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Many couples and families across the world have shown an interest in adopting children from China. Couples who have no children of their own, mainly from North America and Europe, face high costs should they adopt locally. In many instances, this makes local adoption beyond their financial means. This financial burden can be still greater for couples who already have children but wish to expand their family.
Of particular value for those considering adopting a child from overseas, including China, are international organizations specializing in finding their way through the legalities. In China itself, all international adoption falls under the jurisdiction of the State Civil Service Ministry. The Ministry oversees the wellbeing of China's many orphans across the country when the possibility arises of their finding new homes overseas.
Those who guide families seeking to adopt from a Chinese orphanage fulfill two functions in particular. Firstly, when the family applying to adopt has completed the initial paperwork and readied their payment, it is time to visit China. Ideally staying in a hotel near the adoption center, there they will apply for the adoption certificate and, for the first time, meet the child they intend to introduce to their home.
Given the complications engendered by the paperwork, the guide's first role is to facilitate both this task and to enable the adopting parents to meet their child for the first time.
The second major function comes much later, when the family with their adopted child may want to visit the orphanage from which their child was adopted.
The adoption center is located in the provincial Civil Service Bureau offices. Here, the guide will assist the adopting parents in the completion of the many forms, agreements and statements necessitated by the adoption procedure. Meanwhile, the orphanage staff will accompany the child to the adoption center for the family's first meeting. This usually takes place in a spacious meeting room.
Given this is the first opportunity the family has had to meet their new child, time is given for this crucial first encounter. The adoption center itself will spend that time scrutinizing the paperwork the family has completed. Additionally, the family has the opportunity now to quiz the orphanage staff about the child they are about to adopt in order to understand his or her needs and predilections better.
Once the adoption center is satisfied with the paperwork presented to them, a director from a local notarization office will attend the adoption center to process the necessary documents and validate them. The complexity of the procedure is necessary for the well-being of the adopted child, but its prolongation affords the opportunity for the family and the child to get to know one another better and to begin their lifelong relationship.
Understandably, when the time comes for the family's departure, the child may be very confused. Older children may relish the adventure, but even they may be reluctant to depart the orphanage that has been their home along with its friends and familiar adult faces. Younger children may experience actual distress at the departure. This is a particularly delicate moment, and the orphanage staff will remain to smooth the emotional path of the child to the best of their ability.
However, some further procedures are necessary before leaving the country. Though the child is now with the adopted family, the process is not yet formalized. It is in their hotel that the life of the newly extended family will begin.
First, the parents and their new child both must go with their guide to a photographer for their first 'family photo'. This is necessary for the adoption certificate.
The following day, the new family returns once more to the adoption center and, their family photo provided for the officials, the document is prepared and the director of the adoption center hosts a simple official ceremony for the granting of the adoption certificate.
The child is now officially adopted.
However, further steps must be taken over the following week or so before the family can return home. The child will require a passport, obtained from the local police station, along with the notarized adoption papers. Once again, the guide is to the fore here in facilitating and smoothing the process.
Finally, it will be necessary for the parents and their new child to visit a city with their own nation's consulate where the child can have his or her documentation attended to.
The family is now able, at last, to return home.
It is to be expected that adopted children, curious about their origins and ethnicity, may want at some stage to trace their roots back in the land of their birth. The natural place for such exploration to begin is the orphanage from which they were adopted.
Once again, the services of a guide can facilitate this expedition.
It may be best to include the wider tour of China. In order to visit the orphanage itself, more paperwork is necessary and, once again, the guide is the person the family can turn to. The general rule is that the orphanage visit must be approved by the National Civil Service Ministry. The Ministry will then appoint a travel agency to assist with the visit. It is necessary for the family to cover the cost of this service.
Once the schedule is set for the visit, it must be adhered to. Once the approving papers are issued, the guide will take the family to the orphanage at the agreed-upon time. It is traditional in this situation for the family to bring gifts for the orphanage. The guide will recommend this and assist the family in finding appropriate presents for the visit. However, bringing some gifts from home may be appreciated. Toys, candies, diapers, all such things would be welcome, anything either practical or entertaining for the children at the orphanage. Families often choose to make a financial donation to the orphanage in addition to these gifts.
At the orphanage, families from overseas are guaranteed a warm reception. Such visitors are a novelty, and as well as viewing the facilities they may expect to be widely introduced to residents. Orphanages in China are designated as social welfare institutes and, as such, host orphans, the elderly, and other individuals requiring care. Though it will be uplifting for the visitors to see the concern shown for residents in facilities for health and education, they should also expect some sad sights along the way. Some of the residents here are victims of Down's syndrome and other challenging conditions that make their lives difficult for all the care they receive.
The visit will usually include a good lunch with local food that may serve to bring back memories for the adopted child along with the visit to the orphanage itself. Visitors should bring along photos and other memorabilia related to their adopted child and his or her family to assuage the curiosity of residents and staff. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions and to fill in any gaps in the family's knowledge about their adopted child that may have arisen in the time they have spent together. Throughout the visit, it is the guide's job to serve as the family's interpreter.
One of the more poignant aspects of the visit in many instances will be the journey to the 'finding spot'. Not all children in China are submitted to the orphanage directly by a birth parent. In many instances they are abandoned, and the place of their abandonment, their finding spot, may be anywhere in the local area. The child may have been found originally in a hospital, a police station, a bus station, in a park or at a park entrance, perhaps even in a public lavatory. Visitors should be prepared for what may be a disturbing aspect of their trip and should get as much information as possible before being taken to less hospitable locations so as to be adequately prepared. Indeed, parents may decide to use their discretion and not take the child to the location for fear of causing distress.
However, it may be worth the while of at least one parent to visit the finding spot to take photos and to ask locals in the area if they have any memory or knowledge of the child's discovery. Again, the guide is invaluable for providing assistance in this expedition. The information gained will be available at a later time when the child is better prepared. It would certainly be regrettable were the family to return with no information and have need of it later.
Communication having been established with the orphanage, families often keep in touch with the institution. It is unlikely any of the staff will speak the family's language well, but Chinese social media facilitates instant translation. In particular, the most popular of China's 'chat' software, WeChat, is readily available and almost certainly used by orphanage staff along with most of China's citizenry.
Above all, from the beginning of this process to the end, from the initial preparation of documents for the adoption to any return to the orphanage, guides are always ready to help. Their task is a rewarding one in helping an orphan child to his or her new home, and it is their pleasure to aid families in any way they can.
In accordance with the provisions of the Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China, the following children under the age of 14 can be placed out as adoptees:
In accordance with the provisions set forth in the Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China, the adopters should meet simultaneously the following requirements:
The applicant couple must be married for at least two years; and those who were earlier divorced should have been currently married for at least five years.
Where a person with spouse adopts a child, the husband or wife should get consent from the other to adopt the child in concert.
Where a spouseless male adopts a female child, the full years of age between the adopter and the adoptee should be over 40 years.
Orphans, disabled children or abandoned infants and children, who are raised in the social welfare institutes, and whose biological parents can not be ascertained or found, may be adopted irrespective of the restrictions that the adopter should be childless and adopt one child only.
At present there are 17 countries that have established cooperative relationship with China in inter-country adoption. These countries are: U.S.A., Canada, U.K., France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Only citizens of these countries can adopt children from China through the following procedures:
I. Submission of Documents
The first step for foreigners to adopt a child in China is to submit adoption application and certifying documents through their government departments or adoption agencies authorized by governments. Documents required for adoption in China include:
All the certificates except those required in item (ix) and (x) must be produced by the competent body in the resident country and authenticated by diplomatic organization of the resident country or agencies authorized by the diplomatic organization and notarized by the embassy or consulate of the People's Republic of China in that country.
CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) does not accept any adoption application documents submitted directly by individuals.
II. Registration of Documents
After receiving the adoption documents submitted by government or adoption agencies, CCAA will accept and register the application, provided that all the documents required for adoption are complete and valid and the service fees are paid. CCAA will inform the foreign governments or adoption agencies which have forwarded the documents about the registration information of the application.
III. Review and Match
After reviewing the adoption documents, CCAA will, considering the adoptive families’ wish, match a suitable child for those qualified families and transfer the information of the adoptee and the person who place the child for adoption to the foreign governments and adoptive families to seek their opinions on the referral.
IV. Issuing the Notice
After receiving the signed acceptance letter from the foreign government and adoptive family, CCAA will issue the Notice of Travelling to China for Adoption to the family through the foreign governments or adoption agencies. Meanwhile, CCAA will issue a Notice of Foreign-related Adoption to the adoption registration authority in the department of civil affairs of the province where the adoptee resides.
V. Traveling to China for Adoption
After receiving the Notice of Travelling to China for Adoption, both the husband and wife should, bearing the original copy of the notice, come to China and to the department of civil affairs of the province where the adoptee resides to go through the adoption registration formalities.
VI. Adoption Registration
Foreign adoptive families should fill the Registration Application Letter of Foreigners Coming to China for Adoption, and submit the adoption agreement signed between the adopters and the person placing the child for adoption, the original Notice of Travelling to China for Adoption issued by CCAA, passports and photos. The provincial departments of civil affairs will check the documents, go through registration formalities for eligible adopters, and issue the Adoption Registration Certificate and Certificate of Conformity of Inter-country Adoption. The adoption relationship is established as of the date of registration.
* What is CCAA?
CCAA is the China Center of Adoption Affairs, a unit of Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. It is responsible for all international adoptions and deals with all of the paperwork to and from adoption agencies outside of China.
* How many children can a foreigner adopt at one time?
Foreign adoption applicants can only adopt one child at a time in China (with the exception of the adoption of twins or the siblings living in the same welfare institute). Those foreign adopters who have already adopted one child and who wish to adopt a second Chinese child, may, in principle, do so only one year after the first adoption, by resubmitting adoptive applications and certified materials.
* Is there any age limit for foreign adoption applicants?
The CCAA first accepts and reviews adoption applications of foreign adopters, on the condition that both the husband and wife have reached the age of 30 years and are under 50, and then makes placement of adoptees with them. For adoption of special needs child, both of them should have reached the age of 30 and are under 55.
Our Adoption Heritage Tour can provide you with helpful background to a better understanding of China, whether you're visiting as an individual, as a group, or as a newly-extended family eager to learn about this fascinating country.
Our China Family Travel Guide can open China up for family visits specifically, and help smooth your path to a vacation experience you will all remember.
Whatever your reason for visiting China, our savvy staff and guides are just who you need to remove any hassles, from bookings to communication. For a tailor-made experience, contact us and let us help you customize your trip.