Adopting a child in Russia

Adopting a child in Russia

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The British embassy in Moscow provides a guide to adoption in Russia.

Russian adoption law

Under Russia’s adoption law, local court judges in the area where the child lives approve adoptions. The judge’s decision is based on a review of the various documents in the case, and a closed court hearing which usually lasts about an hour. The law requires adopting parents to attend the hearing. Judges sometimes agree to waive one parent’s presence when there are compelling medical or personal reasons for the request. In a few regions, the parents may be represented at the hearing by an adoption agency employee. Most parents say that their court hearing was thorough, professional and friendly. Many describe it as one of the most moving and memorable elements of their adoption experience.

Although the judge’s decision is issued on the day of the hearing, it takes another ten calendar days for the judgement to take effect, during which time it can be appealed. Many judges waive the ten-day waiting period. This is entirely up to the judge, and seems to depend to some extent on the region and on the judge’s experience with international adoption cases.

How the adoption process works

To begin adoption proceedings, prospective parents (or their agency) ask the local Ministry of Education office in the area where they wish to adopt for information on children available for adoption. They must provide personal information about themselves (names, ages, address, occupation, etc.). They may make specific requests for the type of child they wish to adopt (age, gender, disabilities, sibling groups, etc.). In addition to these local inquiries, parents can also receive information on the children listed in the Federal Ministry of Education’s Central Data Bank.

When the prospective parents have identified an orphan they wish to adopt, they submit a formal adoption application to the local court in the area where the child lives. The following documents must accompany the adoption application:

  • a copy of the couple’s marriage licence. If not married, the prospective adoptive parent submits a copy of his/her birth certificate;
  • recent medical reports on the prospective parents’ health;
  • a certificate from their employer(s), verifying their job position;
  • income or a declaration of their income;
  • evidence that the prospective parents have permanent housing or proof of home ownership;
  • the results of a home study conducted by competent state authorities.


Local child-welfare representatives submit the following material to the judge:

  • the child’s birth certificate;
  • a medical report on the child;
  • documents confirming the child has been registered with the Central Data bank of orphans at the Ministry of Education and that no Russian citizens have applied to adopt the child;
  • a statement from the local child welfare authorities that the adoption is in the child’s best interest;
  • if the child is older than 10, a statement of his/her consent to the adoption;
  • if the child is younger than 10, a statement from his/her natural parents agreeing to the adoption, or documents explaining why parental consent is not required;
  • a statement of consent from the director of the institution where the child lives.


Once the judge’s decision takes effect, the new parents are granted parental rights and full responsibility for the child and a copy of the court decree must be sent within three days to the local civil registry office known as ZAGS). When the adoption has been officially registered, the new parents can apply for the adoption certificate, a new birth certificate (issued in the child’s new name and showing them as the child’s parents), passport and visa for the child.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office / Expatica

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