Adopting a Bulgarian Child in 2018

Due to various economic, social, and legal quirks of the Bulgarian landscape, many children in the country are up for adoption. If you’re interested in becoming a parent and would also want to save a child from the nightmare of growing up with the Bulgarian state as their parent, this article may be of use to you.

Bulgaria and children in need

Bulgaria’s parentless children are twice as many as the candidates for adopting them, yet the process is notoriously slow and oftentimes unsuccessful. There are plenty of reasons. The first one is the reported corruption or incompetence within the system. The other is the unwillingness of Bulgarian parents to adopt Roma or disabled children, which is, sadly, the majority of kids in orphanages.

The process is easier for people outside the country, as they tend to be less discriminatory in adoption. The Bulgarian child services also tend to look more favorably on Westerners as potential parents, as they are more likely to be financially better off. Citizens of the USA are the largest demographic, with about 150 children being adopted by Americans since 2012. Bulgaria is part of the Hague Adoption Convention for international adoption.

Another factor is whether the child you want to adopt has any twins or other siblings that are also orphans. If that is the case, you’ll probably have to adopt them too, unless the child specifically asks not to.

The requirements for adoption

On paper, both single people and heterosexual married couples can adopt in Bulgaria. Sexual orientation isn’t mentioned in the case of a single parent, but it's unlikely for gay people to be approved.

Other than that, the usual minimums of a stable job, a clean record have to be met. Also, at least one of the parents must be 15 years older than the adopted child.

There are no residency requirements for adoption in Bulgaria, meaning that you don’t have to live here in order to adopt. However, you’ll need to come here for the documentation and to spend the minimum of 5 days with the child.

There are also rules about biological relations with the child which are unlikely to be a problem if you’re living outside the country. That means you can’t adopt your parents, grandparents, cousins, and so on.

How to adopt

This process may vary depending on where you live. The proper paperwork has to be put forth by your country before the process has begun. The US Embassy in Bulgaria has a special article on the topic of adoption from Bulgaria that you can access here.

Prepare yourself for waiting. The Hague Convention and child-adoption laws put long waiting periods in order to avoid child trafficking. But even if we take the necessary waiting periods into account, Bulgaria is still accused of being too slow with paperwork.

In fact, many parents have blamed the authorities for intentionally slowing down the process in expectation of bribed to speed it up back to normal. While this remains a controversial point, the fact remains – there must be an extensive vetting process for adopting.

As the laws and rules can be changed, we suggest contacting an English-speaking lawyer firm. The paperwork can be quite overwhelming. As mentioned above, the bureaucracy involved in adoption is pretty heavy, so you’ll have to be patient.

Administrative steps to adoption

The process must start with filing the proper paperwork in the Bulgarian Social Assistance Agency. You have to sign in the National Register for persons who want to adopt on the conditions of full adoption. After that, the Agency of Social Assistance will look into you. Getting approved is just the first step in a long line. Signing into the register will make you a potential adopter for 2 years. 

If you're denied registry, you can appeal the decision.

Your candidacy will be reviewed by the Council for Adoption. If you're approved, they'll release the personal data of the adoptee. If you want to proceed with the process, you'll have to send a confirmation for adoption within a month. 

The Regional Court in Bulgaria will look into your adoption papers and decide whether the process will continue. If you're unhappy with their decision, you can appeal. 

That's about it. On paper, it sounds easy, but bureaucracy always finds a way to make simple matters difficult.

The joy a child can bring to your life could dwarf the administrative inconvenience of adoption. We hope this article has painted a general picture of the adoption procedure in Bulgaria and how to deal with it. We wish you luck in this noble endeavor

Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a writer, editor, and weapons master for

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