There are many frequently asked questions that can be found with little research online. Here are answers to questions that I had, but never could find the answers to until I found out myself.
Q: What specific medical conditions can a potential adoptive parent have and still be accepted in Bulgaria?
A: I have seen the following accepted: Anemia, A well-managed autoimmune disorder, past history of orthopedic surgery, past history of head injury, scoliosis, and obesity. Offically Bulgaria seems to except most people who do not have “chronic, heavy diseases.” They do not appear to accept parents with AIDS, HIV, some Sexually Transmitted Diseases, TB, or “diseases expected to shorten lifespan.”
Q: How long after the USCIS I-800A is filed will I get a biometric appointment? What are biometrics, exactly? How long after biometric appointment will I-800A be approved?
A: I found the whole USCIS process shrouded in mystery too. It took slightly less than a month after mailing I-800A form to get notification of biometric appointment. My appointment was scheduled 2 weeks after I received notification. The biometric appointment was only someone taking my fingerprints electronically. I was the only person at the USCIS office when I had this done and it was done very quickly. 15 minutes from entering the building to exiting the building. The appointment was on a Friday, the approval was dated for the following Monday and I received the approval 1 week after the appointment. This will vary depending on the location of where you have your fingerprints done (our location was South Portland, Maine)
Q: Are there any online support places for people adopting from Bulgaria?
A: Yes. the Adoption.com forums exist but they don’t have much traffic. There is a Bulgaria Adoption Yahoo group that is a bit more active, and has extensive archives that are rich with information. There is a Yahoo group called KARFIN that I belong to. Not much acitivty but what there is is very rich with cultural information on adopted Roma children (many children adopted from Bulgaria are Roma). There is also a FaceBook group for Bulgarian adoptions.
Q: Do I really need a psychological evaluation if I’m adopting from Bulgaria?
A: The country doesn’t require it, however many American agencies do. The psychological evaluation is/was required if adopting from Russia. Many agencies who place children from both countries require the psychological evaluation of potential adoptive parents (some with the administration of the MMPI-2 test) adopting from Bulgaria too. My first placing agency required it. After the closing of Russia most agencies moved to a format to just have your primary care provider state they felt you were physically and psychologically fit to adopt a child.
Q: If I need the psychological test/psychological evaluation how to I find someone to do it?
A: Only a Psychologist can administer the MMPI-2 test. If only an evaluation is required a psychatrist or even a family doctor may be allowed to do it. In Maine (specifically Central Maine region) I inquired on this of 48 psychologists before finding one that could do both. (Dr. Diane Tiennes in Bangor, Maine). It may take some digging to find out but I had the best luck getting information out of forensic psychologists (who will often do evaluations for criminal legal proceedings) or child development psychologists (who often do similar evaluations of children in foster care or parents in the DHHS/Child protective services system). (An additional question came up after posting this question: Does your health insurance cover it? Short answer: No. I work in the healthcare field so was able to get additional information why. The abbrievated answer was: “It wasn’t medically necessary.” Meaning I had no previous mental health diagnosis and therefore didn’t require an evaluation for my healthcare needs (just my adoption ones). A catch-22 was that if it was deemed “medically necessary” that would have meant I did have a mental health diagnosis and might have been ineligible to adopt. The cost I paid out of pocket for the evaluation and testing is eligible to be included on the list of adoption expenses for the Adoption Tax Credit)
Q: I am having a hard time finding an adoption agency/grant opportunities that are open to having a a client/applicant who fits outside the “Married and Christian” mold. Any suggestions?
A: It seems to be a common, but rarely mentioned problem. Both agencies and grant opportunites exist, and I found just asking was helpful. Sometimes the only information posted on an agency’s website is the Domestic Adoption program requirements. I have found that most (not all) agencies will adhere to Bulgaria’s requirements when it comes to adoptive parents. Bulgaria’s requirements are very open: younger parents (25-30) Older (up to 55, sometimes older), singles (I believe of either gender) and couples. They do not appear to have any requirements regarding adoptive parent’s religion, and may (not sure) have no requirements regarding sexual orientation. My homestudy agency requires that potential adoptive parents be married for minimum of 1 year and actively practicing in faith community for Domestic Program. When doing International Adoption Homestudies and Post-placements these requirements did not apply. Grant agencies do exist (HelpusAdopt.org, National Adoption Foundation, About a Child, etc.) but again are not as abundant as those open to couples or without religious requirements. During my searches I found the agencies for whom I did not meet their additional requirements very friendly and helpful in pointing me in the right direction. Bottom Line: Ask Questions, Ask Questions, Ask Questions.
Q: Why don’t you have any link for fundraising on your Blog? We would like to help.
A: We were very grateful to have been able to fully-fund Jude’s adoption with the help of the helpusadopt organization. At this writing Gabriel’s adoption is now also fully funded.
Q: What are the similarities and differences between international adoption and US foster care/adoption?
A: I never completed a US adoption from foster care I was a foster parent to a similar group of children that I ultimately adopted internationally. The cost is the biggest difference $2,000 (to comply with foster home licensing standards/renovate an older home) vs. $26,000-$34,000 for Bulgarian adoptions. The needs of the children are extremely similar. Homestudy processes are nearly identical. Obviously you would travel with international adoption where you do not with US Foster care adoption (usually).
Q: What are the difference between the Bulgarian Waiting Child adoption process and the Bulgarian traditional adoption process?
A: Jude’s adoption was the “traditional” process where we applied, compiled our dossier, submitted it to the ministry of Justice for parameters of a child that we wished to be matched with then waited for the match. I was lucky to be matched to rapidly (7 months, 2 days from dossier submission to referral). This was likely due to the fact that we were open to many, many special needs.
Our second adoption is the Waiting Child adoption process. I saw a child listed as being available for adoption on a password-protected website ( which included a photo and a brief statement of information) and contacted the agency who was representing that child (the files are available to the agencies by the ministry of justice and the profiles can be viewed by the public on the website of the ministry as well). After indicating my interest I was presented with more detailed information. This confirmed that we were interested in adopting that child and we filled out commitment paperwork that is forwarded onto the ministry of justice where the child’s file is placed on hold for us while we compile our dossier. Once we submit the completed dossier we are matched/referred our previously chosen child and the process will proceed the same as the traditional adoption process.
While the total time for Jude’s adoption was 23 months from start to homecoming, the estimated timeframe for the second adoption (of a child with similar special needs) is estimated to be 12 months.
Q: What is a good agency to do our Bulgarian adoption through. Alternatively: Is there an agency that I should avoid?
A: Finding the right agency is tricky. What is a good match for one family is going to be an ill-fit for another. Some families put high value on adopting with a faith-based organization while others specifically aim to avoid this. Cost of adopting, size of the agency (bigger or smaller), years of experience, and personal references may all play factors into a VERY personal decision.
Bulgaria is a Hague Country. Your American placing agency should have COA Hague Certification.
Your placing agency and your homestudy agency DO NOT have to be the same entity.
Many agencies work with several Bulgarian Adoption Partners (called NGOs). 2 families may have entirely different experiences with the same American agency because they have different NGOs. Adoption agencies should be able to tell you which Bulgarian NGOs they work with without you having to sign any commitment paperwork or pay any fees.
If you are selecting a child from the waiting child list, that’s child file is already listed with a Bulgarian Agency (NGO) certain agencies will work with specific NGOs. By committing to a child first, your placing agency selection will be limited.
Visa-Versa: If you sign onto an agency and then see a waiting child file not listed with one of their associated NGOs, you may not (likely will not) be able to access that child’s file at that time. The general advice is if you see yourself actively scanning waiting child files, but wanting to sign onto an agency’ choose an agency that works with multiple NGOs.
Join a social media site related to Bulgaria Adoptions. There are not many good review sites for adoption agencies. Social media provides an excellent support conduit for people in all stages of the adoption process. Agencies and NGOs are a frequent topic of conversation. A few weeks of lurking and you will likely get a feel for ones that would be a good fit and ones that you may want to steer clear from.
Q: I am scared about the travel. I don’t speak Bulgarian. I can’t read their (cryllic) writing!
A: An extreme minority of adoptive parents speak Bulgarian. Even fewer can read it. Every single adoption agency provides a translator to accompany you while in Bulgaria. Many find that the capital, Sofia, is a beautiful modern European city where many people (and signs!) are bilingual in English and Bulgarian.