DISCLAIMER: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child’s country of birth govern all activity in that country, including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in that country in general; and 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States.
The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of Poland and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.
PLEASE NOTE: At the present time, Polish judges require both adoptive parents to have met the child prior to adoption. In rare cases, a judge may permit an adoption when only one prospective parent has met the child prior to adoption. In such cases, the documentary requirements for prospective parents will differ slightly. Please see further down in this flyer for additional information.
PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to Polish orphans.
Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN POLAND: Only adoption centers authorized by the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare can evaluate a Polish child’s eligibility for intercountry adoption. At present, only the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center (Publiczny Osrodek Adopcyjno-Opiekunczy) has this authorization. The Public Adoptive-Guardian Center maintains a list of all children residing in orphanages who are available for international adoption because their parents have died, have relinquished all rights to them, or have had them relinquished by a court.
Mrs. Elzbieta Podczaska, Director
Publiczny Osrodek Adopcyjno-Opiekunczy
ul. Nowogrodzka #75
Tel/fax: 48-22-622-0370, 0371, or 0372 (Please note that Mrs. Podczaska does not speak English, but members of her staff do.)
e-mail: [email protected]
There are three adoption centers in Poland that are authorized to qualify foreign prospective parents for adoption in Poland. The prospective parents or duly-licensed American adoption agencies may submit documents of candidates for adoption only to these centers:
- Public Adoptive-Guardian Center (Publiczny Osrodek Adopcyjno-Opiekunczy) (address listed above)
- National Adoptive-Guardian Center of the Children's Friends Society (Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Dzieci – TPD)
Ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 6
Tel/fax: 48-22-827-7813; tel: 48-22-435-4677 through 4688
e-mail: [email protected]
- Catholic Adoptive-Guardian Center (Katolicki Osrodek Adopcyjno-Opiekunczy)
Ul. Grochowska 194/196
Prospective adoptive parents who wish to use the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center may contact the Center directly or through an attorney or licensed adoption agency. The National Adoptive-Guardian Center of the Children’s Friends Society or Catholic Adoptive-Guardian Center, however, may only be contacted through accredited adoption agencies in the United States.
Polish adoption law does not explicitly forbid directed or private adoptions. However, Polish law only allows intercountry adoption of orphans listed by the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center. This Center will only list orphans for intercountry adoption for whom no adopting Polish family can be found. Thus, in practice it is extremely difficult to arrange a directed adoption between birth parent and prospective adoptive parent without violating Polish law. In addition, children adopted by U.S. families through directed adoption risk not meeting the U.S. immigration definition of “legal orphan” and being ineligible to receive a U.S. immigrant visa.”
Before considering “direct” or “private” adoptions in any country, please contact the Office of Children's Issues, Department of State (CA/OCS/CI), Washington, D.C. 20520-4818 (tel: 202-736-9130 or 1-888-407-4747; or fax 202-736-9080) or the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw (tel: 48-22-625-1401 or 48-22-504-2000).
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Under Polish law, there are no formal, legal restrictions on the age of prospective adoptive parents. In practice, however, prospective adoptive parents may be up to 40 years older than the child. Single prospective parents and non-Catholics are also permitted to adopt a child in Poland.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no Polish residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents.
TIME FRAME: Polish adoption procedures are complicated, time consuming, and often require professional legal guidance. A competent lawyer may handle many of the legal formalities in Poland and help the prospective adoptive parents communicate with the proper Polish authorities before they travel to Poland for the adoption hearing. The entire process may take a year or more. Two trips to Poland may sometimes be necessary before all requirements are completed.
There is a 21-day appeal period between the time of the final adoption hearing and the time the court’s decision goes into legal force. At the judge’s discretion, this appeal period may be shortened to 14 days. In general, prospective adoptive parents can expect to stay in Poland for at least four to six weeks before they can obtain all proper documentation and a new passport for the child.
(Note: The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw has a list of attorneys know to work in this area of law in Poland, but the Embassy may not recommend or vouch for any particular attorney.)
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS: Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at our Web site travel.state.gov.
ADOPTION FEES IN POLAND: There is no fee for registering as a prospective adoptive family with any of the three authorized adoption centers in Poland. However, prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay the following fees and costs in connection with a Polish adoption: original complete birth certificate (25 PLN per copy), new complete birth certificate (25 PLN per copy), Polish passport (45 PLN), certified copies of adoption records (20 PLN), immigrant visa fee ($380), medical exam (200 PLN), vaccination form fee (25 PLN), translations of Polish documents into English (30-40 PLN per page), court interpretation services (200-600 PLN per hour). In some areas of Poland, adoptive parents may also be financially responsible for the costs of housing the child in the orphanage from the time the adoption is final and until the adoptive parents remove the child from the orphanage.
It is also customary, but not required, for adoptive parents to make donations in the amount of $300-$1000 each to the orphanage where their child was living and/or to the private adoption center (National Adoptive-Guardian Center of the Children’s Friends Society or Catholic Adoptive-Guardian Center) who assisted in the adoption processing. It is not appropriate to make a donation to the governmental agency, Public Adoptive-Guardian Center.
ADOPTION PROCEDURES: An application to the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center is the first step in the process of identifying an eligible child for adoption. Copies of the documentation listed below should be submitted to the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center with 2 copies of the Polish translations of each document and the accompanying originals. Copies of all documents will be retained by the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center, but the originals will be returned to the prospective adoptive parents for later submission to the court. The Public Adoptive-Guardian Center then reviews all submitted documentation at meetings which are held twice per month. Prospective adoptive parents should contact the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center to learn of the decision in their case approximately two weeks after submitting their documentation. Once the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center grants permission to adopt in Poland, the Center identifies the child(ren) who meet the prospective adopting family’s criteria. The Embassy understands that the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center favorably considers cases in which the child may be difficult to adopt in Poland, such as children with special needs, a sibling group, or an older child. The Public Adoptive-Guardian Center mails information about the identified child(ren) to the prospective adoptive parents. Once the prospective adoptive parents decide whether they wish to proceed with the adoption, they notify the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center of their decision. If the prospective adoptive parents decide not to adopt the identified child(ren), their decision must be communicated to the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center in writing. The prospective adoptive parents may then be re-matched with another child who may meet their criteria. Once prospective adoptive parents accept the matched child(ren), they will travel to Poland to meet with employees of the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center to obtain a referral to visit their prospective child at the orphanage or other facility where the child is living. According to Polish law, prospective adoptive parents are prohibited from contacting prospective children to adopt without permission or a referral from the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center.
After the child has been identified and the prospective adoptive parents agree to continue with the adoption process, a formal request to adopt the child is then filed with the Polish court in the region where the child resides. The documentation should consist of the original documents previously submitted to the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center plus three sets of copies of the Polish translations (one for the judge, one for the prosecutor, and one for the legal guardian of the child). In addition, a copy of the state adoption law where the prospective adoptive parents reside must also be submitted with a Polish translation. Please be advised that it is rarely possible to switch jurisdictions. Polish law requires both prospective adoptive parents to be present during the adoption hearing. This proceeding consists of at least two hearings. At the first hearing, the judge will grant permission for the prospective adoptive parents to visit with the child and spend the day with the child(ren) before returning them to the orphanage. At the discretion of the judge, this first hearing may be conducted without the presence of the prospective adoptive parents. Personal interaction between the child and the prospective adoptive parents is mandatory and will later be evaluated by a local adoption center psychologist. At the second hearing, the judge will usually make the final decision granting adoption to the prospective adoptive parents. Once the final hearing has been held and the adoption is approved, a 21-day waiting period is imposed before the adoption is finalized. This period may be shortened to 14 days at the judge’s discretion. After the adoptive parents have the final court decree, they should apply to the civil register for a complete birth certificate with the child’s new name and listing the adoptive parents as parents. After receiving the new birth certificate, both parents must apply for a Polish passport from either the local passport office or the passport office at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration in Warsaw.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN POLAND:
- An application to the Public Adoptive-Guardian Center. This application is submitted in the form of a letter requesting permission to adopt a Polish orphan and stating the reasons for wanting to adopt a child from Poland. Please specify any age, sex, or special needs preferences.
- Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
- Marriage certificate(s), and proof of termination of previous marriage(s), if applicable;
- Good conduct police certificate from the local police department where the prospective adoptive parents reside;
- Evidence of financial stability, such as tax returns, deeds to property, bank statements, letters from employers stating salary and length of service;
- Proof of citizenship (e.g., copy of passport);
- Certificate attesting to good physical and mental health of the prospective adoptive parents;
- Evidence of approval by local social service authorities for adoption as well as a copy of the home study conducted by a licensed agency.
- Evidence of approval from the U.S. government to bring an adopted child into the U.S. - Form I-171H (i.e., approved I-600A petition).
AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD: The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review. Please click on the following link for more information until the new language is finalized: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.
POLISH EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES:
Embassy of the Republic of Poland -- Consular Section
2224 Wyoming Ave N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel. 202/232-4517 or -4528
Poland also has consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult US CIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The USCIS publication is available at the US CIS Web site (http://uscis.gov). The Department of State publication, International Adoptions can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, http://travel.state.gov, under “International Adoption.”
Before completing an adoption abroad, prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the requirements for filing Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. Please see the flyer How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States on the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site http://travel.state.gov/.
Please be advised that there is no USCIS office in Poland. U.S. citizens who reside in Poland may file their Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Form I-600A) with all supporting documentation and pay the filing fee ($545) at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. They may also arrange to have their fingerprints taken at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw ($85 per person). Moreover, there are licensed social workers who are located in Germany who may conduct the homestudy on behalf of American families residing in Europe who are pursuing intercountry adoption. For details and contact information, please e-mail the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw at [email protected]. The I-600A petition will be forwarded to the USCIS office in Vienna, Austria, for adjudication. Once approved, the petition will be forwarded for further processing to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, if adopting Poland or the U.S. Embassy in the country in which the child to be adopted resides.
If the prospective adoptive parents already have an I-600A petition that has been approved by USCIS, the Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative (Form I-600) may be filed with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw on the date of the visa interview.
U.S. EMBASSY IN POLAND: Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section is located at:
APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN POLAND:
U.S. law requires that the adopted child, regardless of age, be brought to the Embassy for a personal appearance before a consular officer at the time of the interview for the immigrant visa. During the visa interview, the consular officer will make a determination that the child meets the definition of “orphan” as defined in U.S. immigration law and complete a Request and Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation (Form I-604) which involves asking the adopting parents several questions about the physical and mental condition of the child. The adopting parents may set a date for the formal immigrant visa interview after the adoption has been finalized and all the necessary documents have been obtained. Visa appointments are scheduled between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Adopting parents may contact the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Poland to schedule a final visa interview (tel: 48-22-625-1401 or 48-22-504-2000). Three working days’ advanced notice is required for all appointments.
While the U.S. Embassy appreciate that adopting parents are usually eager to return to the U.S. as quickly as possible, parents should realize that an immigrant visa cannot, under any circumstances, be issued until all necessary documents have been obtained. Since some required documents are not available until after the adoption is final, no immigrant visa can be issued until the adoption is final. In most cases in Poland, parents or their helpers are able to obtain all the necessary documents and translations five to seven working days after the adoption is final. This means that it typically takes between four to six weeks from the time of the adoption hearing to the time of immigrant visa issuance. Please do not make final, non-refundable travel plans to leave Poland until you have your child’s visa in hand.
If everything is in order, the child's immigrant visa is issued at 3 p.m. on the day of the final interview. The immigrant visa is valid for 180 days from date of issuance. Do NOT open the sealed envelope that comes with the visa or detach the cover page. Documents submitted to the Embassy are in this packet and will not be returned. The Embassy does not keep copies of any documents you submit, nor are those documents available from USCIS once you return to the United States. Therefore, adopting parents should obtain extra originals or certified copies of the adoption decree and the child’s new birth certificate for their personal use in the future, including for an application for a U.S. passport and Social Security number. The packet should be in carry-on luggage and must be presented intact with your child’s passport to the Department of Homeland Security officer at the port of entry.
The following documents are required at the time of the final visa interview:
- Confirmation from the USCIS of an approved and valid I-600A petition
- USCIS confirmation of a valid fingerprint clearance
- Completed I-600 petition, with original signatures by both adopting parents. The I-600 forms can be downloaded from the USCIS website at: http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/index.htm
- Immigrant Visa application (Form DS-230, Parts I and II), signed by one parent on behalf of the child, in the presence of a consular officer. Information on the form should pertain to the child, not the adopting parents. These forms can be downloaded from our web site at http://www.travel.state.gov.
- Two color photographs, square 5x5 cm, front view of the child’s face, with a white or light background
- Results of the child’s immigrant visa physical examination, including a vaccination report. A signed and notarized affidavit regarding deferral of vaccinations must be presented if any of the vaccinations are missing. The form may be signed by either of the adopting parents and notarized by a U.S. Consular Officer or U.S. notary public. This form is required only for children 10 years of age and younger.
- An Affidavit of Acknowledgement of Health Problems of Adopted Child. Both parents’ signatures must be notarized and may be done in the presence of a U.S. Consular Officer or U.S. notary public. Please make sure to include all health problems that are listed in the adoption court decree and child’s medical history (if available).
- The final adoption decree, declaring that the court has ordered the child’s complete and unconditional adoption (original and 1 copy with English translation)
- The child’s complete original (pre-adoption) birth certificate (original and 1 copy with English translation)
- The child’s complete new (post-adoption) birth certificate, listing the adopting parents as parents (original and 1 copy with English translation)
- Court records pertaining to the disposition of the birth parent’s rights, including, if applicable, the fact that an unacknowledged father has no parental rights (original and 1 copy with English translation)
- If applicable, records of the child’s stay in an orphanage (with English translation)
- Original passports for each adopting parent
- The child’s original Polish passport issued in the child’s new name
- Immigrant visa fee of U.S. $380. This fee may be paid with clean, unmarked U.S. dollars, Polish zloty equivalent at the Embassy’s exchange rate, American Express traveler’s checks drawn on U.S. dollars, or Visa or Mastercard credit cards with proof of identification.
Additional Documents for Some Cases: At the present time, Polish judges require both adoptive parents to have met the child prior to adoption. In rare cases, a judge may permit an adoption when only one prospective parent has met the child prior to adoption. When only one adoptive parent has met the child prior to the final adoption, the following additional documents are required:
- A notarized statement from the parent who has not met the child that he or she intends to adopt the child in the United States
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and supporting tax documentation
Each adopted child must be examined by an Embassy panel physician before an immigrant visa can be issued. Adopting parents are responsible for making an appointment with one of the physicians listed below. The physical examination required for children is not exhaustive. If parents wish their child to have a specialized examination or testing, they may ask the Embassy panel physician for a referral to a specialist. The fee for the exam by the panel physician, which has been established in agreement with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, is paid directly to the physician.
Adopting parents should keep several points in mind regarding the medical examination. First, medical exams seem to be quick and somewhat cursory. They should be regarded as a general check-up of the child’s health and not as an in-depth examination designed to find every possible medical problem. Second, medical facilities often lack Western-style equipment for diagnoses; this factor, along with the brevity of the physical exam, means that not every potential medical problem is definitively diagnosed. Finally, please remember that a more expensive examination is not necessarily a more thorough one. Physicians’ hours and fees vary, as do the length and thoroughness of their examinations.
The medical examination process must be completed before the immigrant visa appointment. The medical examination and laboratory tests may only be done at the addresses given below. Each applicant will be required to show his/her passport as identification at each step of the medical process. Please bring one photo of the child to the medical exam. This photo will be attached the medical examination form and submitted to the Embassy. Medical examinations performed by anyone other than the Embassy panel physicians listed below are not accepted.
All applicants 15 years or older must have a full chest X-ray taken at one of the authorized laboratories, and a blood test for syphilis and HIV infection. Before leaving the X-ray lab, please make sure that the following information is imprinted on the X-ray: first and last name, passport number, date the X-ray was taken, and the name of the X-ray lab. Applicants 15 years or older must bring the chest X-ray and the results of the blood tests with them to the doctor. The chest X-ray must be taken to the U.S. Immigrant visa applicants under age 15 do not need a chest X-ray or blood tests.
Results of the medical examination are valid for one year from the date of examination. All children 14 years or younger must be accompanied to the medical exam by an adopting parent or guardian. The panel physicians have the necessary forms in their offices. At the conclusion of the examination, the doctor completes several forms and hands them to the parents in a sealed envelope to be delivered to the Embassy at the time of the final interview.
U.S. law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations (listed below) prior to the issuance of the immigrant visa. Panel physicians who conduct medical examinations on behalf of immigrant visa applicants must verify that immigrant visa applicants have met the vaccination requirement, or that it is medically inappropriate for the visa applicant to receive one or more of these vaccinations:
- Tetanus and Diptheria Toxoids
- Influenza Type B (HIB)
- Hepatitis B
To assist the panel physician and to avoid processing delays, immigrant visa applicants should have their vaccination records available for the panel physician’s review during the medical exam. Visa applicants should consult with their regular health care provider to obtain a copy of their immunization record, if available. If you do not have a vaccination record for your newly adopted child, the panel physician will work with you to determine which vaccinations the child may need to meet the recommendation. Certain waivers of the vaccination requirement are available upon the panel physician’s recommendation. Only a physician can determine which of the listed vaccinations are medically appropriate, given the age, medical history, and current medical condition of the visa applicant. The vaccination requirement can be postponed for children 10 and younger if an adopting parent signs an affidavit prior to the child’s arrival in the U.S. attesting that, within 30 days of the child’s admission to the U.S. or at the earliest time that is medically appropriate, the child will receive the required vaccinations. This affidavit must be completed on the Department of State form and must be notarized, which the consular officer can do at the time of the visa interview.
The per-person fee for a physical exam in Poland is 200 zloty. An extra 25 zloty, which does not include the actual vaccine fee, may be charged for the vaccination requirement. Prices are subject to change. A list of the panel physicians in Poland can be found at http://warsaw.usembassy.gov/poland/examinations.html
ACQUIRING U.S. CITIZENSHIP: The language describing the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for adopted children is currently under review. Until the new language is finalized, please click on the following link for further information: ../info/info_457.html .
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in Poland may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw by e-mail at [email protected], by phone at 48-22-625-1401 or 48-22-504-2106, or by mail at ul. Piekna 12, 00-540 Warsaw, Poland.
General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.
Useful information is also available from several other sources:
- Toll Free - For information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction, call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
- U.S. Department of State Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adopting children, (202) 663-1225.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).
- Adoption Information Flyers: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at: http://travel.state.gov/ contains international country adoption information flyers like this one and the International Adoptions brochure.
- Consular Information Sheets: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flyer. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CISes) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at: http://travel.state.gov/ or by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizen Services Toll Free at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.