I have had multiple requests for legal advice from adoptive families concerning adoption of the children from foster homes. They applied for adoption of such children and were denied with such possibility at the very first appointment. With frustration and sadness they sought legal help as the children they wanted to adopt had international adoption status.

How come they are not available for international adoption then?

Adoption in general and from foster homes in particular is governed by Constitutions of Ukraine, the laws of Ukraine and other by-laws, with Constitution and the laws being superior. Any by-law is to be written according to the law and the Constitution of Ukraine and is subordinate to the law.

To be adoptable a child needs to have a status of an orphan (a child with no parents) or status of a child, deprived of parental care (those, whose parents lost their rights for the child due to child neglect, abuse, etc.).

Secondly, to become available for international adoption the child with such status needs to be registered at the National Data Bank for adoption at the Ministry of Social policy of Ukraine.

Ministry of Social Policy, Department for Protection of the Rights of the Child and Adoption (SDA) is in charge of International adoption. It acts strictly according to the laws of Ukraine and to the Order of the Cabinet of Ministries of Ukraine #905 of 10/08/2008 with amendments (which is a sub-law).

Paragraph 53 of order #905 of Cabinet of Ministries of Ukraine states that foreign adoptive parents receive information about the children who:

  1. live (reside) at the children’s institutions of any type and form of ownership and subordination;
  2. reached the age of 5 years old and,
  3. are registered at the National Data Bank for more than a year, besides other cases foreseen by the law.

The question is why international adoptive parents are NOT given permission to get a referral for the child with international adoption status that lives in a foster home.

The answer is simple.

The SDA does NOT consider Foster Home an Institution for Children. It is considered a family, not an institution, thus international adoptive parents do not get to see the files of children who live in foster homes.

Is that violation of the child’s rights? I think it is, and my professional opinion is that it needs to be regulated. The children need to regain the possibility to be adopted into the foreign families as adoption into a family is always a preference. Since Foster Homes, no matter how you call them are institutions, not families. The children do not become or remain members of the families, they do not inherit anything from these foster parents and, what is the most frustrating, they have to leave such family being only 18 and when they needs this family the most.

You may ask whether it is achievable at all.

Currently we are working with a Supreme Council Deputy in order to pursue these changes in the sub-law. But each particular adoptive family needs to get legal professional and take this case to the Court of Civil Law to establish the right of each particular child for international adoption, for a forever family. These children deserve a forever (not temporary) family as much as we all do.


  1. Hello, I’ve met the child through a hosting program. The hosting agency told me the child is adoptable, but we were not allowed to get the file of the child at the SDA as she was in a Foster Home or as they call it a House of family type for children.
    The girl will be 16 in a couple of months, we are desperate.

    • Dear Olivia, since it is obvious there are no other ways for this girl to be adopted by a foreign family, I think you need to take this case to the court of law in Ukraine and establish the right of the child for adoption. Court procedures are not too long in Ukraine compared to other European countries and even the United States, so you will have a chance for the girl to be adopted by your family. You have veru good chances to win this case, but definitely need to have a professional attorney at law on the side of the child. This will be a civil suit a child against the Ministry of Social Policy.
      Please keep in mind that such process will take several months, so you need to take care of the upcoming immigration possibility for the child. It is necessary to submit the I-600 before the child’s 16th birthday. It will give you about a year to get everything accomplished.
      Regards, Natalia M. Kovalchuk LLM

  2. We hosting sisters this summer. They also lived in a foster home( family style orphanage) They were found to not be on the orphan registry/ database because they aren’t considered orphans in the foster home. The facilitator that came with them to the United States from Ukraine is working on getting them on the registry. Do you know how long it takes to get on the registry? Also if they do get put on the registry will they have to be moved to an actual Orphanage? We were told that we would have to wait 14 months before starting any adoption paperwork after they get on the registry, is this true? They have only been gone a week and we miss them so much.
    Thanks for your help

    • Dear Felicia,
      the children who live in foster homes are unavailable for foreign adoption, but it does not necessarily mean that they do not have an international adoption status. I mean they could have been registered for international adoption and be available for a while, but as they went to live with the foster family, their files were no longer shown to foreign families during the adoption appointment. It is impossible to adopt such child not because he/she does not have an adoption status, but because his/her file is not shown to a foreign adoptive family during their adoption appointment.
      Each case is unique and there may be circumstances which you are not aware of. You need to rely on other people or your facilitator to provide you with information.
      I would suggest, you need to find out whether your girls have/had an international adoption status prior to foster home, because they might, quite a few children in foster homes do have adoption status.
      If they do, the children will be available if moved from foster home to an orphanage in a matter of weeks. If they have not been registered in the international data bank for adoption, most likely you will need to still have the children moved to the orphanage and wait for about 14 months to be able to adopt them.
      Natalia M. Kovalchuk, LL.M

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