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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

More Requirements for Russian Adoption

As if the costs, timeline, and paperwork couldn’t become even worse, Russia is adding yet another requirement for prospective adoptive parents.  In a requirement handed down by the Ministry of Education and Science, adoptive parents must now undergo extensive training to prove their fitness to parent such children, in effect since September 1st.

And naturally, in true Russian bureaucratic style, nobody really has a clue what that means.  Some have conjectured that approximately 80 hours of “face-to-face training” is required.  With so few trainers ready to meet such a need, does that mean that the AP needs to travel to attend classes or seminars in person?  Or, might the requirement be interpreted to mean that training might take place interactively online, such as via video conferencing?

Nobody knows.

Which means that, yet again, a cottage industry is springing up to meet the need.  “Trainers” are taking their gig on the road, holding intensive three-day-weekend seminars to ensure that at least 30 hours of the classes are, indeed, in person.

The cost of the training?  Only $1500 per couple.

The cost of the Certificate of Completion?  Only $1200 per couple.

Factor in gas costs, possible hotel room or babysitters, meals, etc., for the weekend and you’re looking at least at another $3000-$4000, which, on top of costs in the $60,000 to $80,000 range for a Russian adoption, is really a drop in the bucket.

This budding industry is so new, with the potential for lawsuits so real (should the training not turn out to be exactly what the Russians are demanding), that it’s curious that not one trainer’s name is mentioned in promotional materials.  Just that they’re “qualified”.

I don’t object to the course material at all.  Really.  A-parents need to know the developmental challenges that children of abuse and neglect face, what procedures and visitation to expect in Russia, as well as how to adjust and become a new family unit.  But why not have the Russians furnish such training, say, via DVDs, at perhaps a cost of $50 or so and then discuss with the parents what they learned when they arrive at the MOE in Russia?

Over the years, the list of requirements has grown:  the extensive psychological exam, the eight-doctor medical exam, the dossiers approaching a Ph.D. thesis on the prospective family, the C.P.A.’s take on your bottom line, the online educational training sessions, and now even more training.

I’ve written about the abuses of all of the above, from adoptive moms in some regions undergoing gynecological exams (?!), having to go to strange facilities to chat for a few sessions with a psych and eventually take the MPII-2, 567-question exam that is stranger than strange (“Do you often feel like harming yourself?”) and which we took at a lock-down facility ministering to wayward priests (“NO, do not bring your son to sit in the waiting room…”).  Our paperwork over the years increased from a big pile of documents, to a HUUUGE mountain of documents, while the “educational requirement” was a laughable waste of time (“Your child may arrive home not yet speaking English…”).  Well, the Russians always were ones in favor of higher education….

I can only imagine what might be next.  Cooking classes:  pelemeni, blinchiki, and golubtsi.  Russian language classes:  conjugate several verbs and tell your child it’s time to brush his teeth.  Driving classes:  how to jump the curb and drive on the sidewalk in Moscow, or head for the airport, changing lanes and playing “chicken” with incoming highway traffic.  Drinking classes:  how to imbibe liberal amounts of vodka throughout the day, and still walk and talk.

When will adoptive parents call it quits on Russia?  As they say, it’s whatever the market will bear….




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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Linda says:

    Russia and their new requirements… Always so nice to get them.
    When we where in the process they brought the 8 doctors in Russia rule. And the last what I heard was a psychological assessment in Finland is going to be needed. and the 30days waiting between the court and getting your child, horrible…
    But that 80hours…
    That’s going to be a hard one, we do have a lot of lectures about adoption, so I guess in the year you have your counseling (18h), if you would attend every lecture and go to the “group adoption course” as well, you might just get that 80h done.

    But I do understand Russia in a way. there’s so many people who just adopt without really thinking about what all it can mean. Even over here, where the counseling is generally thought to be good and prepare the couple for all the possible things, there’s people who think the child is going to show up, love them without any reservations from day 1, have no “baggage” at all from any trauma (not that they would have any trauma) and just fit perfectly in the family, no work required.
    What a shock to get your child and it’s not all perfect from day one…

    The more information parents have the better. it’s just a fact.
    80h might be a bit over doing it, but it’s their rules, they are the ones giving us their children.

    • avatar admin says:

      I know, Linda, I know. These educational topics (from what I’ve seen) actually sound like they might help the parent. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the additional cost and time and hoops to jump through. Already, many families from the US are making the three, and four trips to Russia. (Semi-doable if you’re near Moscow….) Who can hold down a job and swing that??? Usually it would be within the same six months once the process starts rolling. By the time your child is home, the two weeks’ vacation is long gone (Europe is a lot more progressive on that count). And yes, I wish Russia were “giving us” their children. 🙂 There are so many deserving parents who don’t have bulging bank accounts. Ukraine is sounding better and better….

  2. avatar Shelley says:

    The numbers of Russian adoptions to the US have dropped tremendously over the years. Adoptive parents are voting with their feet. Thank you for injecting humor into a situation that’s not very laughable.

  3. avatar Winnie says:

    Unfortunately Russia has probably priced themselves out of most of the people eligible/ willing to adopt. Most families have saved/ taken out loans/ raided retirement already to come up with the amounts needed a few years ago. Tack the extra crazy costs on and not to mention the nightmare of time…. well I’m afraid it’s going to leave a lot more children in the desky dom than going home to families. There will always likely be some willing and able to jump through those hoops, paticularly since young, relatively healthy caucasion children are available but you can pretty much forget about middle income people doing it anymore. Heck I paid less for my first house than what a Russian adoption costs now.

    I agree even with scary referal process that Ukraine has it looks better. However they do not generally allow adoptions of healthy children under 5 (unless maybe in a sibling group) and that will turn many people off.

    Unfortunately I believe Russia is shooting its’ self in the foot, and in turn the children are bearing all the pain.

    • avatar admin says:

      Absolutely, Winnie, there are pros and cons to each country and its programs. Personally, I like “older children” since there tends to be fewer surprises in terms of their development mentally and emotionally– “What you see is what you get” to some extent, whereas a baby/toddler is pretty much still unknown. I believe there are a lot of parents who travel to Ukraine with a particular child unofficially in mind.

      After the initial “run” on available children to foster in Russia, it could be that they will run out of Russians who are ready, willing, and wanting some extra income by taking in extra children. The demographics may not support it much longer, even with extra folks like pensioners taking in kids.

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