International adoption is a complicated process taking several months of paperwork chasing, one or two trips abroad, and, then, again, more paperwork. This online guide is designed to help you prepare for what's ahead by outlining paperwork requirements every step of the way.


All dossier documents must be notarized and apostilled by the Secretary of State or Lt. Governor's office. Please call the appropriate office in your state to find out procedures, additional county-level certification, fees, and any special wording required by notaries for some or all documents notarized in that state. Some states have special reduced fees for adoption-related apostilles. Some states require additional documents legalization by the county clerk office.

Please Make sure each document is apostilled separately.

Bulgaria is a Hague Convention country and its central Adoption Authority is Ministry of Justice (MOJ). We recommend using a Hague-accredited agency to complete a homestudy for adoption from Bulgaria. It is also possible to use an agency that is not accredited, and in that case AAC would have to supervise/approve the homestudy and post-adoption reports for extra cost.

Unlike most other countries, Bulgaria gives indefinite validity to some dossier documents, including homestudy. Please note that for USCIS purposes, a homestudy must be valid under the state laws at the time of the adoption. Listed below are the documents with a clear expiration date; they must be renewed and submitted to MOJ after their validity expires.

  • local police clearances and medicals are valid for 6 months
  • FBI fingerprint cards are valid for 18 months
  • USCIS form I-171H (approval of I-800A) is valid for 18 months, but please note that fingerprints expire in 15 months.
Notary license must be valid at the time the document is apostilled. Documents would still be accepted at the MOJ if the notary license has expired after the document is apostilled. An exact date the notarization procedure took place (hereafter referred to as the notary date) must be the same as the listed date the document was signed. Documents without notary dates are rejected by the MOJ.

All first and last names must match across all documents. U.S. Travel Passport is considered your primary identification document. All birth dates should be the same across all documents. Please check every document as even government-issued documents like police clearances may have typos and misspellings.

Please refer to the following checklist for documents to be included in your dossier:

Dossier Checklist for Married Couples
Dossier Checklist for Single Mothers

Some forms like adoption petition, registration obligations, medical form, etc., may differ from the ones provided by other attorneys or agencies. Our version is accepted at the along with many others; it contains all mandatory content to the latest MOJ requirements.

Please contact us for any additional instructions on preparing dossier documents.

Bulgarian Visas

U.S. citizens don't need visas to stay in Bulgaria less than 30 days.

In Bulgaria

Please bring along notarized copy of your homestudy, your original I-171H form and a copy of last year's tax return (first two pages) on your last trip. They may be asked for during your U.S. Embassy interview in Sofia.

Your coordinator/attorney will provide translated and authenticated copies of all documents, including adoption decree, birth certificate, etc. She may also assist you in filling out embassy-required forms and obtaining immigration visa for your child.

Many families have been sent these forms together with their I-171H. If you have not received them, please print them out now: I-800 and DS-230 and bring with you on your last adoption trip.

Back In U.S.

We understand you will be overwhelmed upon returning home with your new family members. Please take a few hours to complete some of the important paperwork.

We ask all families that have adopted children from Bulgaria to register their children with the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington DC within the first three months of arrival home.

In a few weeks from arrival you should automatically receive a Certificate of Citizenship for your adopted child. Bring it to the nearest Social Security office to receive a SS number for your child. Without proof or citizenship, the SS number would be assigned with a status of resident alien and would need to be adjusted in the future.

To maintain our Hague Accreditation, we must ask all families adopting from all countries, including non-Convention ones, to send us the following paperwork for each child adopted through AAC:

  • Copy of original court decree terminating parental rights AND translation OR

    Copy of relinquishment signed by biological parents AND

  • Copy of child's ORIGINAL birth certificate AND translation
  • Copy of child's NEW birth certificate AND translation
  • Copy of child's adoption certificate AND translation
  • Copy of child's full court adoption decree AND translation
  • Copy of all medical information given AND any translations
  • Copies of the child's original passport pages containing:
    • Biographic information and passport picture
    • U.S. Immigrant visa
    • Consulate/Embassy stamps


At the moment, Bulgaria requires 4 post-placement reports done by licensed agency, done at 6 months intervals for the first 2 years after the adoption. This is crucial for parents hoping to adopt from Bulgaria in the future. Furthermore, not submitting these reports would jeopardize Hague accreditation of both About A Child and Bulgarian agency that has processed your adoption. Even if you are not planning to adopt again, please submit a report in a timely manner to ensure other families are given the same privilege -- to find their child in Bulgaria.