China operates under the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption.
China ratified the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption in September 2005. It entered into force in January 2006.
Characteristics of children in need of adoption
The frequency of domestic adoption in China is increasing and occurrences of abandonment are decreasing.
The profile of children who are in need of intercountry adoption in China is changing. Very few healthy children are in need of adoption in China. Children without special needs—as well as those with minor special needs (which can be rectified medically or surgically)—are often successfully placed with families in China.
Currently, the children who are in need of intercountry adoption are those with special needs, including multiple and serious conditions. These children have complex backgrounds and medical conditions, and are predominately boys and older children (aged seven years or older). Some children have experienced pre-and post-natal challenges which may have long lasting effects on their development. The adoption of children with special needs (including older children) is considered through the China Special Needs program (not the general China program).
Many of these children are living in institutions and will have experienced social, emotional and psychological deprivation.
Most children placed for adoptions have been abandoned with very little or no information known about their social, health and genetic background. Some children have experienced pre and post-natal challenges that may have long lasting effects on their development.
Applications for children from the general China program:
- For files already accepted by China, the waiting time is more than nine years, and could well be longer.
- For any new applications, the waiting time is expected to be significantly longer than nine years.
- Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to think carefully about pursuing this option as applicants are unlikely to be matched with a healthy child.
Applications for children from the China Special Needs program:
- The waiting time for children with special needs will depend on the time it takes to match a child with your family. For prospective adoptive parents with the capacity to meet identified special needs, the waiting time is likely to be significantly shorter than applications for children from the general China program.
Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia are the only States accepting applications for children from the China Special Needs program.
Who can adopt?
To adopt from China you must first be found eligible to adopt according to your State or Territory’s eligibility requirements for intercountry adoption.
In addition to Australian State or Territory eligibility requirements, the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) recently announced a number of changes to their eligibility requirements. These changes apply to applications submitted after 1 January 2015 and are included below:
- Married couples and single women are eligible to adopt from China. There may be some additional requirements for single women.
- Couples must be in a stable marital relationship of at least two years. The couple must have been married for at least five years if either party has been married previously (no more than two previous marriages).
- Couples whose marriage does not meet the above time requirements may ask CCCWA to include the period of their de facto relationship (prior to the marriage) in the length of the marriage (applicants will be required to provide supporting documents).
- Applicants in a same-sex relationship are ineligible.
- China will allow women in a de facto relationship to adopt as a single applicant but this may not be permissible in your state or territory.
- Applicants must be over 30 years old.
- Applicants can be over 50 years of age, however, for applicant couples the age difference between the child and the younger spouse should be no more than 50 years.
- Single women must be no more than 45 years older than the child they wish to adopt. Additionally, single women are eligible to adopt non-special needs children.
- The age is calculated at the log-in date when the adoption application dossier is registered by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).
- One of the applicants must be an Australian citizen.
- Applicants who have two parents of Chinese origin (originating from China up to second generation) may be eligible to have their application processed faster.
- Note: CCCWA may expedite files of applicants of Chinese origin if an applicant’s parents are from China and a formal request for expedition is submitted by the State or Territory central authority. However, such cases can be processed only comparatively faster than the normal cases.
- Applicants need to be physically and mentally healthy, including:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 40.
- Applicants must not have any of the following conditions:
- Intellectual disability
- HIV positive or infectious disease that is actively contagious
- Mental disorder, such as mania, anxiety, phobia, depression or obsession. If one party in an applicant couple has such an illness, and the symptoms are minor and controlled by taking small doses of medicine, the couple is exempt from this limitation.
- Binocular blindness, binocular low vision or monocular blindness with no ocular prosthesis.
- Binaural hearing loss or language function loss. Applicants, who adopt children with identical conditions, or where one party is completely healthy, will be exempt from this limitation.
- Non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limbs, paralysis or deformation.
- Severe facial deformation.
- Diseases that require long-term treatment such as malignant tumours, lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. For applicant couples, if one party is completely healthy and the other suffers such a disease but the symptoms are under control following treatment or by taking small doses of medicine, the couple is exempt from this limitation.
- Vital organ transplant within the last 10 years. For applicant couples, if one party is completely healthy and the other had an organ transplant within the last 10 years but has recovered well, the couple is exempt from this limitation.
- Applicants must have at least finished senior high school, or achieved vocational skills training of the same level.
- Jehovah’s Witness applicants or applicants from other religions that do not allow blood transfusions are ineligible.
Number of children in family
The CCCWA recently announced changes to requirements for adoption application dossiers submitted by foreigners. Key changes include:
- The youngest child in the home must be 3 years old before a family may apply to adopt.
- Single females may still adopt, but may have only two children living at home, not including the adopted child.
- Married couples may have up to five children, under the age of 18, in the home, not including the adopted child.
- Families must wait one full year after an adoption is complete before applying to adopt another child.
- Only one child may be adopted at a time (unless a sibling).
- The applicant (at least one party in applicant couples) should have a stable occupation and income.
- Family income must be at least US$10,000 for each family member (including the prospective adoptive child).
- Family net assets value should be at least US$80,000.
- For single applicants, when calculating average per-capita annual income, the actual post-adoption number of family members should be increased by one, and the family net assets value should be at least US$100,000.
- When calculating the family annual income, relief fund, pension, disability benefits, foster care subsidy, etc. should not be included.
- For applicants whose per capita annual income and/or net assets do not meet the requirements but are above the local average living standards, the limitation can be relaxed accordingly if they can provide valid certification.
- A criminal record check must be provided.
- Applicants should have no record of criminal penalties.
- Applicants must not have a history of domestic violence, sexual abuse, abandonment or abuse of children (even if not arrested or convicted).
- Applicants must not have a history of alcohol abuse in the past 10 years, or taking narcotics.
- CCCWA will consider on a case-by-case basis applicants who have had no more than:
- 3 criminal records with minor violations and no severe outcomes, and the time for correction has reached 10 years; or
- 5 records of traffic law violation with no severe outcomes.
As of 1 January 2015, the adoption application service fee charged by CCCWA is US$1100 per application. The fee to apply to adopt a step-child is US$800 per application and no application dossier translation fee is charged. The adoption service fee should only be paid by wire transfer. A payment voucher (receipt) should be enclosed with the adoption application dossier.
As of 1 January 2015, the adoption information service fee will no longer be charged. For adoption applications submitted before 1 January 2015, this fee is still charged every quarter according to previous requirements (US$120 for the special needs program and US$50 for the general program).
The total estimated adoption fees and costs are US$6500, including an orphanage donation fee of RMB35,000. This does not include travel and accommodation costs, immigration fees, Australian Government fees or incidentals.
All prospective parents are required to travel to China to accept placement of their child. Children from the family are welcome and encouraged to accompany their parents.
Groups of families accepting placement of their children at the same time generally travel to China together on the dates specified by the designated travel agency, and stay in the nominated accommodation.
At least two weeks (10 working days) is needed to complete the Chinese adoption and immigration formalities.
Finalisation and post-adoption
Adoptions are completed and finalised in China and are automatically recognised on entry to Australia.
CCCWA requires six post-placement reports following the adoption, which should be submitted to CCCWA through the state and territory central authority. New parents must also fulfil any post-placement reporting requirements in their State or Territory.
For more information regarding post-placement reporting requirements, contact your State or territory central authority.
The Australian Government is working to improve post-adoption support for newly formed families. For more information, visit Post adoption and support.
Immigration and citizenship
There is a locally engaged officer stationed in Hong Kong to provide support for adoptive families in relation to the China adoption visa and Australian citizenship process.
More information on citizenship requirements can be found on the immigration and citizenship for children adopted overseas page or the ‘Adopting a Child from Overseas’ factsheet from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.