China Frequently Asked Questions

How long has America World’s China program been established & how many adoptions have been completed?
The China Program at America World has been established since 1994. Throughout those years, we have successfully placed over 2,000 children.
What are China’s adoption requirements?
Please see the Requirements page for adoption requirements set by China.

Some of the outlined issues may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for exceptions if adopting through the Waiting Children program.
Do both parents have to be a U.S. citizen?
No, only one parent must be a U.S. citizen.
Can U.S. citizens who live abroad adopt through America World?
Yes. We will work with families living abroad on a case by case basis.
Are single women allowed to adopt from China?
Yes, single women are allowed to adopt from China through the Special Focus Program and should contact AW for information on additional application requirements outlined by the CCCWA.
What is the age range of children that are available?
Children ages 0-3 years who are healthy are referred through the traditional program. For an explanation of age ranges in the Waiting Children Program, please click here.
Why are the children abandoned in China?
Children in China may be abandoned due to China’s one child policy, poverty, or death of parents. Children with medical issues may be abandoned due to their parent’s limited ability to care for their medical needs.
What is the process timeframe?
The adoption process timelines are subject to vary per family and can change as the family moves through each stage of their adoption process. The total timeframe it will take each family to complete their adoption will depend on the following:

Family Document Collecting timeframe (average time “paper-chasing” takes 4-7 months), program the family chooses (traditional/healthy program or the waiting child program), and approvals by the CCCWA and USCIS.
What is the current wait time for a healthy referral?
As you begin your China adoption process, it is important to note that the wait for a healthy referral from the date a family’s dossier is logged in at the CCCWA to referral has been increasing over the past few years and continues the trend of increasing each month. The current wait time is over 5 years from the time the dossier is logged in at the CCCWA and continues to increase. Families should contact AWAA directly for updates on the current wait time.
Why is the wait time so long?
There are many factors that contribute to how long a family will wait to be matched, such as the amount of dossiers waiting in line for a referral and the number of children available for international adoption each month. Due to the nature of international adoption and working with the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) agencies will never know the number of referrals available each month or all the factors affecting the wait time.

Families must continue to anticipate a long wait for a referral through the traditional/healthy program. America World will give an updated blog post each time the wait time has changed and each time referrals are received. While we can report trends, we cannot predict the future wait time. You need to be prepared to incur additional costs for home study and USCIS updates throughout your wait time.
What is concurrent family building (CFB)?
Families can participate in a concurrent family building plan. This program is a way for families to continue to build their family as they wait for a referral in the healthy program. Families waiting for a referral in the waiting children program generally cannot participate in this program; however, in some rare situations, approval may be granted.

With the concurrent options, a family brings home a child either through a domestic or international adoption (through America World or another agency) or they may pursue a concurrent pregnancy while the China dossier stays in line.

After the child has been in the home 6 months, a home study update is required to be provided to the CCCWA. Currently 1/3 of the families at AWAA with a dossier in China are participating in or have completed a concurrent family building plan.
Can a family adopt two children at one time?
In very rare cases, twins or older sibling sets are available for adoption. Typically twins are referred to families who do not already have children. Older sibling sets can have special needs or may be healthy older children and are referred through the Waiting Children Program.

The more common way to adopt two children at one time is an unrelated adoption program called the “Waiting Children Special Focus Program”. This allows a family to adopt two children with one adoption process. The CCCWA designates specific boys and girls of all ages with various medical needs as Special Focus Children (SFC). The CCCWA continues to update and change the procedures and policies regarding this program but at this time it is as follows:

A family can adopt two special focus (SF) children or one SFC child in addition to another waiting child or one SFC child in addition to a referral through the healthy program. Travel can be in one or two trips.

The CCCWA continues to look at families interested in this on a case by case basis, but welcomes all families to consider this opportunity. America World requires a social worker’s approval and an internal (free) application and a processing fee. Prospective clients are encouraged to call a China Family Coordinator to better understand this program.
What is the Waiting Children Program (WCP)?
America World strongly believes in advocating for waiting children and is privileged to unite many waiting children with their forever family each year. A “waiting child” is a child who has been determined to be adoptable and has the necessary paperwork to be adopted; however, there is no family that has accepted their file for adoption. They may be waiting due to their age, health status, or just a lack of families eligible or interested in their adoption.

The children that are available through the WC Program are boys and girls who can range in age from 6 months to 13 years of age. Special needs that are seen may include: cleft lip/palate, minor to severe heart conditions, limb differences, hearing or vision impairments, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, neurological conditions, blood conditions, moderate to severe skin conditions, digestive conditions, and developmental delays. Older healthy children are also available through this program, but are generally age 10 and above. Please note that this is only a small portion of the many types of medical conditions seen.
How long has the Waiting Children program been established?
The China Waiting Children Program has been established since 2002.
What are the application requirements for a waiting child adoption?
The requirements are the same as the healthy program, but the age of prospective parents can be between 30 and 55 years at the time the dossier is registered in China. Families with more than 5 children in the home can adopt through this program.

Additionally, on a case by case basis, the CCCWA will make exceptions for families who do not meet one or more of the application requirements. Exceptions are on a case by case basis as determined by the CCCWA. Exceptions have been seen in the following categories: health and medications, net worth, length of marriage in the case of a previous divorce, and criminal history. Families who need an exception must go through a pre-approval process to identify a waiting child and receive approval before submitting a dossier.
What is the process timeframe?
The adoption process timelines are subject to vary per family and to change as the family moves through each stage of their adoption process. The total timeframe it will take each family to complete their adoption will depend on the family document collecting timeframe (average time “paper-chasing” takes 4-7 months) and approvals by the CCCWA and USCIS. It is impossible to know exactly how long a family may wait for a referral after submitting their dossier as we cannot predict the types of referrals that will arrive from the CCCWA. Many families can complete their adoption process in 12-18 months.

Families completing paperwork or who have submitted a dossier and join the WC program to receive a referral will have an unknown wait time. The wait for a Waiting Child Program referral is largely dependent on the specific gender, age, and special needs a family indicates they are open to on the application. The majority of families who take part in the program are open to a female, 0-2 years of age, with a minor or repaired medical condition such as a minor heart condition or a deformity of fingers or toes. Therefore, families open to this type of referral tend to wait longer for a potential referral call.

Families open to boys of any age, older children, multiple medical needs, or children with a special need that is not considered minor or repaired can receive referral calls very quickly, as there are fewer families open to these referrals. Each month, groups of referrals include children who meet this description.
What is the age range of children that are available?
Children 6 months-13 ½ years are available.
How is a family matched with a referral?
There are three types of referrals that the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) submits to agencies for matching: shared referrals, Individual referrals, and special focus referrals.


The shared referral system allows agencies all over the world to try and place registered children with their families. The CCCWA updates this system on a monthly basis with new referrals. During referral times, AWAA staff work evenings and overnight during China’s business hours and weekends, when needed, to ensure all matching opportunities are available to our families.


The individual referral system allows America World to place children whose referrals have been assigned to our agency only, through special orphanage partnerships with select orphanages. These referrals are received every couple of months and matched with families who are participating in the WCP. Only a few select agencies have been granted orphanage partnerships at this time. America World currently works in several provinces and has several orphanage partnerships.

Special Focus

Choosing to adopt a “Special Focus Child (SFC)” gives a family the opportunity to adopt two children using one dossier. The CCCWA chooses which children are categorized as Special Focus. Currently the special focus referral program includes referrals for boys and girls of all ages, infant through 13 years, with multiple special needs or a moderate to severe medical need. Healthy older children generally 10 and older are also part of the special focus program. Referrals with minor medical conditions (such as cleft lip and palate, missing appendages, minor developmental delays, minor heart conditions) and some older healthy children are generally referred through the traditional waiting children program, and are not part of the special focus program.

Travel can be in one or two trips and eligibility for this program is based on the social worker and America World’s approval. A family can adopt from the special focus referral program in the following ways: one healthy child and one special focus child, one waiting child and one special focus child, or two children from the special focus program.
How do families review and accept a referral?
Families can accept a referral whether paper-chasing or dossier ready. The family completes the WC application after joining the China Program. The application consists of some brief questions so a family can consider their resources and support systems. The referral requests include the age, gender and types of special needs a family is open to considering. Families prayerfully consider and research special needs and indicate the ones they feel their family can best care for. We understand each family will have unique circumstances and that God will lead them in this process.

This application is used to match a family with a referral and most of the placements occur through this process. America World staff prays over the matching process and ultimately trusts God’s sovereignty over the matching. All placements for referrals with minor medical needs occur through direct matching; however, there are other ways a family can accept a referral.

The AWAA password protected website allows clients to view some of the waiting children currently available. This allows families to inquire about a specific referral they may be interested in considering for adoption. Please note that due to the hundreds of children currently available; the website only focuses on a few of the many children available. To accept a referral, families review the referral with a doctor and social worker before moving forward with completing acceptance paperwork for AWAA and the CCCWA.
Are immunizations required for travel?
Although no shots are required, we strongly recommend receiving the Polio vaccination or a booster shot, as there have been some cases of Polio in China as cited by the CDC. In addition, we also strongly recommend receiving the Hepatitis A vaccination, per the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Please consult your doctor on what they recommend for you personally for your travel in China. Please visit the Center of Disease Control website for information about what vaccinations they suggest as this information is updated regularly. The Hepatitis B and Tetanus vaccinations are also suggestions for your trip. Some immunizations require several series of vaccinations, so be sure to plan ahead.
Do I need a visa to enter China?
Each traveler must obtain a visa to enter China. Chinese visas are issued by one of the five Chinese Consulates or the Chinese Embassy in the United States. AWAA offers assistance to all of our adoptive families in obtaining a visa for travel. Passports and visas will be returned to families through an express mail service prior to traveling to China. Visas may also be applied for on your own in-person at a Chinese Consulate or the Chinese Embassy.
What does an average trip look like?
For an average adoption trip, families usually depart from the U.S. on a Thursday and arrive in Beijing on Friday evening to enjoy a weekend of sightseeing with other AWAA families in their travel group. The sightseeing includes many famous sites such as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace, and the Forbidden City. In addition to taking in the culture of China, families will also have the opportunity to do some shopping and purchase gifts as part of remembering this important milestone in their family’s adoption journey. Families will travel to their child’s province and complete a week of appointments to finalize their adoption. Each family will complete their final adoption requirements in the Guangzhou Province, where the US Consulate visa appointment takes place during the last week of the trip. The total time in China completing the adoption process is around 2 weeks for the adoption of one child.
Can only one parent travel?
When possible, we recommend that both parents travel to China to pick up their child and complete the adoption process; however, a family can complete the process with only one parent traveling. A family must obtain a Power of Attorney and complete additional documentation. When only one parent travels, we recommend that the individual traveling still bring a travel partner to assist them and help provide support during the trip.
Do I have to book my own flights/can I book my own flights?
America World books international flights for families as a special service offered in the travel stage of the adoption process. We have a very knowledgeable and experienced travel department who are able to assist your family with all details of your adoption trip and are aware of some of the best flight options that are available.

In booking flights for families, families give us their first and second preference for airport departure locations and we will check both locations and compare prices, routing, times, etc. We will then place the proposed flight itinerary on hold and contact your family prior to booking.

Families also have the option to book their own flights using our set guidelines to assist in the research. Families who would like to purchase tickets with frequent flyer miles will need to plan their own international flights.
Does AWAA arrange all of my travel to China?
Yes, we arrange one travel package for all of a family’s expenses while they are in China. The only items not included in this package are some meals. Your package includes all in-country transportation (ground and air), hotel accommodations, sightseeing, expert guide services, tips for guides and drivers, and travel coordination and processing.
Does AWAA have staff in China? Will I travel alone?
America World always prefers that families travel in a group and are not traveling alone while in China. Our staff in China will be there to pick each family up at the airport upon their arrival and be there to see a family depart to the U.S. Our in-country staff and guides will be with families every step of the way during the process and will be there to assist with all of the adoption paperwork processes in country.

On occasion, some exceptions to this policy can be made, but AWAA’s preference is always for group travel while in country.
How long will I be in China?
For families who are adopting one child, the trip ranges from 1 ½ - 2 weeks spent in China. The first few days are spent in Beijing, about one week in your child’s local province, and then anywhere from a few days to one week spent in Guangzhou for the medical exam and US visa appointment. For families who are adopting more than one child from more than one province, the normal timeframe for the trip will increase by about one week per the additional province.
Will my family have any post adoption requirements once I bring my child home?
Yes. Upon your family’s return from China, you will be required to complete visits with a social worker and submit reports to China.
How many visits and reports am I required to submit?
The visits will occur 1, 6, 12, 24, 36, and 60 months after you return from China.
How do I obtain a social security number once my child is home?
America World's post adoption department will provide your family instructions on obtaining a social security card, US Passport, US Birth Certificate, and other documents you will need.
Will my child be a US Citizen upon returning to the U.S.?
Yes. Your child will become a US Citizen upon entry into the U.S. They will receive a Certificate of Citizenship in the mail within 45 days of their entry into the U.S.
What is re-adoption?
Re-adoption is a means of documenting the parent-child relationship under U.S. law. Re-adoption is based on state law, not federal, so the process varies widely among each state. Depending on the state, it can range from filling out a form and paying a fee to more detailed court processes that may require an adoption attorney.
Why should I re-adopt?
In some states, it is the first step in obtaining a US birth certificate. Re-adoption also ensures that the validity of the adoption cannot be challenged in the event of a change in the political situation with the child’s country of origin. It also protects the child’s rights in many other ways. Re-adoption will simplify certain processes for the child as they get older, because they will have a U.S. birth certificate. Having a U.S. birth certificate, in addition to other important government documents, will simplify some of the following processes: registering for school, applying for a driver’s license, applying for college scholarships, employment, or voting.