Most countries require that a family travels to complete their adoption. Adopting from Bulgaria is no exception. Travel can be overwhelming for families; hopefully these frequently asked questions will assist you in better understanding what travel to Bulgaria may look like.
How many trips are required?
Families adopting from Bulgaria will travel to the country twice. Each trip is typically seven days long. Both parents should plan on traveling on the first trip. It is possible for just one parent to travel on the second trip.
Where do we stay?
MLJ Adoptions’ in-country staff arranges the accommodations for families traveling to Bulgaria. Families arrive and depart out of Sofia, which is the capital city. Typically, families will stay in an apartment, but sometimes they stay in a hotel. MLJ Adoptions works to find safe, clean and affordable lodging for families when they are in-country. Past families have expressed satisfaction at what our in-country team has arranged for them.
What support will we receive?
MLJ Adoptions’ in-country staff provides excellent support to families during their trips. From the very beginning of trip one, families will have in-country staff pick them up at the airport, take them to their lodging and share information about the schedule for the rest of the trip. Our in-country staff accompanies families to every appointment and orphanage visit. Additionally, our program staff and Social Services team are available to provide additional support when needed. Before the family travels, they speak over the phone with the Bulgaria Program Director for their Travel Consultation.
What will we do while we are there?
Most of a family’s first trip to Bulgaria will be spent traveling to and visiting with the child at his/her orphanage or foster home. Depending on where the child lives, there may be a significant amount of time spent traveling. On the final day, the family will meet with the Ministry of Justice to officially accept the referral of the child. Families are also free to sightsee in their free time on the first trip.
On the first full day of the second trip, families are usually given custody of their child! There is less free time on the second trip. Typically on the family’s first full day with their child, they will pick up the child’s passport and have a required medical examination and TB test. Once the results of the TB test are known, the family will attend the visa interview at the US Embassy. The following day, MLJ Adoptions’ in-country staff will pick up the child’s visa packet, and the family is free to travel home.
What is happening between the first and second trip?
Yes, four to six months is a long time for wait to bring a child home after you’ve met them. However, a lot is happening during this period to finalize the adoption. On the parent side, you will submit your I-800 application and receive provisional approval, and then you will file your DS-260. The DS-260 is your electronic visa application which is required for your visa appointment.
Meanwhile in Bulgaria, your family’s file will be prepared for and then submitted to court. The court processing can take about eight weeks, and once the court decree is issued, translated and legalized, your child receives a new birth certificate and passport.
Once your family has completed your DS-260 and the child’s new birth certificate and passport is issued, the child’s visa interview can be scheduled. This is when your family receives travel dates for your second trip!
Will we have time to sightsee?
Yes, families usually have time to do some sightseeing while they are in-country. The capital city of Sofia, where most families stay, is full of historical sites and beautiful places to visit. Bulgaria is a travel destination for families who live in Europe! Families should check with the in-country team to determine which days may be best for tourism. Depending where the child lives, some families may have more time than others to visit the sites. It’s important to remember why you are in Bulgaria – to meet, spend time with and accept the referral for your child. Any sightseeing you have the opportunity to do is a bonus!
Before traveling abroad, MLJ Adoptions recommends all of its client families to register with the U.S. State Department.
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting from Bulgaria, please contact us.