Adoption procedures in Lithuania
According to the Lithuanian laws citizens of foreign countries may adopt children from Lithuania provided the country they live in has ratified the Hague Convention or if the legal procedure of adoption in his home country meets the requirements fixed by the Hague Convention.
Persons having the right to adopt a child:
1. Adopters have to be adults of both sexes up to the age of fifty, properly prepared to adopt a child. The court may give a permission to adopt a child for persons who are older than the established age in exceptional cases.
2. Only spouses shall have a right to adopt. Single person or one of the spouses shall be allowed to adopt a child only in exceptional cases..
3. Unmarried persons shall not be allowed to adopt the same child.
The adoption procedure is as follows:
1. Citizens of foreign countries wishing to adopt a child in Lithuania shall apply to the Central authority in their country or an accredited body in their habitual residence. They have to submit the following documents:
· Application to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service in Lithuania containing the data about the citizen, his/her family members, the number, age, sex, health condition of the children requested for adoption, as well as the motives of adoption;
· Home study report;
· Description of the family's life history and social environment;
· Certificate of the financial state;
· Clearance certification from the local police office;
· Copies of the front page of the passports;
· Birth certificates;
Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt issued by the Central Authority for
adoption. Also there have to be included:
a consent of the Central Authority or competent authority of the state of the habitual residence of the applying citizens that the adopted child will be authorized to enter and reside permanently in the receiving country;
a confirmation that the decision of the Lithuanian court concerning the adoption will be recognized in the receiving State.
Citizens of the countries, which have not ratified the Convention, but
comply with its requirements might be represented by the adoption agencies or
other accredited bodies of their State. Under the Lithuanian laws such agencies
or accredited bodies have to submit a copy of the license (permission) allowing
them to work in the sphere of intercountry adoption. The license shall be
issued by the State Authority and comply with the laws of that State in which
this agency or accredited body functions. The agency or accredited body has to
be also authorized by the citizens whose interests it represents.
Each original document has to be translated and carry APOSTILLE (The Hague Convention, October 5, 1961). All these documents are sent to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service in Lithuania together with the application for adoption.
2. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service includes foreign families into a waiting list according to the date of the submission of all the required documents.
3. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service informs the citizens of foreign countries on the list in succession about the possibility to adopt a specific child through the institution representing them. The Service prepares a report about a concrete child.
4. Citizens of foreign countries can meet with the proposed adoptable child. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service issues a special permission for meeting a particular child.
5. When the citizens of foreign country agree to adopt the proposed child they inform the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service. They have also to submit the permission issued by their State Authority for adoption of a particular child and that the official permission for entrance and permanent residence in the country will be issued to the child.
6. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service issues the final conclusion about a particular adoption.
7. Having completed the above procedures the citizens of foreign countries shall write the application to Vilnius district court. This court issues the final decision on adoption.
8. When the court's decision on the adoption comes into force (Le. in 40 days from the day of its pronouncement) a copy of the decision shall be sent to the Civil Registry Office. The decision of the court shall be the basis for the Service of Acts of Civil Status to change the record of the birth of the adoptee and to issue a new certificate of birth.
Adoption by foreign nationals or by lithuanian nationals residing abroad
1. Legislation regulating the adoption procedure
Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption of 29 May 1993 (entered into force on 1 August 1998);
The Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania (entered into force on 1 July 2001);
The Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania (entered into force on 1 January 2003); Resolution No. 1422 On the Approval of the Procedure for Registry of Adoption in the Republic of Lithuania of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (entered into force on 11 September 2002).
2. Requirements for prospective adoptive parents
Age - from 18 to 50. In exceptional cases the court may allow an older person to adopt. The court can make an exception with the view to the best interests of the child, also considering specific circumstances of the case, e.g. when a child is being adopted by two spouses one of which meets the age requirement and the other exceeds the age requirement but is of a satisfactory physical and mental condition and is capable of bringing up the adoptee; when prospective adoptive parents who are older than 50 wish to adopt an older child (e.g. eight years of age or older) or a child that was in their care for a relatively lengthy period of time; when the prospective adoptive parents ant the adoptee are related; when the adoptee is the spouse's child.
Marital status - the prospective adoptive parents must be a married couple. Marriage is a voluntary agreement between a man and a woman to create legal family relations executed in the procedure provided for by law. Unmarried persons may not adopt the same child. In exceptional cases and unmarried (single) person may be allowed to adopt a child. An exception may be applied if no married couple wishes to adopt a specific child or if a married couple wishing to adopt a specific child cannot do that as such adoption would not be in the best interests of the child.
Families having their children shall also have the right to adopt.
Age difference between the adopter and the adoptee shall be at least eighteen years. Where a person adopts a child of his/her spouse, the age difference may be reduced by the court to fifteen years.
Readiness to adopt - prospective adoptive parents must meet the requirements established for prospective adoptive parents by the receiving State, and they must be recognised as suitable to adopt.
3. Children eligible for adoption
Age - from nine months to eighteen years.
A child may be offered to foreign nationals for adoption if during six months from the registration of the child in the waiting list of children eligible for adoption no family of the Lithuanian nationals wishing to provide foster care of adopt the child was found.
Separation of siblings through adoption shall be allowed in exceptional cases where it is needed for health reasons or where the siblings have already been separated and there are no possibilities to ensure their life together.
Adoption may be effected only with the consent of the parents. The consent of the parents of the child to be adopted shall not be required if the identity of the parents is not known, if they are dead, if the parents are legally incapable, or if the parents' authority has been restricted for an unlimited period. The parents may revoke their consent to adoption before a court judgement is made on the adoption of the child. The parents may request the court to revoke the restriction of the parents' authority before a court judgement is made on the adoption of the child.
The consent of the child - where the child to be adopted has already reached the age of 10, the child's consent to the adoption filed with the court shall be required. Where the child is under 10, the court must take account of the child's wishes if the child is capable of expressing his/her views and if those wishes are not contrary to the child's interests.
Special needs children - are children
· who are older than 10 years of age,
· who have serious health problems,
· who come in a sibling group of three or more.
Currently, the majority of children eligible for adoption by foreign
nationals are special needs children. The Adoption Service encourages competent
authorities of all receiving States to provide training for families that can
adopt such children. Special needs children adoption programme is implemented
in co-operation with accredited adoption agencies involved in finding families,
providing information and training as well as post-adoption services for them.
4. Documents required for adoption
Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption provides that a family must apply to a central authority or an accredited agency of the family's habitual residence with an application for adoption. An accredited adoption agency must be authorised to act in the field of adoption by the receiving State and by the competent authorities of the Republic of Lithuania.
All documents of prospective adoptive parents must be submitted to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service; the latter shall verify whether the prospective adoptive parents meet the requirements and shall enter the family into the waiting list of prospective adoptive parents. The mere fact that the family is entered into the waiting list of prospective adoptive parents shall not mean that one or more children must be placed for adoption with that family. The final judgement regarding adoption shall be made by the court.
Persons who want to adopt a child in the Republic of Lithuania, shall submit the following documents to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service:
1) an application for adoption (it must state the age, sex and health condition of the child requested for adoption. Requests must not conflict with the permit for adoption);
2) information letter introducing the prospective adoptive parents and issued by the central governmental authority or by an accredited adoption association;
3) the home study (the report of the socio-psychological study) prepared in the procedure prescribed by the receiving State;
4) the permit for adoption issued by a competent authority of the receiving State;
5) the confirmation of a competent authority of the receiving State that the adopted child will be allowed to enter the country for permanent residence;
6) copies of passports or other personal identification documents;
7) copies of birth certificates;
8) a copy of the marriage certificate, of the divorce certificate (if divorced) or of the death certificate of the spouse (if widowed);
9) health certificates;
10) certificates of the financial standing of the family (income received and assets owned);
11) criminal record certificates;
12) health certificates and copies of birth certificates of children residing together.
If a family applies through an accredited adoption agency, the following must be submitted:
1) power of attorney issued by the family to the agency;
2) a document issued by a competent authority of the receiving State and certifying the authority of the agency to engage in intercountry adoption.
All documents shall be legalised and translated into the Lithuanian language; such translations shall be notarised. Only properly prepared documents shall be considered.
When a family agrees to adopt the referred child, the following updated documents shall be submitted to the court:
1) the home study (to be updated by the authority or an accredited adoption association that prepared the original home study);
2) health certificates;
3) certificates on the financial standing of the family;
4) criminal record certificates.
5. Referral of a child eligible for adoption
Children eligible for adoption shall be offered to the family according to the family's position in the waiting list and considering the family's requests regarding the age, sex and health of the child. While referring the child, a due consideration shall be given to the heritage of upbringing, ethnic origin, cultural background and the native language of the child; therefore, the priority to adopt the child shall be given to Uthuanian nationals residing abroad and to foreign nationals of a Uthuanian descent. A person shall be considered as being of a Lithuanian descent if his/her parents or grandparents, or one of the parents or grandparents are/were Lithuanian, and the person considers himself/herself to be Lithuanian.
The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service shall provide information about the social origin, health and. development of the child. The prospective adoptive parents may request additional information about the referred child. As a rule, costs related to additional health tests shall be borne by the family.
The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service recommends arriving and meeting the referred child. The family shall be free to decide whether to accept or reject the referral; such decision shall be made within one month from the date on which information about the child was provided. The referral may be accepted in any form (by letter, e-mail or fax).
The family may refuse the referral. In this case it must indicate the reasons of such refusal. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service shall reserve the right to contact the central adoption authority or the accredited agency of the receiving State regarding a repeated assessment of the family's readiness for adoption.
When the family accepts the referral, the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service as well as the central authority or the accredited adoption agency of the receiving State shall issue a permit to continue the adoption procedure.
7. Departure of the child
The following documents shall be required for the departure of the child: 1) the judgement of Vilnius Regional Court regarding adoption;
2) a new birth certificate of the child;
3) the child's passport;
4) a visa, if applicable according to the legislation of the receiving State; 5) the certificate on compliance with intercountry adoption.
New birth certificate of the child
After the court's judgement regarding adoption becomes effective, the adoptive parents must contact the Civil Registry Department that registered the birth of the child regarding the issuing of a new birth certificate. The following documents must be submitted to the Civil Registry Department:
1) copies of passports of the adoptive parents (translated into Lithuanian and legalised);
2) a copy of the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents (translated into Lithuanian and legalised); 3) the original copy of the judgement of Vilnius Regional Court regarding adoption;
4) the original copy of the birth certificate of the child.
Both adoptive parents shall fill the application form regarding the issuing of a new birth certificate for their adopted child. One of the parents may authorise the other parent (or both parents may authorise a third party) to contact the Civil Registry Department in order to obtain a new birth certificate for the adopted child.
A new birth certificate is usually issued on the same day.
Passport of the child
The passport shall be issued to the child by the migration authority (a passport division) according to the child's domicile.
The following documents must be submitted to the migration authority:
1) a copy of the judgement of Vilnius Regional Court;
2) copies of passports of the adoptive parents (translated into Lithuanian and legalised);
3) a copy of the consent to adoption by the biological parents of the child, or a copy of the death certificate, or a copy of the court's judgement regarding the declaration of the biological parents legally incapable or regarding the restriction of the parents' authority for an unlimited period;
4) a copy of the birth certificate of the child;
5) a copy of the birth entry of the child;
6) a copy of the Mayor's decree regarding the temporary guardianship of the child or the court's judgement regarding the establishment of permanent guardianship for the child;
7) a copy of the new birth certificate of the child;
8) four black-and-white passport pictures of the child;
9) banker's receipt certifying the payment of the fee.
· The application to issue the passport for the child must be signed by at least one of the adoptive parents.
· The child must be present while submitting the application to issue the passport for the child.
· As the child moves for permanent residence abroad, the declaration of domicile must be filled in and signed by one of the adoptive parents while accepting the child's passport.
· The passport is usually issued for the child within 3-5 days.
Certificate on compliance with intercountry adoption
The certificate on compliance with intercountry adoption shall be issued by the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service after the judgement of Vilnius Regional Court regarding adoption becomes effective.
8. Duration of the adoption procedure
The duration of the adoption procedure shall be subject to the age, sex and health condition of the child to be adopted and to the number of children to be adopted. The average duration of the adoption procedure of a child under three years of age is 2-3 years; however, the adoption of special needs children, e.g. children with serious health problems or a sibling group of 3 under ten years of age, may be completed in half a year.
The adoption procedure in the Republic of Lithuania is free of charge. The family shall only bear the costs related to the following:
· preparation of documents for adoption (translation, legalisation);
· journey to Lithuania and accommodations in Lithuania;
· translation services during the stay in Lithuania and during the court hearing;
· services of the representative, the attorney at law;
· the stamp duty (L TL 100);
· other, e. g. additional health tests performed for the child, etc.
Following the adoption, the adoptive family or an accredited adoption agency that represents the adoptive family must provide feedback to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service consisting of reports about the integration of the adopted child into the family, living conditions, development, health, also pictures and videos; the feedback shall be provided as follows:
a) twice a year during the first two years following the adoption;
b) once a year for the following two years;
c) at the request of the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service after four years following the adoption.