Adopting From Russia - Your Dossier
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are required by either the Russian court or the US Bureau of Citizenship and
Immigration (BCIS). The BCIS used to be known as the Immigration and Naturalization
Additional documentation some Russian judges have required since late 1998 and that the
BCIS may require.
- BCIS form I-600A. You can submit this form soon as you know you'll be adopting internationally.
If you don't already have an agency, you can update the BCIS with the agency information later.
The cost is $525 [10/04] plus $70/person to be fingerprinted (all household members 18 and
over). You must send some of these documents with it. About 3 weeks after you send the form
in, you will receive a letter telling you where to be fingerprinted; then you will send the
fingerprints to them. The I-600 approval is good for 18 months. The fees seem to be going
up all the time. You should be able to find the latest fee amount on this
BCIS web page.
- Home Study. Here's a good overview of what the homestudy is like.
- Letters of recommendation.
- Letters from employer(s) stating position and salary. If
self employed, summary of assets and income from accountant/auditor.
- Copies of last 3 years income tax returns.
- Medical examination report for each applicant. Must not be
more than 6 months old.
- 2 Marriage certificates (and divorce decrees, if applicable).
- 3 Birth certificates for each applicant. You have to request
the birth certificate from the city or town where you were born. For about
$50, you can let USABirthCertificate.com
do the legwork for you.
- Proof of US citizenship, if not by birth. I believe only
one parent must be a US citizen.
- Letter from local police department stating no record of
- 3 copies of identifying page of each applicant's passport.
- Power of attorney for representative in Russia (provided
by your agency).
- Fingerprints (make appointment with BCIS? Some did this;
some went to the local police department.) A social worker contributing to
APR says you can call the FBI at (304) 625-5590 to check
the status of your fingerprints.
- Photo essay of yourselves, home, neighborhood.
- Statement of Child Acceptance. This is required by some agencies.
- Application to the Ministry of Education (provided by agency).
- Copy of deed to property or lease or rental agreement.
- Copy of agency's license (provided by agency). [10/98, Yaroslavl]
Make sure when you start the process that the date on the agency's license
will be valid through your projected adoption date. Letters of extension may
not be accepted, depending on the Russian judge.
- CORI (criminal record) report. Provided by the agency.
At every adoption agency information session we went to, there was at least
one male who was worried about an arrest for something minor in the late'
60s or '70s. Advice varies on whether to include this in your homestudy. Larger
cities have online records that go back that far and many smaller towns do
not. If you omit such an arrest from your homestudy and it shows up in the
CORI report, your credibility will be ruined. It is your social worker's job
to evaluate the arrest, determine that it is not significant and include that
determination in the homestudy.
BCIS form 171-H. The BCIS issues this after it has approved your application
(I-600A) and cables the I71-H to the US Embassy in Moscow. [12/2003] Some BCIS offices
are now issuing a form I-797C instead.
- BCIS form I-600 (Petition to classify orphan as an immediate
relative). This should be filled out before your embassy visit but not
signed yet. You sign it in the presence of the embassy officer at
the embassy appointment when you apply for the child's visa to enter the US.
- More and more Russian Judges no longer find the deed to
your property acceptable. The problem is that the wording is usually something
like "The land and buildings contained thereon," which doesn't differentiate
between a house and an outhouse. Never mind that your home study report included
a walk through of the property the deed says you own or the lease says you
rightfully occupy! It has been necessary to get a report from the town's Assessor's
Office describing the property. It is basically a listing sheet from a publicly
available database [This is true in MA at least]. Any realtor should be able
to print it our for you. Then go to the Assessor's Office and ask for a notarized
letter from the Assessor stating that the attached report is a true report.
Get that apostilled and send it along with the deed or lease.
- [9/98] The BCIS now requires a letter from the court documenting
the disposition of each finding in the CORI report. Depending on the length
of your record and how far you have moved from the jurisdiction, the hassle
involved will vary. Records for older cases will have to be retrieved from
archives. Get started on this early if it affects you.
- At least one judge required a statement signed by the adopting parent's
doctor that included the terms narcomania and toximania. The doctor refused
to sign form because the terms are not part of the official American medical
terminology. The parents finally found a 1965 dictionary that contained definitons
of those two terms and the doctor finally signed the form. The terms can be
found in Dorland's Medical Dictionary from 1965.
For your BCIS submissions, you may submit ordinary
legible photocopies of original documents. You may be required to present the
originals during any BCIS interview. If you submit photocopies, you must
sign and date this statement:
"Copies of documents submitted are exact photocopies
of unaltered original documents and I understand that I may be required to submit
original documents to an Immigration or Consular official at a latter date."
Typed or Printed Name:_______________________ Date:______________________________________
Everything must be apostilled! All signatures must be notarized and
then the documents apostilled. Note that in CA and NY, the notary's signature
must be verified at a county clerk's office before the state will apostille the documents.
Bring duplicates of all your documents with you. Each
document must be notarized and apostilled. This is in case something got lost
or damaged on the way to Russia.
Make copies of your Russian visa and your US passport.
This is so that if the visa or passport is lost or stolen, you at least have
a record of the passport or visa number. We got the impression that color copies
were best for passports and visa, but it is illegal to make color copies of
a passport. You can make the color copies by scanning into a computer and printing
on a color printer. Some people say that the copies don't have to be in color.
Check spelling! One couple's Russian paperwork
had a space in the last name between the Mc and the rest of the name, which
differed from their passports. It cost them an extra 5 days of international
faxes and headaches to get it straightened out.