Poland is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore all adoptions between Poland and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
WHO CAN ADOPT
Adoption between the United States and Poland is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Poland, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
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.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Poland also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residency Requirements: There are no Polish residence requirements for prospective adoptive parents.
- Age Requirements: 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.
- Marriage Requirements: Both married and single prospective adoptive parents are permitted to adopt a child in Poland.
- Other Requirements: Non-Catholic prospective adoptive parents are permitted to adoptive a child in Poland.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
Because Poland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Poland must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Poland attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Poland’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Learn more about the Convention’s requirements for adoptable children.
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.
HOW TO ADOPT
Polish Adoption Authority
Public Adoptive-Guardian Center (Publiczny Osrodek Adopcyjno-Opiekunczy)
Because Poland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Poland must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
Note: If you filed your I-600a with Poland before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
5. Adopt the Child in Poland
6. Bring your Child Home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Poland is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Poland. Learn more.
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. You will find their information in the Contacts section.
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 a birth parent and prospective adoptive parent without violating Polish law.
Before considering “direct” or “private” adoptions in any country, please contact the Office of Children’s Issues, Department of State.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. Government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Poland. Poland’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Polish law.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If both the United States and Poland determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Poland may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
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.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa inelegibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify Poland’s adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Poland
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Poland, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Poland.
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.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Poland generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Agencies: 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 authority in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.
There are three adoption centers in Poland that are authorized to qualify foreign prospective parents for adoption in Poland.
- Time Frame: Polish adoption procedures are complicated, time consuming, and often require professional legal guidance. 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.
- Adoption Fees: 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 USD 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.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
- Documents Required: 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, gender, 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. (i.e., approved petition)
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
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.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Poland.
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.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
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 appreciates 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 USCIS of a provisional approval of an I-800 petition, or, in a transition case, an approved and valid I-600A petition, and completed I-600 petition, with original signatures by both adopting parents.
- USCIS confirmation of a valid fingerprint clearance
- 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
Medical Exam 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 to 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
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Poland. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Poland, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Poland, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Poland require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Poland requires adoptive parents to submit post adoption reports. We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Poland and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to the country’s history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.