If you have you been waiting for a “healthy” referral from China or are signed up to receive a referral from another country and have been waiting, you may want to consider making a change. Last year, 2,040 children entered the United States through Intercountry adoption from China. China remains the largest Intercountry adoption program and the majority of these children are children with special needs. However, let’s talk about what China considers special needs versus what we here in the US consider special needs.
In the United States, when we hear the term “Special Needs” we usually think of a child in a wheelchair or in a special classroom. For the sake of adoptions, please know that special needs can certainly encompass those children, but more often than not, these children have a medical condition which made them “undesirable” in China. First, China does not have a good support system for families who have a child with special needs. Secondly, because of their one-child policy history, most parents desire a “perfect” only child. Any medical condition, even the most minor, will cause the child to be abandoned. This means children are available for adoption who have repairable heart conditions, cleft lip/palate, club feet, were born premature, have thalassemia, and various other repairable or manageable conditions.
China classifies their children into “Special Focus” and “non-Special Focus”. Typically, Special Focus children have more moderate to severe special needs and the CCCWA gives us up to 3 months to match those children with families. The non-Special Focus children are usually younger and have more minor special needs. The CCCWA only gives us 3 weeks to match these children with families and they can only be matched with families who are logged-in and who have a valid home study and USCIS approval.
Lately, we have had much success in matching many of our families who are waiting for children with special needs, and because we have expanded our One to One partnerships and are now working with 3 orphanages, we anticipate receiving an increased number of files for children who would be considered non special focus. These are the children who can only be matched with logged in families who have a valid immigration approval. We want to encourage those of you waiting in the China traditional program or waiting in another country program with Nightlight to consider the special needs program. If you are in this position, please contact us to discuss. Nightlight desires to place waiting children into waiting families and does not desire to see families waiting in other programs. Because of this, we are willing to credit these NCA transferring families with fees already paid to another NCA program, as much as possible, toward fees due in the China program.
For those of you who have a dossier logged-in through the traditional program, we encourage you to update your home study and apply for a new I-800A USCIS approval so that if we receive files of children with minor special needs, we can at least call you and tell you about them. As of now, we are prohibited from matching a child with a family if the family does not have the proper government approvals to be matched. China places this restriction because they want the children to come home to a family as soon as possible.
It can take 3 to 4 months to update your home study and immigration approval for China. If you are also completing a dossier for China, it will likely take 4 to 6 months to get your dossier logged in so that you are ready to accept a referral. Don’t delay getting started as soon as possible.
Once you make the decision this is something you will consider, we will have you complete a Medical Conditions Checklist and provide information to help you research various special needs which are commonly seen from China. You and your family would have an opportunity to review these medical conditions and mark those you would be willing to consider. When we received the file of a child which meets your preferences, we will call you to discuss and you will have the opportunity to review the file prior to accepting or declining the referral.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of switching to the China Waiting Child program from either the traditional China program or another NCA adoption program, please call or e-mail Stephanie@nightlight.org or Hannah@nightlight.org.