Uzbekistan is one of the lesser known countries that was
once a part of the former Soviet Union. It is a fascinating country, with
centuries-old history and culture that could not be eradicated even by decades
of communist regime. It is not surprising, therefore, that Uzbekistan's
orphanage system similar to that of Russia or other former republics, but
adoptions are ultimately decided by mayor offices, the closest thing to elders'
council. There have been very few adoptions from Uzbekistan so far,
but growing relationship with the West slowly broadens the doors of
international adoption in Uzbekistan.
Adoption from Uzbekistan may be more
adventurous and pioneering than from some of the other more established programs.
The new law passed in August 2007 has introduced some
constraints, eliminating possibility of escort and requiring
adoptive parents to make two trips, but on the positive side
banned separation of siblings for the purposes of adoption
and put a cap on the amount of time local officials have to
process the adoption. Although prenatal
care in Uzbekistan is not at par with Western standards, there are fewer
instances of alcohol and drug-related disorders in Uzbek children. The children
are loved and taken care well with limited resources available to caretakers.
There are two adoption authorities in Uzbekistan. First, all dossiers
are processed centrally by the Ministry of Education. Next, they are
forwarded to the local Guardianship and Trusteeship Office (GTO) affiliated with
a Mayor's office in the town of adoption, called Hokimat. Starting 2013, adoptions
are no longer finalized by the Mayor's office, but by a civil court, like
in other countries. Please see U.S.
Department of State overview
for more details.
Although our program is not formally closed, we currently discourage families from
applying as the new adoption process gets established following changes in MOE personnel and
new civil court procedure.  We are
cautiously optimistic of the progress and support families currently staying in the
program, hoping for more adoptions to be completed soon.  At the same time we are
warning all new applicants of the incumbent delays and uncertainties and underline
that Uzbekistan remains a pilot program.  It would be a good choice for families who
are flexible and patient, and accept both advantages and risks of this exciting program.
There is no national or international adoption
registry in Uzbekistan, but by unwritten regulations children typically become available for
adoption/referral only after they turn 1 or 2 years old as GTO tries to place infants
with local familes. Most children are of Uzbek descent, with olive skin and
slightly Asian features. There are many Slavic and Mongol children as
well, making for a very diverse population. Very few children speak any
English, but many older children can speak and read Russian. Siblings are not separated for the purposes of
adoption. It may be possible to adopt two or more related or unrelated
children at the same time.
The children in Uzbekitan are on average as healthy as kids in the rest of the former
Soviet Union, which is to say their health varies from child to child. On average,
there are less instances of FAS among ethnically Uzbek population, but adoptive
parents should be more prepared for health issues developed as a result of poor
environment and resulting genetic abnormalities.
While in the U.S., prospective families are
required to prepare adoption dossier (a set of
documents required for adoption processing by local
authorities abroad). For Uzbekistan, dossier
includes USCIS (former INS) permission to adopt
internationally, homestudy prepared by a licensed
agency and a number of documents
verifying family marital status, income, health
condition, criminal history, etc. Once dossier is completed, it is
first authenticated in the Uzbekistan Embassy in USA and then mailed to Uzbekistan. There, it is translated into
Russian and authenticated.
AAC overseas coordinator primarily seeks referrals by
presenting family dossiers to local GTO (Guardianship and
Trusteeship Office) and orphanage officials.
About A Child does not withdraw a referral until the
prospective adoptive parent(s) have had two weeks (unless
extenuating circumstances involving the child's best
interests require a more expedited decision) to consider the
needs of the child and their ability to meet those needs,
and to obtain physician review of medical information and
other descriptive information, including video of the child
Once a family receives and accepts their
referral, the dossier is delivered to the Ministry of Education.
After the dossier is processed and registered, a family
must now travel for a few days to meet the child and accept
his or her referral from MoE. On a case-by-case basis, adoptive
parent(s) would also meet on the same trip the GTO representative of the
town/city where the child resides.
After issuing the
referral letter, MoE forwards family's dossier to the GTO in the town/city
of the referred child (sometimes the dossier has to go
through a regional GTO office first). GTO issues referral to civil court,
which may take up to 20 days to review the documents and set a court date. Both parents must be present at court.
There is 20 days waiting/appeal period and parents receive custody of
their child once court decree is obtained.
Depending on the region, Vital
Records and/or Passport offices may require adoptive parent(s) to
sign for the new birth certificate in person. When both the Passport Agency and
Vital Records office agree to issue the documents to a POA, adoptive parent(s)
only need to travel to Tashkent for a week to go through U.S. Embassy exit interview and obtain a child's immigration visa.
When parental presence is required by either the Passport or Vital Records office,
at least one of the parents should expect to travel for 3-4 weeks for the third
trip, depending on how quickly child's passport and embassy paperwork can be
In the U.S., parents are required to register their child with the Uzbekistan
Embassy within one month of arrival. After that, parents need to submit annual
post-placement reports about child's well-being to the Uzbekistan authorities
until the child turns 18.
Because of the volatility of the program, we can give only
approximate estimates of how long it is going to take from Uzbekistan. Some families
were able to complete an adoption in 6 months, others waited 2-3 years after receiving
a referral. Typically, it
takes 3-5 months for dossier preparation, but
unexpected circumstances and USCIS
delays might extend the wait time.
Uzbekistan adoption program is lower in program fees, but poses a risk for unexpected expenses
for extra travel, prolonged in-country stay, etc.