Knowing makes a difference! This presentation was made to prepare you better for adopting from Russia. Please choose from the topics below to learn more about what to expect during your adoption travel • About Russia •Travel to Russia •Russian children •Adoption process Due to nations diversity Russian children look different, but Russian children equally lovable! Blue-eyed blondes, brown hair dark eyed cuties with caucasian or asian features – all of them are children from Russia. We request that families be open to children up to 18 months old. In some cases, families are referred a child slightly older than their referral request. The majority of the children adopted to the US are 18-24 months old. The waiting time for girls is longer than for boys. You will wait more than 2 years when request a child as young as possible. The more specific you are in your requirements, the longer it takes to find a child for you. Please, try to be more flexible. We suggest you to consider very carefully the expectations regarding your “dream baby”, do it well before your trip and come up with a realistic picture of the child you want to adopt. Children in the orphanages look sad and unhappy even though caregivers give the children care with all the resources they have. No one can be happy living in an orphanage. Please, remember that only loving and caring family can make these children blossom and look cute, just like on these pictures we used for this presentation. How children are matched with The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation the parents? There is a database of all Russian children left without parental care and it is the official listing for all “adoptable” kids. During first 6-8 months after getting into the database these children are available for domestic adoption only. If a child is not adopted by a Russian family during this period, then he/she becomes available for international adoption. The CHI does not match you with a child. Officials/social workers from the regional department of the Ministry of Education match you with a child based on the information from your dossier, your requirements. But they put child’s best interests above all. The Russian Family Code requires to keep confidentiality of adoption, thus you will not be provided with any information about your referred child prior to coming to Russia. However, some exceptions can be done for special needs and older children. Who are these children? • Children who were abandoned/foundlings • Children whose biological parents died • Children whose biological parents relinquished them voluntary or were deprived of their parental rights by a court due to: – Financial problems – Asocial life style – Unwanted pregnancy – Alcohol or drug abuse – Criminal or neglect cases Please be advised that adoptive children come with their own history and issues. In some cases, dealing with child’s traumatic past requires a lot of patience and hard work from the parents, and this is the only way to help your child to recover. Very little or no information is available Information about biological parents or prenatal care despite of our best efforts. about a child In some cases, e.g. when the child is a foundling, details of his/her birth will be never discovered. You will receive a summary of the child’s medical history and diagnoses from the orphanage during your first trip to Russia. You’ll be able to talk to the doctors, caregivers, nurses, and orphanage director according to their availability. Families should come with a list of questions for the doctor and caregiver. Be respectful to them as they will testify in court. • Can you believe that all these children had severe medical diagnoses at the time of the adoption? • Did you know that institutionalization causes developmental delays and aggravate existing medical problems? • What do you know about medical issues which are common for kids adopted from Russia? Russian medical diagnoses may sound scary even to a professional General Practitioner due to differences between approaches applied in Russian and American medical schools and terminology. These are common medical diagnoses of Russian orphans: • Developmental and growth delays, institutionalization effects • Malnutrition, rickets, anemia, premature birth, low birth weight • Neurological diagnoses such as perinatal encephalopathy, pyramidal insufficiency, vegetative dystonia, spastic tetraparesis, etc • Congenital Syphilis and other STD • Stomach and skin parasites • Hepatitis A, B, C and its antibodies • Tuberculosis • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effect • HIV antibodies Planning makes a difference! 1. Study professional medical literature (not just forums and blogs) 2. Find good International Adoption Specialist 3. Once you get the information on your referral, consult with your international adoption pediatrician and consider the information very carefully. 4. If you like, CHI can arrange an independent medical evaluation by a Russian doctor in the region at the family’s expense. 5. Listen to yourself, talk to your spouse and get to know your capabilities for parenting a child with the medical issues mentioned above. REMEMBER: each adopted child needs additional attention and special care! Knowing makes a difference! •About Russia •Russian children •Travel to Russia •Adoption process RUSSIA is your child’s motherland! Russia is a beautiful country, but it is so much different from America! Read books about Russia while waiting; during your travel try to relax and enjoy it despite of bad weather half a year, grey sky and gloomy people. Russia takes time to open up to strangers, but then you’ll be able to see its beauty. Remember it is already a part of your child’s identity, accept it, embrace it, celebrate and enjoy! The map of Russia Russia - the world's largest country - lies across Europe and Asia and spans 11 time zones through 89 regions. KALININGRAD Russia is huge and divers. The CHI has its own representatives from the Western point in Kaliningrad city on the Baltic Sea to the Eastern point in Vladivostok city, the port on the Pacific Ocean. VLADIVOSTOK Our staff is well trained to assist you with all legal steps and have years of experience working with American adoptive parents along with a great relationship with Russian adoption authorities. Trust to CHI Regional Representatives is a key to your successful adoption experience Are you going to Siberia? Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk and Tomsk are typical Siberian cities, mostly industrial, soviet style and sometimes dirty, but beautiful when covered with snow in winter or blossoming with flowers in summer. Different regions in Russia are like States in the USA with their own regional laws and customs. Study CHI Russian web-site www.childrenshope.ru for more information about the regions, including regional legislation. Many old cities and towns such as Smolensk, Pskov, Tver, Nizhny Novgorod, Astrakhan are located in Central Russia. All of them are authentic and beautiful with great historic attractions such as ancient Cathedrals, monasteries, etc. However, small towns in rural areas might look dusty and poor because of lack of resources . The nature here is magnificent, you’ll enjoy great rivers, mountains and lands! MOSCOW is the capital of Russia with population of 13 million inhabitants. Nowadays, it is modern European city with busy traffic, fancy people, luxury shops and restaurants, exhibitions and theatres. At the same time, it is crowded megapolis with unsafe industrial suburbs, plugged with police, homeless and beggars. It is the major transportation hub in Russia with 5 airports and 8 train-stations. You’ll arrive to Moscow first, and then you’ll go to the region of your adoption. While staying in the city visit the heart of the country for every Russian – beautiful Red Square. It is a MUST SEE! Famous Moscow street Old Arbat is the best place for Souvenir Shopping: samovars, fur hats, scarves, wooden spoons and of course Matreshka dolls After a long flight take a walk along Tverskaya street, stop at any restaurant and try delicious Russian food. Unfortunately, it might be difficult to find American food in remote regions, and we suggest you to stick with something simple or try traditional Russian pelmeni, pirogi and blini. Keep caution! As in any big city, there are people who may take advantage of you. Do not carry a lot of money on you and keep your documents in a money-belt. Regardless of the region of your destination, please, be prepared that winters are very cold in Russia! The average temperature in January is about 4-10F, but may occasionally drop to -20F (below zero) and it feels freezing COLD! It is snowing from November till April almost everywhere and the average depth of snow is Grey sky is quite common, it is actually rarely sunny about 10-15 inches. in central Russia. However, the average temperature in summer is around 65-75F, and sometimes it gets above 100F. Air-conditioning is rare unlike heating, which is used for 9 out of 12 months. Heavy spring and fall rains may damage small roads in rural areas making the travel challenging. In big cities Russians often dress trendy (sometimes in a bizarre manner). You will see Clothing tips women wearing high heels and dressy suits even during Wear layers of clothes which can be winter with great fur coats easily taken off if it gets warmer. and hats. Thermal underwear, wool sweaters, You’ll need to dress up hats, scarves, gloves and boots are business casual for adoption appropriate for winter. A snowsuit purposes (formal attire for court) and don’t forget to and a pair of tights is a MUST for bring warm clothes for children of any age and sex from winter! November till April. Knowing makes a difference! •About Russia •Russian children •Travel to Russia •Adoption process We call the adoption “A Journey of Love” because we truly believe it is not just a journey to a different country. We think that you are actually traveling deep inside your heart to find love for a child you are adopting, to find courage to accept the unknown and make a commitment for the rest of your life to bring hope, health and home to an orphan. CHILDREN’S HOPE INTERNATIONAL RUSSIA PROGRAM started in 1996. Since 1996 we helped more than 1,600 orphans have found their forever families in the US. You will benefit a lot from our decent experience. We will help you, guide you and support you whatever happens during your adoption. The following part is about traveling to Russia Children’s Hope local Russian team We have CHI representatives in every region we work with The CHI will arrange your international In-country and in-country travel, organize transportation and accommodation in arrangements Russia with the best convenience to your adoption plan. We provide you with a personal interpreter and driver from the moment you step out of the plane and for the entire time spent in Russia for adoption purposes. The CHI Regional Representative will arrange all official meetings, translate your documents and collect background investigation papers for your child. Moscow hotels We suggest you stay one night in Moscow on the way to the region. You’ll be tired after the long flight. A stop over will help you to adjust to the local time and get ready for all important steps you are just about to take in next few days. Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and it offers high rates for the hotels. Plan to spend about $250-300 per night. You might think it is a lot, and we agree, but you will get an excellent service. Many of our families told us that these money were very well spent. Be prepared to travel from 1,5 to 8 hours from Moscow depending on the region of your destination. Next day you’ll be flying or taking a train to the region of your adoption. The CHI will purchase tickets for you in advance, and you’ll need to reimburse our travel agent for these expenses. The CHI driver will take you to the airport and help you to check-in. Please, pack light especially if you are traveling by plane. Russian domestic airlines’ free baggage allowance is only 44 lbs per person including carry-on. Most regional's hotels are soviet style buildings with very simple but nice and clean rooms. Prices usually include breakfast buffet and VAT. All rooms equipped with Russian TV, long distance phone, bathroom, mini-fridge and sometimes internet. Rooms are often quite small to American standards; you can always ask for a bigger room, but it will double the price. The hotels we book for you are carefully selected to fit best into your adoption activities, in terms of location and convenience. There are not many choices in general due to poor tourist infrastructure in most of the regions. We rely on your understanding and hope that you do not expect anything luxurious. Travel expenses in Russia • Hotel in Moscow – $$ 235-300 per night • Hotel in a region - $$ 120-230 per night • Plane/train tickets - $$ 180-750 per person round trip • Food, souvenirs, sightseeing – up to you (approximately $50 per day per person) • Child’s US visa fee - $ 380 • Parent medicals at the American Medical Clinic - $750 per person (only for some regions) The CHI does not charge additional adoption fees in Russia. We suggest you to bring $$3000-3500 for each trip in cash, new unmarked $50 and $100 bills. It is safe to pay by credit card in the US Embassy, and in the hotels in Moscow and regions. All payments are in Russian Rubles only. At present the exchange rate is 1 dollar per 24 rubles (with a tendency to decrease). Time frames Each region in Russia has its own requirements for international adoption. Depending on what region you are adopting from, you’ll need to stay in Russia from 4 to 7 days during your first trip. For the second trip, the stay will be about 21 days (subject to court decision depending on whether the 10-days waiting period enforced or waived). You may choose not to stay in the region during this 10-days waiting period, and go back to the US instead and come again for a short third trip to pick up your child and get official documents (5-7 days). Knowing makes a difference! •Russian children •About Russia •Travel to Russia •Adoption process ADOPTION PROCESS The very first official step you have to do in the region is visit the Ministry of Education Officials at the MOE will select a child for you from the regional database of all orphans available for international adoption. They will try to select a child closely matching your requirements. At the MOE, you will be given the referral, which is a brief information about the child, his/her full name, age, orphan status, medical diagnoses and orphanage’s location. Usually, there are several orphanages in a region. They are located in 1-3 hours drive from the region’s capital city. Orphanages’ conditions vary from very poor to very good, but all of them kept clean and they provide best possible care to the children. Orphanages Unfortunately, even the best orphanage can not provide enough love and care for a child, and substitute for caring and loving parents. Most orphans are suffering from institutionalization and have developmental delays and medical problems. At the You will meet the director of the orphanage to talk about you child’s biological family orphanage history, medical diagnoses, behavior, etc. Your interpreter will translate all your questions and director/orphanage’s doctor will try to answer at their best knowledge. Write down all the information, ask for copies of your child’s vaccination, growth chats, etc. to send it to your international adoption specialist back in the US. Ask as many questions as you can, always be polite and respectful. The first meeting with your child Try to stay calm and don’t cry not to scare your child. Do not expect a child to jump into your laps and smile right away. You are a stranger to him/her. Slow down, let him be with his/her caregiver for a first few minutes, then take a toy and attract child’s attention. If your child is crying, it is actually a good sign which shows that the child recognizes strangers and feels attached to the caregivers. Toys, rattles, and cookies could help you to break the ice. Have it with you every day you visit the orphanage. During your first trip, you will visit your child at the orphanage every day to spend together as much time as possible, but in compliance with the schedule of the orphanage. We suggest 1-2 hours per day/visit in order not to overstimulate the child. Ask the staff if you can feed your child, change the diapers, and play outside. REMEMBER! During your communication with the child, you’ll be observed by the social worker who will later express his/her opinion to the judge during the court hearing. Try to be at your best and show affection to your child. You’ll have few days to think about adoption, consult with your doctor, family and your partner. When you are ready to make the commitment to adopt the child referred to you, we will take you to a Notary Office to sign an Adoption Petition to the Region Court. You’ll need to specify a new name you are giving to your child in this Adoption Petition. Second referral Not always the first match is right. If , for medical reasons, you decide not to adopt your first referred child you’ll need to talk to the CHI Regional Representative ASAP. You’ll have to go to the Ministry of Education to request the second referral. If possible, you’ll be given the second chance. We’ll do our best to ensure that a family does not leave the region without a child matched. We’ll do everything possible for you, but remember, we depend on the MOE decisions. It might take few more days to find another child for you and you would need to extend your stay in the region. We know how difficult it is to decline the referral, say “NO” to the child and yourself, and explain your decision to the officials. We understand that you are making a life-changing decision! Be sure, the CHI Regional representative will support you in any situation with no questions. Leaving your child at the orphanage Depending on the region, you’ll need to spend 5-7 days in Russia during your first trip. You’ll have to go back to the US and wait for 2-6 months before your second trip. During this time, the judge will be examining the case and social workers together with the CHI will be collecting documents proving official abandonment of your child or relinquishment documents from the birth parents. We understand how difficult this waiting may be for you. We will do everything possible to prepare all the documents for the court hearing as soon as possible. However, the bureaucracy process takes time, just like in the US, and stays beyond our control. Second trip • Both parents must be present at the Court Hearing. • The judge will set the court hearing date according to her/his schedule. The CHI will inform you about the date when it is announced and usually 1-2 weeks before the hearing. • You will need to update some of your documents before the second trip - keep in touch with your adoption consultant. • Pack for your trip in advance, get everything ready before the call – you’ll be in a hurry. The Court Hearing Some regions require that you see your child before the hearing. Thus, you might need to arrive few days in advance. Before the hearing we will tell you what questions are typically asked at the court. Your interpreter will help you during the hearing. The hearing may last from one hour up to full day. The court decree becomes official ten days after the court hearing, subject to the judge’s decision. 10 days waiting period Ten days waiting period for the decree to get into force is mandatory for all civil cases in Russia. However, it can be waived by the judge under certain circumstances, i.e. serious child’s health problems. If 10 days waiting is waived, you’ll spent 4-7 days in the region during your second trip. In most cases/regions adoptive parents have to obey this 10 days waiting period. The child stays in the orphanage before the decree comes into force. OR You may choose to go back to the US and come back to Russia for the third time on the 11th day to pick up the child and collect all the documents. Collecting documents in the region usually takes 2-4 days. Documents Based on the Court Decree you will need to obtain the following documents: The Adoption Certificate The Birth Certificate with child’s new name and your names as parents Having these documents you’ll apply for the International Passport for your child which is necessary for flying to the US. CHI coordinator, interpreter and driver will help you to comply with all these procedures. Picking up your child from the orphanage is very exciting for you but might be scary for your child! Bring toys, food, warm clothes, underwear, tights and snowsuit (for winter). Dress your child warm! Don’t forget to thank caregivers and nurses as well as the director of the orphanage – they took care for your child while he/she was waiting for you. Giving small presents is appropriate but not necessarily. No donation to the orphanage is required as it is already included into your final fee to the agency . Though it would be nice to buy something for children, depending on the orphanage’s needs (toys, diapers, wipes, shampoo, etc., within $100-150). The US Embassy The process of adoption is finalized in Moscow. Regardless of the region of the adoption, all parents must visit the US Embassy in Moscow for an interview in order to receive Immigration Visa for their adopted children. Pre-Visa medical examination of the adopted child is required by the US Law with no exceptions and can be performed in Moscow one day before the interview. The CHI Moscow office will provide qualified help, translation and transportation during these days in Moscow. On the day of your departure to the US, our interpreter and driver will take you to the airport. They will help you to check in and make sure you successfully pass the border control, and then wish you all the best in your new life. ! ! ! EXPECT UNEXPECTED ! ! ! All information in this presentation, including timelines and procedures, is for your information only. Currently, Russia is revising the guidelines for foster and adoption care which may cause changes in the adoption process and timing. The more flexible you are in your expectations, the less stressful the process will be for you. Please, understand that you are getting the most precious gift from Russia – its child. This is a big privilege. People here do expect you to respect all regulations and requirements, even if some of them seems odd. Please, show your respect to this country on behalf of all adoptive parents who already found their children here or just waiting for this chance. We hope that your adoption will be smooth and pleasant. Just stay motivated, don’t be afraid of difficulties and focus on the child your are adopting. The moment you hug your baby all months of dreaming, waiting, worrying and traveling will turn into your adoption story, as touching and moving, as this one, presented by one of our families: Children all over Russia are waiting for you!
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