Top Ten Factors to Consider When Adopting From China

Top 10 Factors to consider when adopting from China. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.
Top 10 Factors to consider when adopting from China. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.

**As of November 2020, the CCCWA announced an continued and indefinite suspension of adoption processes due to COVID-19. This page will be updated when that status changes.**

1. The Parents

Applicants must be at least 30 years old. The program is open to single women. Couples must be married at least 2 years with a divorce history of 1 or less. Married couples with 2 divorces must be married 5 years, with no more than 2 divorces per parent. Proven cohabitation time does count towards the marriage length requirement. No LGBTQ+. Each parent must have a BMI of less than 40. If there is a cancer history, must be 3-5 years in remission. Many other medical conditions can be accepted if one parent is healthy. Check with a Hague-approved placing agency for details. 

2. The Family

Married couples can have no more than 5 children under the age of 18 in the receiving home. Single women should have no more than 2 under the age of 18. Parent(s) must have a minimum annual income of $10,000 per person living in the home, including the prospective adopted child. Couples must prove a minimum net worth of $80,000 and singles, $100,000.

3. The Kids

The age of available children ranges from approximately 12 months up through 13. Most children in this age range have a diagnosed medical need, though many of the kids, ages 9+, are “healthy.” There are rarely sibling groups available and more than one adoption at a time is not permitted. Gender choice is permitted. The majority of waiting children are boys. Most children come into state care by abandonment and are cared for in orphanages or foster homes overseen by an orphanage.

4. The Process

“Special Focus” Process
The shared list represents available children with more significant special needs, deemed ‘Special Focus,’ to which all agencies that place children from China have access. However, the Chinese Adoption Central Authority (CCCWA) continues to assign specific referrals to some agencies individually, at the agency’s request, so not all referrals are shared at any given time.

Once a family receives a potential referral from the shared list, the agency has 72 hours to submit the family’s preliminary information to proceed with the match. This time limit is to ensure that a child is not taken off the “Special Focus” list for too long while a family decides. The family is given two weeks to review the information, and if in that time they decide to no longer proceed with the match, the agency will withdraw the preliminary application from the system. When the paperwork is not filed within 72 hours or when a family requests their preliminary application to be withdrawn, the child’s name goes back on the list and other parents can review the file.

“LID” Process
The other process called the LID (log-in date) process operates slightly differently. Generally, the children being referred through this process are considered to have less significant special needs, although that is not always true. This runs by the date a family has had their dossier officially logged in to the CCCWA’s system. Several times throughout the year, CCCWA issues a list of LID files to agencies across the world. The list includes the name, gender, DOB, and a brief description of the child’s special needs.  Agencies are then permitted to submit a LID family to be considered for each file. The CCCWA will review the LID dates of all of the submitted families per each child on the LID list. The child’s file will be offered to the family/agency with the oldest LID. If that family declines the referral, it will then be presented to the family with the next oldest LID.

5. The Travel

Parents should expect to travel one time, for an average of 12-16 days. Only one parent is required to travel but it is strongly recommended that both parents make the trip. Some agencies still require parents to travel within a group, with a bilingual adoption guide. However, it’s not always possible. Once a family has received Travel Approval from the CCCWA, parents have 3 months to travel.

Parents travel to the capital of their child’s province to take custody of their child, apply for the child’s passport, and finalize the adoption. Every US family must then travel to Guangzhou to apply for their child’s visa and complete the child’s medical exam. An adoption oath ceremony at the US Consulate represents the final step in the adoption process.

6. The Program

The China adoption program is declining in numbers of children placed – as are most sending nation programs around the world. It’s notable that China’s process is a very stable, predictable program, despite the decreasing numbers. China is a Hague Treaty participant and in 2019, 819 children were placed in US families.

7. The Cost

The Median Adoption Service Provider Convention Fee for 2019 was $15,725.00, according to the State Department’s FYE 2019 Annual Report. This does not include documentation and notarizations required for the dossier, education fees, or in-country travel. Families should expect their total cost to range from $25,000 to $35,000.

8. The Needs

The vast majority of the children available in China are deemed Special Focus, with a wide range of moderate to complex medical needs, diagnoses of disorders, or diseases. Examples of these needs include cleft lip/palate, blood disorders (like Thalassemia, HIV, and so on), limb differences, hearing or vision loss, Down Syndrome, and more.

FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) is typically not considered a high incidence occurrence, given cultural mores surrounding alcohol and pregnancy. *This might be an underreported issue as standard prenatal care is not yet “best practice” across the country. Western influences of education and cultural shifts are contributing to changes in both the incidence of drinking during pregnancy and the care offered expectant mothers.

9. The Post-Adoption Reports

The CCCWA requires adoptive parents to submit post-placement reports at 6 months, and then yearly for 5 years after finalization. Some agencies might require additional reports in some cases. The first 3 reports must be prepared by the social workers who prepared the home study. Reports for years 3, 4, and 5 can be self-reports, by the family. Your agency will typically provide a template or resources to do your reports.

In March 2021, the CCCWA added a “Second Phase of Post Placement Reporting” that now applies to families who have not yet completed their adoptions, and to families who have not yet completed all (six) reports prior to April 1, 2021. This “Second Phase” allows those families to upload the required information themselves through the CCCWA Family Portal.

CCCWA is now requesting five (5) photos and/or videos at least one time per year; a written letter or report is optional.

Families who have completed all six (6) post-adoption reports before the April 1, 2021 deadline are not required to provide information for the Second Phase of Post Placement Reporting but may provide this information if they would like.

Creating a Family always urges families to comply with post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your cooperation contributes to the program’s stability and adds to China’s history of positive experiences with US citizen parents. 

10. The Additional Resources

The following additional resources can help you learn more about adoption from China:

This information is current as of April 2021 and represents our best estimates and approximations only. Depending upon your individual circumstances, even the widest ranges can vary greatly. Please always refer back to your chosen adoption service provider for specifics regarding your process.

This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency approved to place from this country for the most current information.

© Creating a Family

Image credit: pacman321; Joe Hart