China Adoption Guide

Learn what you need to know to start the process of adopting from China.

Rachel Skousen March 09, 2015

China has long been one of the most popular countries for American couples adopting internationally.

Before you get started with this guide, you’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with the overall process of International Adoption. That means you’ll need to read this guide first—then come back here to get all the inside information on adopting from China.

Slides 1-9 provide background information about adopting from China. Slides 10-19 outline the process. Slide 20 includes links to more resources on our site that you might find helpful.

Please note: Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions.  Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption.  The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Background: Is China Hague Accredited?
1. Background: Is China Hague Accredited?

Yes. China became a party to the Hague Convention in 2008.

This means it is in compliance with all guidelines and procedures set forth in the international agreement, which was designed to protect the best interests of the children involved—protecting them from abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking. It also means that parents seeking to adopt must comply with those guidelines and procedures.

Background: Can I Adopt From China?
2. Background: Can I Adopt From China?

You must meet the requirements of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS). This will be determined as part of your international adoption-specific home study.

You must be either a single female adopting a special needs child OR be married to a member of the opposite sex and adopting jointly. You will need to have been married for at least two years; if either person has previously divorced, the couple must have been married at least five years. No more than two divorces are allowed. The youngest parent must be no more than 50 years older than the child being adopted. The age difference for a single woman is no more than a 45 year age difference.

Your family’s annual income must equal around $10,000 for each family member in the household, including the child to be adopted. Annual income excludes welfare, pensions, unemployment insurance, and government subsidies. The total value of the family’s assets must be around $80,000. However, the rules have been modified somewhat to allow some “wiggle room” in this requirement. If your income is above your local average living standards, the limitation can be relaxed if you provide certification.

Background: Can I Adopt From China? (continued)
3. Background: Can I Adopt From China? (continued)

You and your spouse must both be high school graduates or have vocational training equivalent to a high school education.

You cannot have the following medical conditions:

- A mental disability
- An infectious disease that is actively contagious
- Blindness in either eye
- Hearing loss in both ears or loss of language function (unless you are adopting a child with hearing or language function loss)
- Non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limbs, paralysis, or deformation
- Severe facial deformation
- Severe diseases that require long-term treatment and may affect life expectancy, including malignant tumors, lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, etc.
- A major organ transplant within the past ten years
- Schizophrenia
- Severe mental disorders requiring medication for more than two years, including depression, mania, or anxiety neurosis
- A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more

There are no limits on the number of children a married couple can have in the home in order to adopt from China. You must have fewer than five children under the age of 18, with the youngest being at least one year old (those adopting special needs children are exempted from this requirement). Single parents can have no more than three children in the home and the youngest must be at least six years old.

You cannot have a significant criminal record and cannot have been arrested within the past 10 years.

You must be willing to follow up with post-placement follow-ups and reports as required.

Background: Adoption Statistics
4. Background: Adoption Statistics

Because of increasingly stringent requirements for foreign prospective adoptive parents and an increase of adoptions within China, adoptions from China to the US have decreased in recent years.

Adoptions from China to U.S. by year:

2016: 1687
2015: 2898
2014: 2040
2013: 2306
2012: 2696
2011: 2587
2010: 3401

Background: Information about Children Available for Adoption
5. Background: Information about Children Available for Adoption

Thousands of children, both boys and girls from infant to 13 years old, are available for adoption from China. Surprisingly, there are many more boys than girls waiting to be adopted from China.

If you want to adopt a healthy, or non-special-needs, child from China, you should plan on waiting around six to eight years to be matched with a child.

However, there are many children in China with medical or developmental needs who are waiting for loving homes. These needs can range from being very minor/correctable to more moderate or severe. Older children, ages 6-13, are also waiting for homes. These children are all considered special needs or waiting children, and the wait time for placement for these children will take 0-24 months.

To hear two inspiring stories about adopting a child with special needs from China, watch this video.

For ideas on how to cope with the wait, check out these articles:
5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity While Waiting
Adoption: Bearing the Wait

Background: Waiting Periods
6. Background: Waiting Periods

According to the U.S. Department of State, waiting periods are approximately 54 months from the time a U.S. adoption agency submits the paperwork of the prospective adopter to the China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) until the time the parent(s) are given an initial referral. Cases involving children with special needs are generally much shorter—usually less than a year.

Background: Travel Requirements
7. Background: Travel Requirements

Once an adoption match has been made and a final approval has been received from the CCCWA, parents will need to travel to China to meet their child. Parents should plan on being in China for approximately two weeks to finalize the adoption and complete immigration procedures.

At least one adopting parent must travel to China to complete the adoption. If only one member of an adopting married couple travels to China, that person must have in his/her possession a power of attorney from the other spouse notarized and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington or one of the Chinese Consulate General elsewhere in the United States.

Background: How Adoption is Managed in China
9. Background: How Adoption is Managed in China

There is a central, government-run organization in China that oversees all orphanages and manages the international adoption process. All adoption applications are submitted and processed through the CCCWA. It is this organization’s job to match prospective adoptive families with children who are eligible for adoption.

Background: Cost
10. Background: Cost

In 2013, the average cost of adopting from China, including travel-related costs, was $23,275.

And now, if you've decided China is for you, let’s move on to the “How To” portion of this guide.

How To: Find an Agency
11. How To: Find an Agency

When searching for an agency to complete your adoption, you will need to first ensure that they are accredited to complete adoptions through China.

Look through’s Reviews section to read about the experiences others have had while working with agencies you are considering.

Read about the four essential criteria in selecting an adoption agency or check out this article about selecting an international adoption professional.

How To: Complete Your International Home Study
12. How To: Complete Your International Home Study

International Adoption home studies are very specific. It’s best to know which country you plan on adopting from before you start an international home study because different countries have different rules, and the U.S. has different rules based on which country you are adopting from. Also, different workers and agencies are sometimes only able to do certain types of home studies. You can learn what your home study will involve and find a qualified social worker using our insider’s guide to home studies.

How To: Gather Documents for Your Application Dossier
13. How To: Gather Documents for Your Application Dossier

Your dossier will include several documents, including a petition to adopt, your home study, your birth certificate, your marriage certificate, a financial statement, a medical statement, and an employment verification statement from your employer. These documents will all need to be notarized, state certified, and authenticated by the Chinese Consulate. Your agency can assist you in preparing your dossier.

How To: Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
14. How To: Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

You will need to submit an application, the I800a, along with your home study, to the office of United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Once you’ve been approved by the USCIS, your approval becomes part of your dossier. At this point, your dossier is considered complete and will be submitted to the CCCWA.

How To: Receive a Referral
15. How To: Receive a Referral

When a child who meets your criteria becomes available for adoption, you will be notified by the CCCWA. You will be given a referral for a child. You will need to consider your ability to care for the child referred to you. You can refuse a referral; if the CCCWA believes that your reason for rejecting the referral was “justifiable,” they will offer another referral within the month. However, if the CCCWA deems your reason for rejecting the referral unreasonable, it is likely that you will not receive a second referral.

Learn more about considering and accepting or refusing a referral:
What to Do When an Adoption Opportunity Just Feels Wrong

How To: Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the US
16. How To: Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the US

Once you’ve accepted a referral, you’ll need to apply to the USCIS for approval to adopt that particular child. Your adoption service provider will apply for a visa for your child. The Adopted Children’s Immigration Visa Unit will review the child’s information and determine if the child is eligible for a visa. Once the child has been approved for a visa, you are ready to travel to China to meet your child (if you’ve obtained a passport, visa, and necessary immunizations).

How To: Travel
17. How To: Travel

It will take about two weeks for you to finalize your adoption in China. You should meet your child early on during this process in the province where the child lives; you will then travel to Guongzhou to obtain your child’s visa from the U.S. Consulate. In order to receive the visa, your child, if over the age of two, must have a physical, including a TB test. All children ages ten and older must also be fully vaccinated.

But now it’s time to bring your child home!

How To: Get Your Child Documented in the US
18. How To: Get Your Child Documented in the US

You may want to consider applying for a U.S. birth certificate for your child.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your adoption, your child may or may not be automatically considered a U.S. citizen upon entering the country. Check with your adoption agency to know if you’ll need to apply for your child’s US citizenship.

How To: Complete Your Post-Adoption Reporting
19. How To: Complete Your Post-Adoption Reporting

China requires that you work with your agency (or, if you have moved since placement, another Hague-accredited agency) to complete a total of six post-placement reports, which are filed at 1, 6, 12, 24, 36, and 60 months after placement. The first, second, and third reports need to be written by your social worker, while the remaining ones can be completed by you.

In order to ensure a good future relationship with China in terms of international adoption, it is very important that you comply with post-placement and post-adoption reports. Many agencies require a substantial deposit to ensure you will comply with the reports.

How To: Welcome Your Adopted Child Home
20. How To: Welcome Your Adopted Child Home

Remember that your child’s life has changed drastically, so try to keep things simple and calm, and be patient during the adjustment period. Take the time to play with and cuddle your child. Try to provide some foods, music, language, and cultural activities that are familiar. Try to learn some of your child’s language. Be aware of differences in touch/physical boundaries.

Most of all, enjoy this time with your child.

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Rachel Skousen

Rachel has a long-held passion for adoption that was sealed through her work as the content manager at She currently works as a content specialist at, finding and sharing amazing adoption content from across the web. She is a mom of three and loves reading and napping in her spare time.

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