Step-by-step description of the process of adoption from Bulgaria:
At present the State and Territory Central Authorities perform intermediary functions in intercountry adoption in Australia.
1. The competent State or Territory Central Authority sends to “Family National Association” the dossier of the candidate-adopters, which includes all the documents required for their registration;
2. Once the dossier has been received and translated, our team prepares a petition, which is filed to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice along with the candidate-adopters’ dossier. The candidates get inscribed in the register, which is a list of the waiting prospective adopters with active status. The inscription in the register takes place within a 2-month period following the receipt of the candidates’ documents at “Family National Association”, provided that the documents are in the legally required form.
3. The waiting period for a referral starts from the moment the candidates get registered. The waiting period varies in each specific case. It depends on the characteristics of the children, who are available for adoption at the time (for instance, age, gender, health condition) and on the characteristics of waiting candidate-adopters (namely, their general preferences, desired age of the child, the number of waiting candidates).
4. The Intercountry Adoption Council reviews the applications following the order of their registration and refers the children to the candidates who are suitable for them. Once a child is referred for adoption, a package of documents is prepared, which is referred to as “referral”. Those documents are provided to “Family National Association”, who arrange their translation and then send them on to the competent State/Territory Central Authority. The package includes a referral certificate, a certificate with a full-length photo of the child and a detailed report about the child, which is prepared in accordance with Art.16 of the Hague Convention. Once the competent State/Territory Central Authority ascertain that the referral corresponds to the candidates’ eligibility and suitability, they bring it to their attention. In case the referral does not correspond to the candidate-adopters’ profile, the Central Authority return the documentation to the sending country and do not provide the information to the candidates.
5. The next step is for the candidates to meet the child. The meetings with the child take place for 5 working days. During that time a specialist from our team accompanies the candidate-adopters and provides translation services and support to them.
6. If the candidates refuse to adopt the child, the waiting period for a referral starts all over again. However, they could keep their position in the register in case they have not been informed about some significant health issues the child has, if the characteristics of the child referred to them do not correspond to the preferences they have stated, or in case they have applied to adopt a special needs child and subsequently they decided not to adopt that child.
7. If the candidates want to proceed with the child’s adoption, they should sign the necessary paperwork, which is provided by “Family National Association”, and that usually happens while they are in Bulgaria. In order for the adoption procedure to continue, the respective State/Territory Central Authority correspondent to the candidate-adopters’ place of residence in Australia, have to issue their consent for the continuation of the procedure.
8. After that the dossier is sent to the Sofia City Court. An attorney from our team represents the candidates before the court and performs all procedural actions by the time the court decree for the adoptions becomes legally effective.
9. Once the court decree becomes legally effective (7 days following the court hearing), “Family National Association” assist the candidates with obtaining a certificate of compliance under Art.23 of the Hague Convention, a new birth certificate and a passport of the child.
10. The adopters should travel to Bulgaria so as to pick up their child and complete the process of issuance of permission for the adopted child to enter Australia. The adopters can choose between two options: to apply for a Bulgarian international passport and an Australian visa for the child, or to apply for Australian citizenship and an Australian passport for the child. In case the adopters choose the first option, they file an application for an adoption visa to a regional office of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. They will then forward the documentation for processing to the regional office of the Department which is competent to process it with regards to the respective sending country. The adopters could also send the application for an adoption visa directly to the processing office of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Once the application for an adoption visa of the child is received, the child is to go through a mandatory medical examination so as to check if the child’s health condition meets the health requirements introduced by Australia. The clinic in Bulgaria that the Australian government has authorized to perform the medical examinations for immigration purposes is the “Vita” clinic in the city of Sofia. Some of the mandatory tests the adopted children have to undergo are the following: a general medical examination, a chest X-ray (in case the child has reached the age of 11 years), a HIV/AIDS test, a hepatitis B test, and any other tests that the medical specialist possibly requires. The only condition that could not be disregarded is the presence of active tuberculosis in the adopted child since currently tuberculosis is the only disease that the Department of Health and Ageing have stated as a public health risk for migration purposes and the only disease indicated in the Migration Regulations from 1994. In order for the adopters to be able to apply for Australian citizenship and an Australian passport for the child respectively, there is a mandatory condition for one or both of the adopters to be an Australian citizen(s), for the competent authority in the sending country to have issued the certificate under Art.23 of the Hague Convention, and for the adoption to have been acknowledged in Australia. Since there is no Embassy/Consulate of Australia in Bulgaria, the competent authority who should take a decision in view of the issuance of an adoption visa/ granting Australian citizenship, is the Australian Embassy in Berlin, Germany, or the Australian Embassy in Athens, Greece.
11. “Family National Association” should receive a total of 4 post-adoption reports regarding the child’s development and condition – each of them is to be sent at every 6 months, for 2 years following the admission of the adoption.