Index of "International Adoptions Reports"
Index of "Population, Refugees and Migration" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. Department of State
1995: International Adoption -- Belarus
Bureau of Consular Affairs
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION IN BELARUS
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. QUESTIONS INVOLVING
INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO
The government of Belarus stresses that American citizens
interested in adopting a child in Belarus should not travel to
that country until the stipulated adoption procedures have been
The following is a guideline for U.S. citizens who are
interested in adopting a child in Belarus. This process can be
expensive, time-consuming, and difficult, involving complex
foreign and American legal requirements. Adoptions are given
careful consideration on a case-by-case basis by both foreign
judicial authorities and American consular officers to ensure
that the legal requirements of both countries have been met for
the protection of the adoptive parent(s), the natural
parent(s), and the child. Interested Americans are strongly
advised to read the following information carefully. Contact
the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service early in the
process, before you have identified a specific child to adopt.
Contact American consular officials in Belarus before
formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate
visa procedures have been followed.
AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION
Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following
pattern for visa issuance to orphans:
IR-3 Immigrant Visas IR-4 Immigrant Visas
Fiscal Issued to Belarusian Issued to Belarusian
Year Orphans Adopted Abroad Orphans Adopted in U.S.
FY-1992 13 8
FY-1993 32 4
FY-1994 2 1
BELARUSIAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY
The Ministry of National Education in Minsk (Ministerstvo
Narodnovo Obrazovaniya, or MNO) is the government agency
responsible for foreign adoptions in Belarus.
It has been the experience of the American Embassy in Minsk
that the presence of an adoption agency representative acting
on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents in Belarus is
critical to success. The representative preferably should
speak Russian, and understand the local system of government
with its hierarchy of executive committees.
BELARUSIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES
The following procedures pertain to adoption in Belarus.
It is stressed that an American citizen wishing to adopt in
Belarus should not travel to that country until these
procedures have been completed.
Prior to Notification of Approval of a Child for Adoption
1. Interested American citizens should find and work with a
licensed adoption agency or provider which employs
representatives or facilitators in Belarus. Because
prospective parents are advised that they should not travel to
Belarus until a suitable child has been selected for them, a
representative in Belarus is absolutely essential in order to
work through the adoption process, .
2. Applicants must send their completed application, together
with Russian language translations of all documents, to the
consular section of the Belarusian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
(addressed attention: Mr. Ostrovskiy.) The Belarusian consul
verifies and notarizes the documentation, after which the
application is sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Minsk.
3. The consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
in Minsk checks to see that the application has been verified
and properly notarized and then passes the application to the
Ministry of National Education in Minsk (Ministerstvo Narodnovo
Obrazovaniya, or MNO).
4. The MNO reviews the application and decides whether or not
to allow the process of selecting a child for the applicant(s)
to go forward. If the MNO approves the request, it will then
task its regional and local branches to locate an appropriate
child in a Belarusian orphanage to be matched with the
5. Belarusian legislation on this issue, although still not
complete, does insist that only those children in orphanages
formally described as "unadoptable" by Belarusian families can
be considered for adoption by foreigners. The Government of
Belarus currently defines "unadoptable" children as children
with various forms of physical or mental defects (including
Chernobyl-related health problems), or children who have not
been placed with prospective adoptive Belarusian families. MNO
officials have said that a child should be officially offered
at least 3-4 times to Belarusian families before being
6. If an appropriate child is located, MNO then sends its
approval of the application to the executive branch of the
regional government of the geographic region in which the child
resides (known as the regional executive committee, or
"oblaspolkom"). Belarus has six regions, centered around the
regional capitals of Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Mogilev, Gomel, and
At this point, the prospective adoptive parents should be
notified by the Government of Belarus that they have been
matched with a potential adoptee, and that they should now come
to Belarus in order to meet the child in question. MNO
officials were very clear that prospective parents should not
enter Belarus prior to this time, i.e., before the Government
of Belarus has selected a child for them to consider.
Unfortunately, specific notification procedures have not yet
been developed by the MNO.
Following Approval of a Child for Adoption
1. Upon notification by the Government of Belarus, the parents
may travel to Belarus.
2. Meanwhile, in Belarus, the adoption request is reviewed by
the oblaspolkom. Following approval by the oblsapolkom, the
application is sent to the city district executive committee
("raispolkom") responsible for the city district in which the
child resides. The raispolkom makes the actual decision
whether to allow the adoption or not, in light of the
recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MNO,
and its superiors in the oblaspolkom.
3. Following the approval by the raispolkom, the parents
should apply for their adopted child's passport with the local
office of visas and registration (OVIR). Please note that
significant delays may occur at this point. The adoptive
parent(s) should then go to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, where
the child undergoes medical and immigrant visa processing,
following which the parents are free to take their adopted
child to the U.S. U.S. Embassy Minsk does not do immigration
work, and is not in a position to offer medical or immigrant
processing for Belarusian children adopted by American citizens.
All documents prepared for transmission to Belarusian
adoption authorities must be accompanied by a certified
Belarusian or Russian translation. The consular section of the
Belarusian Embassy in Washington, D.C. will verify and notarize
the documentation for transmission to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs in Minsk.
BELARUSIAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES
The address for the Embassy of Belarus is as follows:
Embassy of the Republic of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
tel: (202) 986-1604
fax: (202) 986-1805
Belarus also maintains a consulate in New York.
AMERICAN EMBASSY IN BELARUS
The address of the American Embassy in Belarus is as
U.S. Embassy, Minsk
WHAT TO BRING FOR YOUR NEW BABY/CHILD
Since it is difficult to predict how long it may be
necessary for you to remain in Belarus with your adopted child,
you may want to consider what articles you might want to bring
with you. You should be aware that not all U.S. style baby
products are readily available abroad. You may wish to
consider bringing certain items with you. These might include:
- Plastic or cloth baby carrier
- Bottle nipples
- Disposable paper diapers
- Baby wipes
- Baby blankets
- Infant wear
- Thermos bottle, for hot water to prepare dry formula
- Milk bottles (plastic, glass, and disposable)
- Disposable plastic bags for milk bottles
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates maintain current lists of
doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your
child experience health problems while still in Belarus.
Specific questions regarding adoptions in Belarus may be
addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. You may also contact the Office of Children's
Issues, U.S. Department of State, Room 4800 N.S.,
2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, telephone
(202) 647-2688 with specific adoption questions. Recorded
information concerning significant changes in adoption
procedures is available 24 hours a day at: (202) 736-7000, or
by automated fax (calling from the telephone on your fax
machine) at (202) 647-3000. If the country you are interested
in is not listed, procedures have not significantly changed.
Information on immigrant visas is available from the State
Department's Visa Office, at (202) 663-1225. This 24 hour
automated system includes options to speak with consular
officers during business hours for questions not answered in
the recorded material. Application forms and petitions for
immigrant visas are available from the
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the nearest office
of which is listed in the federal pages of your telephone book,
under U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition, the State Department publishes Consular
Information Sheets and Travel Warnings. Consular Information
Sheets are available for every country in the world, providing
information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health
conditions, political situations, and crime reports. When
situations are sufficiently serious that the State Department
recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to a country, a Travel
Warning is issued. Both Consular Information Sheets and Travel
Warnings may be heard 24 hours a day by calling the State
Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at
(202) 647-5225 from a touch-tone telephone. The recording is
updated as new information becomes available. In addition,
this information is accessible through the automated fax
machine, as above, and is also available at any of the 13
regional passport agencies, field offices of the U.S.
Department of Commerce, and U.S. Embassies and Consulates
abroad. Furthermore, you may write in requesting information,
sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Overseas Citizens
Services, Room 4811 N.S., 2201 C St., N.W., U.S. Department of
State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818. Finally, information is
available through your personal computer. If you have a
computer and a modem, you can access the Consular Affairs
Bulletin Board (CABB). This service is free of charge, and may
be reached at: (202) 647-9225. Consular Information Sheets and
Travel Warnings may also be accessed by subscribers to many
on-line services. For complete information on accessing
consular information via computer, please request document
1016, entitled "Consular Information Program," from the
automated fax system, which is described in the preceding
APPLYING FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR AN ADOPTED CHILD
Questions about naturalization of an adopted child as a
U.S. citizen after the child has entered the United States
should be addressed to the INS office with jurisdiction over
the adoptive parent(s)' place of residence. The process
requires that INS Form N-643 Application for Certificate of
Citizenship in behalf of an Adopted Child, be filed with the
INS before the child is 18 years of age.
Interested Americans should be aware that the process of
adopting a child in Belarus and bringing the child to the U.S.
may be time-consuming and difficult. The American Embassy and
Consulates General and the Department of State stand ready to
assist adoptive parents, within the limits of our authority.
U.S. citizens arriving abroad to finalize an adoption are
advised to proceed carefully with all local foreign legal
procedures. They should also work closely with the nearest
U.S.Embassy/Consulate throughout the adoption process to ensure
that the child selected will qualify for U.S. immigration
benefits and that all the necessary documents are in order.
Any feedback adoptive parents are willing and able to provide
about their experiences while trying to adopt children would be
very helpful to us in ensuring the validity and usefulness of
the information in this and similar brochures. Please contact
the Office of Children's Issues at 202-647-2688 with ideas
about how we can try to make the experience easier (if
possible) or, at least, easier to understand.
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