I am a 31-year old single woman from central Maine in persuit to adopt 2 children from the country of Bulgaria. Prior to persuing International Adoption I tried (ultimately unsuccessfully) to adopt from the US Foster Care System. During the same 2-year period I was a foster parent to 2 toddlers. I work full-time as a Registered Nurse, and plan to continue doing so (after taking a maternity leave) after my children join me. Hobbies include: getting myself into zany home renovations projects, organic food, Waldorf toys and homeschooling, and camping in the Maine Wilderness. I have successfully adopted 3 cats. Longest process from the animal shelter was a 20 -minute visit followed by 40 minutes of paperwork. I had identified the cat I wanted to adopt that same morning on petfinder.com. It cost $70…this blog accounts my polar opposite experience in adopting my human children.

The Key Players:

My Homestudy agency: St. Andre’s Home

My Placing agencies:
Jude’s Adoption: From July 17, 2012 – February 4, 2013 my placing agency was Adoption Ark which closed on that date. From February 6, 2013 – June 25, 2014 my placing agency was One World Adoption Services which closed on that date. After this time we proceeded on without a placing agency for the post placement phase of Jude’s adoption opting to work with Saint Andre’s to complete the reports and work directly with Happy Family to submit them on time (we discovered that working directly with the NGO during the post-placement phase is permitted).
Gabriel’s Adoption: About A Child

The Bulgarian Partner agency (also known as NGOs):
Jude’s adoption: Happy Family
Gabriel’s adoption: Family National Association (aka FNA)

My Guardian Angel: Helpusadopt.org


Started adoption process: July 17, 2012

Pre-Qualifaction Paperwork approved: July 23, 2012

Applied to Adoption Agency: August 2, 2012

Started Homestudy Process: August 6, 2012

Homestudy Meeting Part 1: Septmeber 15, 2012

Homestudy Meeting Part 2: September 29, 2012

Homestudy Meeting Part 3: October 14, 2012

Homestudy completed/approved and Dossier paperwork started: October 31, 2012

FBI paperwork mailed: November 2, 2012

USCIS paperwork mailed: November 6, 2012

USCIS notification of biometrics appointment: November 30, 2012

FBI Clearance received: December 13, 2012

USCIS biometrics appointment: December 14, 2012

USCIS approval: December 21, 2012

Dossier paperwork complete: December 26, 2012

Dossier submitted to adoption agency: December 31, 2012

Dossier arrived in Bulgaria for translation: January 11, 2013

Adoption agency closes (Adoption Ark): February 4, 2013

Signed paperwork with new adoption agency (One World Adoption Services): February 6, 2013

Dossier submitted to Bulgarian Ministry of Justice: February 7, 2013

Bulgarian government resigns: February 20, 2013

Dossier approved by Bulgarian Ministry of Justice/added to the register: March 7, 2013

Interim Bulgarian government named: March 12, 2013

Learned that dossier was approved/registered: March 28, 2013

Applied for Grant from helpusadopt.org (April 12, 2013 Deadline): March 29, 2013

New Bulgarian Government Elected: May 12, 2013

Inital Call from helpusadopt.org: May 31, 2013

The Good-News call from helpusadopt.org (We got the Grant!): June 10, 2013

Official start to Homestudy Update: August 29, 2013

FBI Fingerprints mailed (for my Mum): September 13, 2013

US Government Shutdown (delaying fingerprints): October 1, 2013

Homestudy update meeting: October 5, 2013

261st Meeting of the IAC (International Adoption Council) Meets, Matching Jude and I: October 9, 2013

US Government Reopens: October 17, 2013

FBI Clearence Recieved/Homestudy update completed: October 31, 2013

USCIS I-800A Update (required for household changes) Mailed: November 7, 2013

Got the call informing me that we were matched on October 9 (9:03 AM): November 8, 2013

Reprinted for FBI Background check update: November 13, 2013

Trip 1 to Bulgaria: November 30 – December 8, 2013

Medical Update done (required for Court): December 13, 2013

Fingerprint update: December 27, 2013

I-800A Update Approval: January 6, 2014

I-800 & I-864W Submitted: January 7, 2014

FBI Background check returned: January 9, 2014

I-800 approval: January 28, 2014

DS-260 (Visa) Application submitted: February 6, 2014

Article 5 (Final approval from US Embassy) issued: February 26, 2014

Ministry of Justice Signature (final consent for Jude’s adoption) obtained: April 11, 2014

Court Date Scheduled: April 28, 2014 (Court date for May 12, 2014)

Court Date: May 12, 2014 (We passed!)

Adoption goes into force per Bulgarian law: May 19, 2014

Trip 2 (Pickup trip): June 13-27, 2014.

Pickup Day/Apply for Passport: June 16, 2014

Receive Passport: June 18, 2014

Embassy Medical Appointment/TB test: June 19, 2014

TB test results(Negative) and Embassy Visa appointment: June 23, 2014

Receive Jude’s Immigration Visa: June 24, 2014

One World Adoption Services Closed: June 25, 2014

Travel Home/Jude Immigrates to the USA: June 26&27, 2014

We proceed with rest of Jude’s adoption process without a placing agency: June 28, 2014

Jude’s Certificate of Citizenship Arrives: September 25, 2014

Application for Jude’s Social Security Number done (in-person): September 26, 2014

Jude’s Post-Placement Visit #1 (of 4)/Homestudy Update visit: September 28, 2014

Received Jude’s Social Security card: October 3, 2014

Jude’s Readoption paperwork filed in county probate court/hearing scheduled: October 17, 2014

Jude’s Readoption hearing: November 3, 2014

See Gabriel’s file listed on internet: November 20, 2014

File commitment paperwork for Gabriel: November 21, 2014

Sign all official application paperwork with About A Child for Gabriel: December 1, 2014

Received Jude’s Maine-issued Birth Certificate: December 3, 2014

Get Jude’s Passport Photo’s Done (appt for passport set for January): December 27, 2014

Gabriel’s file placed on official hold/matched with our family: December 29, 2014

Homestudy update completed: January 14, 2015

FBI Fingerprinting done: January 16, 2015

I-800A mailed: January 20, 2015

FBI fingerprints mailed to FBI Channeler: January 20, 2015

Jude’s Passport appointment: January 22, 2015

USCIS biometrics appointment: February 19, 2015

USCIS Request for Evidence Letter received: February 28, 2015

Part 1 of Dossier apostilled and sent to Bulgaria: March 2, 2015

Requested additional information mailed to USCIS: March 7, 2015

Received I-800A approval: March 20, 2015

Part 2 (final part) of Dossier apostilled and sent to Bulgaria: March 23, 2015

Jude’s Postplacement visit #2 (of 4): March 28, 2015

Gabriel’s Dossier Submitted to MOJ: May 11, 2015

319th meeting of the IAC occurs matching Gabriel to our family: May 14, 2015

Got the e-mail informing me of our “verbal referral”: May 25, 2015

Written referral: June 1, 2015

Trip 1 to Bulgaria: June 12-20, 2015

I-800 & I-864W Submitted (On our behalf by our agency): June 15, 2015

I-800 approval: June 26, 2015

Medical Update (needed for court): June 26, 2015

Called NVC (National Visa Center) to obtain needed information for FNA to complete our DS 260: July 7, 2015

Reprinted for updated FBI background Check/Prints sent to Channeler: July 9, 2015

Preliminary Visa Interview (in Bulgaria): July 10, 2015

Article 5 issued: July 15, 2015

FBI Background Check update (needed for court) complete: August 6, 2015

Apostilling for FBI Background check done/Medical & FBI updates sent to Agency/Bulgaria: August 14, 2015

Learn about a new document that needs to be updated for court, the “No revocation of parental rights” form: August 31, 2015

St. Andre’s gets needed new form completed, notarized and mailed to us: September 1, 2015

New forms arrive, electronic scans sent to adoption agency: September 4, 2015

Hard copy forms are apostilled and sent to Adoption agency: September 8, 2015

Ministry of Justice signature (final consent for Gabriel’s adoption) obtained: September 9, 2015

Jude’s Postplacement visit #3 (of 4): September 20, 2015

Court date scheduled: October 7, 2015

Got news that court date has been rescheduled: October 8, 2015

Court date: October 12, 2015 (We passed!)

Adoption goes into force per Bulgarian Law: October 19, 2015

Gabriel is taken by FNA for passport (Reduces pickup trip by 2 days): November 4, 2015

Gabriel is taken by FNA to embassy medical appointment (Reduces pickup trip by 2-3 days): November 11, 2015

Trip 2 (Pickup trip): November 13-20, 2015

Pickup day: November 16, 2015

Embassy Visa Appointment: November 17, 2015

Recieve Gabriel’s Immigration Visa: November 18, 2015

Travel Home/Gabriel Immigrates to the USA: November 20, 2015

Consulate Registration Form (to register Jude & Gabriel with Bulgarian Embassy in USA) are e-mailed. (Note: This should have been done just after arriving home with Jude, but I didn’t know and was operating without a placing agency): November 29, 2015

Consulate e-mails back confirmation of registration of Jude and Gabriel: December 7, 2015



8 responses »

  1. Thanks for creating this blog. I am in donor egg hell and looking to resume an adoption plan to create a family. How did you choose Bulgaria, and what are the pros and cons in your view (vs. domestic adoption, other international programs?).

    • Probably the biggest “con” to any international adoption is the expense although Bulgaria when compared to other international programs tends to run on the inexpensive side of international adoption.

      Other possible downsides to international adoption: you will not be adopting a newborn, and even infant adoption is rare. Toddler age is about the youngest. Another possible downside is there are fewer “healthy” and “normal” children available than there are adoptive parents seeking these types of children. In Bulgarian adoption we are told that due to the orphanage environment there are no “normal” children available. Institutionalization is rough on the hardiest child and no one comes out unfazed.

      Pros: There are tons, but to start. Bulgaria is party to the Hague treaty and has been operating under it since 2008. It makes for a pretty predictable process that puts the needs of the children first. Bulgaria allows you to stipule many things on your dossier (such as acceptable special needs, ages, gender, number of children). Allowing you to make the best choice for your family. Wait times are more or less predictable based on your choices. But unlike almost every other option (fertility treatment, foster-adoption, domestic adoption (in which you may never be chosen by a birth parent)) in the end you DO end up with a child. Stick with it and you WILL get a referral.

      In the end you have to make the decisions that are right for your family. When I chose Bulgaria it was a really close call between Bulgaria and Russia. Ultimately cost, less travel, and availability of siblings tipped me in favor of Bulgaria and 6 months later when Russia closed to international adoption I was never so grateful for making the choice that I did.

  2. Thank you. Very much. Your perspective is incredibly helpful. It is so hard to make sense of various options without a crystal ball…weighing what we think we can handle, what we might not be able to handle. We’ve looked into domestic adoption, and frankly, it scares me. We’re older (I’m in my early 40s, my husband is 50), mixed faith, mixed race (although few would tell looking at us), and I can’t see us being the first choice. I’ve also heard too many stories about disruptions, disappointments, etc. Not sure how we’ll decide in the next few weeks, but, thanks again for sharing. Times like this, I love the blogosphere.

  3. This is a very impressive list and undoubtedly of great help to anyone who is struggling to get a clearer picture of the bureaucracy madness.
    I’m Bulgarian & I’ve heard many horrifying stories of negligence in Bulgarian orphanages. I wish you the best of luck with the Bulgarian system and I hope everything goes well for you and the child.
    Above all, I am happy that a kid who would otherwise have a very dark and uncertain future will get the chance to have a loving mother and a home.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your story. My husband and I just decided on Bulgaria this week and ran across your blog, so much more helpful and insightful than others, with a touch of humor to make it so enjoyable. Congrats to you an your sweet Jude, and keep sharing!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are an amazing mother and Jude is adorable. I am a divorced single mother of a three year old and am looking at starting the process of adopting a child from Bulgaria. I realize that the best things in life are not easy and the journey of adoption has been calling my name since I was a child. Please keep sharing – your blog has been really helpful. Best wishes and blessings, Theresa and Paloma

  6. As everyone else said, THANK YOU so much for this blog. Yours has been much more helpful and realistic than the others I have run across. My husband and I had just barely begun the process when we found a little boy on the waiting child list, so now we’re waiting on initial approval on the Bulgarian side and then we can start our dossier. Super scary, but your blog helped alleviate some of those fears!

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