China Adoption: Step by Step

You can apply to our program to adopt an identified child or you can submit a generic adoption application for a child to be identified as your paperwork progresses. We’re happy to discuss both options with you. Submitting your application packet begins the process. If you have applied to adopt a specific waiting child, we will immediately lock-in that child’s file under your name on the CCCWA system. Usually within one week, we receive notice from China that the match has been approved.

You will need to identify a Hague-accredited adoption agency in your state to provide homestudy services. We’re happy to give you some recommendations. Your local agency will also be responsible for three post-placement reports after your child comes home. We will work closely with your homestudy agency to ensure as smooth a process as possible

Your dossier is the collection of documents required by Chinese adoption officials, called the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA). The CCCWA is the first step in the approval process of your adoption. The dossier is comprised of three primary categories of documents: your homestudy, your I-800A US immigration approval and a collection of documents about yourself (i.e. birth certificate, marriage certificate, employment letter, health form, etc.).

Your CHAC caseworker will work with your homestudy social worker to review, edit and finalize your homestudy after you have done your part of that process. CHAC staff will assist you with US immigration approval, which can only begin after your homestudy is final. For all documents produced by you or third parties, you will be well trained on what is needed and we will review each document to make sure it is exactly right. On average, the dossier completion process takes about four to five months. Once we send the dossier to CCCWA, it will need to be “logged in,” which takes about one week from CCCWA receipt. At that point, processing and approval of your adoption by the CCCWA usually takes about 2 months.

Once your dossier has been reviewed and approved by the CCCWA, they will send your Letter Seeking Confirmation (LSC), also referred to as Letter of Approval (LOA). We will then overnight the letter to you so you can sign and return it. This letter will be used in the next step of the process, which is the I-800.

As you wait for your LSC, Cradle of Hope team will help you to complete drafts of Form I-800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative), Form I-864W, and Form I-800 Supplement 1. This is done ahead of time, so when the LSC is received, these forms are ready to be submitted (by Cradle of Hope) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The I-800 is very similar to the I-800A, the application you filed with USCIS prior to submitting your dossier to China. The difference is in the request. The I-800A requests approval of you as prospective adoptive parents, to adopt a not-yet-selected child with specific special needs. The I-800 requests approval to adopt a specific child.

After Cradle of Hope submits the I-800 and its accompanying documents, I-800 approval notice typically takes three to four weeks to arrive. The I-800 approval means that your request has been approved and that your specific child is eligible to receive an immigrant visa. Once approved, you can move onto the final major step of the process, Article 5.

In order for your child to enter the US, he or she must also receive approval from the U.S. State Department. Article 5 is the process of the U.S. State Department, our country’s Central Adoption Authority, approving the issuance of an immigrant visa.  Once I-800 approval is issued and USCIS gives notice to the U.S. Consulate Guangzhou that your case is coming to them, CHAC will file the DS-260 (the Department of State Immigrant Visa Application) on your child’s behalf. Your Article 5 package will be sent to our guide in Guangzhou who will submit it to the U.S. Consulate (submissions are only accepted on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). Processing time for the Article 5 is usually 10 business days.

After Article 5 processing, the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou will approve your adoption and notify the CCCWA of their decision. The CCCWA acknowledges the approval and usually within one week issues your invitation to travel to China to complete the adoption.

After your travel invitation is issued, we will schedule your trip to China, including your Gotcha Date (the day the child will be brought to you in China) and your visa appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. This can take several weeks. Most families will be on a plane to China in about three weeks from receipt of their travel invitation.

Cradle of Hope will be with you every step of the way as you prepare travel plans. We will conduct a travel preparation meeting by phone, send you lots of written materials, and introduce you to other families traveling at the same time. You will need to arrange your international air travel and Cradle of Hope will set-up all of the internal travel within China, including hotels, transportation, translators and even sightseeing if you like.

Your two week trip begins. Most families spend a day or two sightseeing in Beijing, then travel to their child’s location to complete the adoption. After the first week, families fly to Guangzhou for a US-required medical exam of the child and for visa issuance which takes most of the second week. Then, finally, BRING YOUR CHILD HOME!