Adoption in Ukraine has changed over the past few years. Since the implementation of the Universal Accreditation Act, independent adoptions from Ukraine are no longer possible. Families wanting to adopt a Ukrainian child will need to choose an agency to partner with. Many families who have hosted a child from Ukraine, or are open to a special needs child, will be trying to decide on who best suits their needs. Why should that agency be MLJ Adoptions?
I am a mother to four Ukrainian children and as the Ukraine Program Director, I have been through the process, and have more than 16 years of experience with Ukrainian adoptions. MLJ Adoptions is dedicated to working with ethical staff in our programs and are working with some of the most knowledgeable attorneys and facilitators in Ukraine. I personally know the staff we are working with, and trust that they always having the best interest of the child and the care and safety of our families at heart.
MLJ has an amazing support staff with experience in dealing with older children. Several of MLJ’s staff have completed the TBRI training by Karyn Purvis and are available to offer advice or helpful strategies with parenting children from hard places. MLJ provides ongoing education and support to families for as long as the family needs or wishes. In addition, as the Ukraine Program Director, I have developed a network of families, churches and translators who are willing to offer additional support to help make the transition of bringing home your child easier.
As a mother to children who were older when adopted, I am dedicated to helping families understand how important it is to be educated and prepared to parent older children who come from a trauma background. Because of my own experience, I am personally familiar with the problems many families may face, and I want to provide resources to help. I am passionate about Ukraine, and have a deep respect for my children’s birth country. Because of my own children, and witnessing what a difference adoption has made in their lives, I want to continue to help other children.
I know that adoptive parents will have choices when considering an adoption service provider, and that final selection may not always be MLJ, but for the families who do choose to move forward with MLJ Adoptions, it is my goal to guide you through the process and your journey! It is not an easy journey, it is not an easy country, and the task of parenting an older child is often difficult, however it is a journey of a lifetime!
You may contact us for more information on adopting from Ukraine.
Choosing an adoption agency isn’t an easy task! Location, references, country programs and success can all go into picking the agency you choose to partner with on your international adoption journey. If your family has decided to adopt from Bulgaria, you have many options for an adoption agency, but there are several reasons to choose MLJ!
MLJ Adoptions has had the privilege of placing over eighty children from Bulgaria since 2010! There have been a combination of sibling groups, single children, older children, children under the age of two years old, and waiting children placed in MLJ families. No matter the age of the child you’re hoping to adopt, MLJ Adoptions can assist your family with an adoption from Bulgaria.
In 2017, MLJ Adoptions completed 30% of the adoptions from Bulgaria to American families!
Shorter Wait Times
Not only has MLJ Adoption completed a large percentage of the adoptions from Bulgaria, but we’ve also seen shorter wait times for families. Other agencies quote families 3-5 years for an adoption from Bulgaria. Because of the openness and education of MLJ Adoptions’ families, the Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria looks favorably on our families, which leads to shorter wait times.
In the last three years, 11 MLJ families were matched with sibling groups. They waited an average of 14 months from dossier submission to referral. Families open to a sibling group of three children have historically waited 12 months or less to be matched with children.
In the last three years, 22 MLJ families were matched with a single child. They waited an average of just under 22 months from dossier submission to referral.
MLJ Adoptions also partners with Vesta, a non-governmental entity in Bulgaria. Vesta does an phenomenal job advocating for MLJ families to be matched with children, and for waiting children to find families in America.
Community of Families
Because MLJ Adoptions has been a part of so many adoptions from Bulgaria, our families have formed a tight knit community of support. Our families who have pursued adoptions from Bulgaria share ideas about incorporating birth culture, parenting and other adoption related topics with one another, drawing on each other’s creativity and commitment to their children.
So many of families who have completed adoptions from Bulgaria have shared their Adoption Stories on our website. They are also willing to share about their experience with you.
For more information on adopting from Bulgaria, contact us.
In 2016, MLJ Adoptions proudly assisted adoptive families to help bring children into their families from twenty-three different countries across the globe! In addition to our full country programs that we are currently inviting families into (Burkina Faso, Bulgaria, Haiti, Ukraine, and Nicaragua), MLJ Adoptions also continues to provide Primary Provider services in many other countries for families who have already adopted a child or have obtained guardianship. The Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 requires all U.S. adoptive parents adopting from a non-convention country to use the services of a Primary Provider. Because of this requirement, MLJ Adoptions expanded its adoption services to families who adopted in countries worldwide where there was a need.
Many countries have laws specific to adoption which must be observed, in addition to the immigration requirements set forth by the United States. As a Primary Provider, one task is to ensure that the adoption or guardianship followed the correct legal path ending in an adoption order or guardianship order that United States Citizenship and Immigration will recognize and approve so that the child can receive a visa to enter the United States.
Countries where MLJ continues to offer services in as a Primary Provider for adoptive families who have already obtained guardianship include Bangladesh. Bangladeshi law does not allow the adoption of a Bangladeshi child; therefore, an adoptive parent must obtain guardianship, then bring the child to the U.S. and adopt the child. Malaysia provides laws and requirements for both adoptions of Muslim and non-Muslim children, which must be strictly adhered to. MLJ has successfully assisted families in the past to complete adoptions from Malaysia, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. If you have completed an adoption and need assistance in bringing your child to the U.S., we are happy to explain the services we can provide to you to help you navigate this process.
Services provided are generally dependent on the country you have adopted from, but are inclusive of, but not necessarily limited to a review of your legal documents, home study review, home study services for Indiana residents, adoption education, assistance with completion and filing of immigration forms and assistance with visa processing. Also important is ensuring that families are compliant with post placement reporting requirements and post placement services are available if they are needed. MLJ offers adoptive families a Welcome Home! Guidebook that helps them once they arrive home with their adopted child. It guides a family through the re-adoption process, citizenship process and post placement services available to them.
Many families seek Primary Provider services because they have adopted a relative or after completing an adoption or guardianship have been advised they must use the services of a Primary Provider to complete their process and bring their child home. Whatever stage you are in, in your adoption process, MLJ is happy to talk to you and try to assist you! After all, the best part of your child is being united as a family once your child arrives in the United States! As your Primary Provider, MLJ Adoptions can help you navigate your adoption process.
For additional information regarding MLJ Adoptions’ Primary Provider services, contact us.
The need for adoptive parents continues worldwide, and the need is the greatest for special needs children. The term “special needs” encompasses a wide variety of medical needs, but also includes children who are considered hard to place, such as older children (usually age 6 and above) or a sibling group of two or more children. Medical special needs can include children with easily correctable medical issues, as well as children suffering from needs that will take a lifelong commitment to medical care. Special needs children come from every country, however specific special needs may be more common in particular countries. Whether you wish to adopt from Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Haiti, or Peru, special needs children or hard to place children need forever families in all these countries.
Special needs children are available for adoption in the U.S. as well. Psychologist Jeanelle Folbrecht and her husband took the adoption plunge when they decided to adopt a special needs child domestically. Dominick was a 13-year-old boy when Jeanelle first met him, battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for more than four years. The recommended treatment for Dominick was a bone marrow transplant, however the procedure could not be done because Dominick had no family to provide aftercare support once the transplant was completed. Jeanelle worked with patients suffering from depression and anxiety at the City of Hope in California, the hospital where Dominick was receiving care. When Jeanelle met Dominick and reviewed his case, she sought to provide some much-needed therapy to Dominick, but could not assess Dominick’s mental state because there was no one to sign a consent to allow Dr. Folbrecht to assess and treat him.
“After reviewing his case and talking to those providing care for him, I realized he didn’t need a psychologist,” Jeanelle said. “He needed a mom.” After speaking to her husband and teenage sons, the family decided to adopt him. Not only did the Folbrecht family provide Dominick with a forever home, they saved his life! After months of chemotherapy, Dominick was finally released from the hospital and able to go home with his new family. Now with a family able to provide care after a bone marrow transplant, Dominick was placed on the donor list and a compatible donor was found. The transplant was a success, and Dominick is now cancer-free, attending high school, and thankful for his new family and home.
Children such as Dominick exist worldwide, not only in need of a home and family, but also in need of medical care. For some, the medical care may make their lives easier, while for other children the care could be life-saving. Many children such as Dominick are waiting for families on adoption wait lists. These lists exist in most countries, including Hague adoption program countries.
While there are many families who choose international adoption to expand their families and provide homes to children in need, fewer families take the extra step of adopting a child with special needs. The need is there, and the children are waiting for families; it is up to us to see that these children’s needs are met.
Adopting a child with additional needs isn’t the only way your family can be part of meeting this critical need. Families called to adopt children with special needs have the heart and the time to dedicate to caring for these children. However, they may not have the necessary funds to complete an international adoption in the timeframe required of a special needs adoption. It is our desire to minimize the financial barriers that stand between children in need of families and the families willing and able to meet their needs. You can come alongside these families by donating to our Special Needs Adoption Fund. All donations are tax-deductible.
Advocacy has been part of international adoption since its inception! It is vital to nearly every important issue related to children and child welfare. In large part, the reason for it’s importance in these areas is because children, and especially children without families, require advocates to speak when they cannot. Adult decision makers, like our Members of Congress, rely on us, their constituents, to advise them on child-related issues. As constituents, we have the ability to inform and create change.
Sometimes if feels that our voice is only one voice, and one voice will not change the world. I am a person that loves quotes, and always remind myself of this one from Margaret Mead when feeling discouraging that change is not happening, or it is not happening fast enough. She said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Isn’t that the truth! At MLJ, we count ourselves blessed to do the work of international child welfare. We are honored to continue to lift up our voices for the world’s children in need of families. The current climate of international adoption requires more of us than ever, and I believe that our team, our Advisory Board and our families have risen to the advocacy challenge, and we could not be prouder! Since, September 2016, MLJ has committed to leading and engaging in advocacy efforts.
We feel that it is important to know that the agencies you select is walking this journey with you and advocating for the best interests of both the adopted child and the adoptive family. Below you will find the ways that we are serving our families through adoption.
In September 2016, the U.S. Department of State proposed rules that would have required families adopting internationally to complete inapplicable foster parent training and would have substantially increased the cost of adoption. We mobilized our families to advocate and initiated contact with the Small Business Administration – Office of Advocacy, the federal agency that ultimately found “certification of the rule was improper…” and the proposed rule was ultimately withdrawn.
In 2017, when the State Department was requiring that agencies have agreements to supervise orphanages in foreign countries against the laws in the foreign countries, our team secured a powerful letter from a foreign government clearly stating that this was an unlawful practice. This year, our Executive Director also traveled to meet with State Department leadership to express concerns and advocate for children and families.
In 2018, when the State Department increased the cost of adoption, we did not waste time in our advocacy efforts. We made calls to Members of Congress, had personal visits, drafted and submitted a letter to the White House, among other initiatives. We continue to engage heavily in advocacy efforts so that international adoption continues to be a viable option for American families.
We believe in sharing what is going on in adoption with our families. We of course love to celebrate successes (and there are many!), but we also know of the importance of sharing challenges. Our goal is to have fully informed adoptive families, so that, even after their adoption journey, they have the tools and are empowered to continue to advocate for all children in need.
Thank you to our truly incredible families who take the time to advocate during and after their adoption. It matters!
Eric and Stephanie, both teachers in our local school district, and Sveta, 5 years old, adopted from Ukraine in the summer of 2017.
We lived in and traveled some around Asia for two years early in our marriage and saw what true poverty looked like for many kids, especially those without a place to call home or mom and dad to love and care for them. We started to think about adopting sometime in the future and a couple years later we felt called to start our family through adoption.
We choose to adopt from Ukraine because the process had a shorter timeline and the requirements were easy to meet for a young couple. There was also a great need for families to adopt older children which we were open to.
We choose to use MLJ Adoptions because they were very responsive to all of our questions and inquiries early on before we decided for sure on Ukraine and continued to be very responsive to all of our questions and needs throughout the entire process.
The biggest surprise about the international adoption process was how extremely exact every single document had to be and how hard it was to wait on documents, especially when relying on other people to complete them, making sure every single thing was perfect, waiting to hear about approval and travel.
We were in Ukraine for 9 weeks. We went to receive a blind referral so had no idea who we would be bringing home (or if we would even be bringing a child home). It was a very LONG 9 weeks but worth every minute of it.
The two facilitators we worked with in country were amazing and did everything for us (lodging/travel arrangements, paperwork, etc.), making everything seem to go as smoothly as possible. We met our daughter for the first time a few days after learning about her and accepting her referral. After she came in the room for the first time at the orphanage, we knew immediately she was our daughter. One of the caretakers told her to shake each person’s hand and introduce herself. Stephanie was the last one in the line of people and after shaking her hand Sveta didn’t let go. She kept holding Stephanie’s hand and within a few seconds had climbed up into her lap, still holding onto her hand. When we went back to the orphanage for another visit that evening, when Sveta first came outside where we were waiting she came running towards us, threw her arms around Stephanie’s neck and called her mama.
We visited her once or twice a day, 6 days a week for the next five weeks before being able to finally take her from the orphanage. Even though there wasn’t a whole lot we could do during our short visits, it was valuable bonding time for the three of us. It was quite an adjustment for all of us after we finally got to take her from the orphanage. We quickly learned that all three of us needed to stay together to help her know we were all a family. If one of us left to go somewhere she would cry and cry and cry, shouting our name. We were so thankful to meet up with other adoptive families during our last couple weeks in Kiev so we could support each other and work through the adjustment and anxious waiting to get home together while our kids played together.
Sveta has adjusted remarkably well. She started kindergarten a few weeks after arriving home and is now already at grade level with her peers in reading, writing, and math and has many friends at school. She is also becoming fluent in English at a rapid pace. She is a good eater (LOVES fruit and pretty much all things protein). When we were in country she had some major separation anxiety when one of us was not there, even for just a few minutes. Within a few days of arriving home that all seemed to disappear. She just seemed to know that this was her home and we were going to be her family forever. Bedtime has been our biggest adjustment issue and she still does not sleep in her own room at all, but we have learned to be flexible and meet her needs so we can all get a good night’s sleep!
We have an incredible support system in our families and friends. Our families were supportive throughout the process and ecstatic to meet her when we arrived home. They showered us with things Sveta would need after arriving home and are always willing to help us with whatever we need as we all adjust to this new life.
The stress and the waiting is so worth it!! We look at our daughter every day and can’t believe how blessed we are to have her, all because we took a leap of faith and believed this is what we were supposed to do, even to the point of getting on a plane and planning to be in a foreign country for upwards of two months with no idea of who our child was. And the daunting issue of finances will always come through in some miraculous way.
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting from Ukraine, contact us.