One of These is Not Like the Other: Being Adopted
Hi, My Name is Anna, and I'm An Adoptee
So this is going to be a little more personal. But it's still going to be informative, and I hope that others who have been adopted (from anywhere) will learn something or at least feel not as alone.
On a VERY personal note (and some background information):
I was adopted from Fu Yang China at the age of two. I was found on the steps of an orphanage with a note from my mother saying something like "take care of my daughter" and a few blankets to keep me warm. It's estimated that I was about two weeks old when I arrived at the orphanage, and I was there until my parents came in 1994.
Because I was so young, I have no recollection of any of my time in China. All I know is from videos and pictures and stories that my parents told me.
Very recently, I became interested in exploring my past much more than I ever have. I looked a lot into groups of Chinese adoptees that i could go to for support and help, and it all inspired me to learn more about adoption and the process.
So here's some statistics for you on adopting from China, and some hopefully helpful information if you're interested in adopting or if you want to know more about the process in general.
Some Definitions and Basic History
Intercountry adoption is the process by which you adopt a child from a different country and bring that child home to live with you permanently.
China is a part of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. It went into effect May 29, 1993 in The Hague, Netherlands. It establishes standards of practice for intercountry adoptions and was signed by the US in 1994.
Adoptions go directly through the CCCWA, or the China Centre of Adoption Affairs. Authorized by the Chinese government, they are responsible for "the inter-country adoption work, the nurture of children in the social welfare institutions and the domestic adoptions".
The one child policy of 1979 "instituted a set of regulations that limited the number of children per family, as an attempt to reduce poverty and hunger in what was then the world's most populous nation". Because boys were more valuable to families, girls were often the ones to be abandoned.
April 1992 was when China officially allowed foreigners to adopt form China. 206 children were adopted in the US that year.
On May 1, 2007 China began to restrict its applicants. They did this by marital status, age, mental and physical health, weight, income, education, family size, and other factors.
Some Statistics to Chew On
- 66,630 children were adopted total.
- 6,199 males were adopted.
- 60, 431 females were adopted.
- 26,605 babies under 1 year old were adopted.
- 33,566 children between the ages of 1-2 were adopted.
- 4,059 children between the ages of 3-4 were adopted.
- 3,106 children between the ages of 5-12 were adopted.
- 294 children between the ages of 13-17 were adopted.
- Only one child over the age of 18 was adopted.
In 2010, China was the most popular place to adopt from internationally, with a total of 3,401 adoptions that year.
In 2012, 24,635 children were adopted from China.
- 21,324 involved mainland China
- 3,311 involved Hong Kong and Macao as well as overseas Chinese plus foreigners.
Adoption fees (which I will talk about a little later as well):
- Authentication/legalization of documents through the Chinese Embassy or the Consulate in the US is $10USD per document.
- CCCWA fees are $750USD.
- Translation of documents is $300USD.
- A Chinese passport is $25USD for 15-day working insurance.
- Children's Welfare Institutes charge from $500-$5000USD.
Don't Even Think About It...Until You Check Here!
Here's the meat and potatoes. If your'e interested in adopting, you might learn a thing or two from this segment. That being said, I would also look at the links at the bottom of this Hub for more detailed information. All of this information is from here.
Because China is a part of the Hague Adoption Convention, the process by which a couple goes through to adopt has to meet the requirements of the Convention as well as US Law implementing the convention.
DO YOU QUALIFY?
Before you even look at the process of adoption, you have to know if you even qualify! Unfortunately there are a lot of things that are required of you in order to adopt from China.
Residency: Couples don't have to have lived in China for a given amount of time to adopt. The only requirement is that at least one spouse (with possession of a power of attorney from the other spouse) travel to China for the paperwork.
Age: Both parents have to be at least 30 and no older than 50. If you're adopting a special needs child, the age range is 30-55.
Marriage: You can only adopt if you're married, and you have to be a heterosexual couple. The child has to be adopted jointly, and the couple has to have been married for at least 2 years. If one of the prospective parents has gone through a divorce, the time married is bumped up to 5 years. More than two divorces disqualifies you. If you're a single female, you can now adopt a special needs child.
Income: One or both applicants must have steady employment with a total annual income of $10,000 per family member, including the prospective adopted child. The total value of a family's assets needs to be at least $80,000. Parents must be high school graduates or have received their GED or equivalent high school education.
Health: Parents need to be clear of the following conditions:
- Mental disability
- Infectious disease that is actively contagious
- Blind in either eye
- Hearing loss in both ears
- Loss of language function
- Non-function or dysfunction of limbs caused by impairment, incomplete limbs, paralysis or deformation
- Severe facial deformation
- Severe diseases that require long-term treatment
- Major organ transplant within 10 years
- Severe mental disorders requiring meds for more than 2 years
- BMI of 40 or higher
- Cannot have more than 5 children under the age of 18.
- Youngest must be at least 1 year old.
- No significant criminal record
- History of honorable behavior and good moral character
- No evidence of: domestic violence, sexual abuse, abandonment, child abus, use of narcotics/addictive medications, alcohol abuse (unless sober for 10 years)
- Safe family
- Letter that makes willingness to follow post-adoption checkups clear.
WHAT KIND OF CHILD WILL YOU GET?
Children up to and including age 13 are adoptable by Chinese law. Children any older might not be adopted at all.
The waiting period is the hardest part for most parents. It's almost impossible to predict exactly how much time the adoption process might take. There can only be estimates, and the numbers vary depending on each individual case.
An average wait time is about 54 months from the time your adoption agency submits paper to the time that the CCCWA gives you your referral (information on a prospective child).
A special needs child generally has a shorter waiting period.
This is a quick breakdown of the process. There are 6 basic steps to adopting, all of which are crucial if you really want to invest in this endeavor. Please look here for complete information.
ALSO NOTE: Everything has to go through the CCCWA!
Eligibility: The next step is to apply to make sure that you are, in fact, eligible parents. The form that you need to fill out is the I-800A. You have to be found eligible by the US Government, the Department of Homeland Security, and USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services).
Matching parents and children: Once you are considered eligible, the real fun begins. Once there is a child available who is also eligible, you'll probably receive a referral.
Once you receive that referral, you have to decide within 45 days if you want to reject or accept the referral. If you're already to this point and you're having trouble with the decision, go here for some helpful information!
If you refuse a referral, consider the chances of you getting another referral with your agency, as depending on different things it might be harder/easier.
How a referral works: Once your application has been approved, the CCCWA matches you with a specific child. Parents will receive a letter introducing the child as well as a photo of the child and some health records. Any questions can be asked through the CCCWA directly or through the adoption agency.
Immigration status eligibility: If you've accepted the referral offered to you, the next step is to be found eligible for immigration to the US. Fill out the I-800 form that wil go out to the US Government, Department of Homeland Security, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The USCIS will determine a child's eligibility.
The adoption service next has to submit the DS-230 visa application for the child. This gets sent to the US Consulate General Guangzhou's Adopted Children Immigrant Visa Unit (ACIVU).
After confirmation, parents get to fly off to China! They can then go directly to the city where the orphanage is located.
The actual adoption: This has several different elements in it. Let's break it down:
- Adoption Authority: The provincial Departments of Civil Affairs administered by the Ministry of Civil Affairs are the ones who issue the final certificate of adoption.
- Adoption fees vary depending on province, but there are some steadfast numbers to consider, which I will again outline at the end of this step.
- There are several documents that are also required which I will outline at the end of this step.
- Authentication/legalization documents by Chinese Embassy or Consulate in US: $10/document
- CCCWA fee: $750
- Translation of documents: $300
- Chinese-notarized certificate approving adoption, birth certificate, abandonment certificate: vary per province
- Chinese passport (15-working-day): $25
- Children's Welfare Institutes: $500-5000
- Adoption application letter
- Birth certificates of prospective parents
- Marital status statement (marriage certificate, divorce/death certificate, statement of single status)
- Certificate of procession, income, property; including verification of employment, salary notarized and authenticated, certified and authenticated copy of property trust deeds
- Bank statements, notarized/certified and authenticated
- Health examination certificates of prospective parents
- Certificats of criminal or non-criminal record
- Certificate of good conduct for prospective parents from a local police department or an FBI report
- Certificate of child adoption approval by Homeland Security or Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Notice of Approval of I-600A petition
- Home study report
- Copies of US passports of prospective parents
- Two front-view photos and other photos reflecting US home life (for each parents)
- Power of attorney notarized and authenticated (if only one spouse is going to China)
- NOTE: There may be other documents you will need. Be prepared to be asked to authenticate a document, which you can learn more about here.
The final stretch!:
Yay, everything's filled out! You can now look forward to bringing your new adorable Chinese baby home. BUT FIRST! More boring stuff...woohoo.
Birth certificate: Your baby now needs a new birth certificate so you can apply ofor a passport later. Your name is added to this certificate.
Chinese passport: Your child needs a travel document/passport from China. Go to the Public Security Bureau where you are. They'll issue the passport and exit permits.
US immigrant visa: Next is applying for a US visa through the United States Consulate General. After the adoption is finalized, the US Consulate will initiate a final review of your I-800 petition. For visa procedures, go here.
You're done! You're home, you're loving your new baby, you're a family. How awesome is that?
Just make sure you're willing to allow post-placement follow-u[s and that you provide post-placement reports when required as per your adoption application letter.
Additionally, go to these sites if you want more help with what to do after you've adopted your child and what might be required of you:
There's a lot of controversy surrounding international adoption, which I won't even get in to. I'll leave it at this: it's your own personal decision if you want to adopt and where that might be from.
As a child that was adopted, I have to say I'm grateful to my adoptive parents for what they've provided me that I would otherwise not have.
For prospective parents: it's a tough thing to deal with. I know my parents went through a lot of heartache and anxiety trying to get through the system in 1992, and it took them a while to finally get back on track. That being said, it's well worth it if that's what you want to do.
Thanks to the following sources for your information. Please visit these websites for a far better explanation of everything you will need to do.
- Intercountry Adoption: Bureau of Consular Affairs, US Department of State
- Women of China
- Child Welfare
- China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCCWA)
If you are a parent looking to adopt or a child who's been adopted, feel free to comment here or contact me if you want to know more about the personal aspect of it: first hand experience, emotional consequences, what life is like...anything. You can also use some of these resources, which serve as communities for parents and their adoptees:
If You're An Adoptee...
You're not alone! Here are a few resources for you and your parents to take a look at. They're great for support and for information.
- Families with Children from China (FWCC): "FCC is a nondenominational organization of families who have adopted children from China. The purpose of FCC is provide a network of support for families who've adopted in China and to provide information to prospective parents. The purpose of this site is to consolidate the information that has been put together by the families of FCC, in order to make it easier for future parents to consider adopting from China. We also try to provide pointers to other adoption and China related resources available on the Web."
- One World: Chinese Adoptee Links Blog: "A compilation of Chinese adoptee blogs from various writers, reflecting the rich and diverse backgrounds of Chinese and international adoptees."
- China's Children International: "CCI is an organization run by adoptees for adoptees. The mission of CCI is to unite Chinese adoptees from all over the world in addition to providing an extensive network of support for all of us who share this common beginning. CCI promotes open discussions among its members and encourages members to share experiences with other adoptees. CCI also hopes to provide the opportunity for adoptees to give back to orphanages in China." Additional note: I am part of the CCI Facebook group. If you decide to join (which I think is a great idea), don't hesitate to look me up and shoot me a Facebook message!)
- Somewhere Between movie website: "The primary themes of SOMEWHERE BETWEEN are identity formation, family, adoption, and race. The film focuses on the intersection of all of these themes through the coming-of-age stories of four girls. As they discover who they are, so do we. Through their specific stories, we as viewers come to understand more fully the meaning of family and the ever prevalent cultural disconnect between stereotyping and race—whether we are adoptive families or not." This is a fantastic movie and if you're an adoptee I'd highly recommend watching this, and even watching it with your parents. It offers a lot of insight.