When a family begins considering adopting from Bulgaria, one of their first questions is usually, “Where do children in Bulgaria live?” In each country, that answer is different, and in Bulgaria the answer also varies to some degree. Children in need of families in Bulgaria usually live in either an orphanage or a foster family. Where they live depends on a variety of factors, including their age, their location in Bulgaria and the availability of a foster family for them to live with. Ultimately the Ministry of Justice, the central authority in Bulgaria, decides where the children live once they are abandoned. The Ministry of Justice is also responsible for recruiting, training and overseeing those involved in caring for orphaned children.
A significant number of orphaned children live in orphanages in Bulgaria. The orphanages are either overseen the by Bulgarian government or run by private entities. The Bulgarian government requires that all orphanages for children under the age of 4, or the “baby homes”, be run by a pediatrician. While this is not always a reality, it is a goal of the ministries who supervise child welfare in the country. Living in one of these homes usually allows for the child’s medical records to be kept up to date and for the children to receive medical care, should it be needed.
While orphanage living is never ideal for a child, adoptive families report that they have been pleasantly surprised by the conditions of the children’s home where their child was living. Those responsible for child welfare in Bulgaria admit that living in an orphanage is not ideal for a child, and there have been movements to shift children into family centers and foster families.
Family centers are smaller orphanages with a lower child to caretaker ratio. Differentiating between a family center and an orphanage may be difficult, but those overseeing the care of the children recognize and affirm that children do best when they are able to receive more one-on-one care.
Foster Family Life
When it is possible, orphaned children live with foster families. Those involved in child welfare in Bulgaria have worked hard to develop the foster care system. Foster parents have been recruited and trained so that children in need of families can live in a family environment instead of the orphanage system. Many foster parents in Bulgaria are empty-nesters and have already raised children, and are now looking for a way to serve others. They have already been given the opportunity to adopt the children who they are fostering, and have declined to pursue adoption.
Wherever a child lives, on the adoptive family’s first trip to Bulgaria, they will travel to the child’s residence and spend time with the child there. Our staff in country, Vesta, coordinates these trips and visits. Regardless of how good the orphanage or the foster family, the goal is that all children be raised in a permanent, forever family, which may only be possible through international adoption.
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting from Bulgaria, please contact us.