Legal Grounds for Adoption from the Former Soviet Union

Author: Dr. Alla Gordina

Date: 7.9.2008




A hungry Muscovite comes to the Zoo and sees a sign on the lion’s cage, saying that a lion can eat so much meat, eggs, vegetables, etc. He asks a zookeeper, if the lion can really eat this entire menu. The zookeeper calmly replies, -

(Old Soviet joke)


Like in this sad joke, you CAN ask for the information, but I cannot promise anybody that the local officials WILL honor the laws and regulations cited below (the original documents are available in Russian at The only thing I can do – is to make all adoptive community aware of their rights. It is up to you, adoptive parents, to be persistent, affirmative and creative. And it is amazing, how much information parents can obtain…



Official Letter, Ministry of Health, 08.05.2002 №3662

The purpose of the federal databank… is to provide prospective adoptive/foster parents with the reliable information about children, available for adoption/foster care placement

Management of institutions caring for such children are responsible for providing accurate medical and social information and for updating such information (i.e. addition or removal of diagnoses) as soon as it becomes available in the following timeframe –

  • Within 7 days after child becomes eligible for placement in the databank and
  • Within 10 days after the change (addition or removal) of diagnosis



Russian Federation Government Act re: Providing Medical Information About Children, Eligible for Adoption and Foster Care Placement 29.03.2000 N 275.

2. Leaders of the Regional Health and Educational Departments are mandated:

2.1. To develop the procdures of referral for the expert medical commission for medical evaluation of children, available for adoption/foster care

2.2. To provide the report of the expert medical commission to the prospective adoptive parents.

2.3. To explain to the prospective adoptive parents their rights for the independent examination in medical establishments, licensed to perform health evaluations of children, available for adoption/foster care placement.

2.5. In the case of discrepancies found between the State and independent medical evaluation within 3 days from the day of receiving such report about the health of a prospective adoptive/foster child, to send his medical documentation to the Department of Mother and Child Health of the Federal Health Ministry…

3.5. Independent medical evaluations of prospective adoptive/foster children can be performed by republican, regional or district Government clinics, as well as clinics of medical schools and the scientific-research institutions.

4. Directors of the scientific-research institutions, chief doctors of clinics and hospitals of the state system of health care are mandated

4.1. To assist the prospective adoptive parents in obtaining the independent medical evaluations of prospective adoptive children within 30 calendar days

5. The head of the Department of Mother and Child Health of the Federal Health Ministry is mandated to provide additional evaluations in the case of discrepancy in conclusions of the Sate and Independent expert commissions within 30 days.



Russian Federation State Resolution Regarding Rules Governing Adoption and Foster Care 03.29.2000 #275

11. Prospective adoptive parents have the following rights:

To receive the detailed information about a child and information about whether or not he has relatives

To request a medical facility to complete independent medical examination of adoptive child. According to procedures, approved by the Educational and Health Ministries of Russian Federation, a representative of an institution where the child is residing, should participate in such evaluation.

12. Candidates for adoptive parents are mandated to personally:

Meet a child and make a contact with him

Familiarize themselves with documents of adoptive child

In writing confirm the fact that they are aware of medical report regarding health of the child.



Family Code (Law) of Russian Federation 01.02.2000, #32-F3

Chapter 19. ADOPTION
Article 128. Age Difference Between Adoptive Parent and Adoptive Child

Age difference between not married adoptive parent and adoptive child should not be less then 16 years. Under certain conditions the court can decrease such difference.

In the case of the step-parent adoption this age difference can be reduced.


Federal Law Regarding The State Database of Children Left Without Parental Supervision 04.04.2001

Chapter III. Use of the State Database of Children Left Without Parental Supervision
Article 13. Protection of Citizen’s Rights for Information

Unwarranted denial of access to the state database of children, purposely furnishing false information on orphaned children, withholding such information, other illegal acts breaching the right of citizens for information, or acts creating hurdles to exercise such rights, may be brought to court in according with the civil legal procedure.


Administrative Code (Law) of Russian Federation

ARTICLE 5.36 Inappropriate process of or timing of providing information about orphans, needing families or special placement

Inappropriate processing of information or inappropriate timing of such by the management of any organization, where children are located, as well as deliberate falsification of any data about minors, eligible for adoption – is punishable by the fine of ten to fifteen minimal salaries

Actions by any administrative employee (director of the orphanage, local officials and others), preventing placement of an eligible minor into the adoptive family, foster family or appropriate facility for orphans, is punishable by the fine between twenty and thirty minimal salaries


ARTICLE 5.37. Illegal actions in placement for adoption or foster care

Illegal actions in placement for adoption or foster care are punishable with the fine of ten to twenty five minimal salaries for ordinary citizens and forty to fifty minimal salaries for officials.



Criminal Code (Law) of Russian Federation

Article 152. Selling of under-aged children

Selling/buying or any other transaction, leading to the illegal placement/possession of such minor is punishable by 180-240 hours of community service, or 1 two years of forced labor, or limitation of freedom up to 3 years or imprisonment for up to 5 years

Same actions, committed repeatedly, against two or more minors, by a group of people or as a result of an agreement, by an official…are punishable by 3-10 years of imprisonment.

3. Actions, defined in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article, that lead to the accidental death of the minor or other serious injuries, are punishable by the 5-15 years of imprisonment.


Article 153. Substitution of a child

Substitution of a child, referred for adoption or foster care placement, made because of the mercenary grounds, is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years and fine of 200 to 500 minimal salaries or the actual revenue of the accused for 2-3 months.

Article 154. Illegal Adoption

Repeated or mercenary illegal actions, leading to adoption, placement in foster care are punishable by a fine of fifty to one hundred minimal salaries or the amount equal to one month income of the accused, or forced labor to up to one year or up to 6 months of imprisonment