Russia has the largest land area of any country in the world, with its diverse landscapes of icy tundra, dense silver birch and fir forests, deep and mysterious lakes, and swaying grasslands – those famous steppes. It has a rich history in literature, ballet, architecture and painting, and sent the first man into space, with Yuri Gagarin's flight in 1951. When you see ancient wooden villages , luxurious palaces, swirly spires on churches, you’ll begin to see why Russia is simply amazing. But it's the needs of the babies and children that will tug at your heart. Since 1992 New Zealanders have opened their hearts and their homes to nearly 700 Russian babies and children who had no parents able to raise them in Russia.
It's estimated that over 500,000 children and babies are without parental care throughout Russia, with about 150,000 of these living in orphanages (the rest are in foster care or similar arrangements.) Children who've been deemed to need new families (i.e. cannot return to their family of origin) are registered on the Russian Data Bank of children.
In 2008 foreigners adopted 4,100 children and Russian citizens adopted 9,100 children. Additionally, Russian citizens took many children under foster care or guardianship.
Statistics from the Russian Ministry of Education show that of those who are not adopted and remain in the orphanage until they leave as teenagers, 50% fall into a high risk category, 40% become drug users, 40% commit crimes, 10% commit suicide and only 4% are admitted to universities. These figures show us that orphanages are no place for a child to be raised. Adoption gives a child the chance for a life beyond these sad statistics. Read about life in the Russian orphanage system at Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund and at Human Rights Watch.
ICANZ is accredited by the New Zealand Central Authority for adoption (NZCA) and holds a Russian Permit from the Russian Government granting ICANZ the right to represent you during an adoption application in Russia.
ICANZ was one of the earliest organisations worldwide to find families for children in Russian orphanages. We began in St Petersburg in 1992, when communism had recently ended and the world was beginning to learn about the many needy children in Russian orphanages. ICANZ researched the compatibility of Russian and New Zealand laws, and became knowledgeable in the legal process New Zealanders must follow when adopting in Russia. New Zealanders can be assured that their adoptions follow Russian law and are in the best interests of the child, as this is a requirement of the court. Russian adoptions are government approved, with a child matched to you by the regional child welfare government department, approved by the Russian Federal Ministry of Education and Science, and finalized by a Judge in a Russian court. For NZ applicants, the adoption of a specific child must also be approved by the New Zealand Central Authority.
Since 1992, ICANZ families have adopted nearly 700 children, from the west of Russia to the Far East, aged from 8 months to 14 years.
Read the requirements here.
So far in 2012 ICANZ families have been matched with 14 babies and children. Eight of these children were babies/toddlers under 2 years, the other six children were under 5 years. Eight were boys, six were girls; this included two groups of sibling pairs. The average time from application to matching was 5 months. Statistics are updated on the members only section of our website.
Babies are able to be adopted internationally from 8 months of age. We can help you to bring a child into your family when the baby or child is aged 1 - 10+ years, or sibling groups of 2, 3, 4 or more children from one family. You can request the gender of your child, but many more families request a girl, so therefore these applications take longer. Most sibling groups include school age children. We expect parents to be open to children 45 or less years younger than themselves, although the age of child matched to you is at the discretion of the Russian authorities.
All children who are adopted internationally have been in the care of the Russian government, living in state run orphanages, or occasionally state arranged foster care. Orphanage care in any country, no matter how dedicated the caregivers, can't provide the same stimulation for the child’s development, the same level of nutrition or basic medical care, the same life experiences nor the same opportunities for bonding, that a parent can provide. All children need the one-on-one love and care of a parent. For this reason, the children will be delayed in some aspects of their development and will not display the picture of health that a New Zealand raised child will show. Research shows the average delay to be one month for every three months in an orphanage. Additionally, before arriving at the orphanage, some children have experienced neglect or abuse.
Some refer to developmental delays and the untreated medical needs found in some orphanage children as "special" needs, as they are needs not commonly experienced by children in New Zealand families. The medical reports (called child studies, or referral information) on a child will refer to these delays in growth and development, and medical conditions, in ways that might puzzle New Zealanders. In a family environment often the child quickly becomes "healthy", but at the time of adoption they are not considered "healthy" by the Russian officials or courts. We welcome applications from those prepared to accept a child with a Russian diagnosis of mild medical and developmental needs and/or moderate correctable treatable needs.
Please READ the following sites carefully to help you see this in context :
Russian Medical Reports Explained
Explanation of the commonly seen terms, perinatal encephalopathy, perinatal lesion of CNS, perinatal affectation of the CNS
From the eyes of a child
As in every country, there are children in orphanages with specific medical needs beyond that of typical orphanage induced mild-moderate medical and developmental needs, children who are older and children who are part of larger sibling groups who would love a family. There's no special programme for this in Russia but ICANZ will prioritise applications for these children as they will have been waiting longer for a family. You'll need to be approved by your CYF social worker to adopt a child with medical or developmental needs beyond what's considered typical for children raised in an orphanage, or older aged children (7 - 10+ years) or sibling groups of 3 or more children from one family.
The New Zealand Central Authority for adoption (NZCA) and ICANZ use processes for Russian adoption which are consistent with those of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.
Russian adoptions are completed in a Russian court, under Russian legislation. The adoption is then recognised in NZ under the Adoption Act (1955) and the child becomes a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, depending on the adopting parent's status.
You'll need to pay for all costs associated with work ICANZ completes for you in NZ, the work of the ICANZ Representative who represents you in Russia, translations, visas, documentation costs in NZ and Russia, travel, accommodation, personal costs and post placement reporting costs. The Russian adoption system is very thorough and yet very personal, permitting your involvement at each step. As you travel three times, a long distance, and go through a very precise court process, with extensive documentation requirements, costs are higher than most of our programmes.
Pre-register for details of costs. Also see our article on why there are costs involved in adoption.
Read this article from the Moscow Times about the current orphanages in Russia
Read this inspiring book.
Join the Yahoo discussion group for New Zealand families who have adopted, or who wish to adopt in Russia
Watch this DVD showing the desperate needs faced by children who are never adopted, when they grow up and leave the orphanage as young adults to live on their own.
Read these ideas on making the transition from orphanage to your home a little easier for your child.
Essential reading for those adopting children from a traumatic past. Available as an ebook. Read a free chapter here.
Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children by Daniel A. Hughes.
This book uses a case study in an easy-to-read way to explain why some children have attachment issues and how parents can improve attachment. Hughes, a very well known psychologist and author, portrays the child's inner world, allowing the reader to gain a greater understanding of the child's view of life.
See our information on Waiting; why the adoption process takes time, coping with the wait, and using your time productively.
Watch this documentary about Russian adoption on Russia Today’s new documentary channel.
See our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ICANZAdoption
This website requires compatibility mode to be turned on if you are using Internet Explorer 8.