a 15-20 day fostering period for children living in institutions.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: Adoptions done privately are also legal in Greece. In case of a private adoption, no restriction applies as to the place of residence of the prospective parents. There are no private adoption agencies in Greece; however, children may be adopted with the involvement of an attorney or gynecologist who will act as a facilitator. A court decision must be issued following the field investigation by the relevant social service. The majority of private adoption mediators ensure that biological parents do not know the details of the adoptive parents, to exclude the possibility of blackmail attempt or other unlawful action.

      The documents that comprise the legal file submitted to the court in order to issue a final decision for the adoption are:
      • Field investigation report by the Institution's social service department;
      • Marriage certificate;
      • Penal record;
      • Family status certificate;
      • Written consent of biological parent(s);
      • Proof of good financial status of prospective adoptive parents;
      • Medical examination of the adoptive parents (excluding those with chronic diseases).

      In the abandonment context, a court process replaces the consent of biological parents as necessary and facilitates procedures between the adoptive parents and the interested party. Specifically, the consent of parents for adoption of their child is replaced with a specially reasoned decision of the court if:

      1. Parents are unknown or the child is abandoned;
      2. Both parents have been denied parental responsibility or are in a situation where they have been forbidden to exercise parental control regarding their ability to consent to adoption of the child;
      3. Parents have an unknown residence;
      4. The child is protected by a recognized social organization, if he/she has been removed from the parent's custody and the parents refuse to give consent; or
      5. The child is delivered with the consent of parents to a (foster) family for care and upbringing, with the intent to adopt, and the child has been integrated into that family for at least a year, and the parents later refuse to give consent.
    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no private adoption agencies in Greece. Children may be adopted with the involvement of an attorney or gynecologist who will act as a facilitator. Whether an individual adopts a child from one of the government-run institutions and orphanages, or privately, a lawyer is required.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: An application signed by the adoptive parents is submitted to the institution.
    • TIME FRAME: Due to the limited number of children available for adoption, and the large number of prospective adoptive parents, the waiting period to finalize an adoption is approximately five years for a child living in an institution. An attorney is required in order to present the case to court and finalize the adoption. Court decisions concerning adoption cases usually take from 1-6 months before a final decision is issued. For children with health problems it usually takes up to three years. The timeframe for private adoptions varies.
    • ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your accredited U.S. agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

      There are also some fees specifically associated with adopting from Greece:

      The U.S. Embassy in Athens is aware that prospective adoptive parents will have to obtain a "revenue stamp" (Greek Government fee) before a child is released to him or her by a local institution. Court and attorney fees generally may be approximately 1,000 Euros for adoption of children living in local institutions. Fees may change. Fees and expenses may exist for private adoptions and they can be substantial.

    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: In the case of an intercountry adoption, the International Social Service in Athens requires the following documents from prospective adoptive parents in order to proceed with a field investigation:
      • An application to show their interest to adopt a child, notarized by the Greek police if they happen to be here in Greece, or sent through their International Social Services office from the United States;
      • Certified copies of birth certificates, and baptismal certificates if applicable, of the adoptive parents;
      • Certified copy of their marriage certificate;
      • Medical certificates concerning the general health condition, and separate certificates concerning the mental health of the adoptive parents;
      • Evidence of the financial status of the adoptive parents; and
      • Penal records of both adoptive parents. A "penal record" is a document that Greek citizens can obtain from the appropriate area judicial authority regard to their "conviction free" background. It has been the Embassy's experience that U.S. citizens, whenever required, can submit to the Greek authorities an FBI record, which is considered to serve the same purpose.

      NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.

  6. 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 several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate
      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 .

      In another provision, the court may intervene in the name of the adopted child. It may allow the adoptive parent, upon application, to add to or change the family name of the child and to add another name or delete the first (given) name that the child had before the adoption, if this is in the interest of the child.

      There should be a court decision on any changes made on the name of the adopted child based on the primary birth certificate. This certificate is then presented to the Greek registry office (Lixiarhion).

    • Greek Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Greece. The adopting parents can apply for their child's passport by presenting the required documents to the Greek passport authorities.

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa
      After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a 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.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.

*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 the United States. 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.

For more information on Greek entry and exit requirements, 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 Greece, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

After Adoption

What does Greece require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

There are no post-adoption reporting requirements. However, within Greece, there is mutual cooperation between adopted parents and the social workers from Governmental institutions. Psychologists assist adopted parents with any problems that may arise. The welfare Department of the Ministry of Health follows up on the wellbeing of adopted children in their new homes for as long as needed.

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

U.S. Embassy in Greece

Vasilissis Sophias 91
101 60 Athens, Greece
210-7202404, uscis.athens@dhs.gov (Dept of Homeland Security)
210-7202452, athensconsul@state.gov (Immigrant Visa Unit)

Greece's Adoption Authority

Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity
Aristotelous 17
104 33 Athens, Greece
Tel: 210-5232820-9
Fax: 210-5234768

"Kentro Vrefon MITERA" (Ages 0-4)
Dimokratias 65
131 22 Ilion
Tel: 210-2619700
www.eokf.gr & proedro@kvmitera.gr

"Idrima Agios Andreas" (Ages 6-12)
Thoukididou 82,
174 55 Alimos
Tel: 210-9811067 & 210-9838168

"Anarotirio Pendelis - Monada Kinonikis Frodidas" (Ages 0-6)
Terma Ippokratous
152 36 00 Pendeli
Tel. 210-8109900
Fax: 210-8043230

"Agios Stylianos Center" (Ages 0-4)
28is Oktovriou 99
546 42 Thessaloniki
Tel. 2310-940057
Fax: 2310-939860
www.agiosstylianos.com

Embassy of Greece
2217 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: 202-939-1300
Fax: 202-234-2803
http://www/greekembassy.org/

Greece also has Consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Florida. For detailed contact information, please visit the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at , www.mfa.gr .

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
http://adoption.state.gov

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)