By Elizabeth Rose, WACAP China Program Manager
China has long been a country that draws families considering international adoption. WACAP has been working in China adoptions since 1990. In that time, the adoption landscape in China has changed along with the changes taking place in Chinese society, but the adoption program has remained stable and open. And still today, there are children who need families, and children who are waiting.
We help families welcome home a child who’s waiting for them, and if your family is considering adoption from China, we’d love to talk with you about a child who needs a family’s love.
About Adopting from China:
The children are always at the heart of families’ considerations, when families talk with us about adoption from China.
When it comes to the adoption process, there are many things about adopting from China that make it a popular choice for adoptive families — from the eligibility requirements, to families’ ability to identify children for adoption early in the adoption process, to the overall length of time it takes to adopt.
Changes and Constants: Children Who Need Families
The population of the children in China adopted by families internationally has changed a great deal over the years: For many years, we mostly saw baby girls with no identified medical needs. Over time, international adoptions from China became primarily “special needs adoptions.” Recently, we have observed that most of the children with manageable medical needs who are referred for adoptions are boys, and most of the girls with mild needs who enter the social welfare system in China are adopted domestically. Last year, for the first time since WACAP began working in China, we found more families for boys than girls!
Finding the Children, Finding Families
Identifying a Child — Many families who adopt from China identify a child they hope to adopt first (rather than wait to be matched with a child they have not identified themselves). This is one of the paths families may choose when adopting from China. According to China’s adoption requirements, families are allowed to be matched during the homestudy process; the children they can be matched with will have needs that China’s adoption authority feels are not “minor” needs. Families must only complete the homestudy and dossier paperwork within six months of being matched with the child. You can see some of the children who are waiting for adoptive families on secured Waiting Child website. These children can all be matched with families prior to homestudy completion. Our Family Finders staff also send information about children who are waiting. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to sign up for emails about waiting kids.
Waiting to Be Matched — Other families hope to adopt a young child with mild or moderate conditions and choose to use the China team’s personalized matching services, where case managers work one-on-one with families to find the child whose needs and age range aligns with what the family is open to. Families are able to be matched with a child through this process after completing required paperwork, and having that paperwork registered with China’s adoption system.
Currently, WACAP has limited number of families with the required paperwork completed and registered in China who are waiting to be matched – only five families as of this writing.
The length of time it takes to be matched depends greatly on the type of child a family hopes to be matched with. Over the last year, families open to a boy have waited no more than 8 months to be matched, with the vast majority of the families being matched in 4 months or less. Families hoping to adopt a girl have waited longer on average – the longest-waiting family was matched after 18 months and the majority of families waited 10 months or less.
About the Kids
Over the last year, WACAP has placed children with a variety of medical conditions into loving adoptive families. We have found families for children with spina bifida, limb differences, moderate and complex heart conditions, albinism, cerebral palsy, syphilis, hydrocephalus, dwarfism, deafness, and visual impairments.
China remains one of the countries with the most open eligibility requirements for adoptive families. Several months ago, the CCCWA announced changes to the eligibility requirements for adopting from China. Although the requirements around family size and age of children in the home is more restrictive than it was, several of the other guidelines were loosened allowing more flexibility for single women, families with some medical conditions, and loosening marriage length requirements for families who had a divorce history.
What hasn’t changed in China over the years is that there is a great need for adoptive families.
Today, there are over 3,000 children waiting for their family to find them.