The Republic of Serbia is a beautiful Balkan country in the heart
of Eastern Europe. Serbia is not a part of the Hague Convention
on International Adoption and Protection of Children. However,
they have worked hard in the past few years to reconstruct their orphanages
and institutions and to ensure that children living in state custody are
receiving the best care possible. They have implemented many new
policies and procedures and provided additional funding for state run
orphanages and institutions to ensure that all children are well provided
for while in government care.
Serbia has a very active domestic adoption program and an equally active
foster care program. On average, fewer than 10 kids are adopted internationally
each year, and all of these children have moderate to severe special needs. The
Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP) is the central authority
of international adoptions in Serbia. Please see U.S. Department of State overview
for more details.
Although About A Child has completed a couple of adoptions in the past,
we have revamped our program to work more closely with MLSP, as well
as partnering with a new in-country representative. Therefore,
until we complete more adoptions via the new process, About A Child
considers Serbia a "pilot" program and warns families of possible delays
and uncertain estimates for travel and paperwork processing times.
Due to Serbia's commitment to domestic adoption, children that are placed on the international registry are
children with special needs or (very rarely) older children that are outside the desired
age range of adopting families in Serbia. Infants and young healthy children
are not available for international adoption from Serbia. Children with special
needs can be adopted as young as 1 year old and are eligible for adoption until
they reach the age of 16. Children available for adoption will be of either
Serbian or Roma decent. Most children in Serbia
reside in children�s homes, where they receive medical care, therapy and the
opportunity to go to school & receive specialized instruction. Some children
with special needs are in foster care and available for international adoption.
Families wishing to adopt a child from Serbia must first submit a family profile
for consideration to adopt from Serbia to ensure they meet
Serbia�s requirements. Once a family receives
pre-approval, they may begin working on the adoption dossier.
Once the dossier is complete, it is mailed to Serbia. It is translated by our facilitation
team and submitted to the central authority for review.
After the dossier is
reviewed and approved, a family is issued a date to travel
to Serbia for an appointment to review the child�s file and be issued the official referral. Both
parents must travel to Serbia for the referral meeting. Upon receiving a
referral, parents travel to meet the child and start daily visitations for about
10 days. The bonding process is overseen and documented by orphanage staff
and/or adoption officials. Once observation reports are submitted by
the ministry, a date for the adoption ceremony
will be scheduled. Typically, the adoption ceremony takes place toward the end of week 2 in country.
There is no court proceeding in Serbia. On the day that the adoption will be finalized, parents will
travel to the child�s birth city to participate in an adoption ceremony at the social services center.
After the ceremony, parents will obtain the child�s new birth certificate while in the birth city.
Children adopted from Serbia will keep their birth name and have their last name changed to that
of the adopting family. Families wishing to change the child�s
name will have to do so by readopting the child in the US. Once the passport is obtained, parents will
complete the immigration process at the US Embassy in Belgrade. Children adopted from Serbia will enter
the US on an IR-3 visa and immediately obtain citizenship upon arrival in the US.
Once in U.S., parents need to submit
progress reports about the child's well-being to the
Embassy or Consulate. Four reports are due No post-placement reports
done by a licensed agency are required.
Adoptions from Serbia can move very quickly. Children listed in the international registry will be
immediately referred once the dossier arrives in Serbia. About A Child�s
facilitation team has completed adoptions in as short of a time frame as
4 months from commitment to adopt through homecoming. The average adoption
takes 6-9 months to complete. Serbia�s vacation and holiday schedule must
be factored in to adoption time lines. Serbia does not process adoptions
during the summer vacation months. This typically means that families will
not be invited to travel from July-September. This can add additional wait
time to the adoption time line.
Serbian adoption is relatively inexpensive
compared to many other programs in Eastern Europe. One
trip rather than two helps save on airfare, U.S. citizens
don't need to pay for visas to Serbia and progress reports
are done by the parents, thus sparing extra fees for
agency-conducted post-placement reports.