Two Referral Paths for Adopting from Bulgaria


IMG_0958_0479_479Families adopting from Bulgaria have two paths to a referral: obtaining a traditional referral from the Ministry of Justice or applying to the Ministry of Justice to adopt a specific waiting child from the Waiting Child Photolisting.  The photolisting spotlights children in Bulgaria, and MLJ Adoptions’ other country programs, who are currently legally free for international adoption, and in need of a forever family.  This path can be successful for families who are open to older children or children with special needs. These children do not match any of the families’ requirements who are currently registered with the Ministry of Justice, and awaiting a referral. There are several reasons families choose to pursue the adoption of a waiting child.

In the international adoption process, there are many unknowns, including a child’s medical needs. In adopting a waiting child, you receive their medical and social history before making a decision to move forward. That information should be taken to an international adoption doctor, who will help you better understand how these needs will affect the child long-term and your family. Being familiar with the needs of the child adds comfort to the process, especially when there are other unknowns.

The children on the waiting child page are typically on the waiting list for one of the following reasons:

  • Multiple families may have been turned down the referral of these children due to their significant needs.
  • There are a larger number of older children in need of families than families willing to adopt them. Therefore these children are often over the age of 8.
  • Bulgaria does not typically split sibling groups. There are many sibling groups in need of international adoption, but few families open to sibling groups, or a sibling group with a child over the age of 8. Sibling groups often become waiting children.

Internationally, the greatest need for adoption is for older children, children with special needs, and children who are part of a sibling group. Waiting children from Bulgaria usually fall into at least one of those categories. When you pursue the adoption of a waiting child, you give a home to a child who has fewer opportunities to obtain the benefit and security of a forever family. 

Some families choose to adopt a waiting child in hope of reducing their wait time to receiving a referral. Below please find data for how long MLJ Adoptions’ families waited to receive the official referral when they adopted a waiting child(ren).

Referral times for a match from the Waiting Child list
Male Child, 2 years – 3 month wait
Male Child, 2 years – 12 month wait
Female Child, 13 years – 3 month wait
Male Child, 11 years – 2 month wait
Male and Female child, 8 years and 13 years – 1 month wait

Careful consideration of your families’ characteristics and capacity to parent are necessary before pursuing the adoption a waiting child. Adopting a waiting child may not the right path for your family, and waiting for a traditional referral from the Ministry of Justice may be a better fit. The children referred the traditional way are likely to match what the family listed as their preferred child’s age and gender. These children are likely to have fewer special needs.

Below you can see examples of some of the referrals that families have received from the Ministry of Justice, along with approximate timeframes from the submission of the dossier to referral. Please keep in mind that for the shorter the wait times shown, the more characteristics that particular family was likely willing to accept. We estimate that families who choose the traditional path to referral will likely wait between twelve and twenty-four months from dossier submission to referral, but this varies based on how open families are to a child’s characteristics.

Referral times for sibling groups
Biological Siblings, male age 9 and female age 6 – 11 month wait
Biological Siblings, female age 9 and male age 7 – 14 month wait
Twin Brothers, age 2 – 14 month wait
Twin Boy and Girl, age 2 – 14 month wait
Biological Siblings, male age 5, female age 3, male age 2 – 3 month wait

Referrals for single children
Female Child, 2 years – 8 month wait
Male Child, 2 years – 23 month wait
Male Child, 3 years – 18 month wait
Female Child, 2 years – 36 month wait
Male Child, 1 year, 21 month wait
Female Child, 2 years – 3.5 month wait

All children are equally deserving of a family. Whichever path you choose for growing your family, it become the right path. Please contact us if you would like more information on adopting from Bulgaria.

Bulgaria Referral Path

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.