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When we started the adoption process to adopt our son from Armenia we had no idea we would also be adopting our daughter from Bulgaria at the same time. With the expertise of Robin and the entire Hopscotch team, we brought both home, after a 25 month journey, just 5 months apart. We will always be especially grateful to the in-country team in Armenia for going the extra mile for us and our son. We are very thankful to be a part of the Hopscotch family and would recommend them to anyone adopting. There may be other agencies as good, but NONE better. We thank God every day for choosing us to be the parents of Garik and Nikolina Lackamp.
—M. and S. Lackamp

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Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc Now Accepting Applications To Adopt Serbian Children With Moderate to Non-correctable Special Needs.

 

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Hopscotch Adoptions' Official Letter of Accreditation from Serbia's Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare Policy (PDF)

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc is pleased to announce the Serbian Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy's Adoption Authority has Accredited Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc to provide adoption services for US families seeking to adopt a Serbian child. On April 1, 2014, The Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention) will enter into force.

The adoption process is not yet codified and is subject to change, due to Serbia's new implementation of Hague.

 

Country of Serbia: Adopting Children and Toddlers

There are currently more than 500 families in Serbia waiting to adopt healthy infants. While Serbia is slowly making progress in the area of services for and acceptance of people with disabilities, they still have a long way to go. Because of this, the only children available for adoption from Serbia are those with physical or mental impairments whose needs would be better met in a country such as the U.S. Every year there are a certain number of special needs children listed for international adoption in Serbia, however, this number changes daily as children are entered or removed from the database.

The needs of the children range from Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, cleft lip/palate, Autism Spectrum Disorders to mild developmental or institutional delays to sibling groups or older children. It's important to know that diagnoses of Down Syndrome or other disorders for which a chromosome analysis can be performed are typically accurate, whereas diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder may be inaccurate in some cases. In addition, many diagnoses categorized as "severe" in Serbia, are diagnoses that are easily manageable in the U.S., in part due to advanced medical and educational services available here.

With the exception of sibling groups, families may only adopt one child at a time from Serbia. Serbia requires one year between adoptions of non-related children.

Historically, most children in Serbia born with obvious differences have been institutionalized at birth. However, current laws state that children without parental care may be placed in foster care at birth and that those currently residing in institutional care may also be moved to foster care. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of foster families willing to care for the children with special needs. Education and public service announcements are becoming more common, but social reform takes time. While the children wait for change, they do just that. Wait.

 

Eligible Applicants

Serbia requires that parents not be more than 45 years older than the child they are adopting, with a difference of at least 18 years of age. Parents must be married and common-law marriages can qualify. Parents over 46 years may be considered for the adoption of older children. Single parents are approved on a case-by-case basis. If you are single, you must document and explain to the Serbian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP) Adoption Unit how you will care for a child with special needs as a single parent, as well as the support system you have in place.

Adoptive parents with diagnosed mental disorders or infectious disease can not adopt from Serbia.

Families must have a Hague approved home study and work with a Hague Accredited and Serbian Authorized Agency from the US to adopt a child from Serbia, effective April 1, 2014.

 

Program & Process

Contact Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. Upon your decision to proceed with the adoption of a Serbian child, we will assist you in developing a letter of introduction to the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (MLSP) Adoption Unit.  The contents of this letter will introduce yourself and your family, describing the type of child you wish to adopt along with a check list of diagnoses that you would or would not accept based on what child would best fit into your family. If you are specifically requesting a child with, for example, Down syndrome, you'll need to also state the comprehensive associated medical diagnoses that are possible with Down syndrome, due to the limitations of diagnostics provided and available in Serbia.

Upon receipt of your letter, the MLSP will acknowledge your inquiry and accept you for the adoption of a Serbian child.  They will also give you preliminary information about any children on the international adoption registry that would match your criteria.  At this point, families will compile and submit their complete dossier for review by Hopscotch, followed by sending it to Serbia for translation, certification, and submission to the MLSP Adoption Unit.

After receipt of your dossier, the MLSP Adoption Unit will provide you with information on a child or list of children registered for international adoption and fitting the criteria you have requested. Hopscotch Adoptions strongly encourages families to seek out the services of an Independent Adoption Specialist to help discern what the child’s/children's needs are and if your family is appropriate for the adoption of any of these children.  You may ask MLSP further questions to help you make a decision.  Please be patient with this process. Upon receipt of questions, the MLSP Adoption Unit must contact the social center responsible for the child in whom you are interested. If the child is housed in a facility far from the capital, it may take several days to respond to the questions.  It is possible you will not receive a picture of your child before you travel. Serbia is extremely protective of the privacy rights of its children. There is no tolerance for violating a child's privacy.  If the MLSP Adoption Unit does provide you with a photo of the child referred, you may not post it anywhere online or share in emails.

If married, both parents are required to travel. Once you have made your decision to accept a referral, the MLSP Adoption Unit will invite the family to appear and begin the process.  The MLSP Adoption Unit works with families on establishing a travel date that works for your family, however, they expect any family that has received a referral to travel within a few weeks of notice or sooner. 

As soon as you have your travel date, you'll provide your travel schedule to Hopscotch and the dates will be confirmed by the MLSP Adoption Unit.  You then notify the US Embassy of your pending arrival.  You can email them at BelgradeIV@state.gov and cc' Hopscotch on the communication as well.   When planning for your travel, estimate a 23 day stay in country. 

Upon arrival in Serbia your first task is to meet with the MLSP Adoption Unit. This meeting is informal and families are encouraged to relax.  The MLSP Adoption Unit has already deemed you to be an appropriate family for the child and welcomes you.  During this meeting you'll review the child’s medical and social file in detail. In attendance at this meeting, there will be members of the MLSP Adoption Unit, the child's legal guardian, social worker, doctor and psychologist. If the child is in institutional care, a representative from the institution will be present as well. You will learn the circumstances that resulted in the child’s relinquishment as well his or her current medical and developmental status. The Serbian government wants the best for the child and for that reason, you will be asked if you are still in acceptance of the child’s referral before proceeding in the process.  If at any time you chose to not proceed with the child's adoption, you are encouraged to inform your in-country representative and MLSP Adoption Unit.  

If you still wish to proceed, you will immediately go to meet the child. If the child is in Belgrade, the drive will only be a few minutes. If the child is in another city, you will be taken there by the in-country representative.  The first visit with the child will be observed by several officials, which can be a bit unnerving. Just be yourself and PLAY with your child if your child is accepting of it. After this initial visit you will again be asked if you still accept the child’s referral. If at any time you chose to not proceed with the child's adoption, you are encouraged to inform the in-country representative and MLSP Adoption Unit. 

Expect a total stay of 7-10 days in the child’s city of birth for the purposes of visitation with the child.  If your child is in foster care, there will likely be fewer visitations required than for a child residing in institutional care.  Lodging in your child’s city of birth can be expensive, but Hopscotch will do its best to make your stay as short and affordable as possible.  During the 7-10 day visiting period, two reports must be sent to the MLSP stating the social worker's opinion of how visits are going.  After these reports have been sent, a family along with its adoptive child returns to Belgrade for 3 to 7 days and awaits the signatures of the Minister of MLSP.  Once these signatures have been obtained, the adoption ceremony will be scheduled in the child’s city of birth.

The adoption ceremony is an informal event.  You will attend the ceremony with your new child (unless the child is too medically fragile to travel) and sign all adoption documents. If your child is over the age of 7, he or she will also accompany you to related appointments because his or her fingerprint is needed to issue the passport. Now is the time to request an extra set of original adoption documents if you intend to have a copy for your own records; you cannot obtain them easily later.  Ask the in country representative about any cost associated with obtaining these and a certified translation.

CONGRATULATIONS you are now parents to a beautiful Serbian child to love forever!!

Once the adoption ceremony is complete, families return to Belgrade to obtain the child’s passport from the police station and wait for official translations of all post-adoption documents which takes 3-4 business days.  Depending on your individual adoption process, you may need to visit a child’s birth city a third time to obtain any remaining paperwork for translation.

**In Serbia, you will not be able to change your child’s first name. If you wish to do so, this must be done in the U.S. in a separate legal process, usually during the re-finalization of the adoption.

After your child’s passport has been secured, his/her required embassy panel medical exam will be scheduled.  The exam report will be in a sealed envelope and you will not have access to this information, but rest assured, it is only a cursory evaluation and there are no undisclosed findings

When all documents necessary for your visa interview have been secured, reviewed for accuracy and have a certified English translation prepared, families will make an appointment at the US Embassy to file the I-600 package.  Your in-country representative will assist you with this step.  After submission of your I-600 package, you can expect the same day or next business day to be invited to return with your in-country representative to pick up your child's Serbian passport with a US VISA. You are now free to fly home!

Please allow for extra days in country in the event there is an error.  Every adoption is different, and many cities have never processed an adoption before. DO NOT purchase your plane tickets to fly home until your in-country representative informs you that you are clear to depart.  Purchasing tickets and having to change them due to an unforeseen delay is very costly.

 

The Country

Serbia (formerly part of Yugoslavia) is located in the center of the Balkan Peninsula of southeastern Europe. It is a small country, covering 34, 116 square miles.  The northern portion belongs to central Europe, but in terms of geography and climate it is also partly a Mediterranean country. Serbia is landlocked but as a Danube country it is connected to distant seas and oceans. From the agricultural regions of the Pannonian Plain in the north, across the fertile river valleys and orchard-covered hills of Šumadija, the landscape of Serbia continues southward, gradually giving way to mountains rich in canyons, gorges and caves, as well as well-preserved forests. Serbia’s beautiful mountains, national parks, rivers and lakes are the perfect location for an active outdoor holiday – from hunting and fishing to extreme sports.  It does not take long for foreign visitors to Serbia to discover the hospitality, kindness, openness, and warmth of the country’s residents.

Serbia has connected West with East for centuries – a land in which civilizations, cultures, faiths, climates, and landscapes meet and mingle.  Many times during its rich, centuries-long history, Serbia has been at the center of Europe’s and the world’s attention, out of all proportion to its modest size, economic might and number of inhabitants. Many lessons on bravery, patriotism and the struggle for freedom can be learned wherever you turn in Serbia, as you pass through its cities and regions.

Today, Serbia is a modern, democratic European country, on the path to membership in the European Union, which a diverse range of visitors – from young backpackers to participants in congresses and fairs – visit every day.  Statistically, the most-visited tourist destinations are the cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad, the mountains of Kopaonik and Zlatibor and the spa towns of Vrnjačka Banja and Sokobanja.  All year round, numerous cultural, entertainment, traditional and sporting events are held in Serbia, demonstrating the creative power and spiritual vitality of this country.

Serbia is party to the Hague Convention as of April 1, 2014.

 

Recommended Reading

Am I small? Da li sam ja mala?: Children's Picture Book English-Serbian

(Bilingual Edition) - Philipp Winterberg and Nadja Wichmann

Ledenica | The Icicle (Serbian Edition) -  Valery Voskoboinikov and Anne Linnemagi

Bursunsul i Paskvalina | Bursunsal and Paskualina (Serbian Edition) -  Olesya Tavadze

Colloquial Croatian and Serbian: The Complete Course for Beginners(Colloquial Series)Celia Hawkesworth

Serbian folk songs : fairy tales and proverbs -  Maximilian August

Serbian fairy tales -  Elodie Lawton Miyatovic

Lonely Planet Not For Parents Europe: Everything you ever wanted to know -  Lonely Planet and Clive Gifford

 

Recommended Newspapers

Serbian Newspapers - Collection of Top Rated On-line News

Not for profit. 
 Just for kids.