wikiHow to Adopt a Baby from China

Three Parts:Preparing the PaperworkTraveling to ChinaBringing Your Child Home

In 2013 over seven thousand international adoptions were completed in the United States, 2,306 (or 33%) of those adoptions were from the People’s Republic of China.[1] The China Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is the Chinese government organization responsible for reviewing and approving adoption applications from international adopters.[2] The CCAA does not accept applications directly from individuals, applications must be received via an adoption agency.[3] The (approximate) total cost to adopt a child from China is between $20,000 USD and $25,000 USD.[4] And it can take over a year (after you’ve submitted all the required paperwork) to be united with your adopted child.[5] In other words, it is a long, expensive, and complicated process that should not be undertaken lightly. However, as any parent will tell you, the final result is worth the time, effort, and expense!

Part 1
Preparing the Paperwork

  1. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 1
    Ensure you are a citizen of a country approved for adoptions from China. Only 17 countries are allowed to adopt children from China, they are the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.[6] If you are not a citizen of one of these countries, The People’s Republic of China will not permit you to adopt.
    • There are two sets of steps that must be followed when you adopt a baby from China. One set of steps involves what is required by the Chinese government and the Hague Convention. These steps are the same for citizens of any country allowed to adopt from China. The second set of steps involved what is required from your specific country for immigration and citizenship purposes. These steps will differ for each of the 17 allowed countries. You will need to ensure you follow the proper steps for your home country.
    • Each adoption agency is permitted to work with citizens from specific countries (i.e. Agency X may be accredited to work with citizens from the U.S. and Canada). Therefore, the adoption agency you hire will be aware of your specific country's steps for immigrating a baby from China and will be able to help you through that part of the process.
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    Review adopter requirements and ensure you meet all criteria. Before you start the adoption process, make sure you meet the minimum requirements for an international adopter. The basics include the following[7][8]:
    • Couples must be married for a minimum of 2 years. If either spouse was previously divorced (a maximum of two times), the minimum is raised to 5 years.
    • Adopters must be between 30 and 50 years old.
    • Adopters must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 40.
    • Adopters must be in good mental and physical health.
    • Income must equal at least $10,000 per family member (including potential adoptee). Net worth must be at least $80,000.
    • No criminal history or alcohol abuse for the previous 10 years. No history of drug use. No history of domestic violence, sexual abuse or child abuse.
    • Adopters must have a minimum of a high school diploma.
    • There are additional requirements for men and women who are looking to adopt as singles.
    • Some criteria may be flexible, but you should discuss this with an adoption agency before proceeding.
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    Retain an adoption agency. All adoptions in China must be handled via an adoption agency that has been accredited by both the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) AND the Hague Convention.[9] Individuals are not permitted to apply for adoption on their own.[10]
    • The Inter-country Adoption section of the U.S. Department of State maintains a list of all approved and accredited U.S. based adoption agencies on their website, listed by state.
    • The best way to find a great adoption agency is via referrals. Using online discussion boards for adoptive parents to ask for recommendations. And ask potential adoption agencies to give you names and numbers of references to speak to.
    • Review the complete fee structure and contract provided by the agency. Consider taking the contract to a lawyer for review.
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    Complete an adoption application. Each adoption agency will have their own adoption application for you to complete, but in general will ask you to provide information such as: background information on both spouses, marriage information, information about existing children, arrest history, health information, information about your extended family, information about your employers, references, net worth calculation, information about any past adoptions you’ve attempted, and the reason why you wish to adopt a child from China.[11]
    • Some adoption agencies will also ask you to complete a form outlining what medical conditions you’re willing to allow your adoptive child to have. Since most adoption agencies recommend adopting a “waiting list” child (i.e. special needs child) they need to know what types of children you’d be willing to consider.[12]
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    Obtain other required documentation. This additional documentation is required to accompany your application letter and is used to prove you meet the eligibility requirements. All documentation must be original and authenticated by the government of your country AND notarized by the embassy or consulate of the People’s Republic of China in your country.[13] You will need to obtain the following documentation (in some cases for both spouses):
    • Birth certificates.
    • Marriage certificate.
    • Occupation, income and financial status certificates.
    • Physical examination certificates.
    • Criminal record certificates.
    • Copy of passports.
    • Select or take the required photographs. (Each adoption application must include several photographs - two copies of head shots of each spouse, without any items on the head, plus six family photos.[14])
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    Arrange for a home study report to be completed. A home study is a report outlining the details of you and your family and must be completed by an accredited organization.[15]
    • The agency who performs your home study will also check all available child abuse registries for any references to yourself, and anyone over the age of 18 who lives with you.[16]
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    Submit forms I-800A to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is for countries that have follow the Hague Adoption Convention, which includes China.[17]
    • Form I-800A - Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country - must be completed first. The completed form, plus filing fee, must be submitted by mail to the USCIS in Texas. There is a $720 fee for the application, plus an additional $85 fee for biometrics (if required) for each person 18 and older who will be living with the applicant, plus an additional $360 fee if Supplement 3 is required.[18]
    • A successful home study must be completed before you can submit a I-800A. You do not need to have a specific child in mind to submit this form.[19]
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    Submit complete application package via adoption agency. Once all your documentation is complete, the adoption agency will submit the package to the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) for registration, review, approval and matching.[20]
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    Attend required parenting workshops. Adopting children from China is regulated under the Hague Convention, which requires parents to attend a minimum of 10 hours of workshops before the child comes home.[21] Most adoption agencies will offer this training themselves, or will be able to recommend a place to take the training.
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    Wait. Unfortunately this is a big step in the process of adopting a child from China. Once the Chinese government has received your application, it will be registered, reviewed and eventually matched with an appropriate child.[22]
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    Review adoption matches. Once the Chinese government has reviewed your application, they will attempt to match you with a suitable child. When they have found such a match, they will provide notification to you via your adoption agency. The notification will include information about the matched child, including information as to how the child came up for adoption and a medical history.[23]
    • Review the child’s info with the assistance of the adoption agency.
    • You may wish to review the child’s medical history with a medical expert or pediatrician, especially if there are any items of concern listed.
    • If you have any questions about the child or their medical history, tell the adoption agency and they will attempt to obtain more information for you.[24]
    • If you choose to adopt the child, sign the acceptance letter. The adoption agency will submit the acceptance letter back to the Chinese government.
    • If you choose to refuse the child, tell the adoption agency and they will inform the Chinese government. Refusal a match for reasonable circumstances (i.e. medical condition, etc.) should not hurt your chances for another match.
  12. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 12
    Submit forms I-800 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your child. This form is also for countries that have follow the Hague Adoption Convention, which includes China.[25]
    • Form I-800 - Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative - cannot be completed until Form I-800A has been approved. Form I-800 is submitted to the same mailing address, and no additional fees are required.[26]
    • Form I-800 cannot be completed until after you’ve accepted a match, but must be approved before you go to China to pick up your child.[27]
    • Once you receive preliminary approval for I-800, you can apply for a U.S. visa for your child via the Department of State at the U.S. Consulate.[28]

Part 2
Traveling to China

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    Obtain appropriate travel documentation. The People’s Republic of China will issue a Notice of Traveling to China for Adoption to the adopting couple which will permit them to travel to China to pick-up their child.[29]
    • Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your travel.[30]
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    Prepare your visa application. In order to visit China, you will need to receive a visa.[31] Because you are going for the purpose of adopting a child, you will most likely have to apply for an M visa, which applies to those conducting business in China.[32] To apply for an M visa, you should:
    • Have your passport ready and available. It needs to have at least six months of remaining validity.[33]
    • Complete the visa application.[34] On this visa application, you will have to include your personal information, which includes you occupation, education, and marital status.[35] You will also need to include information about the purpose of your visit and where you will be staying.[36]
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    Submit your application. When you complete the visa application, along with any other required documents, you will need to submit them to the Visa Office of the Chinese Embassy.[37] You will need to submit the application in person, or through an agent who will submit the application in person.[38] You may be required to have an interview with the Visa Office if the office feels it is necessary.[39]
    • No appointment is necessary to drop off an application.[40]
    • You are not allowed to mail, fax, or email a completed application.[41]
    • The processing time varies from one to 4 business days, depending on the service you selected.[42] For example, the regular service takes about four days while the rush service takes about one day.[43]
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    Pay the visa application fee. Once your application is reviewed and and approved, you will be required to pay a fee.[44] The regular service fee is $140.00.[45] If you want to expedite the application process, you will have to pay an additional $20.00 to $30.00.[46]
    • The fee can be paid by credit card, money order, or check.[47] No cash is accepted.[48]
  5. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 17
    Book travel to and from China. The total length of your stay in China will be approximately 15 days. You will most likely fly directly to a major city, such as Hong Kong, Beijing or Guangzhou, then take a second flight to the capital city of the province where your child is located. Before you can leave China, but after the adoption paperwork is finalized, you will have to travel to Guangzhou to visit the U.S. Consulate. You’ll most likely have to stay in Guangzhou for 5 or 6 days while waiting for the appropriate paperwork from the U.S. Consulate.[49]
    • Remember that your flight home will include an extra person! Make sure you book the appropriate tickets for your child based on their age.
    • Adoption agencies recommend that both parents go on the trip to China. If, for any reason, one of the parents is unable to travel to China, adoption agencies highly recommend the parent who is going bring a supportive companion with them.[50]
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    Obtain the appropriate immunizations for China. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States has an extensive website which lists all vaccinations and immunizations that travelers to specific geographical areas may wish to obtain before they travel. Once you know you’ll be travelling, check out the CDC’s page for China to determine which vaccinations/immunizations you should get, then make an appointment with the appropriate medical clinic to obtain them.
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    Bring the Notice of Travelling to China for Adoption to the department of civil affairs. Each province within China has its own department of civil affairs. When you were issued the Notice of Travelling to China for adoption, the government also sent a Notice of Foreign-related Adoption to the department of civil affairs in the province where the child is located. You must take your notice directly to this department in the province where the child is located.[51]
  8. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 20
    Register your adoption. Registration of your adoption is completed by the department of civil affairs in the province where the child is located. You will be required to submit a Registration Application Letter of Foreigners Coming to China for Adoption and submit it, along with the notice you received, your passports and photos, and a signed adoption agreement. The department of civil affairs will review and approve these documents and issue both an Adoption Registration Certificate and a Certificate of Conformity of Intercountry Adoption to you.[52]
    • The adoption agreement is essentially a contract signed by you (the adopters) and the person who has placed the child up for adoption (parents, guardian, etc.).
  9. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 21
    Meet your child. The moment you’ve been waiting for! You may have the opportunity to meet your child during the adoption registration process, or after. In many cases you’ll be able to meet your child at the orphanage where they were housed. You will probably have a massive mixture of emotions going through you at this point, but this is what all that hard work and waiting was for - congratulations!

Part 3
Bringing Your Child Home

  1. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 22
    Obtain new official Chinese documentation for your child. Several official Chinese documents are required for your child before you can apply for their immigrant visa from the U.S. Consulate. You will need to obtain a new birth certificate, Chinese passport and exit permit for your child when in Guangzhou.
    • Apply for a new birth certificate for your child. This new birth certificate will include your name(s) and is required in order to obtain a Chinese passport.[53]
    • Get your child a Chinese passport and exit permit. Your child needs a Chinese passport in order to qualify for a U.S. immigrant visa. You need to obtain the passport before you go to the U.S. Consulate.[54] The Chinese Public Security Bureau is responsible for issuing Chinese passports for children adopted by foreigners.[55]
  2. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 23
    Take your child for a medical examination. In order to obtain a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home, he or she must have a medical examination completed in China by an approved “panel physician”.[56] The report from that medical examination is then part of the visa application and is reviewed by the Consular Officer.[57]
    • Medical examinations from approved panel physicians can be obtained in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Taishan. The U.S. Department of State recommends the Guangzhou Health and Quarantine Service in Guangzhou, as it’s located close to the main U.S. Consulate where you need to go for your visa application.[58]
    • Regardless of where you obtain the medical exam, the physician will complete a form called the Medical Examination for Immigrant or Refugee Applicant from the U.S. Department of State. You will then take this signed form with you to the U.S. Consulate.[59]
  3. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 24
    Obtain an immigration visa for your child. Children adopted from a Hague Convention country (including China) will receive either a IH-3 or a IH-4 visa from the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou. IH-3 visas are for children whose adoptions are completed in the foreign country, whereas IH-4 visas are for children whose adoptions will be completed in the U.S.[60] All necessary documentation must be obtained by the Consulate before they will schedule an interview. Those documents include:[61]
    • Proof of your U.S. citizenship.
    • Marriage certificate.
    • Verification of successful home study.
    • I-800A approval from USCIS.
    • Adoption registration documents from the Chinese government.
    • Your child’s birth certificate.
    • Your child’s Chinese passport.
    • Your child’s medical exam report.
    • Three photos of your child’s face.
    • Visa application (form DS-230, parts I and II).
    • Completed I-800.
  4. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 25
    Take your child through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) at your port-of-entry. You need to provide the CBP Officer with your child’s immigrant visa (which would have been placed in your child’s Chinese passport at the U.S. Consulate) AND the sealed Immigrant Data Summary package (which would have been provided to you by the U.S. Consulate).[62]
    • The CBP Officer will keep the Immigration Data Summary package and forward it to the USCIS to be added to your child’s official records.[63]
  5. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 26
    Obtain U.S. citizenship. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows children adopted by U.S. citizens to automatically get a U.S. citizenship if the child is under 18 years of age, the child’s U.S. parent is living with the child and has legal custody of the child, the child was admitted to the U.S. as an immigrant for permanent residence, and the adoption is final.[64]
    • If your child immigrated to the U.S. under a IH-3 visa, U.S. citizenship is automatic as of the date you enter the U.S. You do not have to complete any additional forms to receive their Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS, it will automatically be mailed to you.
    • If your child immigrated to the U.S. under a IH-4 or IR-4 visa, U.S. citizenship is automatic as of the date their adoption is finalized in the U.S. and you can get an official Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS using form N-600.[65] Note there is a $550 fee to obtain this certificate for an adopted child.
    • Once your child has obtained U.S. citizenship, you can apply to get them a social security number (SSN) and a U.S. passport (if needed).
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    Take your child for a medical examination in the United States. The American Academy of Pediatrics has the Council for Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care (COFCAKC) specifically designed to help the parents of these children with their medical needs. Use their website to search for an adoption medical specialist in your state. While there aren’t a large number of them, there is usually one in each major city of the state. Due to their experience and expertise, it is highly recommended that you take your child to one of these doctors, at the very least for an initial examination.
    • The COFCAKC’s website also offers a large number of resources about adoption, specifically from the medical perspective, that you may find useful based on the specific needs of your child.[66]
  7. Image titled Adopt a Baby from China Step 28
    Schedule and complete post-adoption reports. This visit is similar to the home study done before the adoption took place, however it includes observations of your family with your adopted child.[67] A report must be completed and sent to the Chinese government 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years and 5 years after the adoption. The CCAA allows self-reporting for the final three reports.[68] Your adoption agency will assist you with these reports and help you file them with the CCAA at the appropriate times.


  • The majority of steps you must complete to adopt a child from China will be completed with the help of your adoption agency. In many cases they will have a representative meet you in China and go with you to the various government offices for your paperwork.
  • The adoption process for a healthy child can take more than 5 years. The adoption process for a special needs child (Waiting Child Program) can take significantly less time (approx. 12-18 months), and has slightly different requirements. However, while adopting a special needs child will mean you do not have to wait as long, it requires other necessities that must be considered. Special needs children can have a wide range of problems - from minor medical issues that are easily treatable, to more severe issues that may be life-long. You will always have the ability to review the child’s medical history before agreeing to adopt them, which is why it is a good idea to discuss their history with a medical expert before making a decision.[69]
  • The United States offers tax deductions or credits for the parents of a newly adopted child. Make sure you take advantage of as many tax deductions/credits as possible immediately following your adoption.[70]
  • Many employers offer adoption benefits for their employees, such as parental leave. Make sure your inquire with your employer as early in the process as possible. And if you have medical benefits with your employer, you’ll need to make sure to add your child to these benefits as soon as possible in order to ensure they’re covered once they arrive in the U.S.
  • The Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou has the following contact info: Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou, Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit, Mailing Address: #1 Shamian South Street, Guangzhou, P. R. C. 51033, Physical Address: 5th Floor, Tian Yu Garden (II phase), 136-142 Lin He Zhong Road, Tian He District, Guangzhou (广州市天河林和中路136-142号天誉花园二期五楼) Tel: 011-86-20-8121 8000; 011-86-20-8518 7653 (Direct Line) Fax: 011-86-20-3884 4420 Email:


  • Many children who have lived in orphanages share beds with other children. As such, they may find it difficult to sleep by themselves initially. Try to learn as much as you can about your child’s situation in the orphanage so you can be prepared to handle any side effects of their previous experience.[71]
  • Foreigners can only adopt one child from China at a time (exceptions may be made with twins). Foreigners can apply to adopt another child from China at a minimum of 1 year after the first adoption, but must re-submit all required documentation.[72]

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