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China Adoption – Process, Costs and Adoption Agencies

For many years, China has been one of the most popular options for parents choosing international adoption. As a result of the country’s one-child policy and other cultural factors, there were many children available for adoption, and the number of adoptions to the United States steadily increased through the 1990s and the 2000s. While the adoption regulations and types of available children have changed somewhat in recent years, China still remains a very common destination for adoptive families.
Read on to learn more about China adoption laws, steps in the process, and anything else you may need as you prepare to adopt. 

China Adoption Quick Facts

  • Open to adoption by American families: Yes
  • Hague Convention country: Yes
  • Average # of adoptions to U.S. families: 2,000-3,000/year
  • Average travel time for adoption: 12-15 days

Who Can Adopt in China?

In addition to the Hague Convention regulations, China has its own requirements for adoption, which are somewhat more stringent than other countries. Read the sections below to learn about the various guidelines for families hoping to adopt from China.


If you apply for a special needs adoption, then both parents must be between 30 and 55 years old. In other cases, you must be between 35 and 55. Neither parent can be more than 50 years older than the child they adopt. If you are a single parent, you cannot be more than 45 years older than the adopted child.

Family Size

Married couples must have fewer than five children under 18 in their home, none of them younger than a year old. Single parents must have no more than 3 children in the home, none of them younger than 6 years.

Marital Status

Married couples must be married for at least two years, and remarried couples must be married for at least five years. No more than two divorces are permitted.

China does not recognize same-sex marriage or allow same-sex adoption.


Married couples must earn $10,000 per child in the home, including the prospective adopted child, with a minimum net worth of $80,000. For single parents, the requirements may be stricter. In all cases, these requirements can be flexible depending on costs of living.

Medical History/Health

Anyone hoping to adopt must be in good health. Families will be deemed ineligible to adopt if they have a severe physical deformation, a life-altering or infectious disease, a mental illness or disability, blindness, deafness, AIDS, or a body mass index over 40.

Who Can be Adopted in China?

Children must be deemed adoptable in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention in order to be eligible. This means that a reasonable effort must first be made to find a home within China for the children, and only then may they be available for international adoption. Additionally, available children are registered with the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption, (CCCWA), which oversees the adoption process.
Available children in China are between infancy and 13 years of age. After the age of 14, they are no longer eligible for adoption. Waiting children may have varying degrees of special needs, either as infants with medical conditions or as healthy older children.

Adoption Process in China

Once you have determined that you want to adopt from China, you can begin your journey to growing your family. The process will involve getting approval from both the United States and China, matching with a child, preparing for travel, and finally, going to China to bring your child home.
During the adoption process, you will also need to prepare your dossier, a collection of all the required paperwork. Because all United States adoptions must be Hague-compliant, you can click the following link to learn about the forms you will need.

How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child from China?

Depending on your adoption preferences, your agency, and more, the time it takes to adopt a child will vary. Below, you will find an outline of the steps in the process and the time they take:

  • Find a professional and complete a home study: 3-6 months
  • Apply for adoption eligibility: 12-14 weeks
  • Wait for a referral: 12-18 months (special needs) or 5+ years (non-special needs)
  • Accept and officially match with a child: 2-4 months
  • Gain approval to travel: 9-12 weeks
  • Travel and adopt your child: 2 weeks

Because of the extended wait times for healthy children, it is recommended that families consider a special needs adoption if they want to adopt from China.

How Do I Find an Adoption Professional?

You must find an adoption service provider that is both Hague-compliant and CCCWA-licensed. Your adoption professional will assist you with compiling your dossier and communicating with the CCCWA so that you can be approved to adopt. Additionally, your professional will inform you when you have been matched with a child, help you prepare for travel, and guide you through every other step of the process.
Here are some of the U.S. professionals who complete China adoptions:

How Do I Become Eligible for Adoption?

In accordance with the Hague convention, you will need to fill out the Form I-800A for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After the USCIS deems you eligible for adoption, your application will then move on to the CCCWA. At this point, you will also be able to indicate any adoption preferences you may have.
Once you have been approved by the CCCWA and completed any additional paperwork as directed, you will be able to wait for a child referral.

What Do I Do Once I Receive a Referral?

When the CCCWA gives you a child referral, you have the option to either accept or deny it. The referral will include a brief description of the child, along with some photos and a health record. You will need to make a decision on the referral within 45 days of receiving it. Whatever your decision is, you will need to speak to your adoption agency and prepare for your next steps.
Note: Please keep in mind that if you refuse a referral without providing a justifiable reason, it can seriously affect your chances of getting a second referral. If you are considering denying a referral, speak with your adoption service provider about your next steps.
When you accept a referral, you will then need to apply for the child to be eligible for adoption. If it is a special needs adoption, you will also need to complete your forms for your dossier within 72 hours. Then, you will send your Form I-800 to the USCIS to gain approval to adopt the child.
After this, your adoption agency will work with you to apply for travel approval and your child’s visa. At this point, you need to travel to China to move forward with your adoption.

How Do I Complete the Adoption?

Upon your arrival in China, you will be able to meet your child and begin the process of gaining legal custody. From there, you will either adopt the child in China, or you will travel back to the United States and adopt him or her there.
In order to take your child home, you will need to pay the necessary adoption fees, submit your dossier, and receive your child’s adoption certificate. Afterwards, you will need to apply for your child’s birth certificate, Chinese passport, and U.S. immigrant visa.
After you have arrived in the United States, you will complete your post-placement reports, and then you will be able to legally finalize your adoption.

China Adoption Costs

From home studies to agency fees to plane tickets, the costs of adoption in China can add up quickly. Depending on the professionals you work with, your adoption can cost from $25,000-$40,000. Below, you can find an average breakdown of these fees:

  • Agency Application: $1,000-$2,500
  • Home Study: $1,000-$3,000
  • Program Fees: $8,000-$12,000
  • Travel Costs: $7,000-$14,000
  • Documentation: $1,000-$3,000
  • U.S. Entry Visa Application: $300-$500
  • Post-Placement Fees: $500-$1,000
  • Orphanage Donation (required in China): $5,000-$6,000
  • I-800 Visa Application: $500-$1,000
  • Third-Party Fees: $2,000-$3,000

The numbers listed above are averages gathered from a number of different China adoption programs. You can find costs at specific agencies by visiting their China adoption pages. For examples, visit Bethany Christian Services or Holt International.

China Travel Tips

Whether or not you are adopting, traveling out of the country requires a lot of planning and preparation. In this section, you can find the basics of what you need to know while you are traveling in China. Learn more at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State website, or read the following sections for an overview.

  • Be sure you are aware of Chinese laws before you go on your trip, because they will apply to you for the duration of your trip.
  • You will want to pack plug adapters for anything you own that needs charging. While most American electrical systems operate at 110V, China’s run at 220V.
  • China practices restrictive Internet censorship, which you will want to be prepared for during your time there.
  • Many travelers recommend that visitors bring their own toilet tissue with them. This is because public restrooms often do not have any in supply.
  • During your travels, there is the possibility of an earthquake or, in some areas, a typhoon. While these incidents are rare, you should make sure you are prepared for the possibility when you leave.

U.S. Embassy in China

If you run into any problems on your trip, it is essential that you know how to contact the U.S. Embassy in China. The contact information for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing is listed below:
Address: No. 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600, China
Phone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000
Emergency Phone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000
Email: BeijingACS@state.gov

Resources for Children Adopted from China

Following an international adoption, many Chinese adoptees and their parents are interested in obtaining more information about the adoptee’s pre-adoption background. Questions about your (or your child’s) personal background can be directed to The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA), the Chinese Central Authority for the Hague Adoption Convention.
The contact information for CCCWA is listed below. When making an inquiry, be sure to provide as much detail as possible regarding the adoptee’s circumstances. Note that there may be limited information available for China adoption cases that occurred prior to 2011.
Address: 16 Wang Jia Yuan Lane, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China 100027
Phone: 010-655-48998
Email: cccwa@cccwa.cn