Frequently asked questions specifically about adoption.
Frequently Asked Questions about Adoption from China
- Parent Category: FAQs
- Created on Sunday, 10 March 2002 06:00
- Last Updated on Sunday, 22 September 2013 15:25
- Published on Monday, 09 November 2009 19:51
- Written by Administrator
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DISCLAIMER The information in this document is thought to be accurate based on the best available information that we can obtain. However, we make no guarantee, warranty, or other claim as to the accuracy and reliability of this information. Besides, we spent our money on the adoption so there is not much left to sue for.
Adopting a child from China is a process that naturally divides into three phases: Assembling the paperwork that will to go to China, waiting, and the trip to China to adopt the child. The paperwork is generally known as the dossier and consists of ten or so documents that actually go to China and other documents required by State, County and adoption agency rules. The paperwork that goes to China must have a series of certifications that attest that the document is authentic and not something created with a good graphics program. The parent(s) must also submit documents to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. After all of the documents are collected and authenticated, the entire package is sent, usually in a group of 3-10 dossiers, by the adoption agency to the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) in Beijing.
For the parents, this is the beginning of the waiting period. After all of the hustle and work of getting all the paperwork assembled and processed, there is little to do but wait. In Beijing, the dossiers are entered into the registry and then translated or have the translation done in the US checked. After this step, the documents are checked to ensure that all of the legal requirements have been met. In parallel with the parents, the Childrens Welfare Institutes (orphanages) all over China have assembled a dossier on each child available for international adoption that includes a photo and medical report. These are also sent to CCAA in Beijing. Finally, the two sets of dossiers come together and a child is matched up with a family. The medical report and a (small) photo are sent back to the adoption agency in the U.S. This long awaited document is called the referral or offering. It specifically says to the family, here is a child that is available for adoption, would you accept this specific child to be part of your family? After translation into English, the medical reports and photo are sent to the family that has been waiting for many months at this point. Except for very unusual circumstances, the family accepts the referral. This acceptance is sent back to China and the second part of the waiting starts. In China, the acceptance leads to further paperwork in Beijing along with notification to the Childrens Welfare Institute that a family has been identified for that specific child. After the paperwork is complete, CCAA sends a permission to travel document back to the adoption agency.
This permission to travel document initiates the third phase of the process, the trip. The agency may set a date, or the group of families may decide on the date for travel to China, plane tickets are purchased and arrangements made with guides/translators in China. The trip usually lasts between ten days and two weeks. The group may travel together from the U.S. or meet up in China on a specific date. In China, there is Chinese paperwork to complete at both the Provincial level (equivalent to a State) and at the local level. At the completion of the Chinese paperwork, the adoption is final and is recognized as final by the U.S. and Chinese governments. After completion of the Chinese documents, the new family travels to Guangzhou, China to the U.S. consulate there for processing of the INS documents to allow the child to legally enter the U.S. This usually is completed in two to three days. Remember that even though the adoption is complete, the child is still a citizen of China. Keep this in mind if you travel to other countries before returning home. After the INS processing in Guangzhou, the family returns to their home in the U.S. to begin their new life as a family together.
This however is not the end of the paperwork. The parents must get their child a Social Security number and file for the certificate of U.S. citizenship. In addition, there is often readoption paperwork that is needed in some states to get the child a birth certificate issued by the State. There is also a lot of visiting to show off the excellent child to friends and family, reunions with the travel group, Families with Children from China events and many other fun family events.
How long does the process take ?
Around 12 - 18 months is the usual time from selecting an agency to arriving home with the child. Most of the waiting is dictated by how long various State, Federal, and Chinese government agencies take to process all of the documents.
How much does it cost ?
Somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 for the complete adoption spread over the entire period of 12 - 18 months. However, about 1/2 of the cost is for the trip to China and the fees paid there.
What is CCAA ?
CCAA is the China Center of Adoption Affairs. This organization is a unit of the Ministry of Civil Affairs which has responsibility for all of the Child Welfare Institutes (orphanages) in China. It is responsible for all international adoptions and receives and processes all of the paperwork to and from adoption agencies in other countries.
How old are the children ?
In general, most children are between 6 and 20 months of age. Due to legal requirements and the time required for document processing in China, the children are almost always over six months of age before the adoption is completed. Parents normally request a specific age range that they would prefer. CCAA usually, but not always, will comply with the wishes of the parents. Parents may request older children if that is their preference. Most infants adopted in 1997 were 8-15 months old.
Are all the children girls ?
No. About 95% of the children are girls but some boys are available. Girls can be of any age over about six months but boys tend to be between one and two years old.
Can you specifically request a boy ?
Yes you can but it is likely that you will have a significantly longer wait. If you are a single male adopting, it is likely that you will be referred a boy. Chinese law requires that a single male parent be at least 40 years older that a female child. If you really would like to adopt a boy, they are much more easily available from other countries.
Can you adopt twins?
This is extremely unlikely but has been done on rare occations. Since China began allowing significant numbers of foreign adoptions in 1993, there have been over 20,000 children adopted to the U.S. from China. The best available information is that during this time less than 50 sets of twins have been adopted. Each of these cases has represented a unique set of circumstances where the biggest common factor is a large amount of blind luck.
Can single people adopt ?
Yes. In fact about 1/3 of all of the children adopted from China are adopted by single parents. However, according to U.S. INS requirements, they must be at least 25 years old. As of Feb 2001, single parents must submit a document stating that they are not homosexual to comply with provisions of the China Adoption Law. As of December, 2001, CCAA issued new regulations restricting the number of single parents to 5% of that agencies total quota. This will severely limit adoptions by single parents from China. Agencies are setting up waiting lists for the next year or two and suggesting single parents consider other countries that accept single parent. See the guide that can be ordered from the International Concerns Committee for Children for a current list of countries allowing single parents to adopt.
What requirements do the parents have to meet ?
Effective July 1, 2001, here are the revised requirements. To adopt a healthy child, Chinese law requires that the parents be over the age of 30. Newly issued regulations place a hard upper limit of 55 for parents. In addition, parents aged 50-55 must be prepared to accept a child of 3 or older. The parents also need to have sufficient income to support the child and to be in reasonably good health. The Chinese do not have specific numerical standards although some agencies have set their own limits.
Do you have to use an adoption agency ?
Yes. Changes in the regulations made in 1996 now require that all dossiers must be sent by adoption agencies that are registered with CCAA. In addition, all social workers involved in the home study must be employees of an adoption agency licensed to do China adoptions.
What is a dossier ?
The dossier is the collection of documents that your adoption agency sends to China. It describes the person or couple that would like to adopt and demonstrates that they are capable of being adequate parents.
What documents go into a dossier ?
The contents of a dossier will vary depending on your specific circumstances. However the bare minimum will include: (1) Your home study, (2) Your petition to the Chinese government to be allowed to adopt a child, (3) a financial statement showing your income, assets and liabilities, (4) a document showing that you are not a wanted criminal, (5) birth, marriage (if applicable) and divorce (if applicable) certificates, (6) the I-171H document from the U.S. I.N.S. stating that they have processed your I-600A application. (7) a letter from your employer certifying that you hold a job, and (8) health certificates (a form filled out by your doctor after a basic physical exam), (9) a copy of each parents passport, and (10) two photos of each parent and 6 photos of 'family life'.
Your adoption agency will probably require a number of other documents and forms to fulfill state and local (city and/or county) legal requirements as well. These can be even more extensive than the documents that go to China in extreme cases.
What is a home study ?
A home study is a document prepared by a licensed social worker that describes the prospective family. The home study must be conducted by a social worker employed by an agency with a China adoption program. A typical home study will involve three visits with the social worker, one at home and two at the social workers office. The family will also need to arrange letters of recommendation from people who know the prospective parent(s) well, these letters are sent directly to the social worker. The final document, which usually runs to six pages or so, can be thought of as a short biography of the parents and an evaluation of whether they will be acceptable parents. The agencies are not looking for perfect parents (to-be), they are looking for people that will provide these children with a loving and stable families to grow up as normal kids.
Why is the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service involved ?
When you adopt a child in a foreign country, that child is a citizen of that country. When you bring the child home to the U.S., you are bringing a citizen of another country into the U.S. From a legal standpoint, the child is immigrating into they U.S. and all immigration is regulated by the INS. Therefore, to bring your newly adopted child into the U.S., you must comply with the rules as defined by the INS. These are not too complex and involve mostly filling out a number of forms. Your adoption agency should be able to guide you as to what forms need to be filled out when.
How do we order forms from the INS?
The simplest way is to call the automated document request line at 1-800-870-FORM. However you need to know the specific INS number for the form that you need. The forms usually arrive in the mail within a couple of weeks. If you have internet access, some forms in PDF format can also be downloaded from http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/formsinstr.htm .You may also be able to get some forms at the regional office of the INS, see your phone book to locate the nearest office.
What is an I-600A ?
The I-600A is an INS form that starts the process of your international adoption with the INS. Specifically it is a petition for advanced processing. Before the INS can issue a visa to allow an adopted foreign child to enter the U.S. they are legally required to perform an investigation to ensure that the parents meet certain requirements. In addition, the child must also meet certain requirements. To avoid long delays with new families waiting in foreign countries, the INS will conduct their investigation of the parents before the parents travel to China, this is the 'advanced processing' part. The process starts when you send in the I-600A form along with your birth (and marriage, and divorce) certificates. You will be notified to show up at a specific office to have your fingerprints taken. These are sent to the FBI for a check to see if you have a criminal record. You or your agency sends a copy of your completed home study as well. The investigation consists of going through the home study, checking the other documents and waiting for the FBI clearance. When the investigation is complete, they send you INS form I-171H which states that you are cleared to adopt a child.
What is an I-171H ?
The I-171H is a form that the INS sends to you when they have completed their required investigation of the parents. This tells you that the INS is satisfied that you meet all of the legal requirements from the U.S. point of view to adopt a child from a foreign country and bring that child with you to live in the U.S. The I-171H must go to China as part of your dossier, be sure to make several copies for you files. After you receive the I-171H, you should get a packet of forms from the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou. This package contains the OF-230, I-600, I-604 forms, the medical exam form (OF-157), and a cover letter with basic instructions. This package should arrive within two months of when the I-171H arrives, if it has not shown up, contact your local INS office.
What is authentication ?
The official in CCAA will be matching you up with a child solely on the basis of a stack of documents from a large country 1/2 way around the planet. They cannot possibly keep track of what is an authentic document from thousands of state and county government bodies in the U.S. To resolve this problem, they have adopted a set of requirements called authentication.
The best way to explain the authentication process is by example. One of the required documents in the dossier is a basic medical examination to ensure that the parents are healthy enough to raise a child. The medical exam form is filled out by the examining physician (Dr. Jones), and signed in the presence of a notary. The notary (Bill Smith) places his seal on the document and signs a certification that Martha Jones M.D. is the person signing the document. The document then is taken to the county government (Essex County), which issues an official county document certifying that Bill Smith is a registered notary in Essex County. These two documents now are taken to the State government (Vermont) which issues a third document which states that the certification issued by Essex County is an official Essex County document. The three documents now go to the U.S. State Department which issues a fourth piece of paper which states that the Certification issued by the State of Vermont is in fact an official document. Finally, these four documents go to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate which provides a fifth and final document stating that the U.S. State Department document is an official State Department document.
At the end of this process, a paper trail exists that provides official assurance to the examiners at CCAA that the medical form was in fact filled out and signed by Dr. Jones and that the information on the form is correct and can be used by CCAA to determine that the prospective parents meet the criteria set by the Chinese authorities. This process must be done for all components of the dossier that are sent to China.
Why are the dossiers sent to China in groups?
This is done because it is easier for the agency and for CCAA to track the dossiers if they arrive in a group. In addition, this reduces the travel costs. This is because one guide/translator can work with up to ten or so families. This allows the costs for guide services are shared among the group rather than being paid for by just one family. Some agencies do not group families for either sending dossiers or for travel. This speeds up the process a little but means increased travel costs and requries the family to travel by themselves to China.
What is the Six Month Lifetime for dossiers?
Due to concerns in the Ministry of Justice, the following rule about the age of documents in dossiers has been established as of January 1998. When documents are authenticated at the Chinese Embassy or at a Consulate here in the U.S., this starts the six month clock. The clock is put on hold when the documents are logged in at CCAA. The clock resumes when a referral is sent. The clock is stopped finally on the date of adoption. As long as there is less than six months of 'clock time', there is no problem. Under normal circumstances, this should pose no problems, see this page for full information and additional links.
What are expedited referrals?
In certain circumstances, CCAA will process a dossier significantly more rapidly than normal. The regulations effective Aug 1, 2001 list 5 separatecategories that qualify for expedited referrals. 1. Adoption of medical special needs children, 2. Adoption of children of 4 and up by parents under 45. 3. Adoption of children 7 and up by parents 46-55 years old. 4. Adoptions where one or more parents are Chinese or of Chinese ancestry (this will need some clarification, check with your agency for details). 5. Adoption by people who have been living in China for more than 1 year for work or study.
What happens to my dossier in China?
This is the process as described in January 1997. Your dossier is condensed into a registration form that can be reviewed instead of searching through bulky dossiers. The steps are as follows: Step one - all applications go through the initial office where the paperwork is translated or its already existing translation is verified. The registration form is completed and entered into the computer. This step can take two to four months based on current volume. Step two is a transfer down the hall to Department 1 where the family's qualifications and documents are checked. This step can also take two to four months to complete. Step Three is Department 2 where the family is matched with a waiting child! The medical report of the child is reviewed one final time and that report and the child's small visa photo are forwarded to the family's agency. The intent is for the family to review the information and accept in writing the referral and return this approval back to the CCAA. Once received, the information is shared with the provincial officials. The mailing alone can take 2 weeks. Then, the Invitation to Travel letter is generated, and is personally signed (with a special red chop) by one of the two Vice Directors of the Center. Finally, the family can travel! Therefore, if you review the steps, the 8-10 month wait to adopt is spelled out, and that is the accepted timeline of the Center based on the current number of dossiers, available children, staff and the system currently set in place.
Why does CCAA have such a large backlog of dossier?
When international adoptions in China were opened in 1993, responsibility was shared between the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The program expanded rapidly but unevenly, in early 1996, MOJ was processing over 80% of the total dossiers which were arriving at the rate of several hundred per month. The rest were handled by a small staff at Civil Affairs. At this time, the process took about 2-3 months from submission of your dossier to travel. In late May of 1996, a decision was reached at very high levels in the Chinese government that all adoption processing would be done by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The Civil Affairs staff was forced to suspend operations, move to much larger offices, and hire and train a much larger staff. There was also a delay in transferring the existing dossiers from MOJ to Civil Affairs. The newly expanded staff was able to resume processing in late August of 1996. However, between all of the dossiers that had continued to arrive and the dossiers that had been transferred from MOJ, a huge backlog had developed. The CCAA staff has been able stabilize the waiting period and, based on the recent statistics, has recently started reduce it significantly as of Summer 1998. The most recent statistics on waiting periods are available at: http://homepages.wwc.edu/staff/stirra/waiting.htm. The continued increase in the number of adoptions from China has contributed to the current pace of dossier processing. The backlog has now led CCAA to issue a numerical quota on the number of dossiers that each agency can submit in each calendar year.
What do I need to get done while waiting for our referral?
Make sure that your passport reasonably current. It must be at least six months away from expiring when you travel. So get your passport or get it renewed in plenty of time. Forms are available at any U.S. Post Office. In addition, get your immunizations completed, see the next section for details.
What immunizations should we get for our trip to China?
There are two immunizations that you should get while waiting if not before, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. These are both viral diseases that primarily affect the liver, and there is little available treatment for either condition. Hep A is usually transmitted through water or sometimes food, uncooked shellfish are a prime route for catching this disease. The Hep A immunization is done with two injections about a month apart. Hep B is transmitted primarily by blood products or sexual contact with an infected person. You should get the Hep B immunization because there is a small (about 3%) chance that the child you adopt may be infected with Hep B. The Hep B immunization is done with two shots about a month apart followed by a booster six months after the first shot. Side effects other than soreness at the injection site are not common for either immunization. In addition, you should check that your measles immunizations are effective, see our measles page for details.
What is a referral?
A referral, also called an offering by some agencies, is the response of the Chinese government to your request to adopt a child. They send you information about a specific child and you decide if the child is acceptable. The information consists of two items, a small photo, usually about 1 inch by 2 inches that is usually color but may be black and white, and a medical report. The quantity of the information in the medical report is quite varied. They can be as little as 1/2 page with items like "Nutrition: normal", or they may be 4 pages long with a full battery of laboratory test results. It will always include the name of the child, which was assigned by the orphanage, and their best estimate of the date of birth. The medical report can be anywhere from 2-8 months old, as can the photograph. The medical report will be in Mandarin and it is usually the responsibility of the adoption agency to provide a full translation. After getting all of the information, the prospective parents have a limited amount of time, usually a week, to decide whether to accept that specific child into their family. It is quite normal to have doubts, fears and excitement all at the same time. In the vast majority of cases, the referral is accepted and a notice of acceptance is sent to CCAA.
Why would you not accept a referral?
A decision to decline a referral is an extremely rare event. There are two possible reasons, the first is that there is information in the medical report that indicates that the child has a medical condition that the prospective parents are unable to handle. The second possible reason is that the prospective parents, when confronted with the photo of a specific child, decide that they are unable to enter into any adoption at that time.
Where can I get good medical advice about an international adoption?
In most cases, your own local pediatricians should be able to answer medical questions. In some circumstances, you may need to get additional medical advice. We have a current list of MDs with experience in dealing with international adoptions, see this page. There are two clinics that have a good reputation and a lot of experience in dealing with children adopted from other countries. These are:
Dr. Laurie Miller
International Adoption Clinic
New England Medical Center
750 Washington Street, Box 286
Boston, MA 02111
(enclose check for $50 payable to IAC)
Dr. Dana Johnson
University of Minnesota
International Adoption Clinic
420 Delaware Street NE, Box 211
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(Enclose cover letter with specific questions or concerns
include phone number and good time to call you back.
Send no payment, but they will enclose a donation envelope with their reply to you).
Why does it take so long to get Permission to Travel?
The acceptance is sent to CCAA by your adoption agency, usually by fax. The information must then be entered into the CCAA records. Next a document is sent by mail to the orphanage and to the province officials notifying them that a family has been identified for the specific child. The provincial officials then have their own paperwork to process and send back to CCAA. The orphanage officials then will check the child to ensure that the medical condition of the child has not changed significantly. The orphanage officials will send their own documents to CCAA confirming that the child is still available for adoption. In very rare cases, the child may have been adopted by a local family and the notification has not reached CCAA in time. All documents in China are sent by mail and the Chinese mail system is not quite as efficient and speedy as the U.S. Postal Service. After all documents are received from the provincial and local officials, the paperwork is finalized and the permission to travel document is prepared. The official document is reviewed and personally signed by one of the two Vice Directors of the CCAA. This is then sent to the agency, which notifies the parents.
Who makes the travel arrangements?
This depends on your agency. Travel arrangements fall into two sections, travel to China and travel inside of China. Some agencies will make all the arrangements including all tickets and some require you to make all arrangements outside of China. Travel inside of China may be arranged by one of the official travel services or the agency may employ their own guides. The guides are usually quite good and with the large numbers of people traveling to adopt, the guides and translators may only work with adoptive parents. These guides often know the adoption process in China better than anyone else and can generally be relied upon to get the job done correctly. These guides are very unlikely to try and stretch the rules since they will be working with the local and provincial officials on a regular basis and cannot afford to offend them.
Do we have to travel to China to get the child?
Yes, this is a requirement of the Chinese government and is not subject to negotiation. In two parent families, one parent may stay home but this requires additional paperwork. The child will have to be brought in on an IR-4 visa instead of the usual IR-3. This invokes a requirement for a readoption in the U.S. In addition, specific steps must be taken to legally sign the I-600 form (see below).
What is the process in China?
The exact process differs among the various provinces in China. In general, there are four phases, provincial paperwork, the final adoption, the childs' passport, and the US INS paperwork. The provincial paperwork provides the final permission to adopt and is done in the provincial capital or a major city. The final adoption may be done in the same location or may require travel to the city where the orphanage is located. The adoption is finalized by a Notary, note that in China, the Notary is a government official with significant authority. When the Notary hands you the completed paperwork, the adoption is final and is recognized as such by both Chinese and U.S. authorities. The last part involving the Chinese authorities is obtaining the Chinese passport and exit visa. This may involve additional travel or may be handled by your travel guide. The final part is the travel to Guangzhou and the INS visa process. After the adoption is finalized, you will complete the forms that were sent to you from the US consulate in Guangzhou after they received your I-171H. Your guide should have some example forms to provide some guidance or these may be provided by your agency before you leave for China. In Guangzhou, there are three tasks, the medical exam, the interview at the consulate, and picking up the visa for your child. The medical exam is quite simple and short, usually taking no more than 15 minutes for the exam, but much longer for the paperwork to be completed. The interview at the consulate is also relatively quick with the wait being much longer than the actual process. The next day you will return to the consulate to pick up the completed visa for your child. Be sure to check carefully that all the information is correct before you leave the consulate. Also, do not open the visa packet, it must be sealed and undisturbed when you hand it in to the INS official at your port of entry into the US. If the packet is opened, you may have to return to China to obtain the correct paperwork.
Why do we have to go to Guangzhou?
The only U.S. consulate in China that does the I.N.S. processing for adoptions is the one in Guangzhou. Therefore all families must go there to get the paperwork processed. The end result is the visa that allows you to bring your child into the U.S.
If only one parent travels, how do we both sign the INS I-600 form?
The legal and correct way is as follows. Leave the original form at home and take a copy of the form to China. The traveling parent signs the form as soon as possible after seeing the child and faxes a copy of the signed form back to the at home parent in the U.S. The at home parent then signs the original form and sends it by overnight air express (i.e. FedEx) to the hotel in Guangzhou where the traveling parent and child will be staying. Be sure to note on the package that it should be held for the traveling parent who is expected to arrive at the hotel on the following date. Upon arrival at the hotel, the traveling parent picks up the package with the original form signed by the at home parent. The traveling parent can then sign the original form which is now properly and legally signed by both parents.
What should I pack for myself for the trip?
This is one of the most debated questions in the whole China adoption process. There are a number of mutually contradictory packing lists that have been posted on the Internet and the FCC website. These can be used as a guide and source of suggestions. In spite of the debate, there are several points with general agreement.
(1) Pack light. You will have to carry everything by yourself, including a wiggly child, through a number of airports, train stations, hotel lobbies etc. usually with no help at all. You will also have to get all luggage and the child in and out of taxis, buses and probably vans along the trip. Make sure that everything is on wheels or can easily and securely be attached to something wheeled.
(2) Plan to do laundry. It is much simpler to plan to do laundry once or twice in China. The laundry at the hotel in the city where you do the adoption will probably be less expensive than at the hotels in Guangzhou. Be aware that all laundry in China is done in VERY HOT water so make sure that the fabrics of the clothes that you pack will tolerate these conditions. The quality of the laundry services is usually excellent, the clothes will be returned clean, ironed, and folded.
(3) Dress comfortable and causal. Suits, ties, and polished shoes are not needed at any point. The officials in China will not be dressed up and do not expect it of you. After you have the child, you will also be liable to have drips and spills of formula, food, and bodily fluids without warning so do not take anything that needs to be dry cleaned.
(4) Be sure to get a travel wallet that can be worn inside of your clothes. A valid U.S. passport is worth up to $50,000 on the black market. The U.S. consulates are extremely unsympathetic to claims of lost or stolen passports for this reason. You will also be carrying several thousand dollars in cash for fees and the orphanage donation so caution is needed. Never carry your passport or cash in a purse, fanny pack or wallet in a pocket.
(5) Some people find coffee single, instant soups, oatmeals, etc very useful for a quick meal in your room, especially in the first few very calm and well organized days after you receive your child.
Why do we have to take all this cash to China ?
The officials in China deal only in cash and usually but not always in $U.S. The larger hotels will accept credit cards, but most other places will only accept cash. You will need the local currency (RMB) for restaurants, any items you buy for the baby or yourself etc. The exact fees vary among the different provinces but here are some ballpark figures: donation to the orphanage $3000 - $3500, provincial registration fee: $100 - $200, Notary/adoption fee: $400 - 700, passport fee: $50 - 100, U.S. visa fee: $200. There are a number of smaller fees, airport taxes etc. that will consume more of your hard earned cash.
What will the weather be like in China?
China is a big country, actually larger than the continental U.S. and the weather varies accordingly. The monthly averages for high and low temperature, humidity, inches of rainfall, and days of snow cover for 48 cities in China can be found on the Families with Children from China (FCC) web site (climate page). There are also links to websites with current condtions found on the page with information for families waiting to travel (click here).
How much will my child weigh at the adoption?
A reasonable (but not perfect) estimate of the probable size of your child can be deduced by the following process: Start with the age of your child at the time of their medical examination and add the number of months between that time and the referral. Add an additional two months for the time to get the permission to travel and actually get to China. This will be the probable age of your child at the time of adoption. Now look at the medical report and get the weight of the child at the time of the medical exam. The next step is to consult the growth chart for Chinese girls on the FCC web site (growth charts). Look along the line for the age of the child at the time of the medical exam and find the weight closest to that reported on the medical form. Now follow that column down until you get to the line that matches the age of the child at your estimated time of travel. This weight is a reasonable estimate of what your child will weigh at the time of the adoption.
What size clothes should I bring for my child?
The first step is to get an estimate of the weight of your child (see above) at the time of adoption. Then buy clothes for a child of that weight. Using the ages (i.e. 12-18 months) is usually a bad idea for two reasons. First, these are based on children in the U.S. who tend to be larger at a given age. Second, the sizes are not standardized among the manufacturers of childrens clothes. That is to say that different companies will for example pick different weights to divide the 9-12 month sizes from the 12-18 month sizes. Buying clothes based on a specific weight is generally more accurate.
How many diapers should I bring?
This depends on whether you want to have to buy diapers in China or not. A reasonable estimate is that a year old infant will go through 4-6 diapers per day assuming no digestive upsets. Multiply times the number of days that you expect to be in China after you get the child. Add two days worth for emergencies etc. and you will have a good estimate of the number that you need for the whole trip. It is probably a good idea to have enough packed to get you to Guangzhou since disposable diapers may be hard to find in some of the smaller cities in China. They are available in Guangzhou in a number of stores. Pack the Ultra-thin variants since these will take less space in your suitcase.
How many baby wipes should I bring?
For pee diapers, one is enough, for poop diapers, you will need somewhere between 2 and 6. A busy day might use up 10-12 wipes. Depending on the length of the trip 50-100 wipes should be enough. It is a good idea to bring a complete supply with you as these are harder to find in China and they do not take up that much room. Another good idea is to get a refill pack of wipes and to repack them into a large freezer class ziploc bag for the trip.
How do you get rid of dirty diapers on the trip?
These will have to be put in the regular trash in your hotel room. Therefore bring a good supply of quart size plastic bags that can be sealed airtight such as Ziploc or equivalent. You do not want to share your room with a smelly diaper overnight. An alternative is the scented diaper disposal bags, these also will be OK if they are sealed tightly.
What will the baby eat?
This depends completely on the age of the child. Babies that are under a year will probably be on the bottle with formula supplemented with rice cereal. These formulas are usually milk based, however a majority of parents bring soy based formula in case their child has lactose intolerance, a low iron formulation is also preferred. At around one year of age, the children transition to table food, the exact age varies among different orphanages. Except in very unusual cases, a child older than 18 months will be completely on table food. Be aware that in some cases, the children expect to be fed from chopsticks and may refuse food on a spoon or fork.
Will we have to eat with chopsticks in China?
If you stay in the big cities and in the larger international hotels, you will have forks & spoons for eating. However, if you end up traveling to a smaller city for the adoption, you may end up in a restaraunt where chopsticks are the only available eating implement. It might be a good idea to practice with chopsticks regularly at your local Chinese restaraunt before you travel.
What sort of medical supplies should we bring?
The amount and type of medical/first aid supplies that you pack depends on your level of comfort and the amount of cooperation you get from your pediatrician. Some people bring a few bandaids and some bring enough for a small pharmacy. My own personal suggestions would be to bring a dozen assorted bandaids, infant Tylenol or Motrin, skin lotion, a liquid cold remedy for infants, baby Oragel in case your child happens to cut a tooth on the trip, and a powdered oral rehydration mix in case of severe diarrhea. It is also a good idea to take one of the things that look like giant eyedroppers to administer the correct dosage. If you feel comfortable and if your pediatrician agrees, people have also taken a powdered antibiotic in case of an ear infection and Elemite cream to treat scabies. Be sure to get written instructions from your pediatrician making clear the symptoms that should be present before a prescription medicine is administered by a parent. Another alternative is the "Texas medical kit" This is a well equipped travel kit designed and assembled by people with direct experience in traveling to China. As of 11/97, the kit costs $ 75.00 (+$14.00 if overnight shipping is required) and can be ordered from International Adoptive Families at 972-434-3434 or fax to 940-380-9084. You should order this after you have your referral because some of the medications have expirations and you want them to be reasonably current when you travel. Also, it is somewhat customized to the age of your child.
The child cries on every takeoff and landing, what can we do?
The more common cause of this is that the child is not swallowing to equalize the air pressure in their ears. Two ways around this are to give the child a bottle/sippy cup or to give a lollipop. Either will produce enough swallowing to minimize any discomfort. If this does not solve the problem then the child could have a cold or ear infection. A cold is usually obvious but in some cases, the child will not show any obvious signs of an ear infection, a consultation with a doctor is clearly indicated.
How long will it take the child to adjust to U.S. time?
Children normally change their biological clocks at a maximum rate of about one hour per day. China is twelve hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Therefore nearly all children should be adjusted to U.S. time within two weeks of returning home. Getting the child outside in daylight will help the adjustment process.
How do we order forms from the INS?
The simplest way is to call the automated document request line at 1-800-870-FORM. However you need to know the specific INS number for the form that you need. The forms usually arrive in the mail within a couple of weeks. If you have internet access, some forms in PDF format can also be downloaded from http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/forms .You may also be able to get some forms at the regional office of the INS, see your phone book to locate the nearest office.
Do we have to do a state readoption?
This is required if you brought the child into the US on an IR-4 visa. The IR-4 is issued when only one of two parents travels. If both parents or the only parent travel, the child is brought in on an IR-3 visa and the INS does not require readoption. However, in some states, readoption is the only way to get the state to issue a birth record. It is much much easier to be able to call up your state capitol when you need a birth certificate for soccer league then to call China. Also, very few soccer coaches are able to read enough Mandarin to translate a birthdate. A second benefit is that readoption also includes a legal name change at no extra cost. In some states, if the child came in on an IR-3 visa, the adoption is considered final and readoption is not possible. In these cases, you may be able to get a state birth record entered directly. You should be aware that the rules vary widely among the states and in some states, rules vary from one county or city to the next. Check with your social worker or adoption agency to see what rules apply in your state and local jurisdiction.
How do we apply for a Social Security Number for the child?
This is actually quite simple, you need the following items: (1) the Chinese adoption certificate, (2) the childs' passport, (3) the 'Green card', (4) Your drivers license, and (5) the origianl Chinese birth record. Take the child and all of the documents to your local social security office and fill out the one page application. The clerk will make copies of documents 1-5 and gives you the originals back on the spot. You should receive the card in the mail in about 6 weeks. Please note that different local offices may ask for only some of these documents but it is much easier to bring them all along rather than have to make a second trip.
Please note that if you applied for your childs SSN with the 'Green Card', you will need to file an additional form after her citizenship is changed.
How do we apply for a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship for our child?
The Child Citizenship Act is now in effect and all adopted children are citizens of the United States on the date that they immigrate to the Unites States. Click here for the official INS information document about how this law is being implemented. The fact sheet on the application process is also available on the INS website. You can now download the INS form N-643 that is used to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship for an adopted child. The fee is $125. This form is in the Adobe Acrobat format, if you do not have the reader, you can download the reader for free from the Adobe Website
Where can we find additional information?
Probably the single best source of information is Families with Children from China. Their web site is at: http://fwcc.org and has a lot of information about the process and links to many other sites as well.
How can we find other families that have adopted from China?
The best way to locate other China adoptive families is to join the nearest chapter of Families with Children from China. This organization is set up to support and connect families such as yours. They also usually have activities for waiting families as well. To locate the group nearest to you click here for the most current listing of FCC groups. By mail, write to: Susan Caughman, 255 W 90th Street, 11C, NY, NY 10024.
How long will it take the parents to stop feeling tired?
You will feel well rested a few weeks after they go away to college.