Adopting a child from Russia
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Adopting a child from Russia
I have been researching adopting from Russia and would like to
hear other family's experiences of the adoption process, as
well as any agency recommendations. Currently, I'm torn
between Ethiopia and Russia - I have always leaned towards an
Eastern European country as that is my heritage but I have
heard the process has become more and more difficult.
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We started out on the path to adopt from Russia -- got as far as completing
our dossier-- and then switched to China because of our concerns about the
process. I should disclose that we did our adoption process back in 2004-6,
so things have changed a lot, but I can provide you some helpful information
while you make your decision.
First, be careful about which agency you use for Russia. I think things have
gotten more regulated with the Hague, but you need to know that due to the
complexity of the process and dealing with the Russian government, you will
want to do your homework and you will find that not all agencies are equally
competent or reliable. At the time, we didn't feel comfortable with any of the
local agencies, and went with WACAP in Seattle. I highly recommend them, as
they are wonderful and a nonprofit that also helps the kids in the countries
Also, we picked an agency that went to multiple countries and would allow us
to switch. Believe me, in starting out we never thought we would switch, but
we made sure we had the option and I am very glad we did.
I am a bit out of the loop with the current process, and I am sure another BPN
poster is more current, but I can tell you that Russia is more complicated
because there is no centralized process-- you have to apply to a region--
and different agencies work with different regions. The requirements keep
getting tougher-- when we were looking into it, most regions required two
trips but some only required 1. Now I hear that there are no 1-trip regions
and many people now have to travel 3 times to meet all the requirements.
My one last suggestion would be to contact Adoption Connection's
international program. They were our homestudy agency, a fabulous non-
profit based out of Jewish Family and Children's Services. We signed up with
them before we decided on our placement agency ( and which country).
Because they were neutral with which agency/country we decided to work
with, they were very helpful in us making our decision - and providing us a
context for our research. I believe they have orientations, and I would highly
Good luck in your decision as you start in your journey-- my last word will be
that it may seem daunting now, but congratulations on taking your first step
as being an adoptive parent is a wonderful, rewarding adventure and the best
thing I have ever done.
Hello-- I am the person who posted above about Russia. I meant to clarify, that
Adoption Connection, the homestudy agency we used is in San Francisco
(www.adoptionconnection.org). If you use an out-of-state country placement
agency (like we did) that isn't licensed to do California homestudies, you can end
up with 2 agencies. Anyway, just to make it clear that you can check out
Adoption Connection in person.
If your heritage is Slavic, then by all means try. There was a case a few years
back that involved a woman who had just adopted from Russia and sent the poor
child back on the plane unaccompanied, if you can believe that! The guidelines
for screening henceforth were understandably more strict. Don't let guidelines
sway you. If you are interested in Russia, I heard such great things about
babyhome13 in St. Petersburg. They have wonderful conditions and an
intervention study last I knew, with more nurturing, and there was even a study
of the children and their development. There was a man who worked at the
orphanage named Rifkat, and he may still be there. I saw him present at the
conference for Society of Research and Child Development. You may want to
look into babyhome13, and I hope they can help you.
Hi, We adopted a baby from Russia in 2004 and had a
fairytale experience, it was, and is, the best thing that
could have happened for us. I have many other friends who
also adopted from Russia, and while they didn't all have the
perfect experience we did, all have no regrets and now have
great kids. I work in adoption now, and hold a couple of
workshops each month on international adoption. The
landscape is constantly changing, but Ethiopia and Russia
are and have been the 2 most predictable, reliable, programs
for infant adoption, along with Korea. There are also many
other countries that are wonderful for older, pre-school and
up, aged children. I'd be happy to answer any questions you
have, refer you to reputable agencies for any country (my
agency, or others), or connect you with some other local
families (Russia or Ethiopia families) who would love to
share with you. I hope you don't feel like you are getting a
response from ''an agency'', my job is to help families
explore adoption, with any agency. Choosing country or
agency is very personal, but I'm happy to share what I know.
May your adoption be blessed!
You didn't say in your post if you were going to adopt an
infant or an older child. If you are considering an older
child please read this article from Today's mom about when
My brother and his wife recently adopted a brother and
sister ages 7 & 8 from Ethiopia. They thought they had
done their homework, but after a short time of bringing
the children home they discovered that the children suffer
from reactive attachment disorder. In addition, the
children later revealed that their biological father
wasn't dead as my brother and his wife had been lead to
believe by the adoption agency. A death certificate had
been fabricated in order to pave the way for the child to
be put up for adoption.
They feel they were scammed by the adoption agency even
though everything seemed very legitimate.
We have adopted in 2005 a one-year old boy and then in 2010
a 4-year old boy from Ethiopia. There is a LOT to share so I
would prefer if you emailed me and we can chat offline.
In Summary: both countries are NOW difficult to deal with
from what I hear. For us Ethiopia was more ''affordable'' but
also now requires two trips (Russia does as well).
What I PERSONALLY experienced was that the orphans from
Russia have often been exposed to alcohol in utero resulting
in FAS as well as (severe) abuse and neglect. Orphans from
Ethiopia have had in general good care and TLC (thru their
extended families and village members) but due to poverty
they are exposed to malnourishment. So from a medical
perspective and IMHO, Ethiopian kids are ''healthier''.
Ethiopians are also ''fighters'' - my Ethiopian child will not
cry and will always try harder and will never give up.
We also felt more comfortable with Ethiopians, very solid
people, very honest, whereas in Russia we always felt pulled
over the table, another bribe here and another ''fee'' there ...
Please note that this is our personal experience and I do
not want to necessarily judge Ethiopia vs. Russia.
What is most important is the AGENCY you are going to work
with. Make sure you go with a solid agency. Good agencies
will also advise you which country to go to etc.
Hope to speak to you soon!
My husband and I are seriously considering adopting a child
from Russia and would very much like to get some agency
recommendations. If you've had a positive Russian adoption
experience, or know someone who has, we'd love to know which
international and local agencies were involved, and how they
helped the process along. Practical advice would also be
welcome, as we are just starting to get the ball rolling here.
First, congratulations on your decision to adopt. It is a very
exciting and sometimes exhausting process!
I can highly recommend HeartSent Adoptions, Inc. (Orinda) as a
great place to start your process. Also, I believe, they offer
a Russian adoption component. Val Free, Executive Director, is
excellent. She is an adoptive parent and a licensed MFT. She
has established an agency which is as caring and supportive as
you could hope for. Also, they offer fantastic courses which
are benefical in the process.
I am a MFT who works in the field of adoption. I have meet with
Val professional and appreciate and respect her very much.
Also, many clients have used HeartSent and have spoken so highly
of their experience. The number is (925) 254-8883. Good luck.
Please be careful with an adoption from Russia. Children in
orphanages there are ''rated'' or ''graded'' with A, B, C, etc.
Children who are in the best shape, with no obvious anomalies or
known problems in the family history, e.g., alcoholism (a
prevalent problem), are given a higher grade (A) and not allowed
to be adopted out of the country. There is a higher incidence of
having problems with a child who is ''adoptable'' under these
terms - special education/learning problems from fetal alcohol
exposure, mental health problems, etc.
Signed, ''Experienced with children of adopted families''
If you haven't already done so, I suggest that you look at the
website http://www.eeadopt.org/ and join their e-mail group for
Russia. There you will get to see a variety of e-mails from
people who are in all stages of the process of adopting from
Russia, and you can see what difficulties or suggestions people
have along the way. The website has some agency recommendations,
but you can also post the question to the list to find out what
agencies people recommend. I have not seen the Russian list, but
I am on an EEAC list for another country, and it has really given
me a wealth of information (including people's experiences after
they get their children home).
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