RussiaLast Updated: April 2008
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
- Hague Convention Information
Russia is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Russia did not change.
- Who Can Adopt
To bring an adopted child to United States from Russia, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, Russia also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:
- Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for intercountry adoptions from Russia. Prospective adoptive parents will have to come to Russia twice during the adoption process.
- Age Requirements: For single persons who wish to adopt, there must be a 16 year age difference between the prospective parent and the prospective child. There are no age requirements for married couples.
- Marriage Requirements: Both married couples and single persons may adopt. Single persons must be at least 16 years older than the adoptive child.
- Other Requirements: Russia has some medical requirements for prospective adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive parents should consult their adoption agencies concerning medical conditions. Some disqualifying conditions include tuberculosis (active and chronic), illness of the internal organs and nervous system, dysfunction of the limbs, infectious diseases, drug and alcohol addictions, psychiatric disorders, and any disability preventing the person from working.
- Who Can Be Adopted
Russia has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Russia unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her home back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.
- Waiting Period: The Russian Government maintains a database of children without parental care. Under Russian law, a child must be registered first on the local databank for one month, the regional databank for one month, and the federal databank for six months before the child can be released for intercountry adoption. Therefore, the total amount of time before a child is released for international adoption is usually eight months.
- How To Adopt
Russia's Adoption Authority
Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
The process for adopting a child from Russia generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Adopt the Child in Russia
- Applying for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
- Bringing Your Child Home
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Russia is usually to select an agency or attorney in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.
Adoptive parents who work through an adoption agency must use an agency that the Russian Government has accredited to provide adoption services. For additional information on which U.S. agencies have Russian accreditation, please visit the U.S. Embassy in Moscow website. The U.S. Embassy discourages intercountry adoptions conducted independently without the assistance of an accredited agency.
A list of accredited adoption agencies is available at The U.S. Embassy's Web site and on the Web site for the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington, D.C.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Russia to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (FORM I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Russia as described in the Who Can Adopt section.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Russia will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. Learn more about this critical decision.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Russia's requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Russia
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Russia generally includes the following:
- Role of The Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Education reviews the request to adopt in that region. Upon approval, the parents are directed to an orphanage. The Ministry also assists the Adoption Agency with pre-selecting the child.
- Role of The Court: The prospective adoptive parents apply for a court date after they have traveled to Russia to meet and select a child. It may take four to six weeks to receive a court date. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to return to the United States so there are no problems with the validity of their visa.
For the court date, parents must produce three additional documents which must be signed in front of a Russian notary. The documents verify that they have been informed of the child's medical conditions and they accept them, they will register their adopted child with the Ministry of Foreign Affaris (MFA), and they will provide post-placement reports.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: Prospective adoptive parents must work through an agency that the Russian Government has accredited to provide adoption services.
- Adoption Application: Once the prospective adoptive parents identify the adoptive child, they fill out the adoption application. The application is obtained from the Russian court where the adoption hearings will take place.
- Time Frame: The average time for the adoption process is six to twelve months from the time the I-600A petition is approved to the date of the immigrant visa interview.
- Adoption Fees: The average total cost for international adoptions from Russia are approximately $20,000 to $30,000 USD. This includes travel, lodging, and fees.
- Documents Required: The following documents are needed to register an adopted child with the MFA:
- Parent's passports (photocopies are not acceptable)
- Letter from the orphanage (orphanage release)
- Letter from the Ministry of Education of Russia
- Court decision
- Adoption certificate
- Application for Registration and two photos of the child
The Consular Section of the MFA is open for intake Monday -Friday from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. They are open Monday -Thursday from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., and Friday from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., for issuance of completed registration and documents.
The process takes two days since documents are issued the day after they are received.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody), you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to bring the child home to the United States. USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted. Learn how.
- Bringing Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport.
After the court hearing, you will obtain the adoption certificate and a new birth certificate (showing the child's new name, and the adoptive parents as the parents) from the civil registration office (ZAGS)
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Russia. After receiving the adoption certificate and a new birth certificate you can apply for a Russian passport for the child from the visa and registration department (OVIR). The child's Russian passport will be issued in the child's new name in Cyrillic characters and the Roman alphabet. Russian officials will transliterate the name from Cyrillic into the Roman alphabet and the result usually will not be spelled like you spell it. This will not cause a problem when you travel and should not be a cause for concern.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
Note: Parents should plan to stay a minimum of three business days in Moscow to obtain documents and complete the medical exams necessary for the immigrant visa interview. Parents should calculate a five-day "cushion time" in the validity dates they request when applying for a Russian visa.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Russia. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which Passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Russia, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Russia, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
- After Adoption
What does Russia require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Adopted Russian children must be registered with the Government of Russia either by registering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) before they leave the country or by working with their adoption agency to register their adopted children with the G.O.R. when they return to the U.S. If registering prior to departing Russia. U.S. citizen families should do this after an adopted child has received an immigrant visa to the United States.
Russia requires periodic post-adoption placement reports on the welfare of the adopted orphan in his or her American family. The initial post-placement report is due six months after the court decision went into effect. The second report is due six months after the first report but no later than 12 months after the court decision. The third report is due at 24 months and the fourth at 36 months.
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Russia and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family--whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (FRUA)
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in Russia
#21 Novinsky Blvd.
Moscow, Russia 123242
Tel: 728-5000 switchboard
728-5567 (orphan visas)
Fax: 728-5247 (orphans only)
Russia's Adoption Authority
Ministry of Education and Science
#11 Tverskaya Street
Moscow, Russia 125993 GSP 3
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
*The Russian Federation also has consulates in San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).