Adoption Process in China / Adoption Process in China

Adoption Process for China

The following will walk you through the process of adopting from China.

Child Adoption Process

Only adoptions fully completed in China are permitted. It is not possible to obtain guardianship of a Chinese child for adoption in the United States. The China Adoption Law has specific provisions as to what children are available for adoption and what adoptive parents are acceptable.

Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services.

The Adoption process in China can be seen as taking place in four steps. The first step is to complete your dossier. A dossier is the set of documents required by the U.S. and Chinese governments for adoption. The second step of the adoption process involves submission of the dossier to China by your U.S. based agency. Once your dossier has been submitted and registered with the China Center for Adoption Affairs, you have officially begun the adoption proceedings as far as China is concerned. After this step, it is a matter of waiting for the Chinese government to provide a referral. The third step is the acceptance of a referral. When a child referral is made, the China Center for Adoption Affairs will usually provide a photo or photos, limited medical information, the child's name, the child's age or birth date, and the name of the orphanage or province where the child resides. With this information, families either accept or reject the referral sent to them by the China Center for Adoption Affairs. When a referral is accepted, the adoptive family will take the fourth step and travel to China to complete their adoption.

U.S. Department of State

The following has been adapted from the U.S. Department of State website on International Adoption form China.

GENERAL: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in China and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process can be expensive, time-consuming and difficult, involving complex Chinese and U.S. legal requirements. Adoptions are given careful consideration on a case-by-case basis by both Chinese authorities and American consular officers to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Guangzhou and Beijing before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Embassy (Consulate) to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.


Many U.S. adoption agencies are very familiar with Chinese adoption procedures and may have specific advice for their own clients, such as on how best to submit applications to the CCAA or when to travel to China. In addition to reading this flyer carefully for a basic outline of Chinese and U.S. procedures, check with your particular adoption agency to obtain more information about its own procedures during the Chinese adoption process.

1. A CCAA-licensed agency may submit adoption applications directly to the CCAA for consideration.

2. The CCAA reviews the documents and advises the prospective adoptive parent(s) – either directly or through their adoption agency – whether additional documents or authentications are required.

3. Once the CCAA approves the application, it matches the application with a specific child. The CCAA then sends the prospective adoptive parent(s) a letter of introduction about the child, including photographs and the child’s health record. This document is commonly called a ‘referral.’ Prospective adoptive parents who still have questions about the child after reviewing this information may follow up with the CCAA either directly or via their adoption agency.

4. Prospective adoptive parent(s) then either accept or refuse the referral and send the document to their agency, which forwards it to CCAA. CCAA requires a response on a referral within 45 days of sending a referral to a family. If prospective adoptive parent(s) are considering refusing a referral they should discuss with their agency the possibility of getting a second referral. (Please note that all communications with CCAA must be done via the adoption agency.) CCAA will only accept referral rejections if there is a justified explanation provided. If the reason for the rejection is considered justifiable (such as a medical problem), then CCAA will refer the second child to the PAPs within a month’s time. If CCAA regards the rejection as unreasonable, the PAPs will have difficulty obtaining a second referral and CCAA is more likely to suggest that the PAPs withdraw their application for adoption in China.

5. Prospective adoptive parents who have accepted a specific referred child will receive an approval notice from the CCAA ("Notice of Coming to China for Adoption"). This document will bear the "chops," or red-inked seals of the CCAA. Prospective parents must have this approval notice in hand before departing for China to finalize the adoption.

Important Note: Prior to traveling to China, prospective adoptive parents must also already have been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and must have an approved I-600A or I-800 form. (See the “U.S. Immigration Requirements” section below for additional information.)

6. With the CCAA’s sealed approval notice in hand, prospective adoptive parents arriving in China may proceed directly to the city in China where the Civil Affairs Bureau with jurisdiction over the appropriate Children's Welfare Institute is located.

Although the CCAA is headquartered in Beijing, prospective adoptive parents will not be required to travel to Beijing during this process. The CCAA will have already forwarded a copy of the adoption approval notice to the locality where the child resides. Local Child Welfare Institutes, provincial Civil Affairs officials and Chinese notarial offices will not process adoptions unless they have seen this notice allowing the prospective adoptive parents take legal custody of the child.

Americans adopting in China will usually meet with a notary in the provincial capital for an informal interview before they notarize documents such as birth certificates or abandonment certificates. Chinese Adoption law does not require notarization of the adoption documents (birth certificate, and abandonment), but the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou does. The notary may conduct a brief interview with the prospective parents prior to notarizing the documents. This is not uncommon. A Chinese notary is not comparable to a notary public in the United States, but rather is an official with broad responsibilities. An interpreter supplied by the Child Welfare Institute is usually present. Meetings are held in the notary's office in a non-courtroom-like setting. Common questions relate to the prospective adoptive parents’ motivations for adopting a Chinese child; whether the family already has other children and if not, why not, and what assurances China has that the child will be treated appropriately.

In all cases an interview at a registry office is conducted. According to Chinese Adoption Law, adoptive parents must meet with the adoption registry office to finalize the adoption. Sometimes prospective adoptive parent(s) are asked to write a paragraph or a page on the reasons for the adoption and their plans for the child. Sometimes the local notary in the city where the Children's Welfare Institute is located meets with the parents and conducts a final interview in which questions similar to those posed at the provincial level are asked. In some instances, the notary or registry officials have indicated to American prospective adoptive parents that Beijing's approval had been sought and obtained for their adoptions, in accordance with the procedures of the CCAA.

Prospective adoptive parents may request to see the child before completing the adoption. If such a visit with the child leads them to have additional questions about the child’s health, background, etc., it is important to resolve these before finalizing the adoption. Please note that although U.S. law requires that a physician from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General's list of physicians will examine the child before a visa may be issued, the lack of legal custody or guardianship under Chinese law before the adoption is finalized makes it highly unlikely that prospective parents will be able to take the child to a distant city such as Beijing or Guangzhou for a pre-adoption medical examination.

7. The next step, after the prospective adoptive parents have completed their interviews with the various Chinese government offices, is to complete the adoption. At this point, the adopting parents will be required to make a fixed “donation” of US$3000 to $5000 to the Children’s Welfare Institute where the child was being raised prior to the adoption. [Note: This is not a bribe, and U.S. prospective adoptive parents should not consider it such. As was noted earlier in this flyer, individual Children's Welfare Institutes may charge this fee as a combined donation to the institution and as compensation for having raised and cared for the child up to the point of adoption. It is the experience of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou that the assessed fees are reasonable based on the local economy and the costs associated with raising a child in China.]

As part of finalizing the adoption, prospective adoptive parents will have to sign agreements with the Child Welfare Institute, register the adoption at the provincial Civil Affairs Bureau, and pay all of the remaining required fees. When the notarial office in the child's place of residence approves the adoption, that office issues a notarized certificate of adoption, a notarized birth certificate and either notarized death certificate(s) for the child's biological parent(s) or a statement of abandonment from the welfare institute. The adoptive relationship goes into effect on the day of the notarization. Once the adoption is final, the adoptive parents are fully and legally responsible for the child.

8. The final step in the process is for the Child Welfare Institute to obtain a Chinese passport and exit permit for the child from the Public Security Bureau with jurisdiction over the child’s place of residence at the time of the adoption. The adopting parent(s) rarely have had to take care of the paperwork or visit the Ministry of Justice offices in this regard. Both of these documents will be required at the time of the U.S. immigrant visa interview in Guangzhou and in order for the child to be able to depart China with his/her new parents. The local Public Security Bureau will normally expedite Chinese passport issuance for a stated fee.


Pre-adoption documents to be submitted in the initial CCAA dossier:

a) Adoption application letter
b) Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s)
c) Marital status statement – Either a marriage certificate, divorce or death certificate (if applicable) or statement of single status is required.
d) Certificates of profession, income and property including; verification of employment and salary notarized and authenticated; a certified and authenticated copy of your property trust deeds, if applicable(not notarized?); Bank statements notarized/certified and authenticated
e) Health examination certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s)
f) Certificate(s) of criminal or no-criminal record - A certificate of good conduct for the adoptive parent(s) from a local police department notarized or bearing the police department seal and authenticated. An FBI report is acceptable in lieu of a local police record. This is separate from the FBI check conducted by USCIS as part of the petition process. You can request an FBI record check by sending two sets of fingerprints, an $18 money order, your full name, date and place of birth, social security number and letter of request explaining purpose for clearance to: FBI ID Division, Room 10104, Washington, DC 20537-9700. The FBI certificate should also be authenticated.
g) Home study report
h) Certificate of child adoption approval by the competent department of the adopter's country of residence, also known as the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services I-171H Notice of Approval of an I-600A petition) along with copies of the U.S. passport(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s)
i) Each applicant parent should also submit two front-view photos and several other photos reflecting the family's life in the United States.

Additional documents the prospective parents should bring to China

Power of attorney notarized and authenticated (if only one spouse will travel to China). In case of married couples, if only one adopting parent comes to China, Chinese law requires that the spouse traveling bring a power of attorney from his/her spouse, notarized and properly authenticated by Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese Consulates General in the United States.

A copy of the I-171H form (I-600A or I-800Aapproval notice from USCIS).

TRANSLATION REQUIREMENTS: All documents must be accompanied by a certified Mandarin Chinese translation. For a $200 fee, the CCAA will provide the translation service. If a translated copy is submitted with the application, the translator must execute a statement before a notary public as to the validity of the translation. The notary's seal must be authenticated.

AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD: The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review.

Please click on this link for more information.


A Chinese child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.

Additional Information

Please be aware that the time lines and fees involved in a China adoption may have changed from when the above information was updated.  If you would like additional information and assistance regarding adoption of a child from China, please feel free to contact us.