China's popularity as a country of origin for adoption stems from several key issues. First, China has had a large number of children, almost exclusively girls, available for adoption, meaning that waiting time for a referral has been less than a year, averaging about seven months at this time. China's one-child policy means that families who birth girls are driven to give up their daughters in favor of a male heir who is obligated to care for his parents as they age. Secondly, China accepts couples and singles who are older and single parents. Third, Chinese adoption is government-controlled, which means that while the process is rigid, it is also fairly predictable.
Babies adopted from China are usually girls abandoned at birth and cared for in state-run orphanages. Recent years have seen an overall rise in the quality of Chinese orphanages and an improvement in the health of orphans. Most Chinese babies are healthy and are usually around 10 months of age when adopted.
People who are interested in adopting a child from China must work through a licensed adoption agency that has an established program in China. After undergoing the usual home study process, the adopting family completes a package of China-specific documents (called a dossier), including a letter identifying reasons for adopting, petition to the Chinese government, assurances that the family will provide an appropriate home, etc. The complete package of information is notarized, certified by your state's certification authority, translated into Chinese then authenticated by the Chinese consulate in Washington, DC. The dossier is then forwarded to the Chinese government. Six to nine months later, the family receives a referral or denial, communicated through the adoption agency. Once the family accepts the referral, the Chinese government processes the adoption and issues permission to travel, usually two to four months later. The family travels to China to receive the child, participates in an in-country adoption, and then returns home approximately seven to ten days later.
Chinese adoption fees are around $15,000-$25,000 including travel to the country. The process is relatively smooth, but requires attention to detail and patience.