A Ukraine independent adoption is an adoption where you locate a facilitator, translator, etc. by yourself and forgo the support of a traditional agency. If you are interested in adopting children from Ukraine you can adopt using a traditional international adoption program or you can adopt independently. The traditional agency program is more expensive however it offers you more support services and the benefits of an agency’s extensive experience. This may be a wise choice for first time prospective adoptive parents who may need more support to reach their international adoption goal. Often families who participate in international adoptions prefer the hands-on approach of a traditional agency adoption. In a traditional Ukraine agency program adoption the traditional agency serves as your primary provider, provides you with a facilitator and supervises the facilitator. The traditional agency usually pays the facilitator directly. They are responsible for the services provided by the facilitator.
Ukraine however is one of those countries in the world that permits international adoptions but does not allow any foreign agencies to match or place children in prospective adoptive homes. They do not allow intermediaries, either licensed/accredited foreign or licensed/accredited Ukrainian agencies, to provide in country adoption services. They allow you to use a traditional agency program and they also allow you to do an independent adoption because the adoption services of matching, placing a child, and finalizing a child is done by a government entity of Ukraine. You can hire your own Ukraine facilitator or a traditional agency to guide you through the Ukraine adoption process. If you choose an independent adoption you will need a Primary Provider that is willing to support your independent adoption.
You will need a US Primary Provider to be compliant with US adoption laws and regulations regarding international adoption (Hague Convention regulations). There are agencies in the US that are agreeable to serving as your US Primary Provider for an independent adoption that is completed without using a traditional agency program. The cost for this is generally less than if you hire a Hague Accredited US agency/attorney and use their facilitator in Ukraine to supply support services to you for your adoption. In an independent adoption, you yourself, are assuming the responsibility for the behaviors and actions of the facilitator so it is important to choose an ethical person to facilitate your adoption process.
In an independent adoption a Primary Provider is a Hague accredited adoption agency that will take the responsibility of documenting the Adoption Services Plan for your Ukraine adoption. The Primary Provider will also monitor the Post Adoption Process in the United States. The Primary Provider may require several post adoption placement visits.
In an independent adoption, an authorized/licensed and Hague Accredited agency can be your Primary Provider and can also be your home study provider or supervise your home study provider. The agency has to be agreeable to provide these services and has to be comfortable with supervising your home study provider if they are in a different state. Choosing to adopt independently can save you considerable expense in the adoption process. However, you will be saving money because you will be doing some of the work of the adoption process yourselves instead of paying an agency to do it for you. Many US families choose to adopt independently from Ukraine after participating in “Hosting Programs” that allow an orphaned child from Ukraine to visit with their family at Christmas or during the summer. There are several US hosting programs for Ukraine. The Ukraine facilitators that arrange the hosting will often be willing to facilitate a Ukraine adoption as they have to work with the same Ukraine central authority that handles the hosting program.
You will save money by:
- Making your own travel plans including living accommodations;
- Finding your own facilitator or guide in Ukraine;
- Negotiating that facilitator’s fee;
- Making payment to the facilitator;
- Investigating the facilitator to make sure he/she is a reputable person who and does not engage in illegal practices that could jeopardize your adoption.
Many families who host children meet the facilitators during this process and can assess the facilitator at this time. Families who are not hosting can also meet these facilitators.
In an independent adoption you are responsible for:
- Submitting an application to register with the Department of Families and Children of the Ministry for Social Policy of Ukraine to be approved to adopt;
- Creating your own dossier (a set of documents necessary for your adoption process in Ukraine) that is compliant with Ukraine Standards and regulations;
- Researching the process of adoption in Ukraine and the types of children available for adoption so that you can make placement decisions that are in the best interest of the child and your family;
- Understanding the social/cultural/political issues that are currently in play in Ukraine;
- Educating yourself regarding the risk issues in Ukraine (medical, social); and
- Finding your own facilitator.
The first step to a successful independent adoption is locating a Primary Provider who is willing to be a Primary Provider for a Ukraine adoption where you are planning to adopt without using a traditional agency. The second step is to thoroughly understanding the steps necessary to accomplish an adoption that is compliant with Ukraine and United States laws and regulations by researching the current laws and regulations of both the US and Ukraine. The third step is locating a facilitator in Ukraine to guide you through the adoption process. This may be your most difficult task and it is a very important key to a successful adoption.
When you are considering hiring an adoption facilitator in Ukraine for an independent adoption, you will need to have a clear understanding of the fees you will expect to pay the facilitator. The facilitator should clearly disclose to you or communicate to you their fees and what services your fees will cover. The facilitator should also disclose to you such costs as:
- Obtaining a Ukraine birth certificate for the child;
- Ukraine legal/court costs;
- Ukraine passport costs;
- Cost of the US immigration medical exam;
- Costs of travel to and from Ukraine;
- Cost of accommodations in Ukraine; and
- Costs of translation of adoption documents.
All of these costs will have to be receipted for the adoption tax credit and for immigration purposes. Your primary provider is responsible for giving you an estimate of what the costs should be but each independent facilitator determines their own fees. A facilitator needs to explain when the fees are due and how they are to be paid (cash, bank wire, etc.) and to whom they are paid to.
You should understand if the facilitator will:
- Pick you up at the airport;
- Transport you to the orphanage or government offices;
- Facilitate your accommodations; and
- Translate for you or hire a translator.
Speaking to the facilitator before you hire him/her will give you a good idea of how well the facilitator speaks English. A facilitator should be able to give you an estimate of how many adoptions they have facilitated. One of the ways to find a facilitator is locating several families that have used the specific facilitator successfully and are willing to talk to you about their experience with the facilitator. If each family you speak to is consistent with describing a positive ethical experience, then this will help you feel more confident that this is a facilitator you can work with. Please remember that any facilitator you choose to work with in an independent adoption is your choice alone. Obtaining all of this information regarding a facilitator is important in choosing your facilitator. The risks of working with the facilitator and the consequences are the result of your own choices.
Another consideration is the overall cost of the facilitator. Cost does not necessarily indicate knowledge or quality of service. However, too low a cost is suspicious and too expensive a cost is not necessary. A facilitator will probably charge you between $6,000.00 and $13,000.00 for one child. If you are planning to adopt two or more children, you will need to request a cost for this. Sometimes the range of cost depends on what services and paperwork costs are included. Some facilitators charge you a fee and you have to pay as you go for items like the birth certificate. Some facilitators include these costs and charge a lump sum. These are questions you will need to ask a facilitator before you hire him/her. Talking with the families who have used a particular facilitator or travelling to meet the facilitator while he/she is in the United States can also help you make good decisions by getting to know what is typical.
Asking a potential facilitator questions regarding expectations, communications and time frames for responding to you should be part of your overall consideration. The facilitator should communicate with you in a reasonable manner. He/she should be available and readily answer your questions. A facilitator should be able to communicate to you by phone and email in a reasonable time frame.
Overall, you should feel confident regarding your choice of a facilitator. The choice and the consequences of the choice are yours, so in the end you should endeavor to make a wise choice based on good research and investigation. The risks however are yours as traditional agency adoption services are governed by fee agreements and contracts that can be enforced and addressed by US laws.