FAQ's for Our China Adoption

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Number of U.S. Adoptions from China:
2005: 7,906
2004: 7,044
2003: 6,859
2002: 5,053

Age/Gender of Children Adopted From China in 2004
Source: INS Immigration Statistics
95% Female
39% under 1 year of age
59% 1 – 4 years of age

Age/Gender of Children Adopted From China in 2003
95% Female
49% under 1 year of age
48% 1 – 4 years of age

Estimated Cost: $15,000 to $20,000

Profile of Children:
Over 95% girls;
Half under the age of 1 at the time of adoption (2003);
All children eligible for adoption must be legally resident in one of China’s children welfare institutes. Some use of foster care.

Parent Ages: Both spouses must be at least 30 yrs. old and one parent must be no older than 55 at the time of adoption; parents over 45 may be referred toddlers and those over 50, school-age children. Singles must be under 50 to adopt a non-special-needs child.

Family Status: Married. Prior divorces permitted. Limited number of singles may adopt. Family must have no more than 4 children at home when they apply.

Travel: At least one parent must travel to China to adopt. Average stay is 10-14 days. U.S. visa issued at consulate in Guangzhou.

Timeline: From dossier is sent to China to referral, currently approx. 11-13 months. Shorter wait for pre-identified special-needs children and parents of Chinese ancestry.

Why China?
We chose China for several reasons. After researching adoption, we soon learned that the adoption process through China is incredibly smooth, easy, and reliable compared to other countries. The cost is less than other countries. There is only one trip required to adopt in China. The babies are relatively healthy as the birth mothers tend to not have drug and alcohol issues that there may be in other countries. And last but not least, the babies are just darned cute!

Why does it take so long?
The process is quite involved and extensive. First we sent an application and fee to our international agency (International Family Services) and were approved to continue. The "paperchase" began. This is the gathering of all of the legal documents that are necessary to adopt. The documents must be completed meticulously and notarized. This takes a few months. We had to send the INS (now called CIS- Citizen and Immigration Services) office an application (and fee- of course) called the I-600A to ask permission to bring an orphan back to the U.S. Once they got our application, they scheduled an appointment for us and we took a trip to Kansas City to be fingerprinted. We also had to have complete physicals and blood work by a physician. We had to complete paperwork to show a detailed account of our finances and we had to write a letter to China telling them why we wish to adopt from their country and that we will love and nurture the child they choose for us.

The homestudy involved a social worker meeting with us on 4 separate occasions to interview us and make sure our home is safe for a baby. She then wrote up an extensive report. The homestudy was then sent to the CIS office. Once they had coompleted a thorough background check on us, they sent us a form saying that we are cleared to adopt internationally (I-171). Then all of the documents were taken to the Secretary of State office (for us it is right in our home town) to authenticate the accuracy of the documents and verify the notary. After that takes place, the documents are then sent to our adoption agency where they are thoroughly searched for any discrepancies and any problems. Finally, the completed documents (called a "dossier") are sent to Chicago China Consulate to have something done to them (can't remember what). After they are finished there, they are sent toChina. This date is called your DTC (dossier to China) date. We were DTC 1/31/06. They are then logged in at the China Center for Adoption Affairs (your log-in date- LID). Our LID was 2/27/06.

The documents are then translated. That takes a couple of months. Then the dossier goes to the matching room where someone scans through the pictures and descriptions of the babies as well as our profile and our passport photos and matches us with the right baby. Again, this can take several months. Then we will receive a referral of the baby. It will include a picture of her and a description of her along with her medical history. Once we have the referral, we will sign that we agree to adopt this child and send it back to China. Then we must receive approval from the Chinese government to travel to China. It is then that we finally know when we will become new parents.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHere is a picture of the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) "Matching Room." Each agency has a different color for their packets. (Which I don't fully understand since there are a ton of agencies) This puts things into perspective as to why it takes them so long to get the matching done.

Is there any way to speed up the process?
No. Not really. Once the dossier is in China it gets in line behind all of the other families who are adotping from China, according to your LID. If a familiy is adopting a special needs baby or a waiting older child, they do get shuffled to the front of the line and it usually doesn't take quite as long.

When will you be getting her?
Who knows??? Based on the length of the process those ahead of us have gone through, it is approximately 12-13 months from the time the dossier gets to China. The CCAA in China doesn't divulge any secrets on what their schedule is. Our best guess is that we will receive our referral in February 2007 and travel around March/April 2007 with the way things are going right now, today.

Do you know who she is yet?

Is she born yet?
We won't know that until we get the referral.

How old will she be when you get her?
We won't know that until we get the referral. But we have requested a healthy girl who is as young as possible between under 12 months of age.

Where in China will she come from?
We won't know that until we get the referral.

What will it be like to travel in China?
Our agency, International Family Services, will have a guide that we will be with the entire time we are in China. Peter handles all of the in country business. We just go where he tells us where to go and when to sign the papers he tells us to sign. We will likely travel with a few other families from our agency who will also be adopting their daughters. We will first go to the province where our daughter has been living and get her. Then we will travel to Guangzhou, where the American Consulate office is located, and complete the final paper work. There will be hundreds of other adopting Americans working with other agencies in Guangzhou while we are there. There are a couple of hotels that cater almost entirely to adoptive parents. There will also be places to get American food and do some shopping. We will be in China 10-14 days.

Why are you not supposed to get visitors after you get home? We want to meet her!!!
We want you to meet her!! Short visits are ok. But, I'm sorry, we can't let you hold her right away. From a developmental perspective it is critical that Brian and I bond and attach to her as soon as possible. She will be taken from her familiar environment and shuttled across the globe to a strange place with people who speak gibberish (she won't understand English). She will be accustomed to having many babies around her and many different care givers. She will not have any idea that she is in a permanent home and will not know that we are the new parents and will not abandon her. Once we feel that she has attached well, we will be able to have her around others. We want our daughter to be an independent and strong individual who relates well to a lot of people. We have to first make sure she relates to us.

The following excerpt and pictures are taken from someone else's web site. I thought she did a good job describing some of the conditions in "the better" orphanages.

A Dose of Reality Hearing of my friends' visits to their babies' orphanage has left me very sad. I have been on such a high- and then all at once, I was hit with this dose of reality. Most orphanages in China are closed to the public. I have heard that the orphanages open to visitors are the "showcase" orphanages- the most clean and modern. When my friend heard that her baby was from this one, she was so excited- because it has such a great reputation. We can only wonder what the closed orphanages are like. Sophie's is one of them. While these parents now know for certain how and where their babies have been living and sleeping for the first part of their lives, I will never really know about Sophie. While we have heard that our small group of babies from her orphanage received foster care (and I did meet the foster mother), we are all very skeptical of the truth and also the quality of care. At 13 months, Sophie is the youngest. Yet none of them are crawling or walking (except a 2 year old boy) in our group. Most of them have very flat heads in the back- and are very uncomfortable being on their tummies. We think they were left on their backs in their hard cribs much of the time. Many of us were surprised at how inaccurate the information we had been given about our daughters was. Measurements way off, development reports incorrect, and less teeth than reported 7 months ago. We were all given tiny photo albums with pictures of our girls. Every scene was outside the orphanage. Also- most of our babies showed no affection toward their "foster mothers" while they were here. Michael thought Sophie's foster mother was very cold and he said he saw no love in her eyes for Sophie. I don't think we can assume this, and I prefer to think she did love her and just had different ways of showing it. For instance, Sophie has obviously been well fed, and she was wearing new red shoes when she was handed to me. However, the note given to me from the foster mother was very disturbing. She said Sophie needed to be left in her crib by herself. She said she should be fed by a spoon- not a bottle. She said if Sophie cries, it is only because she needs food or to be changed. She said she likes sitting in the stroller. She said that Sophie doesn't like to be held...

Orphanage- Babies in Cribs Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Here are some of the babies that were left behind at this orphanage (hopefully some will soon have homes...). There are no toys, no soft places to play, and only a tiny area for activities out of the crib. It looks like most of their time is spent in their cribs... Not only does this explain our babies' heads being flat in the back, but also why most of them can't roll over, crawl, or walk- even the ones who are 16-19 months old in our group. While I am so glad Sophie and her cousins in our group are with their forever families now, I have a broken heart for the thousands and thousands who will never know a mother's love or belong to a real family. Please please pray with me for those left behind...

No mattress... no pillow Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
For the past 10 months, this crib belonged to my group member's baby. Her husband visited her orphanage yesterday and was shown where she slept. When asked about the board for a mattress, they were told that bedding makes the babies too hot. (but you have seen how many layers of clothing these babies are dressed in...) ? We have also heard that it is to help control scabies, lice, etc. with so many (hundreds in some cases) babies in the orphanage. It is no wonder our babies all have flat heads... It was so hard for me to see this (particularly because this baby's mother and I have become the best of friends over the past 10 months), and I am more thankful than ever that all of our babies are now safe, cozy, and warm. And very very much loved~ posted by Shana