Latvia operates under the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption.
Hague Convention information
On 9 November 2015 the Australian Government announced the opening of the Latvia-Australia Intercountry Adoption Program. Latvia ratified the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption on 9 August 2002 and it entered into force on 1 December 2002.
Australia will work with the Latvian Central Authority, the Ministry of Welfare and the Orphan’s Court who are responsible for ensuring the adoption represents the best interest of the child.
Waiting times are difficult to predict. The figures below reflect current trends.
|Adopting one child||Waiting time (years)|
|Up to 8 years old (without serious health problems)||5|
|8 – 10 years old||At least 2|
|10 – 11 years old (generally have serious health problems or have siblings)||1|
|Adopting two children||Waiting time (years)|
|Up to 7 years old (without serious health problems)||4|
|7 – 8 years old||At least 3|
|Where one of the children is between the age of 8 – 11 years old||1|
|Adopting three or more children||Waiting time (years)|
|All children under the age of 7 years old||At least 1|
|Where one of the children is between the age of 7 – 9 years old||1|
|Where the oldest child is older than 9 years||Less than 1|
Who can adopt?
Australians interested in adopting a Latvian child will need to meet the eligibility criteria set by their state or territory central authority, as well as criteria set by Latvia. Key Latvian eligibility criteria include:
- Married couples and single applicants may apply.
- While spouses generally adopt a child jointly, exceptions include where:
- The children of the other spouse are adopted
- The other spouse has been declared missing
- The other spouse has been recognised as lacking capacity to act due to mental illness or mental deficiency.
- Unmarried couples and same sex couples are not eligible to apply.
- Adoptive parents do not need to provide evidence that they are unable to conceive – they can have or be able to have their own biological children.
- At least one applicant must be at least 25 years of age, and his or her partner must be no younger than 21 years old.
- Single applicants need to be at least 25 years of age.
- There are no upper age limits.
- Applicants must be at least 18 years older than the adoptive child.
- In the case of a sibling group or adopting a spouse’s children, the difference in age must be at least 16 years.
- Prospective adoptive parents can have or be able to have their own biological children.
- In determining whether an adoption is in the best interests of the child, the Orphan’s Court in Latvia may take into account information regarding the adopter, including his or her identity, religious faith, material circumstances, household circumstances and capacity to raise a child.
- Latvian citizens or residents are eligible to apply for younger children without specific health needs.
- Applicants should be able to handle the transracial, transcultural and transnational aspects of an intercountry adoption.
Characteristics of children in need of adoption
Latvia has a strong commitment to finding families within its borders to care for children in need. The Latvian Central Authority advises that children in need of intercountry adoption are those who are difficult to place with Latvian families. Each year, approximately 140 Latvian children are placed through intercountry adoption.
Latvian children in need of intercountry adoption include both boys and girls aged 1-17 years. The majority of children in need of intercountry adoption are aged between 10-17 years.
- between the ages of 4 to 9 tend to have mild to moderate health problems such as mild mental development delay, learning and behavioural disorders, speech development delay, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, emotional and attachment disorders, correctable surgical problems, moderate to severe vision problems and the effects of physical and/or sexual abuse, or
- up to 4 years of age tend to have moderate health problems such as premature birth, low birth weight, HIV and/or HCV exposure, frequent respiratory illnesses, moderate to severe vision problems and surgically correctable health problems.
There is generally a long list for foreign applicants wishing to adopt infant children.
Fees: There are no adoption fees in Latvia.
Cost to the PAPs: There is likely to be considerable expense adopting a Latvian child, including (but not limited to):
- Flights to and from Latvia to meet and bond with the child in Latvia. In some cases the child may be allowed to return to Australia for continuation of the bonding period prior to the adoption being finalised. At least one prospective adoptive parent (and the Latvian child if they are 12 years or older) must return to Latvia for the final court hearing.
- Accommodation in Latvia (2-3 weeks for the bonding period, and up to 6 months, if the prospective adoptive parents decide to continue the pre-adoption bonding period in Latvia).
- Legal costs.
- Expedited Latvian passport processing fee.
- Local document Apostille certification by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Court application fee.
- Court hearing fee.
- Copy of court ruling certified by the relevant court.
- Latvian police report for adoptive children who have reached their 16th birthday.
- Translation and notary costs (cost differs from case to case depending on the volume of documentation).
This list does not include fees paid to state and territory central authorities, immigration fees, Australian government fees or incidentals.
Finalisation and post-adoption and Immigration and citizenship
Information regarding finalisation, post adoption, immigration and citizenship will become available as this new program evolves.