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LithuaniaOfficial Name: Lithuania Last Updated: April 1, 2014
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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Hague Convention Information
The Republic of Lithuania (Lithuania) is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Lithuania.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Lithuania, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents are required to meet the following requirements from Lithuania in order to adopt a child from Lithuania:
- Residency: Foreign national (non-Lithuanian) married couples living outside Lithuania may only adopt children with special needs. Married couples living in the United States when one or both spouses are citizens of the Republic of Lithuania may apply for adoption in the same manner as Lithuanian citizens living in Lithuania. See here for guidance on adopting a child as a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania.
- Definition - Children with special needs:
- have serious or incurable medical conditions, or are older than 8 years of age;
- are part of a sibling group of at least three who are referred for adoption together;
- or are part of a sibling group but cannot be adopted together.
- Age of Adopting Parents: Adoptive parents must be at least 18 and generally no older than 50. In exceptional cases the court may allow an older person to adopt if it determines that the placement is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider specific circumstances of the case. For example, when a child is being adopted by a married couple, one of which meets the age requirement and the other exceeds the age requirement but is of a satisfactory physical and mental condition and is capable of bringing up the adoptee. Exceptions may also be granted when prospective parents who are older than 50 wish to adopt an older child (eight years of age or older) or a child that was in their care for a lengthy period of time, when the prospective adoptive parents and the adoptee are related, or when the adoptee is the spouse’s child.
- Marriage: The prospective adoptive parents must be a married couple. Marriage is defined by Lithuanian law as a voluntary agreement between a man and woman to create legal family relations executed in the procedure provided for by law.
- Income: There are no published income requirements, but both U.S. and Lithuanian agencies will evaluate this.
- Other: Readiness to adopt – prospective adoptive parents must meet the requirements established for prospective adoptive parents by Lithuania, and they must be recognized as suitable to adopt by both U.S. and Lithuanian standards.
There must be a minimum age difference of 18 years between the prospective adoptive parents and the child, except when a person adopts a child of his/her spouse, the age difference may be reduced by the court to fifteen years.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Lithuania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Lithuania must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Lithuania have determined that placement of the child within Lithuania has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Lithuania’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.
- Relinquishment: A child becomes available for adoption with the consent of the child’s birth parents or in cases where the birth parents are not known, are dead, or are determined to be legally incapable of providing care. The birth parents may revoke their consent to adoption before a court judgment is made on the adoption of the child.
- Abandonment: Abandonment is defined in a number of ways, including:
- Both parents or single parent of the child are deceased;
- Both parents of the child or his single parent have been declared missing or deceased by a court judgment;
- The child has been separated from the parents in accordance with the procedure established by law;
- The child’s parents or close relatives are not identified within a 3-month period after the child’s birth;
- Both parents or the single parent of the child are declared legally incapable in accordance with the procedure established by law.
- Age of Adoptive Child: From nine months to eighteen years.
- Sibling Adoptions: Siblings are placed with the same adoptive family except when separation is needed for health reasons or where the siblings have already been separated and there are no possibilities to ensure their life together.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Within the Lithuanian system, children may be considered to have special needs based on their age, health, or because they are part of a sibling groups of 3 or more children.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: For the first six months, citizens of Lithuania (couples where either one or both spouses are citizens of Lithuania, regardless of residency) have priority in adopting eligible children. If a child has not been placed with a Lithuanian family after six months, the child becomes eligible for intercountry adoption by foreign nationals (this includes non-Lithuanian residents of Lithuania).
- Child Consent: The prospective adoptive child’s consent to the adoption must be filed with the court if the child is 10 years of age or older. When the child is under 10, the court must take into account the child’s wishes if the child is capable of expressing his/her views and if those wishes are not contrary to the child’s interest.
Once the birth parents rights have been relinquished (either by a court decision or of their own choice), the adoption process begins. Once an adoptive family is found, the family appears at a court hearing for a decision. This decision enters into force 30 days afterwards, however, in most cases the judge grants a “fast enforcement process,” making the decision take effect on the same day. There is currently a pending law that would revoke the 30 day waiting period, but it is yet to be passed.The final decision is full, final, and irrevocable.
The child’s birth parents can apply to the court to redeem their parental rights over the child, but this process is lengthy and must begin before the court begins to decide on granting custody to adoptive parents.
Irrevocable consent is defined as a document which indicates the place and date the document was signed by a child's legal custodian, in which the legal custodian freely consents to the termination of the legal custodian's legal relationship with the child.
More information is available here.
When a child is removed from their biological family or abandoned, parental authority is temporarily restricted by the court and temporary custody is established at a child care institution. If the situation does not change (birth parents do not prove capable to care for their child), then parental authority is restricted for an unlimited (“termless”) period. Permanent custody is transferred to the child care institution and the child becomes available for adoption. A child can only be adopted if the parental authority of the birth parents (if known) has been restricted for an unlimited period.
How To Adopt
WARNING: Lithuania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Lithuania before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case.Read on for more information.
Lithuania’s Adoption Authority
State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Lithuania as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.Similarly, if the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in Lithuania after April 1, 2008, and you have an approved, unexpired Form I-600A or filed a Form I-600 before the entry into force date in Lithuania, your adoption may be considered a transition case. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.
Because Lithuania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Lithuania must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
- Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
- Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child by authorities in Lithuania.
- Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
- Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody of) child in Lithuania.
- Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Lithuania is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Lithuania. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Lithuania as part of your adoption dossier. Lithuania’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Lithuanian law.
3. Be Matched with a Child in Lithuania
If both the United States and Lithuania determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in Lithuania may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Lithuania. The adoption authority in Lithuania will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child.If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Lithuania. Learn more about this critical decision.
Since April 1, 2012 non-Lithuanians who reside outside of Lithuania may only apply to adopt children with special needs. According to the Description of Pretrial Procedure for adopting children with special needs, foreign citizens (a married couple) can adopt by applying through an accredited agency authorized to facilitate intercountry adoption in Lithuania. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service (Service) sends a list of children with special needs to authorized agencies.Authorized agencies then search for a family ready to adopt a child. After receiving information about prospective adoptive parents, the Service decides whether prospective adoptive parents are suitable to adopt that child.
Lithuanian citizens may adopt non-special needs children. Children eligible for adoption shall be placed with a family if it is in the best interests of the child, according to the family’s position in the waiting list and considering the family’s stated preferences about the age, sex, and health of the child.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Lithuania. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5Letter”) to the Lithuanian Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Lithuania where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States.This letter will inform the Lithuanian Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Lithuania before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Lithuania
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Lithuania, you must have completed the above four steps.Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Lithuania.
The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody in Lithuania generally includes the following:
- Role of the Court: During the hearing, the court shall verify whether the pre-trial adoption procedure was properly performed, whether potential adoptive parents meet the requirements and are prepared to raise the child, and whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child. After the judge approves the adoption, there is a 30-day waiting period before the adoption is final. Therefore the court’s judgment regarding adoption shall become effective after 30 days, unless it is appealed.
- Time Frame: The average duration of the adoption procedure by foreign families wishing to adopt special needs children may be completed in 6 months - 2 years.
- Role of Adoption Authority: The Adoption Authority will provide information, evaluate agencies and applicants to ensure the health and safety of the child, and assist adoptive parents during their stay in Lithuania.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: The primary functions of the authorized adoption agencies are providing information and support to the adoptive parents, gathering the necessary legal documents, and facilitating the adoption process with the Lithuanian adoption authorities.
- Adoption Application: U.S. and Lithuanian applications must be filed to satisfy eligibility requirements of both countries.
- Adoption Fees: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
- Lithuania does not charge court fees to complete the adoption procedure. However, the family should expect the following in-country costs:
- Preparation of documents for adoption (translation, legalization);
- Journey to Lithuania and accommodations in Lithuania;
- Translation services during the stay in Lithuania and during the court hearing;
- Services of the representative, the attorney of law;
- The stamp duty $72.00 (144 LTL); and
- Other additional health tests performed for the child
- Passport and visa costs,
- Documents Required: Note: Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: The United States and Lithuania are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
Note: Some documents will need to be translated to Lithuanian to be accepted.
6.Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home.Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Lithuania, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in Lithuania.
After the court’s judgment regarding adoption come into force, the adoptive parents must contact the Civil Registry Department that registered the birth of the child regarding the issuing of a new birth certificate. The following documents must be submitted to the Civil Registry Department:
- Copies of passports of the adoptive parents (translated into Lithuanian and legalized);
- A copy of the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents (translated into Lithuanian and legalized);
- The original copy of the judgment of Vilnius District Court regarding adoption;
- The original copy of the birth certificate of the child.
Either one or both adoptive parents shall fill out the application form regarding the issuing of a new birth certificate for their adopted child. One or both parents may authorize a third party to contact the Civil Registry Department in order to obtain a new birth certificate for the adopted child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Lithuania.
A Lithuanian passport may be obtained from any migration office. The following documents must be submitted to the migration authority:
- Original copy of the judgment of Vilnius District Court;
- Passports of the adoptive parents;
- A copy of the new birth certificate of the child;
- The child’s old passport (if he/she has one) or decision regarding Lithuanian citizenship (if necessary).
The application to issue the passport for the child must be signed by at least one of the adoptive parents. The child must be present while submitting the application to issue the passport for the child. The fee for regular passport processing, which takes 1 month is 75 LTL; the fee for a five-day turnaround is 200 LTL; and the next-day service the fee is 250 LTL.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S.citizenship.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
POST-ADOPTION/POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
We strongly urge you to comply with Lithuania’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.
Following the adoption, the accredited adoption agency that represents the adoptive family must provide feedback to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour consisting of reports about the integration of the adopted child into the family, living conditions, development, health, also pictures and videos; the feedback shall be provided as follows:
- Twice a year during the first two years following the adoption;
- Once a year for the following two years;
- At the request of the service after four years following the adoption.
Information must be detailed and correct.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Lithuania
U.S. citizens may enter Lithuania and stay for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. However, visas may be needed for families stopping in other countries.
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Lithuania, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Lithuania, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
- Adoption Services Support Groups for adopting Persons
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Lithuania
American Embassy Vilnius
Akmenų 6, LT-03106 Vilnius, Lithuania
Lithuania’s Adoption Authority
State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service
Ministry of Social Security and Labour
A.Vivulskio Str. 13
Embassy of Lithuania
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
2622 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)