SPENCE-CHAPIN STATEMENT on the Ukraine crisis and the impact on children



The war on the Ukrainian people is an international crisis, one that has devastated the entire world. Children who live and have lived in orphanages in Ukraine are among the most vulnerable groups who have been displaced by the horrific events of the last few weeks. The topic of adoption from Ukraine has been a point of confusion and misinformation on many social media posts. Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children is a full-service, 100+ year-old non-profit adoption agency that has found homes in the US for more than 25,000 children from different countries around the world. We fully support intercountry adoption as a viable option for eligible children worldwide.


There are currently no new intercountry adoptions of Ukrainian children by US families taking place today.


The US Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (DOS) is the governmental agency, or Central Authority, that oversees all adoptions in and out of the United States and works closely with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on issues pertaining to immigration and emigration of children eligible for adoption. Their current priority is getting Ukrainian children to the US who were in mid-process of being adopted prior to this crisisno new cases are being processed. And here are the reasons why:


  1. Prioritization of Safety: As the crisis unfolds, and we are seeing the continuous loss of life, the priority in Ukraine today is safety, evacuation, and acute aid– getting children to safety through evacuation efforts either to local shelters or to neighboring countries through refugee routes is paramount, along with the provision of daily food, medicine, and other necessities. The evacuations themselves are dangerous and harrowing. As an example, 120 children from an orphanage were evacuated by a NYC Sephardic Jewish Organization and brought to Berlin with their caregivers, after a 37-hour trip. Close shelter and immediate safety are, and should be, the first priority.
  2. Eligibility:  In order for a child to become eligible for adoption, the rights of the parents must be terminated, or the parents must voluntarily relinquish their rights, effectively making the child “legally free” for adoption. A court from Ukraine must issue a decree/order to essentially say an individual child is an “orphan.” Absent this order from a court, the child cannot be legally adopted by anyone in the world.  As you can see, it is an impossible undertaking to complete an adoption in Ukraine today under the current circumstances.
  3. Familial Ties: Ukraine has approximately 600 orphanages, and many of the children living in the orphanages are not considered “orphans” or “legally freed” children. Unfortunately, institutional living can be a result of other circumstances, including poverty, special medical needs that cannot be met by the family, and maltreatment/abandonment that is still being investigated. This is true of many countries where orphanages exist, and institutional care is utilized as a temporary means of child protection and provision of basic needs that are not being met in the family context. Many of the children living in institutions in Ukraine are in contact with their families and relatives and connected to their community and some simply do not want to be adopted. Adoption is a permanent solution for eligible children. Permanently removing children without proper adjudication of parental rights and adequate preparation would have detrimental effects on their wellbeing.


We know that there are so many people here in NYC and globally who desperately want to help and are committed to protecting, promoting, and preserving the rights of children living in adversity during this crisis. 




You can support a family or an evacuation effort by donating directly or fundraising yourself by clicking below. Spence-Chapin has reached out to our international partners to identify families who have fled Ukraine and are in secure shelters but need support for food, lodging costs, and basic supplies. Your contribution and fundraising efforts on behalf of this campaign will make a big difference in their lives.  


 You can contact your Congressional Representatives at this link and voice your support for a refugee program here in the Unites States, one that would include temporary hosting options for children and families escaping Ukraine.


Spence-Chapin is dedicated to the following goals—support as many children as possible to be evacuated from Ukraine into neighboring countries through safe and legal channels under the proper supervision of their guardians and caregivers, seek to establish a refugee program in the US through advocacy efforts, help sponsor and support refugee children and families.  We hope you can join us in these efforts.