China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Questions about Adoption from China


Why are there so many children in orphanages in China?
In the 1950's and 60's, China experienced huge population growth without as great a growth in food supplies. There were famines and food riots. The Chinese government developed population control regulations. These regulations limit the number of children each family may have, the age at which people may marry, and when they can begin having children. Significant fines and penalties are imposed on families who exceed these regulations. At the same time, the Chinese people love children. For this reason, women will often attempt to conceal pregnancies. This is particularly true for unmarried women, or women who have already had children. They prefer to give birth to the child, giving it a chance for life, even if they must later abandon it. When the infants are abandoned, it is usually in a place where he or she will be quickly found, and the birth parents will often secretly watch from a distance to make sure the baby is quickly helped.

Why are so many girls abandoned?
Because of culture and tradition, male children are frequently perceived as more valuable to the survival of the family. Traditionally, it is the responsibility of the male child to care for his parents when they are no longer able to work or care for themselves, and to carry on the family name. Daughters marry into other families, and help care for the parents of their husbands. China does not have Social Security or retirement plans. Interest bearing investments are not available or affordable for most people. China is still a developing country.

If a couple's first baby is a boy, the baby is usually kept. If the baby is a girl, a second or third child, a child born outside of marriage, or a child with some physical abnormality, it may be abandoned. The children are not abandoned because they are unwanted. Pregnancies can be easily terminated in China. The children are born out of love and abandoned, as safely as possible, for the survival and security of the family.

May we adopt a boy?
Absolutely! During our tour of the orphanage in China where we found our son Joe, we felt that boys made up about 10% of the population. The little boys also seemed to have more profound and physically obvious special needs, but there were many healthy boys as well. If no preference is expressed, most families will be assigned girls. Families preferring to adopt a boy usually are processed at the same time as families who prefer girls, but on very rare occasions are asked to wait for some time before a boy is available in China, or possibly be willing to accept an older child or a child with more significant special needs. Generally healthy infant boys are available upon request. We help several families adopt boys by choice every year, and have not had a family delayed in their adoption, had their request denied, or been asked to adopt a special needs child. Some families have the impression that only older or special needs boys are available from China. This is not correct. The misimpression is probably due to the special needs boys made available through China’s "Waiting Child Program".

What are conditions like in the orphanages?
There have been some negative reports in the popular media about bad conditions in Chinese orphanages. These reports have been greatly exaggerated. While life in an orphanage in a developing country can be quite harsh, and while some orphanages do a better job than others, overall orphanages in China are adequate places staffed by caring people.

Further, the donations and contributions made by parents adopting children are having a real impact on the lives of the children who remain behind. Staff to child ratios and basic nutrition is very good. Positive changes are being made to facilities (we saw open sewers being replaced with a new, underground sewer system at one orphanage), and there are improvements and additions to equipment. Many children are placed in foster homes by the orphanages, giving each child more attention and care in a family environment. We believe that care for children without families is better in China than in any other developing country.

What are the advantages to adopting from China?
We found the adoption process very attractive with adoptions from China. While the Chinese process can be a slow one (as this is written it is currently taking about 9 - 10 months to receive an assignment after your paperwork to is submitted to China, see our newsletters for more current information), the process is extremely fair, ethical, and predictable. All fees are official and known in advance. Healthy infants under eight months old are often available. Single female parents are allowed to adopt, although they must be under 50 and are currently limited to 8% of total adoptions, so waiting lists can be very long for singles. Single women up to age 55 may adopt Special Needs children without delay. China imposes few age or other restrictions on adoptive parents. Parents must be at least 30 years of age, and parents over 45 may be asked to adopt older children. At least one parent must be under 55 years of age. The available children are easily and ethically classifiable as orphans, as defined by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Adopted orphans are more routinely approved by the USCIS for immigration into the United States from China than from any other country.

***Please note, this is reposted from the original source, current information on requirements can be found here: US Dept. of State

Studies routinely show that children from China are the healthiest of any children available to be adopted from a developing country. Hepatitis B rates are around 2 – 3% in infants, and there has yet to be a case of a child with AIDS adopted from China, even with over 6,000 adoptions per year for the past several years. Children receive good and consistent care, and typically come from average families who have exceeded the population regulations. In other countries, children are normally only available due to extreme poverty and/or substance abuse by the birth family. Americans Adopting Orphans offers an optional service that arranges for a medical exam to be performed in your child’s home town before your adoption is complete. By having a doctor who works for you, as opposed to the orphanage, you may obtain a second medical opinion about the overall health of your child.

There is a tremendous need for children to be adopted. With over a billion people and a thousand orphanages, it is likely that as many as 100,000 children a year enter state care, never to have forever families.

How long does it take to complete an adoption from China?
In most cases it takes over a year to complete an adoption. The first three or four months are spent completing your home study, gathering other documents, and preparing them for submission to the Chinese government. The Chinese government then takes 8 - 10 months to review your documents, and send you a picture of your child. About two months after receiving that picture, you travel to China. Your stay in China is usually 10 or 11 days. Americans Adopting Orphans does not require that you spend additional time in China for cultural tours, although they are available upon request. Ethnically Chinese families, and families requesting older or special needs children may receive expedited processing.

What happens once our dossier has been sent to China?
Each dossier is reviewed by the China Center of Adoption Affairs. If the documentation is found to be in order and complete, a child will be selected based on your request (boy, girl, infant, older child, special needs child, etc.). If you have requested a specific city or province to which you would like to travel, or a specific older or handicapped child who you would like to adopt, these requests may be honored. Once a selection is made you will normally be sent information about the child including a photograph, birth date (possibly estimated), basic information about the health of the child, and a narrative about the child’s care. If you accept the referral, we send a letter to that effect back to the Chinese government. Once your acceptance has been received and processed, in a month or two you will be issued an invitation to travel to China to adopt and take custody of your child.

You can choose to receive our help with preparing your request to adopt a child. We offer the tracking of your dossier as it is processed in China. In the event of questions or problems with your paperwork, our experienced Mandarin speaking staff can help diplomatically resolve problems.

When do we learn about our child?
Most families simply describe the child they wish to adopt in their application letter to the China Center of Adoption Affairs and allow China to select a child for them. Several months after receiving a family application, the China Center of Adoption Affairs will assign a child to your family. They will send at least a small passport style photo and basic medical information about the child to Americans Adopting Orphans. We translate this information, and provide it to you as quickly as possible (normally by the next business day).

Many people have friends and relatives in China. These contacts are often willing to get in touch with an orphanage in order to assist in matching your family with a child. It is very important to be sure that any child you request has been legally abandoned and is registered with the China Center of Adoption Affairs. The Chinese authorities sometimes honor these requests, but are generally only willing to consider placing handicapped children, or children over three to a family requesting a specific child.

Note - There are some "facilitators" who claim to be able to place a child directly from a birth family or hospital to adoptive parents. This is a violation of Chinese regulations and puts your adoption at risk. Both the Chinese authorities and US Immigration work to prevent "adoptions" like this from taking place. Under these circumstances, it is possible to complete an adoption in a child's province only to be told by the US Immigration that the child may not enter the United States. If your paperwork is not submitted through the China Center of Adoption Affairs in Beijing, you are probably in violation of Chinese regulations.

Do we travel to China, or is our child brought to us?
China requires that at least one adoptive parent must travel to China to complete the adoption. Your trip in China is normally about 10 days, with a week spent in your child’s hometown, where you legally adopt your child. You then travel to the US Consulate in Guangzhou for a few days, where your adoption papers are examined, and your child is given permission to enter the United States. The vast majority of adoptive parents feel that their adoption trips significantly increased their understanding and appreciation of their child’s birth culture.

China is a very safe country for travel by US citizens. Street crime is very low, and the Chinese people are very happy to see orphanage children being adopted. Air transportation and hotel accommodations are good, with 4 and 5 star hotels generally available. Many hotel and store clerks have some English skills, and are very eager to help you. Many of our client families choose to travel with children they already have, or with other friends and family.

What is the trip to China like?
In most cases you fly to the city where your child's orphanage is located. In that city you legally adopt your child. The government of the United States recognizes this adoption, although re-adoption when you return to the United States is strongly recommended. The adoption process consists of visiting several government offices over several days. Forms need to be filled out, fees paid, questions answered, and documents signed. You are normally given custody of your child on arrival. The entire adoption process normally takes a week or less. Congratulations, you are now a family.

Your family will be accompanied by professional adoption facilitators who we arrange to help your family. During your trip you will normally be able to visit the location where your child was found, and probably get to visit your child’s orphanage and/or caregivers. Skilled interpreters will be with you for every official meeting or appointment, and you will be assisted with cultural experiences, sightseeing and shopping when not at appointments. All of your adoption related appointments are arranged in advance. Most mornings are spent processing paper, and most afternoons spent with your child sightseeing or shopping, while government officials complete various documents for your adoption. If there is a question about your adoption paperwork, it is generally resolved quickly, frequently without your involvement, or having to try and figure out what is needed next. We are able to provide cribs in most cases. In China, soft drinks, diapers, bottled water, and other personal supplies can be delivered to your room by your facilitators, for less than you can purchase them by yourself. Hotel reservations at substantial discounts can be made for you, and your facilitators can obtain your airline tickets for travel within China.

Do we travel in a group?
Your family will normally travel to China in a small group (usually about 6 families). Some costs, as well as emotional support, can be shared by traveling in a group. We do not require that families travel in groups, but do give preference in scheduling our adoption assistance to groups. It is the policy of some agencies to require families to travel in large groups (15 to 25 families). In some cases this means that families who receive permission to travel for their adoption may have to wait to travel for months before a large enough group has been assembled. Families who use Americans Adopting Orphans agency will normally travel less than three weeks after receiving final permission to travel and complete their adoption.

Can we visit the orphanage?
Probably. There has been negative publicity about Chinese orphanages, sometimes including video footage taken secretly. As a result, some orphanages are very sensitive about visits by foreigners. Some orphanages are a considerable distance away from the large city where your paperwork is handled, and it may not be practical to attempt that journey. Accepting custody of your child often happens in your hotel room, or in a government office.

How do the Asian people react to Americans adopting their orphans?
Virtually everyone you meet will be curious and supportive. It is not uncommon for large crowds to gather around you. Many people will want to touch you and your baby in a friendly way. People will frequently ask if the baby will learn to speak English, and comment that the baby is very lucky.

When is our adoption final?
When you adopt a child from China, the adoption is normally complete and final in that country. In domestic adoptions, and some international adoptions, there is a period of time where the adoption is "at risk". This is the period after the child is placed with you, but before the adoption is final. This can be a very stressful time for the adoptive family. It is a time when the adoption can more easily be legally challenged, and in a few rare cases, when the adoptive family can be required to relinquish their child back to a government agency or a birth family. This at risk period can last for months, particularly with domestic adoptions. When adopting a child from China, the adoption is normally final in the home province of the child, before you return to the United States. The only exception to this is when only one spouse of a married couple travels to China. This is discussed in detail below.

Where do we go after we have adopted our child?
Once you have adopted your child, you fly to GuangZhou (formerly Canton). This is where the US Consulate is located that issues immigration visas for your child to enter the US. Your child is still a native of the People's Republic of China, traveling under a passport from that country, and needs a visa to enter the US. Adoption by United States citizens automatically makes your child a citizen of the United States, if both parents travel, as soon as you enter the United States.

In order to be issued a visa, your child must undergo a physical examination. There are several clinics and hospitals recommended by the US Consulate. Our staff will take you to an appropriate facility. In our experience this examination is very brief, and non-invasive. It takes less than an hour (depending on the lines), no blood is drawn, and no specimens are required.

A sealed copy of the physical examination report, photos of your child, proof of your adoption, and all other required documents are then taken to the Consulate. All of the documents are reviewed, and there may be an interview with a consular official. If all of the documents are found to be in order, your child is issued a visa to enter the United States. This process can normally be completed in a few days.

Before the trip, you will receive an Instruction Pack which includes (among other things) a list of the documents the consular officials may want to see, and the correct form and wording for these documents. An adoption specialist will go over all of the documents you need to bring with you to China in advance of your trip, and be sure that you are ready to go.

What happens when we arrive in the United States?
Any time you enter a country, you must stop at a customs station. Here they ask if you have anything to declare. Every country has rules about what you may and may not bring on to their soil. The United States is no exception. Anyone who has traveled outside the United States is familiar with this procedure. When returning with an adopted child, you must also stop at the US Immigration Service station at the (air)port of entry before you go to customs. Here, you surrender the sealed Visa envelope to the US Immigration officer. The documents within are then sent to your local US Immigration office. This office should then issue a Certificate of Naturalization.

How much does it cost to adopt from China?
This varies tremendously with how you choose to adopt. By completing most of the paperwork and educational process on your own, you can greatly reduce the cost of your adoption. Total costs can be around $13,000. Most families qualify for a $10,600 Adoption Tax Credit from the Federal Government, which can reduce total adoption costs to under $3,000. Not all agencies are the same, and some can be much more expensive costing $20,000 or more. Most of our clients' total adoption costs are in the $16,000 range ($6,000 after the tax credit). Only about $4,000 of this is for fees to Americans Adopting Orphans. For a very detailed breakdown of our fees, and to see how you system allows you to design your own adoption program, please ask for our Description of Services.

***Note: While this article provides a lot of great info, I suspect it has been a while since it has been updated, in our experience the cost of adopting from China is closer to $30,000

Why does it cost so much?
Fees and donations to the Chinese government are under $5,000. Unlike many countries, China dedicates most of the money to the ongoing care of children. Rather than having most of the fees paid to the central government, or spent on legal proceedings, only about $1,400 is spent for these services. There is a required $3,000 "donation" to the orphanage from which you adopt your child. This donation has been having a very positive impact on the lives of the children who remain in the orphanages. China requires that at least one parent travel to China to adopt their child. It would be difficult to complete an adoption trip for much less than $2,000. Document gathering costs are generally $1,000 or more. In short, there are about $8,000 in unavoidable costs, not including fees to your adoption agency.

Americans Adopting Orphans is a very efficient agency with outstanding service, a very low overhead, and very low adoption fees. You have the option of doing much of the clerical work of your adoption yourself, and can choose how to educate yourself about adoption and adoption issues. We have no religious missions in other countries, and do not have a domestic adoption program. While we are a charity, and hope that you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to our relief efforts, we do not build a donation to our agency into your fees. You pay for your own adoption services and yours alone. We also are dedicated to keeping our fees as low as possible to encourage as many parents as possible to adopt. For these reasons families can have very inexpensive adoptions using our agency. Families who choose our higher levels of service will still have moderately priced adoptions, but will receive services not offered by other agencies at any price.

Do we have to take a lot of cash with us to China?
Generally not. In most cases we are able to wire most of your in-China fees to China in advance of your trip. Many routine bills, like hotel charges, can be paid by credit card. Taking one or two thousand dollars with you, in Travelers Checks if you prefer, is all that is usually required. Some adoption trips can take place with short notice, or be in remote locations, making wiring money impractical.

Will our child be able to search for her or his birth parents?
Probably not. As the children are abandoned, and as abandoning children is against the law, the birth parents of the child attempt to avoid leaving any identifying information with the child that could lead the authorities (or the child) back to them. Many adoptees do have a very natural desire to search for their birth parents as they grow and become adults. This is an issue that adoptive parents should treat with respect and understanding.

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