Lithuania is a small, independent, democratic European country next to Poland, Latvia, Belarus, and Russia. Its population is 3.6 million people, a little smaller than NZ. Lithuania is mostly a Catholic country with many beautiful churches. Families must be prepared to help the children understand the importance of where they came from, Lithuania's rich history, language and heritage, and to respect the children’s cultural and religious background.
Who can be adopted?
This programme is especially suitable for New Zealanders wishing to adopt children from the following groups:
1. An individual child from 5 to 14 years with some health or behavioural problems. Younger children 5-6 years are more likely to have more serious health problems. Older children may be healthy, but have some learning difficulties or behavioural problems that are common to the children growing up in the orphanages. Children over 8 years might not have any health, learning or behavioural problems but have experienced trauma and sadness in their past.
2. A sibling group of two children. This might be two children up to about 10 years, where one of them might have some health problems. It might also be two children with the older sibling up to about 12 years and the younger sibling up to about 5 years; they might be healthy or have some learning difficulties or health problems. Another option could be two children over 8 years that may have no health problems.
3. A sibling group of three or more children. These sibling groups can consist of children from 4 to 14 years. The most common case is three children from 5 to 10 years. Usually such children do not have any identified health or behavioural problems.
4. In some rare cases, it is possible to adopt an individual child or a sibling group without any health problems, but where the adoptive family are required to maintain regular contact with biological siblings of the child/children in Lithuania.
Statistics on adoptions from Lithuania including numbers (in age groups) of children available can be viewed here.
As in other European countries, children are cared for in orphanages after coming into government care earlier in their lives. Children are usually of European ethnicity, aged 1-15 years of age, with many older family groups waiting for adoption. Children may have backgrounds of abandonment, neglect or abuse. Families should be comfortable dealing with post-institutionalization issues and possible developmental delays in the children. Children often need personal attention from a dedicated parent to reverse the developmental delays caused by living in an institution. The developmental needs of institutionalised children are well documented and we advise you to educate yourself on this so you can offer wise parenting and have realistic expectations.
Who can adopt?
Prospective adoptive parents must be
- Approved by the NZ Central Authority for adoption following adoption education and assessment by AFS or Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children.
- Married. Single women who have Lithuanian heritage can adopt, but no other singles.
- Aged between 18 and 50 years at time of adoption although there's some flexibility with age if you're adopting children over 9 years, allowing older applicants for older children.
Who's involved in the process?
All adoptions are approved by the Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service, under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Central Authority for Adoption in Lithuania. At the New Zealand end the adoption is approved by the New Zealand Central Authority for Adoption (NZCA).
In Lithuania ICANZ works through its representative, an attorney-at-law in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. The Attorney liaises with the Lithuanian Adoption Service on behalf of ICANZ and the adoptive parents, and represents parents during the legal process, including the court hearing.
How do I adopt?
- Email ICANZ for our free information pack
- Choose either AFS or Oranga Tamariki to provide education/assessment/homestudy services, leading to approval from the NZCA to adopt from Lithuania. ICANZ is an adoption placement agency, that represents you in Lithuania, to arrange for a child to be placed with you; we do not approve you as an adoptive parent - AFS or Oranga Tamariki assess you, present the Home Study Report to the NZCA for their approval. ICANZ then works with you to arrange the overseas adoption.
- Complete full Registration with ICANZ. We'll prepare your application and liaise with our representative in Lithuania to have your application ready to apply for adoption of a waiting list child from the above groups.
- You may then apply to adopt children listed on the waiting list, a list that ICANZ has access to as an accredited organisation. Approval will be sought from the Central Authorities of both Lithuania and New Zealand. If the Lithuanian CA chooses you as the most suitable family for the children you have applied for, you'll be sent a formal referral for them.
- Travel to Lithuania for the court hearing. You'll probably be in Lithuania for 3 weeks, if the 40 day appeal period is waived. If the appeal period is not waived (very rare), you'll make two trips to Lithuania, one of 4-5 days and a longer second trip 30 days later to collect your children. To date, the appeal period has been waived for most of the children New Zealanders are adopting, but not for all cases. You'll be represented by the ICANZ Attorney, and helped by translators.
- After you arrive back in NZ with your child, you'll have ICANZ social worker visits and post-adoption reports written, for 4 years. As the adoption is finalised in Lithuania, the child can gain NZ Citizenship on return to NZ.
How long will it take?
The adoption process is very well regulated and adoptions are typically completed in under a year.
What costs are involved?