In 1992 the Chinese government passed a law ratifying international adoption, and within seven years, China surpassed Russia as the international destination from which most parents adopt their children. By 2005, nearly 8000 Chinese children were adopted by American couples alone. The adoption process is orderly and systematic, with all aspects of adoption (including costs and the referral process) being regulated by the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) in Beijing. All adoptions must work through an agency approved by the CCAA.
The CCAA has established a finely structured system that makes the paperwork predictable and manageable, and they offer plenty of concrete information on how to compile your dossier successfully. The journey from beginning to end is, indeed, a long and arduous process, but we know of friends who have become proud and happy parents by journey's end.
The Orphaned Child's Profile
More than 95% of the children adopted from China are girls who were put up for adoption because of China's One Child Only population control policy. 39% are under 1 year of age; 59% are 1-4 years old. Although they were abandoned after birth, these children generally were wanted while in their mother's womb, and their parents were most likely hoping to give birth to a male baby. Most of the birth mothers took good care of themselves and their unborn child, hoping that they would have a healthy, life-long relationship together. Very few Chinese women smoke or drink alcohol, so most babies start out with a relatively clean bill of health at birth and have their basic needs met in the orphanage. Adopted Chinese children tend to be free of long-term physical or emotional issues.
Because child abandonment is illegal, birth parents leave no trace of their identity, and adoptive parents receive a certificate of abandonment that proves that the biological parents have relinquished their parental rights through abandonment. There is no legal avenue for the birth parents to reclaim custody.
Estimated Cost of Adopting: $20,000 to $25,000. USD
Age Requirements for Adopting Parents: Both spouses must be at least 30 years old and only one parent can be older than 55; parents over 45 may be referred toddlers and those over 50 will probably be referred school-age children. Singles must be under 50 to adopt a non-special needs child.
Family Status: Married couples preferred. Prior divorces permitted. A limited number of singles may adopt. Families must have no more than 4 children at home when they apply. Gay couples are not eligible. Both parents must be physically and mentally healthy and free from contagious diseases. Family income should exceed $35,000. USD per year.
Travel: At least one parent must travel to China to adopt. The average stay is 10-14 days. The child's visa will be issued at Guangzhou Consulates.
Timeline: Approximately 10-14 months after the completion of the dossier. There is a shorter wait for pre-identified special needs children and parents of Chinese ancestry.
Well, that's the basics. My advice to you is to find an adoption agency specializing in China adoptions. Remember, it must have affiliations with the China Center of Adoption Affairs. The CCAA maintains an extensive list of agencies on its website; fees vary, as well as services. After your initial contact, congratulate yourself: you have taken the first step in your goal of expanding your family!