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Editor’s Note: Much of the material on China’s Waiting Child Adoption Program was provided by Great Wall China Adoption

The Chinese government imposed new regulations in 2007 to limit the number of international applications, putting more restrictions on prospective parents from outside China. Applicants must now meet new requirements that include
age, marital status, income, weight, medical history, criminal history and others.China has said the rules are in the best interest of the child.

Editor’s Note: Much of the material on China’s Waiting Child Adoption Program was provided by Great Wall China Adoption 

adoption_cassie_on_stepsThe Chinese government imposed new regulations in 2007 to limit the number of international applications, putting more restrictions on prospective parents from outside China. Applicants mustnow meet new requirements that include
age, marital status, income, weight, medical history, criminal history and others.China has said the rules are in the best interest of the child.

After leading the world in international adoptions, adoptions in China are slowing down, though it is not clear whether there is a link to the new rules. According to the U.S. State Department, Americans adopted 7,906 Chinese children in 2005, a number that dropped to 3,909 children in 2008 and 3001 in 2009.

Also occurring during this same time frame, The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was implemented as an international agreement between participating countries on best adoption procedures. These procedures have basically two goals in mind:
-The best interests of children are considered with each intercountry adoption.
-The prevention of abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children.
The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008.

This means that private adoption service providers will need to be accredited, temporarily accredited, or approved, supervised by a provider that is accredited, temporarily accredited, or approved, in order to provide adoption services involving the United States and another Convention country.

In addition to these changes in government and international regulations, cultural changes within China and its growing economy have given more people the means to raise a child so Chinese parents are less likely to give up their children. It has also become more socially acceptable to have daughters.  In the past, Chinese rural families have sometimes been known to put daughters up for adoption so they can try for a son in a country where most people are allowed to have only one child.   Also, in the past, Chinese people would not consider adopting someone out of the family, but more and more people are educated, and they understand the important part is to raise a child, and it does not necessarily need to be a blood relationship.

Thus with the ability to make increased domestic adoptions and the more than 30,000 international applications waiting to be processed, it is not hard to understand why there are fewer children available for traditional adoption and the wait can take many years.

As a leader in international adoption for the last 14 years, Great Wall China Adoption (GWCA) has firsthand experience with the blessings, as well as the challenges, involved in international adoption. In recent years, the adoption landscape in China has changed as the wait time to be matched with a child without special needs steadily climbed to nearly four years.  More and more families are now left asking themselves when they will be able to welcome home the precious children they long for.  Many of these families have found China’s Waiting Child Program to be the answer to their prayers.  With the formal referral wait time virtually eliminated, the process to adopt a waiting child is significantly shorter. 

The ultimate goal of the Waiting Child Program is to help older children and children with special needs reach their full potential.adoption_older_girl GWCA has much experience with the Waiting Child Program. Among the 8,000 adoptions GWCA has facilitated, many of the children have been older at the time of adoption or have had some form of special need.  Since 2006, GWCA has united 400 children with their forever families through this incredible program.

While caring for a child with special needs may come with more challenges, many families have discovered the rewards resulting from a waiting child adoption are beyond anything they could have expected. 

“Switching to the Waiting Child Program was absolutely the best decision we ever made” said the Kavanagh family, who recently adopted a waiting child. 

The children that are waiting for forever families through this program fall into two main categories: healthy children 8 - 13 years old and children of all ages with special medical needs ranging from mild or moderate to severe.  Common minor or correctable special needs include cleft lip and palate, prominent birthmarks or scars, minor limb differences such as extra or missing digits, congenital heart defects and Hepatitis B.  Needs that are considered more severe include hearing or vision loss, multiple limb differences and developmental delays caused by cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.

For families considering this program, it is important to stay abreast of policy updates coming from the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA).  The CCAA is constantly looking for ways to improve the Waiting Child Program in order to maximize the number of successful placements of waiting children with loving forever families. Keeping in mind that it will always be in a child’s best interest to come home with their family as soon as possible, the CCAA updated its policy to require families who wish to adopt a child with minor or correctible needs to submit the formal application to China before they can be matched.  This application includes all necessary identifying documents, U.S. approvals to adopt and a home study completed by a licensed social worker.

There are many children in China who are waiting for a miracle.  Together we can make a difference.  With the help of adoptive families, we can do more to help answer the call of these precious angels.  If you are considering adopting through this program, you will want to spend some time with your family to consider the incredibly important responsibilities you will encounter.  In preparation of welcoming a beautiful waiting child into your home, you will need to ask yourself some important questions:

-Do I fully understand the medical conditions I am open to? Have I considered the prognosis for best and worst case scenarios?

-Have I spoken with my family and friends to gauge their feelings about raising a child with special needs?

-What other support systems do I have in place?

-Does my medical insurance provider cover adopted children with pre-existing medical conditions?

-What resources (schools, rehabilitation centers, support groups, etc.) are available in my area to help provide care to a child with special needs?

-If I am adopting an older child, am I prepared for the issues that may arise during the bonding and attachment process?

-Am I aware of common conditions of children who have been raised in an institution and the methods to care for these conditions?

If you would like more information about the adoption process and how to get started, visit www.gwca.org or contact Great Wall China Adoption at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1.888.GW.FAMILY (1-888-493-2645).

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CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

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