Poland: Meeting with Polish Central Authority and Future of Intercountry Adoption

Last Updated: February 21, 2019

The Office of Children’s Issues met with the Polish Central Authority (PCA) to discuss what appeared to be the Ministry’s denials of previously approved referrals and the future of intercountry adoption with Poland.  The PCA informed the Office of Children’s Issues that it is not currently planning on suspending or permanently closing all intercountry adoptions to the United States, but that it has restricted intercountry adoption to one of the four categories below:

  1. intra-family intercountry adoption;
  2. intercountry adoption to reunite a child with his/her previously adopted siblings;
  3. intercountry adoption of a child in exceptional life or health situations when local authorities are unable to find permanent or temporary domestic placements, such as foster care; OR
  4. intercountry adoption by Polish citizens living abroad.

Although intercountry adoption may be permitted in the cases identified above, prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) and adoption service providers (ASPs) should understand that in certain situations, the PCA may not approve of a proposed match, even when the match appears to meet the criteria above. For example, although intercountry adoption for the purpose of reuniting sibling groups may still be considered, a child who has internationally adopted siblings may remain in Poland if he/she also has other siblings who are currently residing in Poland. In addition, Polish heritage of PAPs may be one factor in determining placement, but only if there is another family interested in adopting the child that does not have Polish heritage. The PCA informed the Department that although a child may have previously been determined eligible for intercountry adoption, Polish authorities will continue to search for domestic placements for the child up to the time of Ministry approval of a proposed match, even after the U.S. Embassy’s issuance of an Article 5/17 letter. Therefore, PAPs and ASPs should consider all matches made by the Catholic Adoption Center, the designated agency to match Polish children with PAPs, to be preliminary until the Central Authority issues its Article 17 approval. Furthermore, the Department reminds PAPs and ASPs that in accordance with Polish law, contact between PAPs and Polish children shall only occur after the PCA’s issuance of Article 17, unless the adoption occurs between family members.

Addressing Recent Cancellations of Referrals

Beginning in March 2018, the Office of Children’s Issues began receiving notifications from ASPs and PAPs regarding apparent cancellations of referrals from the PCA after the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw issued Article 5/17 letters. The Office of Children’s Issues learned that in regard to the apparent cancellation of referrals in previous cases, the PCA had not yet issued its Article 17 approval, which explained why the referrals were denied after the Embassy’s issuance of Article 5/17 letters. Our office is collaborating with the PCA to clarify this process.

The PCA confirmed that there is no formal appeal process for cases in which the PCA did not approve of the proposed match and subsequently denied the continuation of the adoption process. The PCA has, in some instances, agreed to reconsider its decision in extremely limited circumstances when the child’s situation has changed (e.g., the child’s health significantly deteriorating even further or a domestic placement falling through).

Concerns with Post-Adoption Reporting

The PCA continues to stress its concerns regarding the welfare of children for whom they have not received post-adoption reports. The Department strongly urges all adoptive parents to take post-adoption reporting requirements seriously and we ask adoptive parents to comply with Poland’s post adoption requirements in a timely manner, as it may help ensure that intercountry adoptions, although limited, remain a viable option for adoptable children in Poland. Failure to do so may put at risk the ability of future U.S. families and foreign children to be matched. We additionally remind adoptive families that in accordance with Polish law, post-adoption reports must be prepared by ASPs and not by the adoptive parents themselves.

Prospective adoptive parents who have additional questions, should consult with their ASP.

Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on intercountry adoption in Poland. For questions about this notice, please contact the Office of Children’s Issues at Adoption@state.gov.