Last Updated: April 2008

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

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

According to Lithuanian law, only children whose parents are deceased or whose parents have had their parental rights taken away are eligible for adoption. There are few such children and the Lithuanian families interested in adopting are given precedence.

Two U.S. embassies play complementary roles in the immigrant visa process for Lithuanian citizens, including adopted orphans. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland ultimately issues all immigrant visas for citizens and residents of Lithuania . The U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania conducts the mandatory I-604 Orphan Investigation interview for all orphan cases.

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

Who Can Adopt

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

  • Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents in Lithuania.
  • Age Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents generally cannot be over 50 years of age. There must be a minimum age difference of 18 years between the prospective adoptive parents and the child.
  • Marriage Requirements: Intercountry adoptions are usually limited to married couples. A single parent may be considered in exceptional cases when 1) the individual has been the foster parent of the particular child to be adopted, 2) the child has extremely serious health problems and no married couple wishes to adopt the child, or 3) the child is eight years of age or older and unable to be placed with another family.
  • Other Requirements: Certain medical conditions can disqualify prospective adoptive parents. The Government of Lithuania publishes a list of medical conditions. The list is maintained on the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service website. Some of the conditions are dipsomania (alcoholism), drug addiction "absent steady remission," mental diseases (not specified), AIDS, HIV positive status, infectious tuberculosis, chronic kidney insufficiency when dialysis is obligatory, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), epilepsy with mental and personality changes, multi-system degeneration and third or fourth stage cancers.
Who Can Be Adopted

Because Lithuania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Lithuania must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Lithuania attempt to place a child with a family in Lithuania before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Lithuania'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

Lithuania's Adoption Authority

The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service

The Process

Because Lithuania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Lithuania 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 Lithuania 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 Lithuania
  6. Bring your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

    The first step in adopting a child from Lithuania 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 Lithuania. 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 Lithuania. Lithuania's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Lithuania's law.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

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

  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 for 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 Lithuania'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 Lithuania, 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 Lithuania.

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

    • Role of The Adoption Authority: The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service places approved prospective adoptive parents on a waiting list according to the date of submission of the complete set of documents. Once a child is matched, the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service issues special permission for the prospective adoptive parents to meet the child.
    • Role of The Court: After the Chairman of the Vilnius District Court verifies that all the documents are in order, he assigns the case to one of the Vilnius District Court judges for final review. The assigned judge will set a court date. After the judge approves the adoption, there is a 40-day waiting period before the adoption is final. Adoptive parents should note that the adopted child remains in the custody of the institution where he/she resided prior to the hearing. Special permission may be granted in some cases for the child(ren) to reside with the adoptive parents in Lithuania.
    • Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption agency forwards the prospective adoptive parents' letter of interest in adopting to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service.
    • Time Frame: Once a family is approved to adopt, it can take several years for a child eligible for intercountry adoption to be matched with the prospective adoptive parents' preferences. After a referral has been made and accepted, an adoption petition can be filed with the court. There is a 40-day waiting period from the time the court issues the final approval until it comes into force.
    • Adoption Application: The prospective adoptive parents submit their application (letter) to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service. The letter should describe the gender and age of the child(ren) they are interested in adopting, prospective adoptive parents' ages and professions, and any family ties to Lithuania.
    • Adoption Fees: 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.

      Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Lithuania include a $42 USD filing fee with the court for the adoption hearing. Prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay adoption agencies for services rendered.
    • Documents Required: The following is a list of documents that must accompany the letter requesting adoption:
      Information letter introducing the prospective adoptive parents (issued by the Central Governmental authority or accredited adoption association)
      • Home Study copy (the socio-psychological study)
      • Permit for adoption issued by a competent authority of the receiving state
      • Confirmation of a competent authority of the receiving state that the adopted child will be permitted to enter the country for permanent residence
      • Copies of prospective adoptive parents' passports or other personal identification documents
      • Copies of birth certificates
      • Copy of marriage certificate, divorce certificate (if divorced), or death certificate of the spouse (if widowed)
      • Health certificates
      • Certificates of the family's financial standing (income received and assets owned)
      • Criminal record certificates
      • Health certificates and copies of birth certificates of children residing together with prospective adoptive parents

    If the family applies through an accredited adoption agency, the following documents must also be submitted:

    • Power of attorney issued by the family to the agency
    • Document issued by a competent authority of the receiving state certifying the authority of the agency to engage in intercountry adoption

    The following is a list of documents that must accompany the letter requesting a hearing:

    • Full names and addresses of the prospective adoptive parents
    • Names and addresses of the Lithuanian state representative in charge of the orphanage or institution where the child resides
    • Statement regarding why they want to adopt a child
    • Statement as to whether the child is to be their stepchild (in cases where a foreigner wishes to adopt a child of his/her spouse in Lithuania or adoptive child)
    • New name to be given to the adoptive child
    • Affidavit from the birth parent(s) surrendering all rights to the child, if there are surviving biological parents OR a
    • Lithuanian court decision regarding termination of parental rights
    • Statement from the institution responsible for the child agreeing to the adoption
    • Financial statement of the adoptive parents indicating that they are financially able to provide for the child
    • Copy of the home study (updated by the authority or accredited adoption association that prepared the original home study)
    • Health certificates
    • Certificates of the family's financial standing
    • Criminal record certificates
    • Original birth certificate of the child
    • Filing fee receipt

    The hearing request should be sent to the Vilnius District Court at the following address:

    Chairman, Civil Cases Department
    Vilnius District Court
    Gedimino 40/1
    Telephone: (370-5) 261-4923

  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 three 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.

      The adoptive parents must present the original Adoption Decree and the child's original birth certificate to the Vilnius Civil Registry Office, Kalinausko Street #21, Room 8, together with their passports and marriage certificate, in order to obtain a new birth certificate and adoption certificate.

    • Lithuania Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Lithuania.

      A Lithuanian passport may be obtained from the local migration office where the child was residing before the adoption. Adoptive parents will need four photos of the child according to strict Government requirements for the passport. The passport can take from 1-15 days depending on the method of issuance the parents choose. Most passports issued outside the Vilnius area take at least 3 days with express processing. The fee for regular passport processing, which takes three to four weeks, is about $42 USD. For a five-day turnaround, the fee is $55 USD and for next-day service it is $68 USD. The child must be present while the adoptive parents submit the passport application. At least one of the adoptive parents must sign the passport application. When applying for the child's new passport, the adoptive parents must present the following documents:
      • Copies of the adoptive parents' passports
      • Copy of the consent to adoption by the biological parents, copy of the biological parents' death certificates, or copy of the court's judgment regarding the declaration of the biological parents as legally incapable or the restriction of the parents' authority for an unlimited period
      • Copies of the child's original and new birth certificates
      • Copy of the child's birth entry
      • Copy of the Mayor's decree regarding the temporary guardianship of the child or the court's judgment regarding the establishment of permanent guardianship for the child
      • Banker's receipt certifying the payment of the fee
    • 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, contact the U.S Embassy for the final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. Adoptive parents should contact the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius by telephone at (370)(5) 266-5600 to schedule the visa interview. The embassy requires three working days' advance notice for all appointments. Visas cannot be issued outside of working hours. 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. The U.S. Embassy panel physician in Lithuania is Dr. Richard Cervin located at Gedimino Pr. 1-19, telephone number (370) (5) 261-3534. The cost of the medical exam is $120.00 USD for children under 15 years of age

      Note: Please also do not plan to depart from Vilnius the same day as the interview. Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.

      Learn more.

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 Lithuania. 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 Lithuania, 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 Lithuania, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

After Adoption

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

Lithuania does not have any post-adoption requirements.

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 are some good places 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 Lithuania
Akmenu 6
Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 011-370-5-266-5500
Fax: 011-370-5-266-5590

Lithuania's Adoption Authority
The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service
Ministry of Social Security and Labour:
Sodu g. 15
LT-03211 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 370-5-231-0928
Fax: 370-5-231-0927

Embassy of Lithuania
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 302
Arlington, VA 22201
Tel: (202) 234-5860
Fax: (202) 328-0466

* Lithuania also has consulates in Chicago and New York.

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747

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)