Completing an Adoption from China

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Chinese Adoption Requirements

Gotcha Day
In the playroom at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou Guangdong Province with Sydney. Permission to use photo given by David and Susan.

China is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, which means any adoption from China needs to not only meet the requirements of the convention, but also the state that the prospective adoptive parent resides within the United States.

Some of the Chinese Adoption Requirements include:

  • Marriage - Only married couples, with marriage defined as between a man and a woman, who have been married for at least 2 years are able to adopt from China. If either has been divorced, the couple must be married for 5 years before considering adopting from China. No more than two divorces are allowed.
  • Age - Prospective adoptive parents must be between the ages of 30 and 44 years old to adopt babies around 1 year old. Prospective adoptive parents can be between the ages of 30 and 50 for other children and up to age 55 will be consider for special needs children.
  • Weight - Prospective adoptive parents must have a Body Mass Index, a measure of obesity, of no more than 40.
  • Health - Prospective parents must not be taking medications for psychiatric conditions including depression or anxiety.
  • Appearance & Abilities - Adoptive parents with a "severe facial deformity" will not be considered. Prospective parents who are wheelchair dependent will not be considered.
  • Single Woman Adoption - As of March 15, 2011, the China Center for Children Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA), (formerly the China Center of Adoption Affairs), states that single women may now adopt from China. Single women will be allowed to adopt what the CCCWA calls 'Special Focus' children.
    Special Focus children have special needs or are pre-school or school age and have been on a waiting list for more than 60 days. Special Focus may also mean that a child does not have a special need, but is older and has been on the waiting list for more than 60 days.
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Select an Accredited Adoption Service Provider to Adopt from China

Several hundred people a year adopt from China. Since China is a party to the Hague Convention, the first step to adopt from China is to choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider to provide adoption services between China and the United States.

It's important to work closely with your adoption service provider in order to keep up on the needed paperwork and procedures needed to successfully adopt from China.

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Complete Form I-800A to Determine if Eligible for Adopting from China

The next step is to apply to be found eligible to adopt from a Hague Convention Country with Form I-800A.

After the U.S. Government decides that you are eligible to adopt, your agency will send your application to the adoption authority in China. Then China will review your application and decide if you meet eligibility for adoption under Chinese law.

You will be notified if additional information is needed by the Chinese government.

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Referral and File Form I-800 for Chinese Child to Be Found Eligible for Adoption

The China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), is responsible for the adoption process in China. They are the ones who match prospective adoptive parents with a Chinese child (make a referral), validate all of the documents, and make sure the law is being followed. According to the CCAA the current wait for a referral, after the dossier has been translated and arrives in their office, is about fifteen months.

The prospective adoptive family has 45 days to accept or refuse the adoption referral. If the adoptive family is considering refusing a referral, it is a good idea to discuss with the the adoption agency if a second referral is possible. If the CCAA considers the refusal justifiable, a second referral will be made within a month. If the refusal is considered not to be justifiable, the CCAA may suggest that the family withdraw their adoption application.

After the acceptance of a referral, there is, of course, more adoption paperwork. Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, will be filed to determine if the child is eligible for adoption under U.S. law.

After the acceptance of the referral, an adoption date is set and your adoption agency will submit a visa application at the United State's Embassy. This is approximately another 1 to 2 month wait. Once in China, the prospective adoptive parents must not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody until the Consular Officer of the U.S. Embassy notifies the CCAA that the Chinese child is eligible to immigrate to the United States.

While you wait for your referral you can also start preparing to parent your internationally adopted child

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Chinese Children that Are Waiting for Adoptive Homes

Referral for Emily.
Baby Emily's referral photo. Photo used with permission. Parents - David and Susan.
  • Ages - Children up to and including the age of 13 can be adopted. Children 14 and older may not be adopted.
  • Special Needs Children - If prospective adoptive parents decide to adopt a special needs child or one with a medical condition after reading the adoption referral, they have 48 hours to fill out the necessary adoption paperwork for their dossier. This tight deadline is in the best interest of the child, allowing the child to be removed from the listing of special needs children awaiting an adoptive home for a very short period of time. If the family does not file the adoption paperwork within the 48 hours, the child is placed back on the listing.
  • Finalization - Once the parents have the CCAA's sealed adoption approval notice they can proceed to finalize the adoption or gain custody of the child for purpose of adoption in China.
  • Placement priority - Because China is a party of the Hague Convention, China must try to place their waiting children in Chinese adoptive homes first.
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Finalizing the Adoption in China

Referral for Sydney
Referral photo of baby Sydney. Photo used with permission. Parents - David and Susan

Travel - One parent must travel to China for approximately a two-week stay. If only one parent is traveling to China, he or she is required to have power of attorney authenticated by the Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese Consulates General in the U.S. During this time the adoption in China is completed and the child obtains a passport, medical examination, and a visa. The physician completing the examination must be approved of by the U.S. embassy or consulate.

Adoption Fees - Be prepared to pay adoption fees charged by the Chinese authorities. These fees go toward such items as - authentication of documents, translations, service fees, and issuance of the Chinese-notarized certificate approving the adoption in China, and birth certificate. It is also customary for the institution that cared for your child prior to adoption to charge a fee for the cost of raising the child in China. Be prepared for a cost of $3000 to $5000 USD. Check the adoption services contract that you signed at the beginning of the adoption process. There should be an itemized listing of expenses related to adoption costs.

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Bringing Your Newly Adopted Child Home After Completing a Chinese Adoption

Great Wall of China
At the Great Wall of China. Photo used with Permission. David and Susan

There are some final steps left to complete a Chinese adoption while still in China before you can bring your child home.

  • Apply for a new birth certificate so that you can later apply for a passport.
  • Then secure a Chinese passport and exit permit.
  • A U.S. immigrant visa will be needed so that your child can enter the U.S. as a citizen or lawful permanent resident. After obtaining the birth certificate and passport you will need to apply for a U.S. visa from the U.S. embassy. After the Chinese adoption is granted, visit the Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to get a visa for your child.

Learn more about the visa process.

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A New Family After Adopting a Child from China

New Family
Happy to be home, proud parents hug - Emily, Sydney, and birth daughter Isabel. Permission to use photo given by David and Susan.

Congratulations you are a new family!

You may have to re-adopt your child here in the states as a precautionary measure since a U.S. court does not have to accept the adoption of a foreign court. In some instances a re-adoption is required. Ask your adoption agency for more information.

Announce that you have completed adopting a child from China with adoption announcements and a welcome home party!

What Is an Adoption Welcome Party
Hosting an Adoption Baby Shower