China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

How to Adopt a Baby from China

Adopting a child from China can be an exciting opportunity for your family, but you'll have many papers to file before the pitter-patter of little feet fills your home. The international adoption process is time-consuming, arduous and expensive - it can take up to 18 months and cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000 - but it's well worth the effort. Here is an overview of the steps required to bring your newest family member home. These instructions are written with Americans in mind, but many of the steps will apply to parents-to-be of any nationality.


Find an adoption agency specializing in adoptions from China. The China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is in charge of all adoptions from China, and they only accept applications submitted through a registered adoption agency. The CCAA maintains an extensive list of agencies on its website (see the links section). Some are better than others, and some have lower fees, so research to find your best option.

Complete a home study. The home study is a biography of the prospective parents and an assessment of their living situation, and must be performed by a licensed social worker employed by a registered Chinese adoption agency. The home study requires four face-to-face visits with a social worker which usually includes a social worker's visit to your home and three more interviews which can be conducted in your home or in the social worker's office.

Assemble your application dossier. Your full application dossier requires a long list of supplementary documents, including a cover letter, certified copies of health documents, a criminal background check, tax documents or a letter from a CPA stating your yearly income, and pictures of you and your home. All documents will need to be notarized, certified by your Secretary of State, then authenticated by the Chinese Consulate that is responsible for your home state. It can take some time to get all these documents together, so start the process as soon as you can. Most people take about six months to complete the paperwork.

Complete your adoption application, as provided by your adoption agency. Along with all the supplementary documents, you'll also send your application, which will include your preferences in age, sex, and health status of your child. Think long and hard about the preferences you list - the decisions you make will determine what child will join your family, and if you decide to change your preferences later, it can delay the process or even bring it to a halt. It should be noted that while the CCAA makes an effort to meet the requests of parents, files are matched based on the date that they are logged in with the CCAA with the files of children who are paper ready at the time. Individual requests may not be possible to meet, especially requests for a very narrow age range. Once your dossier is completed, your agency will submit it to the CCAA.

You should also submit an I-600A form ("Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition") to the USCIS to get preliminary approval for your child to come to the U.S. This can take some time, so file it promptly.

Wait for a referral. There's not much to do at this point but wait (and make sure your passports are current in preparation for the eventual trip to China). For many prospective parents, however, this is the hardest part of the process. The CCAA can be seriously backlogged and you may be waiting for a few months or more than a year if you are requesting a non special needs child. Follow up with your agency occasionally, but mainly just try to be patient. Remember, you're getting close.

Accept or refuse a referral. When the CCAA has approved your application and matched you with a child, they will send you a referral--sometimes called an offer--for a specific child. The referral will include a picture and medical history for the child, as well as a brief introduction letter, often in the form of a check list of child's abilities and personality. If you have additional questions, you may contact the CCAA through your agency. Refusals are rare, and second referrals can be difficult to obtain.

Travel to China to complete the adoption process. After you accept a referral, the CCAA will send you a sealed approval notice. With this in hand, you may travel to China to adopt your child. You will typically need to be in China for 10 - 17 days to finalize the adoption. Before you go, make sure you have the required immunizations. Your adoption agency will contact the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China to schedule an immigration interview. Do not make travel plans until you have a confirmed appointment with the consulate. If you've chosen a good adoption agency, these things will be taken care of for you.

Proceed to the Civil Affairs Bureau (CAB) in the province where your child is located. At the CAB, a notary will interview you and certify the birth certificate for your child. The interview is for official purposes only and is very brief.
Pick up your child either at a local governmental building, or your child will be brought to your hotel. If you are very lucky you will visit the Children's Welfare Institute where he or she resides. China's orphanages are called Children's Welfare Institutes (CWI) or Social Welfare Institutes (SWI). Here you will finally meet your child and finalize the adoption process. You will be interviewed again and sign the adoption paperwork. You will also need to make a required standard donation of $3000 to the CWI, plus the cost of in-country adoption paperwork (typically $750 - $1500 additional). Once the adoption is final, you are fully and legally responsible for your new child.

Obtain a Chinese passport and exit permit for your child. With the notarized birth certificate in hand, proceed to the provincial Public Security Bureau to obtain a passport. This is necessary to facilitate immigration into the U.S. Again, your agency will be making all these arrangements, and a great agency will do this all for you while you bond with your new child.

Get a medical exam for your child, as arranged by your adoption agency. Your child will need a medical exam from an approved health center to obtain an immigrant visa. This exam is most conveniently conducted in Guangzhou, since you will need to go there to get the visa.

Get an immigrant visa for your child. Go to the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou to complete the visa interview and obtain your child's visa. You should now have all the necessary documents; once the consulate has these, they will issue a visa within 24 hours.

Return to your home country. All you need to do now is bring your child back to his or her loving new home. In the US, if both parents meet the child before the adoption is final, he or she will automatically become a U.S. citizen upon arrival. Otherwise, you will need to apply for your child's citizenship upon your return, but that's the easy part - you've got a lifetime of parenting ahead!

More Paperwork. The CCAA requires two additional visits by your social worker to confirm that the child and you are adjusting well. These will entail detailed interviews and the completion of forms. Usually these visits take place at six and twelve months post-adoption. You will also need to submit photos your child in his new environment and apply for a social security number for your child. You may want to get a U.S. passport for your child as well. Additionally, many states require re-adoption done stateside. Check with your agency to ensure your paperwork is completed.


Do as much research as possible before choosing an adoption agency. The website for Families with Children from China (FCC), an organization of families who have adopted from China, has a good article on agencies. Checking with the Better Business Bureau is a good place to start, but you should also make sure to ask prospective agencies any questions you have and research them on the Internet. Ideally, you should interview parents who have used an agency before.

Once you get a referral, be sure to carefully review your prospective child's health history. Consider taking the report to a pediatrician. Your agency will assist you with any questions you have, and will be able to communicate with the orphanage you child resides in for further questions. You'll still need another exam for the immigrant visa, but if you discover new health problems at this stage, it's already too late to refuse the child.

When you travel to China, consider bringing necessities such as baby wipes, various sizes of diapers and a variety of bottles and sippy cups. Your agency should provide you with a comprehensive list of items to bring and not to bring. Purchasing an umbrella stroller in China is cheap, but not recommended as it's preferable for you to hold your child while they adjust to you and the new environment. Some items can be difficult to find in China, especially in rural areas, and your trip will be difficult enough without having to worry about last-minute shopping.

Meeting your child for the first time is an emotional, and often overwhelming experience for both the parent and the child. It may take several days for your child to become comfortable around you. Try to spend as much time as possible just getting to know your child, and making them feel safe and secure around you.
A wealth of information is available to prospective adoptive parents. Check the links section for useful resources, and perform a search on the Internet for specific questions.

While the amount of paperwork may seem daunting, you will undoubtedly find it worthwhile once you meet your new child.


The adoption process for special-needs children can be significantly faster than for others, but if you decide to welcome one of these children into your home, be sure that you are prepared and willing to take on the extra commitment in the long term.

Timing is everything. Especially when assembling your dossier, carefully review what you need early to acquire something later. For example, you'll need to include a photocopy of your passport in your dossier. This means getting your passport right away, even though you likely won't need the actual passport (to travel to China) for another two years. Be prepared to pay "expedited" fees if you are working under a desired timeline.

Be very careful with your passport and cash when traveling in China. Passports can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market, and it can be very difficult to obtain a new one if yours is stolen. Also, the adoption process necessitates that you carry large sums of cash with you. As always, use common sense and your intuition to avoid theft.

Removal from their culture can have a serious impact on a child, such as feelings of not belonging or being out-of-touch. Do research about what adoption means to both you and the child, but not just with agencies. Try to find an adoptee group of local or international adoptees or join and online forum who has international adoptees and ask questions.

From How to Adopt a Baby from China

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