Ukraine: New Adoption Mecca

Odessa Orphanage, courtesy of Universal Aid for Children, Inc.

Odessa Orphanage, courtesy of Universal Aid for Children, Inc.

Tina Traster’s piece in The Daily Beast, refers to Ukraine as “America’s New Adoption Mecca,” in the wake of Russia’s international adoption shut down. As you may know, Russia halted international adoptions to the US in early 2013, prior to which it had hovered at the 2nd or 3rd most popular sending country for international adoption.

Some families who were in the process of adoption Russian children are now turning to Ukraine to fulfill their goals of expanding their families. In her story, Traster profiles a family that adopted a baby with a congenital heart defect just 9 months after beginning the adoption process (Ukraine requires children to be at least 5 to be adopted in most circumstances; one exception is where the child has special needs).

It’s not that the process is easier per se – Ukraine requires post-adoption reports every 3 years until a child turns 18 for example – but Ukraine’s adoption process doesn’t seem to be as affected by intracountry turmoil or adoption politics as other countries. This means Ukraine can be viewed as a reliable source for international adoptions, where the process won’t be disrupted by the country closing its doors.

However, as Traster notes, when she adopted from Russia 10 years ago, she was “never afraid our efforts would be stymied by shifting political winds, or by anything at all. Like many other adoptive parents, we chose Russia because—though the adoption process was grueling and expensive—it was a sure thing, unlike the minefield that domestic adoption can be.”

An additional boon to adopting from Ukraine right now is that it is not party to the Hague Convention, meaning it is not bound by the type of bureaucracy or red tape that delays the adoption process and makes it more costly.

It will be interesting to watch the numbers of adoptees from Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s adoption shut-down. It will also be interesting to see how successful the country is in adopting its orphans out while keeping corruption at a minimum, in light of claims that being a non-party to the Hague convention engenders corruption.

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Hopefully its adoption process doesn’t go the way of Russia’s.

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