China Adoption Program

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populated country estimating 1.37 billion people.  It is a nation located in East Asia with a massive landscape consisting of grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and nearly 8700 miles of coastline. Beijing, the capital, blends historical sites such as the Forbidden City Palace and Tiananmen Square with modern architecture.  Shanghai is a global financial center with a skyscraper-studded skyline.  The iconic Great Wall of China runs east to west across the northern part of the country.   China is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention), therefore, all intercountry adoptions between China and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implemented by the Convention.

Chinese adoptions are conducted through a collaborative effort of a Hague accredited adoption agency in the US and by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA), its Central Adoption Authority.  The Nightlight China adoption program is for parents who are interested in adopting a waiting child with an identified medical need or an older child.

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To learn more about adopting from China, you may contact us, call our office at (502) 423-5780, or email inquiries to Becca at

Our China program began in Kentucky with A Helping Hand Adoption Agency in 1996. A Helping Hand later merged with Nightlight in 2014. Our agency works directly with the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) and a liaison in Beijing. Nightlight has a long history of successful placements through our China program and our fees are very comparable to most other agencies.

The CCCWA maintains a list of children’s files who are available for adoption on their Child Placement Information System (CPIS).  The CPIS is a secure database that is accessed electronically by adoption agencies that have a waiting child program with the CCCWA. Children are placed into two categories: Non-Special Focus and Special Focus.

  • Non-Special Focus Children – Non-Special Focus (NSF) children are added to the list on a regular basis and are only available to families who have a Log-In Date (LID). In other words, your adoption paperwork (dossier) has been filed and registered with the CCCWA. Typically, these children are younger with minor or correctable medical needs or healthy older children. The Nightlight China Department monitors the list as it is released in real time and searches for children who meet the criteria of our waiting families. When a child is locked for a family from the NSF list, a 72-hour hold is put on the child’s file so that the family can make a decision based on the referral information received which includes medical information as well as social and developmental history. The family must make a decision within 48 hours so that additional paperwork and translations can be completed before the 72-hour time period expires.
  • Special Focus Children – Special Focus Children (SF) are those who have moderate to severe medical needs OR children who were initially assigned to other agencies but were not matched. Families can usually be matched with a child from the Special Focus list before they begin the adoption process and will be given 6 months to complete their home study and dossier paperwork. Currently, China is not issuing any waivers for families who do not meet eligibility requirements.

Agency List – Nightlight is able to choose Special Focus children from the shared list to be placed on our individual agency list. Nightlight is given the opportunity to advocate to find homes for those children for a minimum of 60 days. Families interested in the children on Nightlight’s individual list may have additional time to review a child’s file before making a decision.

  • View children available for adoption
  • Both boys and girls are available for adoption.
  • Children as young as 12 months and as old as 14 are available for adoption (adoption must be completed before the child’s 14th birthday)
  • Special needs program – all children available have an identified medical need.
  • “Healthy/older” children between the ages of 8 and 14 are available. While these children may not have an identified medical issue, most have lived in an institution throughout their lives, which must be considered.
  • Referral times range from 1 to 15 months and are dependent on the prospective adoptive parent’s openness to gender, age range and medical needs they are willing to consider.

The CCCWA released new eligibility requirements effective June 30, 2017.  Their current laws state the following:

  1. Age – Both Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) must be a minimum of 30 years old.  There can be no more than 50 years between the youngest PAP and child to be adopted.
  2. Marital Status – only married heterosexual couples or single heterosexual women adopt.  Neither party should have more than 2 divorces.  If there is no divorce history or only 1 divorce between the couple, the current marriage should be at least 2 years.  If one party has two divorces, the current marriage should be at least 5 years.  Widowhood does not count as a divorce.
  3. Health Status – PAPs should be physically and mentally fit, with the ability to raise and educate the adopted child without any of the following:
    1. Intellectual disability;
    2. HIV positive or infectious disease that is actively contagious;
    3. Schizophrenia;
    4. Mental disorder including mania, depression, bipolar affective disorder, anxiety and phobia, etc.
      1. PAPs with minor symptoms under good control with medicine may be exempt with a Psychological evaluation from a psychological professional assessing that the disorder does not affect their normal work and life and they are fit to care and educate the adoptee.
    5. Binocular blindness, binocular low vision or monocular blindness with no ocular prosthesis;
    6. Severe facial deformity;
    7. Binaural hearing loss or language function loss
      1. PAPs may adopt a child with an identical condition
      2. EXEMPT if one party of the couple is healthy
    8. Non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limb, paralysis or deformation;
    9. Diesases that require long-term treatment and have a poor prognosis which will affect PAPs child caring ability.  This includes lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, etc.
      1. EXEMPT for couples where one party is completely healthy and the other suffers any such disease but is under good control after treatment.
      2. Must provide a doctor’s note to attest that the illness has no effects on normal work and life and fit to care for adoptee;
    10. Cancer
      1. Skin, thyroid, breast and testicular cancer that has been cured for at least 3 years
      2. Other cancer or malignant tumor cured at least 5 years;
    11. Vital Organ Transplant within 10 years
      1. EXEMPT for couples if one party is healthy and the other had a transplant less than 10 years ago but has recovered to live a normal life.
    12. Body Mass Index less than 40 (BMI=weight (kg)/height2(m2))
    13. Short stature or dwarfism; PAPs may adopt a child with identical condition.
  4. Family Financial Condition
    1. At least one party of the couple should have stable occupation and income;
    2. Annual Income
      1. Couple Adoptions = $10,000 per family member, including the child to be adopted;
      2. Single Parent adoptions = $10,000 for the actual number of family members after the adoption PLUS one additional person
    3. Net Worth (Assets minus Liabilities)
      1. Couple adoptions = $80,000
      2. Single = $100,000
    4. Welfare allowances such as relief fund, pension, disability benefits, adoption subsidy, foster care subsidy and disabled child subsidy, etc. are not to be included
    5. Relaxation is granted to foreigners (ex-pats) living in China
  5. Moral Character
    1. PAPs should have no record of criminal penalties, good moral character, honorable behavior and abide by the laws and regulations, without any of the following:
      1. History of Domestic violence, sex abuse, abandonment/abuse of children (even if they were not arrested or convicted);
      2. History of taking drugs, including opium, morphine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, etc.
      3. History of alcohol abuse and stopped less than 10 years ago
    2.  Due consideration is given when PAPs have had no more than 3 criminal records with minor violations and no severe outcomes and the time for correction has been 10 years or more; or have had no more than 5 traffic law violations with no severe outcomes.
  1. Children in the House
    1. The adoption of orphans, disabled children, or abandoned infants and children whose parents cannot be found are not subject to the requirements that the adopter should be childless.
    2. The PAPs should have enough time and energy to care for the minors in the house, including the child to be adopted.
      1. Couples should have no more than 5 minors in the household
      2. Singles should have no more than 2 in the home
    3. The youngest child in the home should be at least 3 years old.
  2. Adoption Frequency and Numbers
    1. Adopters should submit post placement reports as required after the adoption;
    2. There should be 1 year between the second adoption application and the previous (from registration date of previous adoption to the current adoption application date)
    3. PAPs should adopt 1 child from China at a time;
    4. Couples may adopt twins or multiple births or those who have siblings.
  3. Other
    1. PAPs should receive appropriate pre-adoption training to have correct cognition and understand the risks of inter-country adoption and be fully prepared for the adoption and to care for the child to be adopted;
    2. PAPs should promise not to abandon or maltreat the child to be adopted;
    3. PAPs should promise to submit post placement reports as required;
    4. For PAPs residing in a country other than the USA, if they intend to adopt from China, should reside in a country which has a cooperative relationship with China in inter-country adoption, or in contracting states of the Hague Convention;
    5. These rules do not apply to stepchild adoptions.
    6. As for the adoption of a child belonging to a blood relative of the same generation and up to the 3rd degree of kinship, relaxation will be granted properly.
    7. Time or age is calculated based on the adoption application dossier log-in date at CCCWA.
    8. These rules are effective as of June 30, 2017.

Some families can be matched with a child and then begin the process. Others prefer to begin the process and be logged in before being matched with a child. Regardless of the path you choose, these steps must be followed:

  1. Complete an adoption home study.
  2. Prepare an I-800A form to be granted approval by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In the most basic terms, this process grants a pre-approval for you to bring an orphaned child into the US as a citizen.
  3. Gather documents which will go through a certification and authentication process to become your dossier. (We will help you through the certification and authentication process.) This step can be worked on concurrently with the adoption home study.
  4. Be matched by Nightlight with a child meeting your preferences. Have the file reviewed by a medical professional and, once you are committed, submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) packet to the CCCWA indicating your desire to adopt the specific child.
  5. Within 1-2 weeks after the CCCWA receives and approves your Letter of Intent, you will be issued a Pre-Approval (PA).
  6. If your dossier has already been submitted and logged in with the CCCWA, the review of your dossier will be expedited. If you do not have your dossier logged in at the time you are matched with a Special Focus child, you will be given 6 months to submit your dossier to the CCCWA. Once it is complete, it will be sent along with your PA, logged in and reviewed.
  7. A Letter of Approval (LOA) will be received from the CCCWA officially matching you with the child and allowing you to move forward with the completion of the adoption in the country. The timing of the LOA is dependent on whether or not your dossier has already been reviewed. If your dossier has already been reviewed, you can expect to receive your LOA within 1-2 months after you LOI is submitted. If you log in your dossier after you are matched with a child, it can take approximately 2-4 months after login to receive your LOA.
  8. Upon receipt and acceptance of the LOA, a travel meeting is held with the agency to explain the final adoption processes and travel procedures. A family can expect to travel in 2.5-4 months from the acceptance of the LOA. During this period, the agency will guide you through several steps that help your family receive Travel Approval (TA).
  9. Travel to China generally takes place 3-4 weeks after your family receives TA. Most families enter China in Beijing and then travel to their child’s province to finalize the adoption. The average stay in China is 12-14 days. Some provinces require a longer period of time to process the child’s passport once the adoption is finalized.
  10. Travel to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China to receive your child’s visa to enter the United States.
  11. Bring your child home from China!

Typically, families travel approximately 2.5 to 4 months after receiving their LOA. More specifically, they will travel 3-4 weeks after receiving TA. This depends on how quickly the visa appointment at the US Consulate can be scheduled by our agency. When possible, families are organized into travel groups and travel groups are scheduled at minimum one time each month. All families will be accompanied by an English speaking guide throughout their entire stay in China. Usually the trip lasts 14 days, however, this can vary depending on the province from which your child comes. The typical travel schedule for China has families departing the US on a Thursday and arriving on Friday evening in China. Once you arrive in Beijing you will spend the weekend resting from the long flight, adjusting to the time change and sightseeing such things as The Great Wall and Forbidden City. On Sunday you will travel to the capital city of your child’s province by either train or plane depending on the distance from Beijing. You will receive your child on Monday. This is known as “Gotcha Day!” The adoption will be finalized the following day at the Ministry of Civil Affairs. You will remain in your child’s province the rest of the week while waiting for the child’s Chinese passport to be issued. During that time you will have opportunities to sightsee and learn more about the region of China where your child has lived. On Friday, you will receive your child’s passport and travel to Guangzhou where the U.S. Embassy is located responsible for issuing immigrant visas for adoptees. On Saturday, your child will have a Medical Appointment with a U.S. Embassy doctor. Most children are given a Consulate Appointment on Monday or Tuesday (depending on their age). After the Consulate Appointment, you must remain in China for two more days to receive the child’s immigrant visa. Once the child’s Chinese passport with visa to enter the United States is picked up you are free to depart to return to the USA with your child!

Nightlight Christian Adoptions is committed to preparing families for the adoption of a child with special needs. We provide pre- and post-adoption education and information regarding medical resources.

China requires 6 post-adoption reports: at 6 and 12 months after the adoption as well as 2, 3, 4, and 5 years post-adoption. Clients completing a home study through Nightlight are also required to complete a 1-month post-adoption check-in. The first three post-adoption reports are completed by a social worker and the final three reports are self-reports. Post adoption reports include your child’s developmental progress as well as photos. This is a very serious commitment – Nightlight is committed to showing the CCCWA that children adopted by US citizens are thriving, healthy and well cared for. Compliance with post-adoption reports is also required by the Hague Convention. Therefore, Nightlight charges a fee to monitor and process these post placement reports and also requires families to pay for the cost of the post-adoption report in advance.

The program fee for a China Special Needs adoption is $12,840. Additional estimated expenses of $16,535 – 25,750 will bring the total cost to approximately $29,375 – $38,590. Your out-of-pocket expenses may further be reduced if you receive scholarships or employer-provided adoption benefits. For additional fee information please see Exhibit A.

Please call (502) 423-5780 or e-mail Rebecca with any questions!

China Adoption Program Details
  • Children will be 12 months of age or older
  • Parents must be at least 30 years old and there cannot be more than 50 years between the child’s age and the youngest parent’s age.
  • Referral time is typically 1-15 months depending on the family’s openness to age, gender, and special need
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