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Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine

February 28, 2022

Ryan Hanlon

Adoptive Parents

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Regarding Refugee Children Fleeing the War in Ukraine

It is common following natural disasters, regional conflicts, and other events that displace children that questions about adoption arise. Our attention is drawn to the plight of these children and our hearts ache to provide them with the protection and love that they deserve.

The war in Ukraine is not an exception: videos and journalists’ reports tell of thousands of refugees fleeing the war and we know that this means many children are separated from family and other caregivers. The desire to provide a home and family to these children reflects the best intentions and a sincere desire to help. However, this is not the appropriate time or context to be considering adoption by U.S. citizens. Why? Adoption is only a possibility for children for whom parental rights have been terminated or for whom there is clear evidence that they are orphaned. It is paramount that the identities of these children and their families be clearly established, and their social, legal, and familial status is fully verified by governmental authorities. For most of these children, we cannot do that at this time.

There are limited cases in which an intercountry adoption is appropriate – cases that have legal paperwork already in place and can follow the established legal safeguards and practices. While there are a few cases like this, most children impacted by this war are not currently eligible for adoption and should not be currently considered for adoption.

Families who are in the process to adopt should be in contact with their adoption agency regarding what steps they can take. They may also refer to guidance from the U.S. Department of State:

There has been a great deal of media coverage on the impact of the war in Ukraine on adoptions. We have compiled links to those stories here.

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