Adopting a Baby from China

For varying reasons, many Americans are looking to China to adopt babies. For one thing, the process for Chinese adoptions is very well-documented and it’s a more predictable system than American adoptions. All adoptions for the entire country are managed by the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) so you always know who you have to deal with.

So if you are thinking about adding a Chinese baby to your family, here is what you need to know.

The Basic Steps

The overall adoption process can be broken down into a number of fairly reliable steps, though the time period between steps can (and will) vary depending on your family circumstances.

1. Get in touch with an adoption agency. All adoptions from China must be organized through a properly registered agency. The CCAA has a list on their website so you can be sure to find one that they will work with.

2. Do a home study. This preliminary step involves a complete assessment of your family and home by a social worker from the adoption agency. This will include several interviews and at least one visit to your house.

3. Put together your dossier. This is where the paperwork really gets started, and though it can be time-consuming, it’s not really a difficult task as long as you follow the requirements. Your adoption agency can provide the full details on what documents you need, but you’ll need to have:

  • cover letter and application forms
  • health documents background checks
  • birth certificates of parents
  • marriage records
  • letter of reference from your employers
  • tax documents
  • statements of income
  • photographs of your family and home

All of these papers need to be notarized, certified by your state and also authenticated by the Chinese consulate.

4. Apply and wait. After all the forms and paperwork have been submitted, you sit back and wait for a child to be matched with your preferences (you will specify age and gender in your application). This is the longer point in the process, and can take many months if not years.

5. Get a referral. If your application met with CCAA approval, they will match you with a potential Chinese baby and send you the details about the child. Generally, you don’t turn down your referral as you may not get a second chance to choose a baby.

6. Head to China. With a child waiting for you, you have to visit China at this point in the adoption. Plan for a 2-week stay. This can be a daunting task since you will have to navigate several different offices during your stay and getting around in China can be difficult if you don’t speak the language. Your adoption agency should be very helpful in arranging all the meetings and providing you with instructions. Your first stop will be the consulate office in Guangzhou and you will have to travel to the province where the baby is living to finalize the adoption. You’ll get a birth certificate for your child, and finally get to pick him or her up.

7. Final immigration paperwork. Now that you have adopted your Chinese child, you have to arrange to bring him or her back to the United States with you. You’ll need immigration forms as well as a Chinese passport. Your new family can return home.

8. Follow-up. Your agency will arrange for 2 follow-up visits from the social worker to make sure everything has been going smoothly for you. It’s usually at the 6-month and 12-month post-adoption points.

How Long?

There is no way to accurately estimate how long it would take you to adopt a baby from China, because everyone’s situation is different. As a very rough average, you should expect at least 18 months to 2 years. Some prospective parents have to wait 3 years or longer. After all the initial work is done, the majority of this time is just waiting for a child to be matched with you.

The Costs

Compared to American adoption costs, it is usually considered cheaper to adopt a baby from China. Expect a final total to be between $15,000 and $20,000 (and that includes the expenses for your trip to China).


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