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Azerbaijan Adoption

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A small country bordering the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan is sandwiched between Iran to the south, Russia to the north, and Georgia and Armenia to the west. The capital of the country, Baku, is a very picturesque harbor town on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Once a major stopping point on the ancient Grand Silk Route, the Azerbaijan of today is home to over 8 million people and many amazing sights such as Bronze Age petroglyphs, medieval minarets and mosques, and, of course, Azerbaijan's famous textiles.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Azerbaijan declared its independence. However, Azerbaijan was subdued by the Red Army in 1920 and became a Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1991, Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

In 2002, Americans adopted 49 children from Azerbaijan. The children available for adoption from Azerbaijan are primarily Caucasian and are anywhere from 6 to 18 months old at the time of adoption. Older children and special needs children are also available for adoption from Azerbaijan. All the children available for adoption from Azerbaijan live in orphanages. Currently, Azerbaijan does not impose age limitations or marital status restrictions on adopting parents. (Note: Various adoption agencies sometimes have their own age restrictions for adopting parents, so be sure to ask the agencies you are considering.)

What's Involved in Adopting a Child From Azerbaijan?

First, an adoptive parent or family must register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and submit both their USCIS approval and their dossier. (This registration with the MFA is usually done by your adoption agency.) The MFA reviews your dossier for one month. Upon approval of your dossier, the MFA then forwards the documents to the Ministry of Health (MoH). After registration with the MoH, your documents are forwarded to the Baku City Health Department, regardless of where in Azerbaijan the child resides. (In cases of children over age 3, the Ministry of Education replaces the Baku Health Department in the process.)

The Health Department will provide parents a list of prospective adoptees and will issue permission for the parents to visit the children. The parents, after visiting the children, identify the specific child they hope to adopt. The Health Department then forwards the documents to the court in the district where the child resides. The court issues a preliminary decision, and submits the file to the District Authority where the child resides, and then to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of Azerbaijan.

Once the approval of both these offices is received, the case returns to the district court for a final decision, at which the parents must be present. After the final decision, there is a 30-day waiting period for the legal act to be official. During this waiting period, the adoptive parents do not have custody of the child. Only after that 30-day period may the child leave Azerbaijan. In most cases, the parents leave Azerbaijan and return after the 30 days are up. Visa processing is done in Tiblisi, Georgia.

In a Nut Shell: The Low-Down on Adopting From Azerbaijan

  1. Children Available: Healthy infants, both boys and girls, 6 to 18 months of age are available for adoption from Azerbaijan. Older children and special needs children are also available for adoption.
  2. Parent Requirements: Azerbaijan has no age limitations or marital status requirements for adoptive parents.
  3. Travel Requirements: Two trips are required for both parents. The first trip, where you initially meet your child, lasts approximately one week. The second trip occurs about a month or a month and a half after the first trip and lasts about two weeks. During this trip, the adoption is finalized.
  4. Time Frame: According to the U.S. State Department, it typically takes about one year to complete an adoption from Azerbaijan.
  5. Number of Children Adopted by Americans in 2002: 49
  6. strong>Additional Information: The children available for adoption from Azerbaijan live in orphanages.

Credits: Excerpted from "International Adoption Guidebook," by Mary Strickert

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