Adoption laws and rules in China

An increasing number of families from overseas are adopting Chinese children, which is a good thing, as the country has no shortage of orphanages filled with kids who need the stability and security of a loving home. If you’re interested, here’s what you need to know.


Laws and requirements

Firstly, adoption officials will not allow just anyone to adopt a Chinese child. Prospective adopters should meet the following requirements:

  1. Have no children of their own.
  2. Have the ability to raise and educate a foster child.
  3. Be aged at least 30 years old.
  4. If the adopter is married, the adoption should be carried out by both husband and wife. If the adopter is a single male, and seeks adoption of a girl, there should be an age gap of at least 40 years between adoptive parent and adoptee.
  5. Adopters can only adopt one child (see below for more information).
  6. If the adoptee is either an orphan or disabled, items 1, 3 and 5 do not apply.
  7. The adoptive patents must not have conditions or illnesses that are deemed by the Chinese government to render parents unsuitable for adopting; these include AIDS, some sexually transmitted diseases, leprosy, some disabilities and some mental illnesses.

Regarding the “one-child” limitation, a married couple requesting to adopt a child will be regarded as submitting a single joint request. They can make a request to adopt more than one child and the adoption agency will consider whether the couple have the resources to adopt more than one child. If they do very well in the assessment period the center may allow them to adopt more than one child. However, it is most likely that they will limit the adoption to one child, especially if the couple do not have experience of adopting children.


Adoption requests should be made at an adoption agency in the prospective adoptive parents’ own country. They need to produce the following documents when applying:

  1. Application form (including purpose of adoption and promise to not abandon or abuse the adoptee).
  2. Certificate of personal identification (nationality and birth).
  3. Certificate of marital status.
  4. Certificate of occupation and financial status.
  5. Certificate of good health, issued by a hospital in their own country (the adoption agency in the adoptive parent’s country should be able to suggest which hospitals are acceptable and what tests are needed)
  6. Certificate of no criminal record.
  7. Proof that the adopter meets the requirements of the home country’s adoption regulations. 


If the prospective adopters meet the above criteria, they should follow the following process.

  1. According to China’s adoption laws, international adoptions must be approved by adoption centers in both China and in the country in which the prospective adoptive parents are citizens. 
  2. The prospective adopters must provide a locally licensed adoption center in their country of citizenship with all the necessary documents and materials, as well as sending all relevant documents to the Chinese adoption center. 
  3. The prospective adopter will be notified after evaluation and approval. At this stage, the adopter may visit China to move the process on.
  4. The adoption application and family status report and certificate should be provided by the adoption organization in the adopter’s home country. These documents must be verified by that country’s diplomatic body, as well as the local Chinese embassy or consulate.
  5. After the adoption, the adopter may return to their home country with the adopted child. At this stage, a follow-up report is required by the Chinese government. The local adoption center will advise and assist with this process. 


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