Turkey

Last Updated: May 2011

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

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

Turkey is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. Many Turkish families both within and outside Turkey are interested in adopting orphans even though there is a several-year waiting period. Turkish families are given preference in adoption of children between the ages of 0 and 6, and are able to adopt children with or without medical problems.

Foreign nationals generally only can adopt children who cannot be placed with Turkish families or who have special needs. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Turkey, including adoptions of Turkish children by Turkish-American dual nationals, relatives in the United States, or adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Turkey.

Note: Turkish law requires prospective adoptive parents to spend a year caring for the child in Turkey prior to finalizing the adoption. Although Turkish law allows for a child to leave Turkey during the one-year probationary period, a U.S. visa cannot be issued until the probationary period is over and the adoption is final. U.S. prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to remain in Turkey for one year.

Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Turkey is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Turkey, 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). Read more on Who Can Adopt.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Turkey also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Turkish law requires prospective adoptive parents to spend a year caring for the child in Turkey prior to finalizing the adoption. Although Turkish law allows for a child to leave Turkey during the one-year probationary period, a U.S. visa cannot be issued until the probationary period is over and the adoption is final. U.S. prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to remain in Turkey for one year.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: The adoptive parent must be at least 30 years of age and there must be at least an 18-year age difference between the prospective parent and child. Adoptive parents must not be over the age of 40 if they wish to adopt children who are under one year old. Prospective adoptive parents who are over 40 can only adopt older children. Those who reach 41 during the waiting period after submitting their application will be asked to adopt older children. Foreign nationals who do not speak Turkish and who are between the ages of 30 and 40 may only adopt children under the age of three.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Adoptive parents may be single or married. A married couple can only adopt the child together. Unmarried couples cannot adopt a child together. Couples younger than 30 years of age must be married for at least five years to be eligible to adopt. A spouse younger than 30 years of age can adopt his/her spouse’s child only if they have been married for more than two years.

    A spouse can adopt a child alone if he/she can prove that the other spouse is mentally incapacitated or his/her whereabouts is unknown for over two years or if the couple is legally separated for over two years.

    Couples determined to be eligible for adoption after professional evaluation are given a priority date in accordance to their application dates with the central authority. No other prioritization is made within applications.

  • INCOME AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS: Adoptive parents must be psychologically and biologically healthy, have a certain level of education and culture to raise a child in a safe and good environment and be financially capable of providing for the child. Adoptive parents must not have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude and cannot be users of illicit drugs. All conditions and requirements that are mentioned above are evaluated by the General Directorate of Social Services and Child Protection Agency officials.
Who Can Be Adopted

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

In Turkey, there are three categories of children who are eligible for adoption:

  1.  Parents give their consent in court for the adoption of their child; or
  2.  Social Services and Child Protection Agency qualifies the child for adoption by court order without the consent of the parents.

Consent of the parents is not required when:

  • Either parents or their whereabouts are unknown.
  • Parents are mentally ill
  • Parents are incapacitated
  • Parents are unable to take care of the child 

When submitting a request to adopt, prospective adoptive parents may indicate from which of the two categories they would like to adopt. They may also choose to be considered for both categories. If they change their mind in the waiting process, they may submit a petition for the change.

Remember: As noted on the first page of this Country Information for Turkey, foreign nationals generally only can adopt children who cannot be placed with Turkish families or who have special needs.

How To Adopt

Turkey's Adoption Authority

General Directorate of Social Services and Child Protection Agency
(T.C. Basbakanlik Sosyal Hizmetler ve Cocuk Esirgeme Kurumu Genel Mudurlugu).

The Process

Because Turkey is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Turkey 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 Turkey 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. Read about Transition Cases for more information.

  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 Turkey
  6. Bringing your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:

    The first step in adopting a child from Turkey 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 Turkey.
  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). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

    Once the U.S. government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, your agency should forward your information to the adoption authority in Turkey. Turkey’s adoption authority will evaluate your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Turkish law.
  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If both the United States and Turkey determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Turkey will provide you with a referral for a child. The central authority in Turkey will provide detailed information about the child to the adoption agency and inform you to contact your agency to receive the information. 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. 

    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 Turkey’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 Turkey:

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

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Turkey:

    In Turkey, the adoption process of both orphans under the state custody and children still living with their families given up for adoption, must go through the General Directorate of Social Service & Child Protection Agency.

    Prospective adoptive parents residing in the United States who would like to adopt a child in Turkey must file their application with their local adoption authority. Once they are found eligible for adoption, the Turkish adoption authority is notified in writing by the local authority and necessary documentation is submitted.

    If the application is complete, General Directorate of Social Service & Child Protection Agency will match the parents with a child and inform them and their agency. If the prospective parents decide that the child is suitable for their family and once it is determined that the child is eligible for adoption in the US, the Turkish adoption authority should be informed in writing. Arrangements to meet the child will be made thereafter.

    If the prospective adoptive parent(s) and social workers both agree, the representative from the Agency and the adopting parent(s) sign a one-year child care contract. During this period the relationship between the parents and the child should be monitored and reported to the Turkish authority. If at the end if this one year period no problems are encountered and if it is determined that the adoption will be in favor of the child, the parents are referred to court to start the legal process of adoption. The adoptive parents must submit the final adoption decree and the child’s updated birth certificate information to the Turkish authority once they gain the child’s custody in court.

    Private adoptions in Turkey are currently not allowed. All adoptions must go through the General Directorate of Social Service & Child Protection Agency. The agency currently only allows private adoptions between relatives.

    The process of immigrating adopted relatives to United States is the same. The identity documents and contact information of the prospective parents and their relative to be adopted, along with their home study are submitted to the General Directorate of Social Service & Child Protection Agency. If it is determined that the child relative is suitable for adoption the prospective parents are invited to Turkey to sign the one-year child care contract.

    Remember: Any referrals other than the above mentioned channels will not be accepted. The Turkish central authority will not approve any unlawful adoption attempts.

    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no private adoption agencies or non-governmental organizations handling adoption cases in Turkey. Adopting parents are not required to have a legal representative to process an adoption in Turkey. However, families that do not do so may face some problems with language or have difficulty navigating the Turkish adoption process. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara recommends families consider engaging a translator or an English-speaking attorney. A list of such attorneys is available on the Embassy website at http://ankara.usembassy.gov.  This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys.
    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Once the administrative process (which can take several months) is completed, the family is contacted and invited to Turkey to meet the specified child eligible for intercountry adoption

      Required one-year probationary period: Turkish law requires prospective adoptive parents to spend a year caring for the child in Turkey prior to finalizing the adoption. When the family is matched with a child to adopt, the legal adoption procedure begins with a one-year care contract signed between the prospective adoptive parents and the Director of Social Services & Child Protection in the city where the child resides. Under Turkish law, the Agency is the legal guardian of the child and remains the legal guardian until the adoption is finalized. However, the one-year contract makes the prospective adoptive parents responsible for the child’s welfare, education and medical care for the pre-adoption year.

      Note: In adoptions between relatives, a judge grants physical custody of a child to the prospective adoptive parents temporarily during the one-year probationary period. 
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: At the end of the one-year period, adopting parents and the child are required to return to court so a Turkish judge can finalize the adoption. The General Directorate of Social Services and Child Protection Agency prepares all documents required for the court procedure. Once the judge approves the adoption, the child is then registered as the son/daughter of the adoptive family and has the same legal status as a biological child.
    • TIME FRAME: Families are normally able to finalize the adoption in Turkish court in two to three weeks once they complete the one-year probationary period. Obtaining a Turkish passport, a new birth certificate and the U.S. immigrant visa can take an average of 7-10 days after the adoption is finalized.

      According to the law, the adoption procedure must be completed within certain periods of time. It can be completed on time when the U.S. Adoption Agency, the General Directorate of Social Service & Child Protection Agency and the prospective family work in coordination.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Foreign nationals who have permits to reside in Turkey for more than one year must make their application at the local Directorate of Social Services. Foreign nationals and Turkish-American families residing outside of Turkey not resident in Turkey should submit their applications to the authorized institutions in their respective countries. U.S. citizens not residing Turkey should submit their applications through an authorized adoption agency in the US. Turkish General Directorate of Social Services and Child Protection Agency can work in coordination with any adoption agency accredited in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention. When submitting a request to adopt, prospective adoptive parents may indicate from which of categories of eligible children they are interested in adopting. They may also choose to be considered for both categories explained in the section called Who Can Be Adopted. If they change their mind in the waiting process, they may submit a petition for the change.
    • ADOPTION FEES: There are no Turkish government fees for adoption. Prospective adoptive families can expect to pay notary public ($20-$50 per document depending on the subject), translations ($10 per page), birth registration ($10 -$20), and the child’s Turkish passport of the child ($80-$100).
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Prospective adoptive parents applying to the General Directorate of Social Service & Child Protection Agency will receive a statement and a form from the agency to complete. Prospective adoptive parents are also required to provide their birth certificates, police clearance documents, health and residency documents, financial documents and Social Security and insurance information along with documentation regarding their education. All documents not in English must be accompanied by certified Turkish translations. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator that states that the translation is accurate. The translation must also be accompanied by proof the translator is certified to translate.
    • NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, read more on Traveling Abroad to learn about Authenticating U.S. Documents
  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.

      In order to learn how to obtain a Turkish birth certificate for your adopted child please visit the Turkish Ministry of Interior's web site http://www.nvi.gov.tr/Hizmetler,Nufus_Cuzdani.html

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

      In order to learn how to obtain a Turkish passport for your adopted child please visit the Turkish Passport Office's web site http://www.egm.gov.tr/hizmet.pasaport.umuma.mahsus.asp

      Any Turkish citizen may obtain an individual passport. Passport validity varies between three months to five years upon request. Individuals are required to submit an passport application form, original birth certificate, 4 passport size photograph (4.5 x 6 cm), notarized travel consent from parents or legal representative and passport fee

      Note: The one-year Turkish care contract in adoptions does not grant legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption abroad.

    • 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. Read more about Health Consideration.

      On February 4, 2008, the U.S. Embassy Ankara’s panel physicians began using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions (TB TIs) for the TB medical screening for all immigrant visa applicants from Turkey, including adopted children. The 2007 TB TIs include new requirements that affect the pace at which some adoption cases can be concluded.  Please visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/panel_2007.htm for further information regarding the 2007 Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment for Panel Physicians.

    Remember: As noted on the first page of this Country Information for Turkey, Turkish law requires prospective adoptive parents to spend a year caring for the child in Turkey prior to finalizing the adoption. Although Turkish law allows for a child to leave Turkey during the one-year probationary period, a U.S. visa cannot be issued until the probationary period is over and the adoption is final. U.S. prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to remain in Turkey for one year.

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.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Turkey. 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 may 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 Turkey, 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 Turkey, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

After Adoption

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 Turkey
American Embassy Ankara (only immigrant visa processing post in Turkey)
110 Ataturk Blvd.
Kavaklidere
06100 Ankara, Turkey
Phone: 90-312-455 5555
Fax: 90-312-468 6103
Internet: http://turkey.usembassy.gov/

Turkey's Adoption Authority
General Directorate of Social Services and Child Protection Agency
(T.C. Basbakanlik Sosyal Hizmetler ve Cocuk Esirgeme Kurumu Genel Mudurlugu).
Address: Anafartalar Cad. N: 70 Ulus Ankara, Turkey
Phone: 90-312-310 2460
Internet: www.shcek.gov.tr

Embassy of Turkey
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
2525 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 612-6700
Fax: (202) 612-6744
E-mail: contact@turkishembassy.org
http://www.washington.emb.mfa.gov.tr/

Turkey also has Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York.

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)