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U.S. Department of State
1995:  International Adoption -- Latvia
Bureau of Consular Affairs


     
     
                      INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION IN LATVIA
     
     
                                                                     
     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
     FOREIGN COUNSEL.                                                
     
     
     
     PLEASE NOTE
         The U.S. Embassy in Riga and the Department of State
     recommend that Americans exercise caution when deciding whether
     to go to Latvia to pursue adoption.  There is considerable
     opposition to adoption of Latvian children by foreigners,
     indicating that city councils may not approve adoptions,
     espcially for healthy children.  Additionally, the entire
     adoption procedure is very time consuming.
         Please note that the American Embassy in Warsaw is
     responsible for the issuance of all immigration visas for
     applicants from Latvia.  It is suggested that prospective
     adoptive parents request a copy of the Embassy's standard
     information packet from the following address:
     
     IV Unit/Adoptions          or          IV Unit/Adoptions
     Consular Section                       Embassy Warsaw/
     American Embassy                           Consular Section
     Al. Ujazdowskie 29/31                  Unit 25402
     00-540 Warsaw, Poland                  APO AE 09213
     
     tel:  011-48-2-628-3041
     consular section fax:  011-48-2-7290
     
         Furthermore, Americans in Latvia are urged to register with
     the U.S. Embassy in Riga.  They will provide information on
     outstanding travel advisories, and specific information on U.S.
     immigration requirements.  The Embassy is located at Raina
     Boulevard 7, LV1050 Riga, Latvia; tel:  (7) (0132) 210-005.
     
     
     GENERAL
         The following is a guideline for U.S. citizens who are
     interested in adopting a child in Latvia.  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 Latvia 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 Latvian          Issued to Latvian  
     Year         Orphans Adopted Abroad     Orphans Adopted in U.S.
     
     FY-1991              5                          0
     FY-1992              1                          3
     FY-1993             14                          1
     FY-1994             20                          5
     
     
     LATVIAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY
         On July 1, 1992, Latvia's new intercountry adoption law
     went into effect.  Pursuant to the law, the Ministry of Justice
     and the Ministry of Welfare will be jointly responsible for
     administering intercountry adoptions.
     
     
     LATVIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES
         Both single individuals and married couples are eligible to
     adopt.  Foreigners interested in adopting a Latvian child
     should express their interest in writing to the Ministry of
     Justice of Latvia at the following address:
     
                   Civil Registration Department of the Latvian
                        Ministry of Justice
                   Kalku Iela 24
                   Riga, Lativa  LV1050
     

         The adoption of Latvian children by foreigners is allowed
     if one or more of the following conditions are met:
     
     1.  The prospective adoptive parents are relatives of the
     child. 
     
     2.  The child is ill, and will receive medical treatment which
     is unavailable in Latvia.
     
     3.  The child has been available for adoption from birth and no
     Latvian citizens have expressed a willingness to adopt the
     child during the first three months of its life, or the child
     has been rejected by at least two persons who had applied for
     adoption.  (The fact that the child was rejected twice must be
     verified by records in the child's adoption file); or
     
     4.  The child has been available for adoption for one year but
     has been rejected by at least two persons who had applied for
     adoption.  (The fact that the child was rejected twice must be
     verified by records in the child's adoption file.)
     
                            Supporting Documents
         All prospective parents must submit the following documents
     in the orginal, accompanied by a Latvian translation:
     
     1.  Information about the sex and age range of the child they
     are interested in adopting.
     
     2.  Written, notarized consent of the spouse, if only one
     spouse of a couple is submitting the application.
     
     3.  Official copies of the couple's birth certificate.
     
     4.  Biographic statement, describing the dwelling space of the
     family (i.e., size, location, type of residence).
     
     5.  Notarized statement describing the family's monthly income.
     
     6.  Physician's statment regarding the health of the family.
     
     7.  A home study conducted by a state adoption agency of a
     private organization licensed to perform such studies.
     
         The Latvian Ministry of Justice reviews all applications
     and determines whether the applicant meets the requirements of
     the law.  If the judgement is favorable, the application is
     forwarded to the Ministry of Welfare, which matches adoptable
     children with applicants.  (The Ministry of Welfare maintains a
     list of chlren who have been abandoned by or taken away from 
     their parents.)  The Ministry of Welfare will give the
     applicant information about available children.  Once a child
     is chosen, the case is referred to the city council of the
     district where the child lives.  All adoptions must be approved
     by the city council.  The considerable opposition to the
     adoption of Latvian children by foreigners may indicate that
     the councils may not approve adoptions, especially of healthy
     children.
     
     
     TRANSLATION REQUIREMENTS
         All documents prepared for transmission to Latvian adoption
     authorities must be sent in their original form, accompanied by
     a certified translation into Latvian.  The American Embassy in
     Riga does not perform translations or authenticate signatures
     or seals of United States notaries.  Applicants are advised to
     contact the Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C. regarding the
     need to authenticate U.S. documents for use in adoption
     proceedings.
     
     
     LATVIAN EMBASSY IN THE UNITED STATES
         The address of the Latvian Embassy is as follows:
     
                   Embassy of Latvia
                   4325 17th Street, N.W.
                   Washington, D.C.  20011
                   tel:  (202) 726-8213
                               726-8214
     
     
     AMERICAN EMBASSY IN LATVIA
         The address of the American Embassy in Latvia is as follows:
     
                   U.S. Embassy
                   American Citizen Services
                   Raina Boulevard 7
                   Riga, Latvia  226050
                   tel:  (371) (2) 213-962
     

     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 Latvia 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
     
     
     DOCTORS
         The U.S. Embassy/Consulates all maintain current lists of
     doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your
     child encounter health problems while still in Latvia.
     
     QUESTIONS
         Specific questions regarding adoptions in Latvia 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
     paragraph.
     
     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.
     
     
     CONCLUSION
         Interested Americans should be aware that the process of
     adopting a child in Latvia 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 adoption
     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. 
     
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