Adopting a child from China

Who can adopt?

Who can adopt? Who can’t adopt?
Married couples Same sex couples
Single women De facto* couples

Please note: China advises you to think carefully about adopting a child from China, as you are unlikely to be matched with a healthy child.

There are extensive eligibility criteria and excessive waiting times of longer than 9 years.

You can only apply for China’s special needs program if you live in Western Australia or Victoria.

Children you can adopt from China

China has 2 programs:

  • general
  • special needs

Currently, children available for adoption have special needs, including multiple and serious conditions. These children have complex needs and medical conditions. They are predominately boys and aged 7 or older.

Most of these children were abandoned with little or no information about their social, health, and genetic background.

Some of these children have pre- and post-natal challenges that may have long-lasting effects on their development.

Specific eligibility criteria to adopt from China

If you’re interested in adopting a child from China, you need to meet the eligibility criteria of your state or territory central authority (STCA). You will also need to meet the following Chinese criteria:


  • you must have been married for at least 2 years or at least 5 years if either you or your partner has been married before (no more than 2 previous marriages)
  • you can be a single woman but there may be extra requirements (further details below)
  • *if you’re a woman in a de facto relationship, you can apply to adopt as a single applicant (but confirm with your STCA)
  • you can’t be a same sex couple


  • you must be aged over 30 and a maximum of 50 years of age
  • Those over 50 can apply to adopt children above 6 years of age, and the age difference between the child and parent has to be less than 50 years
  • single women 30 years of age or older may adopt a child with special needs. The age difference between the adoptee and the adopter must then be of maximum 40 years. In this situation, the woman must have not more than two children and the youngest should be at least six years old.


  • you must be physically and mentally healthy, including:
    • Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 40
  • you can’t have any of the following conditions:
    • intellectual disability mental health disorders (diagnosed as severe), such as:
      • bipolar
      • anxiety
      • phobia
      • depression
      • obsession
      • schizophrenia
    • binocular blindness, binocular low vision or monocular blindness with no ocular prosthesis
    • binaural hearing loss or language function loss. You can still apply if you adopt a child with an identical condition or if the other partner is completely healthy
    • non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limbs, paralysis or deformation
    • severe facial deformation
    • Some sexually transmitted diseases (such as HIV and AIDS)
    • conditions that need long-term treatment, such as:
      • malignant tumours
      • lupus
      • kidney disease
      • epilepsy
      • multiple sclerosis
    • organ transplant recipient in the last 10 years. Although if one of you is completely healthy, and the organ recipient has recovered well you can still apply

If one of you is completely healthy and the other experiences one of the above and it’s controlled through treatment and/or medication you may still eligible to apply.

Your citizenship

  • at least one of you must be an Australian citizen


  • you must have graduated from high school or have vocational skills training of the same level


  • you can’t apply if you practice a religion that doesn’t allow blood transfusions

Number of children in your family

  • The prospective adoptive parent/s should be childless however, if the adopted child is an orphan, disabled, or abandoned child living in children welfare institutions, the adopter is not required to be childless.
  • A childless adopter may adopt two children, and an adopter with one child may adopt only one more child.
  • if you’re married:
    • the youngest child in your existing family must be 3 years old before you can apply to adopt
    • you can apply to adopt if the number of children in family under the age of 18 years does not reach 5 however, adoption of special needs children will be exempt from this limitation.
  • if you’re a single female you can only have 2 children living at home, not including your adopted child and the youngest should be at least six years old.
  • you must wait one year after an adoption is finalised before applying to adopt another child
  • you can only adopt one child at a time (unless a sibling)


  • you and/or your partner should have a stable occupation and income
  • your annual family income must be at least US$10,000 for each family member including the child to be adopted (you can’t include pensions, disability benefits or subsidies in the calculation)
  • your family’s net assets value should be at least US$80,000
  • if you’re a single women applying, your net assets should be at least US$100,000
  • if your family income doesn’t meet the above requirements but is above the Australian average living standards you can still apply if you can provide proof

Criminal record

  • you need to supply your criminal record check
  • you can’t have any recorded criminal penalties
  • you can’t have a history of:
    • alcohol or drug abuse in the past 10 years
    • domestic violence
    • sexual abuse
    • abandonment or abuse of children
      (even if not arrested or convicted)

China will consider your application on a case-by-case basis if you have had no more than:

  • 3 criminal records with minor violations and no severe outcomes over the past 10 years or
  • 5 traffic violations with no severe outcomes

Waiting times

Waiting times are longer than 9 years for the general program.

The waiting time depends on the time it takes to match a child with your family. If your application highlights your capacity to meet identified special needs, your waiting time may be shorter than for the general program.

For the special needs program, only applications from Western Australia and Victoria are being considered. Generally, waiting times for the special needs program are shorter.

Cost of adopting a child from China

The estimated fee is US$6,500, which includes an orphanage donation fee of RMB35,000.

Other fees

On top of state and territory central authority fees, there are other expenses such as:

  • translation fees
  • travel and accommodation costs
  • incidentals

Travel to China

You will need to travel to China to meet your child. If you already have children, they are encouraged to travel with you.

You will need at least 2 weeks in China to complete the adoption and immigration process.

After the adoption

All adoptions completed in China are recognised when coming back to Australia.

You will need to complete 6 post-placement reports, as follows:

  • at 1, 6 and 12 months after bringing your child home
  • then at 2, 3 and 5 years

You may also need to complete post-placement reports for your state or territory central authority.

Hague Convention information

China ratified the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption in September 2005. It entered into force January 2006.

The central authority in China is the China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).

More information