Adopting from Ukraine – the Referral Process


Vanya 002What is the referral process like for families adopting from Ukraine? Ukraine issues a “blind referral,” which means that a family doesn’t receive a referral prior to travel. Instead, families are invited for an appointment with the Central Adoption Authority, the State Department for Adoptions and Protection of the Rights of the Child (SDAPRC), commonly referred to as the SDA, in Ukraine. At the appointment, the family will then be given several files to consider of children who are in need of families. Below are the steps of the process once a family’s dossier has been registered and an appointment date is issued.

The family will be notified as soon as the SDA has issued an appointment date. The date given is not flexible; families must be prepared to travel, and due to possible flight delays or cancellations, families are requested to arrive at least two days prior to their scheduled appointment. MLJ Adoptions clients have waited between two and three months from dossier submission in Ukraine to traveling to the country!

Upon arrival, MLJ’s staff will take the family to meet with the SDA. At that time they will be presented with the child(ren)’s files for review. The SDA presents families with pictures of children eligible for adoption according to the requirements of Ukraine who most closely match the profile (age, sex, etc.) desired. After the search is narrowed, the family will further review the medical records and whatever other background information is provided of the children of interest. The family should calmly discuss the chosen referral with the Ukraine representatives and with the officials at the SDA.

Once a child is selected to meet and the SDA completes the travel documents for the orphanage, the family will then travel to visit the child. Depending on the location and how long it takes to the SDA to complete the travel documents, the family can expect to travel to the orphanage within one to three days.  This document is needed to submit to the Ministry of Justice for the region where the orphanage is located. Upon arrival to the designated region the family will go to Children’s Inspector’s office and present the approval letter from the SDA. Then, the family will then travel to orphanage to meet the children they wish to meet.

The family then makes a decision to move forward with or to decline the proposed referral. This happens informally first, then formally. When a child is selected for adoption, the SDA then removes the child’s name from the database of children who have been orphaned legally available for adoption. A child(ren) must give his or her consent to be adopted, and he or she maintains the right to say “no” to prospective adoptive parents.

If a family decides to decline the referral, or if the child says “no”,  the SDA will allow the family to select another child, but they will have to travel back to the SDA in Kiev to make subsequent arrangements. The caseworker at the SDA has the right to deny the family the opportunity to visit another child, which could happen if they feel that they family’s expectations are unrealistic following the meeting with the first child, or the family has been disrespectful to the SDA or the orphanage. There are a total of two proposed referrals allowed on a trip. Families may request another visit, but will have to travel back to Ukraine for this at another time.

For more information on adopting from Ukraine, please contact us.

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.