Adopting from Kazakhstan/Traveling to Kazakhstan

Many adoptions have been successfully completed from Kazakhstan with the help of Marina Turapina. The process changes a lot, and flexibility with changing requirements will serve you well. The process to adopt a child includes:

  • Obtaining an approved home study with a licensed agency
  • Applying/receiving approval
  • Obtaining/completing the documents required for your dossier

Once your dossier has been done in full and is complete, your documents will be sent through an authentication process which is required by the Kazakhstani government. The agency will take care of the authentication of your documents. The final step of the process "on this side of the ocean" ends with the documents being processed/approved by the Consulate of Kazakhstan there in your country.

Next step, the documents are sent to Kazakhstan and go to the translators (Russian and Kazakh).You will be asked to send the translation fee which is not included into the adoption fee.When the adoption file is translated into both languages and notarized, Marina submits the dossier to the Child Protection Department (Min of Ed) in Astana, Kazakhstan. (Astana is an all-day trip by car from Karaganda.) We can submit 2 dossiers at a time. The next dossier can be submitted the next day after we receive the court decision of the previous family. The dossier will be approved by the Ministry of Education. Once this approval has been obtained ( in 2 weeks), the child will be referred to you with photo and medical and social available information. Sometimes you will have to wait for few weeks for the child to go out of the data base for the foreign adoptions. Then you will start discussing the referral you may receive. If you do not like the child the ministry refered to you, you may refuse from the child in writing and then may wait for another child. But you can not postpone the adoption for a long time. The ministry wants the dossiers to be processed as soon as possible and if you refuse several times-the dossier may be sent back to your country. The only thing you need to remember that the orphanage is not the shop of the healthy babies, but the place where orphans (abandoned kids) live and most abandoned kids will have the premature-born story and the underweight and famous

Russian diagnose " Perenatal encelopahy". Sometimes they might have the diagnoses like angiopathy, inflammation of the kidneys/ open oval window in the heart, etc. You need to contact the Russian doctor living in your area to discuss the diagnose of the child. Remember that this diagnose might not and usually doesn't coincide with any Europenian or American diagnose.

When you see the other adoptive families with the children whom they adopted several months ago-you for sure will wish to receive the same babies and you even do not suspect how sick and small the baby was at the time of adoption and only mother's love and care turned the orphan- baby in the charming baby whose photo can be used for baby cereal advertising.

The typical case for the diagnosis of "perenatal encelopahy" is put to the child:

  • Premature birth
  • Mother is younger than 18
  • Mother is older than 30
  • Small weight (less than 2 kg) and large weight (more than 4 kg)
  • The child did not cry at once
  • The child was born at home
  • The mother did not go to the doctor during the pregnancy and did not have the blood test done.If she has anemia due to the poor nutrition then she lacks ferrum. Only ferrum brings the oxygen to the baby and if the mother did not have the normal level of ferrum that means that the child will have the perenatal encelopathy of the hypoxic origin. Do not be afraid of the diagnose. It is the usual thing with all the former orphans whom you already saw in your country and as you see they are nice and healthy. Mother's love can create the miracles!

When you accept the child, sign the agreement, receive the letter of Ministry agreement, legalize it and send it to Kazakhstan. You have 1 month for finishing that process. Marina will be able to obtain a letter of invitation for you to travel to Kazakhstan, which is usually about a 2-3weeks process when she receives the document in original and submits them to the ministry.

The Visa Process

You will need a Kazakh adoption visa for the trip. NOTE: You will need to do this after your dossier has gone to Kazakhstan and is processed.

The visa process begins after your letter of acceptance is received from the Ministry of Education. Marina then obtains the letter of invitation, and confirmation number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Astana. The process of obtaining the letter of invitation is totally out of our hands – we cannot control how long it takes. When Marina gets the invitation letter, it will be emailed to you. While waiting for your invitation letter, it's advisable to go ahead and download the Kazakhstan adoption visa application, complete it as much as you can, along with a return Fed Ex or UPS label for embassy to send it back to you with your visa; just keep in mind that visa cannot be issued until you submit the invitation letter with confirmation number. When the Ministry of FA gives Marina a copy of the invitation letter, a telex copy is simultaneously cabled to the Embassy of Kazakhstan .The letter comes first, then usually 7 working days later, a confirmation number comes. The Embassy must have both items before they will issue your visa. This is an "Adoption Invitation". Tourist invitations cannot be used for adopting parents for your first trip to Kazakhstan. Friends or relatives accompanying you can travel on a tourist visa. Length of tourist visas varies, and they are not extendable in-country. Adoption visas are given for 180 days and it should be multy(3)-entry. If your child travels with you, he or she should be included in your adoption travel visa, so please notify us of your intentions with advance notice, so the proper adoption invitation can be secured by Marina. We will need a copy of your child's passport.


You will enter Kazakhstan via the city of Almaty, Astana or directly to Karaganda ( AirAstana company).In any case the tickets should be changeable. Don't run for economy and do not buy the tickets that can not be changed! Now you can book the ticket on line. The return ticket from Karaganda back to Almaty can be purchased in Karaganda. It is much easier to purchase the ticket in Karaganda when you know the exact date of departure, than to change the date on an existing ticket.

Almaty is more preferable as the trip from Almaty is safer. There are no flights from Astana to Karaganda, only car driving and it is dangerous in bad weather.(In good weather it is also not a merry entertainment ) I usually go there by train.

The flights from Europe arrive in Almaty at 5 a.m. The flights from Almaty to Karaganda usually is at 10 p.m. or 10 a.m. So you might have a break for a rest.

Our Almaty Driver can pick you up at the airport (he holds a sign that says " Marina"), get you settled in an apartment or hotel (if you're overnighting), take you sightseeing if there's time, and in general, take care of you while you're in Almaty, if you need. The name " Marina" is used to protect your identity from independent or unlicensed drivers. If anyone approaches you, asking if your name is " Marina", ignore them.

Marina will meet you at the airport or train station in Karaganda. If you are an experienced traveler, you can stay overnight in the Almaty airport hotel "Ak Sunkar"( 5 minutes of walking to the left from the airport entrance) and change the money yourself .This is not a great hotel, but good enough to sleep for the night. If you still prefer the help of the driver , please keep in mind that one way transfer airport-downtown apprt. will be 5000 tenge. The apartment is 55 $ USD per day and you will need to have the transfer back. Total it will be 18 000 tenge to be paid to the driver. Cheaper to go to the hotel near the airport. The exchange office and the booking office are on the second floor of the airport. And it would be cheaper for you, you do not need to pay to the driver .

Once you arrived and settled in Karaganda, you will need to visit the officials and then together you will go to see your child's orphanage. This is an important part of your visit in Kazakhstan. You will see where your child has lived and spent the life time, which their friends are, who their caregivers have been, where they have played, and so forth.

Marina emphasizes to parents who travel that it is a tradition in Kazakhstan for guests to bring a token gift to a host. The orphanage staff will be pleased if parents come to the orphanage with a gift for the children, like toys, pampers, etc.

It is also customary to bring a nice gift for the orphanage director, doctors, and for your children's caregivers. These are usually ladies, and Marina suggests make-up, gold jewelry, or perfume. The director will distribute the gifts during the farewell party AFTER the court. For the party (2-3 days before you leave for the embassy), it is tradition to buy a cake, and even a bottle of wine or champagne; they will not drink it with you, but save it for another event) to the caregivers in the group and the same stuff to the doctors separately. There are 6-7 caregivers in the group and 7 nurses and doctors in the baby orphanage . TOTAL 14.

The small gifts should be prepared for all of them. Even if they do not talk to you while you are there, believe that they've done a lot for your child. Just show your gratitude for that.

In Addition, it is customary to bring flowers (usually potted) to the main doctor and to the doctor who treated your child.

Here is what Marina advises will be appreciated:

  • Go to Walmart (USA) and ask them what yellow gold items they have on sale. Sometimes for $20-$30, you can buy a nice pendant, earrings, etc.
  • For the caregivers, go to a dollar store and buy perfume, facial creams. It is very important that items be made in the USA or Europe, not China. Kazakhstan is full of Chinese fake goods.
  • At Walmart, they have beautiful sets of body lotion, body mist, and shower gel of the same aroma. It is around 7-9 $ per set.
    In Kazakshan, tt is not tradition to give tips to the adoption staff, but giving small tokens to the staff (cooks, drivers, secretaries, interpreters, social worker, and lawyers) is appreciated.

You may be asked to go to various offices and government buildings in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is a rich and beautiful country, with deeply held values and traditions. Sometimes the surroundings where these important legal procedures take place may not seem very impressive. Remember, people of accomplishment and stature are working there, and should be treated with respect. A quiet and respectful demeanor while in any government or official office is important. While casual clothes are acceptable most all of the time, a nice shirt/tie/khakis or dockers for fathers, and dress or pantsuit for mothers would be appropriate for court.

All of the apartments in Karaganda have washers. The water in Karaganda is very hard, so you will need to use softener in the washer. You can buy it in local shops. Do not overpack. You will wear the same outfit most of the time! Don't forget to take home shoes with you. Russians and kazakhs have the tradition to take off the street shoes in the apartments and in the orphanage. The luggage limit for the local flight (Almaty to Karaganda) is 20 kg per person (44 pounds), not per suitcase. The overage fee is about $2,50 per kg. (1 kg = 2.2 pounds). You may want to check with your travel agent for overages for the international portion of your flight.

You will exit the country via Almaty or Astana. Canadian embassy is in Moscow. The reason is that you have to file the immigrant visa form at the Embassy on behalf of your child to obtain the visa for him/her. Marina and her staff will help you with other documents that you will need to give to the Embassy. Be sure to take copies of your passports with you. The Embassy will request one, and it's always a good idea when traveling overseas to have extra copies, just in case.

The Bonding Period in Kazakhstan

According to Kazakhstani law, both parents must be present for the 4-week bonding period prior to the court hearing. This period begins the first working day after your arrive in Karaganda. The decision regarding the new name of the child must be made prior to travel, and you will be asked before the court to give the new name.

For the next process, you will need separate documents to bring with you:

  • 3 copies of the first page of the passport with original authentication on the other side of the first page
  • 3 copies of marriage certificate with original authentication

The necessity to prepare the other updated documents will be discussed later. It is better if you have the documents dated the same year when you do the adoptions. The documents are usually valid for 1 year, unless they have some other restrictions written in the document.

  • 1. Job statement
  • Medicals
  • Criminals record

During the bonding period, the established rule is for the parents to visit the orphanage twice every day. The baby orphanage will require 2 visits every day. Transportation to the orphanage before the court will be organized by Marina and it is included into the adoption fee.

Each family will be assigned an interpreter or university student studying well-versed in English. These students are a part of Marina's organization and their help will be free of charge for all adoption-related work (around 4 hours per day) and at a nominal hourly charge ($3 per hour). They will be your primary contact for daily entertainment, shopping, and translation between you and your child. Marina will be working hard, managing the entire program and the cases of the families in Kazakhstan. She will spend as much time as possible with each family, but her time is much better spent doing the difficult and delicate tasks necessary to complete your adoption. Your student will be a great resource for you. Please take full advantage of her services.

At the end of your 1 month bonding period, the lawyer will submit the application to the court, and we will know court date in a few days. It should legally be within the next month, but experience says it happens within one week.


The following are costs you will incur while in Kazakhstan:

In Karaganda

You can take credit cards ( Visa) and some cash money. In Karaganda, you will go to the bank and get them cashed. Regardless of how much cash you carry, be sure that all cash is clean, newer bills, with no stains, rips/tears, or writings on them. Also do not forget to fill in custom form that you have cash about you more than 3000 dollars per person. Do not hide the money in the pockets! Visa card is accepted in many places, shops, restaurants-but not in all! For getting cash from ATM machines from Visa card you must know the pincode! ! If you take Travelers Checks, the Kazakh offices will give you newer bills, so the problem of clean bills will be solved for you. If you decide to bring all the cash about you-which is unwise- make sure that you wrote about it in the custom declaration.

  1. Driving in Karaganda - 1200 tenge ( $8 US) per hour, at the driver's discretion. This is for any driving not related to your adoption (shopping, outings, aquapark, theater, etc.)
  2. Staying in the apartment in Stepnoy mikro district - $46 US per person per day, child $19 US (includes 3 meals/day, water, tea, coffee). Any pop, beer, chips are not included. Juice is included in adult meals in reasonable amounts. Local fruits are included in reasonable amounts. Please pay the rental fee immediately after you receive the bill.
  3. Washer is installed in the apartment (detergent and softener is your responsibility). Any toiletries (tisse paper, shampoo, etc.) is your responsibility.

Marina arranges her families to stay in a nearby apartment complex. There are several vacant apartments all close to Marina's apartment. Some apartments have internet access.

  1. The interpreter's service is included into the adoption fee when you are in the orphanage, court, or official interview. If you need to go shopping, to the bank, to walk around the city, it is safer to do it first with the interpreter and pay her separately ($3 US/hour). Later on, you can manage without the interpreter.
  2. Tickets from/to Almaty-Karaganda are around $180, one-way.
  3. Please discuss the adoption fee with the agency BEFORE your trip. Try to pay the kaz part as soon as you receive the bill in Kazakhstan. Portion of the adoption fee should be sent through the agency Carc to the bank account of Karaganda branch prior to your trip.

In Almaty

  1. Upon arrival in Almaty, the services provided to you by the Staff Driver will be 5000 tenge ($33 US) /one transfer, paid directly to the driver.
  2. The driver may offer a city tour, and driving around Almaty will be 4000-5000 tenge per hour, based upon the time and tour.
  3. In Almaty, we can book the hotel (8 000-28 000 tenge ($50 US and higher) per day, or the downtown rent apartment (8 000 tenge) per day (without meals).
  4. If you stay in Karaganda to wait for the 15-day period of appeal after the court 2 weeks of obtaining the documents for the immigration to bring your child home yourself, please be prepared for that.
  5. You may fly home and come back 15 days later. The child should be taken home out of the orphanage on the day we receive the court decision.
  6. The Canadians will have to fly to Moscow to receive their visas. In this case, they must have the Russian visas. Or, we may send the documents with the special service while the family waits in Karaganda. That is much cheaper and less dangerous.
    Most families choose the option of returning home immediately after the court hearing. One parent then returns to Kazakhstan to escort their child home personally.


What Happens While You're In Karaganda

When you arrive in Kazakhstan to adopt your child, there are several steps involved in the process. This is a list of steps, as we know them today. (The time frames are approximate. When dealing with government officials in another country, it is difficult to say exactly how long things will take, and it is beyond our control.)

  1. 1. Go to Republican Department of Education and get "letter of vitisting permission" for you. You need this letter in order to get the Permission to Adopt. (1 day) Marina is usually able to secure this on the day of your arrival.
  2. Marina will take the letter to Ministry of Education in Astana -- get "Permission To Adopt" document. (1 day) Actually, this occurs by the end of your bonding period. If there are any doubts or concerns about finalizing this adoption, you need to speak of it before Marina secures this letter. If there is serious consideration being given to refusing the adoption, you must contact Marina of the problem. You are certainly free to refuse to finalize an adoption, but to avoid great problems for everyone, we ask that this decision be made at least three days prior to the court hearing.
  3. FOUR-weeks "bonding period" – you spend time daily with your child. This begins the first business day after your arrival in Karaganda, and lasts for 30-31 calendar days. You need to have some toys to play with the child and sleepers. Also please take into consideration that our apartments are not smoking areas. For smoking you need to go to the balcony, close the door and do not leave the smoky remainings (studs) in the trash. AGAIN-Like Japanese we DO NOT WALK in the apartments in the street boots-use the slippers or home-shoes.
  4. Think of your leisure time-take many books and videos. Go to internet service—make a plan what you want to do and see while you are in Kazakhstan.
  5. As soon as the decision to adopt has been made finally(usually few days after the bonding period has begun), Marina and her secretary will go to the attorney's office to submit the dossier and later on you will sign the application for the court within the 3-4th week. This will begin the adoption process and secure the quickest possible court date. Again, it is very important not to sign this document prior to your final decision. Be aware, however, that it takes approximately 5-7 days to secure a court date, and delaying this step will delay the court date. So the quicker you take the decision, the faster the court will be made. But if you refuse from the child-you will have to go home. As no other child will be offered to you. And the adoption file will be returned back.
  6. Make your adoption decision very carefully
  7. Visiting the notary to sign several local powers of attorney to several persons from Marina's stuff-second week of bonding.
  9. AFTER THE COURT-15-day Appeal Period – 15 calendar days, ending the
    first business day after the 15th day of appeal. You may continue visiting the child in the orphanage for these 15 days.
  10. Receive Court Order – usually received the morning of the day following the 15th day of the appeal. We must take the child home from the orphanage.
  11. Apply for new birth certificate (usually given within next 1-2 business days).
  12. Apply for Certificate of Adoption (usually given within next 1-2 business day).
  13. Go to local (Karaganda) police station; apply for passport.
  14. Marina sends staff to Astana to pick up passport and return with it to Karaganda (usually given within next 2-4 days). This can be delayed by severe weather, or by frequent interruptions in the machinery of that office.
  15. Apply for Exit Visa, done in Karaganda, stamped into child's passport ( next 1-2 days).
  16. Go again to Astana, to register the child's adoption. This must be done before the child can leave Kazakhstan , but only after the exit visa has been stamped into child's passport. The new rule of the ministry of foreign affairs demands 5( five !! working) days to register the passport in Astana. So we deliver the passport for example on Monday and will pick it up in 5 WORKING (!!) days. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday are not the working days in the ministry.


And then the documents are ready to go to Moscow. It takes about 4 days to deliver the documents by express service, 2 days to process at the embassy, and 4 days to send the documents back.

NONE OF THESE STEPS CAN BE DONE WITHIN the appeal period and all these steps can be done only in consequence. Also you can not apply to the embassy to get the immigration visa within the appeal period as you have no legal base ( court decision) for that.

Approximately 37 days before the court, and 29-30 days after the court.

International adoption is not a fast service. It is your decision to adopt a child, so you should respect the rules and timelines of the country where you want to adopt from. We will work hard to make your adoption as smooth as possible, but there are things we cannot predict, and cannot control. Also, the court schedules the court date and appoints the judge, not CARC or Marina - we cannot influence the judge on any aspect of your case.


In Karaganda

While going shopping, please take the interpreter with you. Paying her $3/hour is much better than to lose all your money. She will take care for your safety. There are many thieves in the shops, especially in the bazaar. Keep your documents in a safe place on your person, or better not take them with you at all. Take a copy of your passport.

  • Local History Museum - ticket $3/person. Videoing is allowed only if you request permission and pay a $5 fee.
  • Indoor Aquapark – 2 options. The first requires no reservation and you can go just swimming. The ticket per person is $3/hour. The second option is to book a room equipped with a sauna, jacuzzi, couch, and use of the common swimming pool. Fee varies from $10-$15/hour (for 8 people), depending on time of day and availability.
  • City Park – has carousels, lake, walking paths, etc.
  • Bowling Center
  • "Zoom" shopping mall – very large. On the first floor there is a good souvinir shop which sells traditional Kazakh outfits; special orders can be filled usually within 3-4 days. Behind the Zoom is a large inside clothing bazaar, with comparably inexpensive clothing. Also there is a "Green Bazaar", with cheaper prices, but not as good quality of merchandise. It is advised to go with your university student when you go shopping. Most of what you'll need for your child.
  • The Circus – this is a traveling circus, so not always available.
  • Symphony Theatre – ticket depends on the artist, usually between $8-20.
  • Opera – performances usually every weekend, tickets between $8-15.
  • Puppet Show – every Sunday 12 noon; $1/ticket.
  • Karaganda State University – free of charge; informal visit with English classes at the university level
  • Asia Shop – Great souvinir source for traditional Kazakh souvenirs
  • Art Galleries – One is operated by the government and is for display only; the other has pieces of art for sale.
  • Russian Orthodox Church (and many other churches) are open for visitation. For the Russian Orthodox service, ladies must wear a dress or skirt, and have a head covering. Services are at 9 am and 4 pm daily.

In Karaganda

  • Museum of History – $4/person
  • Two Art Museums – fee is comparable to above
  • 19th Century Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Main Cathedral of Kazakhstan) – again in operation. Very nice park surrounds this church with monuments, etc.
  • Main Square – contains governmental buildings and "Monument to Freedom" (Golden Soldier)-15 minutes of walking from the apartment to the left.
  • Medeo – mountain top ice skating rink (outdoor). A large number of world records have been set on this rink. If you wish to see this, and time permits.
  • Chimbulak - The mountains above Medeo. You get to Chimbulak by car, weather permitting, then you can take ski lifts (chair lifts) up to a higher mountain range. Fees begin at 1500 Tenge/person for the ski lifts. At the highest point, you would find yourself above the clouds. If you wish to see this, consult your Driver in Almaty as driving starts from 8000 tenge.
  • For outdoors lovers, there are caves to spelunk, mountain trails to hike, and trout streams to fish. This must be planned in advance, so mention it to Marina if you want to take advantage of some of these activities.
  • "Zoom" shopping mall – on the 3rd floor, there is a great choice of souvenirs – more than in Karaganda. If you're missing Pizza, go to the Ram Store on the 1st floor. They have great pizza.
  • Almaty Bazaar – you can buy a relatively cheap Persian Lamb coat ($150). Do not go alone!
  • Fantasy Park – outdoor amusement park. Admittance is 500 Tenge/person.
    Bobek Park – free admission but every ride is 500 Tenge. More appropriate for children under age 8.

Restaurants Available In/Around Almaty

If you're missing American fare, go to "Soho". Meals are about 2,500 Tenge/person, drinks not included.

There is a very nice restaurant set in the mountains – "Almarason". They offer a variety of cuisine, from Russian Georgian to Swiss to National Kazakh, and they are set around a spa, with therapeutic massage and swimming. Prices for meals start at $10/person.

Just a few minutes from the Almarason restaurant, there is a "shish kabob" restaurant, kind of rustic, wooden tables near a cascading mountain river. Karaoke is available.

"Zharyuk" ("Promised Land") National Museum Restaurant – downtown Almaty. Serves all types of Kazakh, European, and Thai food. 8-10 PM floor show of Kazakh traditional dances, belly dancing, traditional singing and playing of traditional instruments. Reservations required. President Gorbachev has eaten here. Meals start at $15.

Finally, keep in mind that while you're in Kazakhstan, everything will seem different and maybe frightening. You will be caught up between periods of boredom and frantic rushing around to complete your adoption.

During your downtime, make good use of the services of your university student to see the world from which your child has come. During the more hectic times, our best advice is to "go with the flow". The people who will be assisting your adoption will be strongly focused on the tasks at hand, and may not always explain each step of the process to your satisfaction. They will try, but this is an area of cultural difference that we have never been able to change. Take comfort in the fact that the people helping you are experienced and motivated to handle any issues.

Take this document with you to Kazakhstan. Feel free to refer to it.

Most of all, try to relax and realize that this is your opportunity to absorb as much as you can of your child's world. So, as much as it is possible, enjoy the adventure and make the most of your time there.

What to know when adopting from Kazakhstan

Want to learn more about adopting from Kazakhstan? Read this personal account of adoptive parents and their experience in Kazakhstan. They provide lots of tips and information that you will find helpful. Click here to read their story.

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