Note: ICF provides adoption home studies and post adoption services for all countries. ICF does not have a direct adoption placing program in Kazakhstan and currently Kazakhstan remains closed to US families.
Note: This information pre-dates the suspension of adoption from Kazakhstan. New regulations may emerge when the country re-opens under the Hague Convention.
Kazakhstan is a country of mixed cultures and heritage. Originally more Asian than European, Kazakhstan was obscured by the Soviet Union for a large part of the 20th century. Now a vibrant emerging nation, Kazakhstan boasts vast “steppes” or plains of grass, snow capped mountains, a recovering economy and a genteel Asian personality.
Children from Kazakhstan are mostly Asian, Eurasian or of middle-eastern ancestry. Some children are Caucasian, but this is not an appropriate adoption destination for families who are interested solely in a Caucasian child.
Children available for Referral
Children may be referred at about age 10-12 months of age or older, for families requesting infants. Their ethnic background is most likely to be Asian-Kazakh, but there are also children of Russian, Korean, Tatar, Gypsy and Germanic heritage. It is not possible to request a male or female child or to specify whether you prefer a particular ethnic background.
The age at time of referral is in part due to the legal requirement for children to remain on a national database for six months prior to being referred for international placement. While in the orphanage, child generally get good care, although due to lack of one-to-one stimulation it is typical for children to be less advanced in development in comparison with a child reared in an attentive family. It is estimated that for every three months in an orphanage, a child’s development is delayed by one month.
Adoptive parents may be up to age 50 at the time they complete their adoption; we accept applications from families who are no more than 49 years old. It is best if one or both parents are under age 45 if they wish to adopt a child under age one. Single women are permitted to adopt, but co-habitation is not permitted, so single women must live alone, without either a male or female friend. All families must meet their state and the USCIS requirements and prepare a dossier of paperwork for submission in Kazakhstan. We do not work with couples who have mixed citizenship; both parents must be US citizens.
The dossier for Kazakhstan is exacting, but explicit instructions will be provided by your placing agency. Trraditionally, there is the additional step of submitting a dossier for approval to the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington DC. This adds four weeks or more to the preparation time.
Both parents or a single parent must travel at least once to Kazakhstan and to the region where the child resides for the purpose of visiting the child. Typically, this is also when you meet your referral, as most families travel “blind” to be matched with a child. If you feel the child presented to you as a referral is unhealthy or a poor match for your family, you will have the opportunity to meet another child. It would, however, be considered odd or questionable if a child were rejected for no clear reason, or for reasons of ethnicity. Medical issues are, of course, valid reason to request another referral.
This first trip takes about three-plus weeks, during which you have visitations with your child on a daily basis. One parent may leave prior to the court date, but one must remain until after the court date. Families typically travel in small groups, but travel time varies significantly from region to region and judge to judge.
Most families make one trip, and then return home, prior to making the second trip. Alternatively, we can offer escort services to bring your child home to you, after you have made the first trip. There is about four weeks between the first trip and the second or escort trip. The second trip lasts two or more weeks.
Orphanages in Kazakhstan usually house 100 or more children, separated into age groups. The orphanages we have visited have been cheerful and clean, with bright curtains and plenty of caregivers. There are large indoor and outdoor play areas, sometimes furnished with donations from US corporations. When traveling, we urge families to visit the Central Museum (equivalent to a museum of natural and cultural history) and the Art Museum in Almaty. Both depict the history of the country, of the nomadic Kazakhs and their struggle to preserve their freedom. Cultural artifacts, crafts, rugs and beautifully quilted pieces of antique yurts are available for purchase.