Tag Archives: China program updates

The future of LID matching

 

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Is the China program a good option if I want to adopt a young girl with minor needs?

That is the question continually being asked both by those seeking to adopt for the first time and those who adopted previously from China. Unfortunately, there is no easy yes or no answer. Since we do have shared list data from the past three years, there is some information to help with that decision. But please keep in mind that this is only my opinion and speculation.

Starting in December 2019, the CCCWA has done a trial method of matching LID files. Each agency can put forward one family per LID file. Out of those families, the one with the earlier LID date will receive the file. My understanding is that in both December and January all of the files were matched with European families. Because European countries have more restrictive laws governing international adoption, European families were at a disadvantage at being matched with LID files from the shared list. There are European families who have been waiting five years or longer. In comparison, few American families have waited longer than 2 years from dossier log in to be matched. So until the European back log gets cleared out they will presumably continue to be matched with new LID files until they get caught up to dossier dates that are shared with American families.

Previously, if you were starting the process looking at the number of waiting families would be important because the fewer families an agency has ahead of you the sooner it will be your turn. However, assuming LID files continue to be matched by dossier date, this puts you into the greater pool of families with dossiers logged in at the CCCWA, not just the pool of families at your agency. I don’t know how many dossiers there are for the special needs program at the CCCWA. There are 70+ agencies with a China program worldwide. The largest American agency has at least 100, if not 200, LID families. We could put the next few most popular agencies at say, 30 dossiers each, and all the other agencies at a dozen or less. I’m going to use 1000 dossiers as a very general number to work with because it’s nice and round.

So, if you are dossier #1001 when would you be matched with that young girl with minor needs? The number of girl LID files increased from 2018 to 2019, but I don’t want to assume that will keep up. I think we should use 100 girl LID files per year as our number there. That means it could be ten years before you are matched. If you think that is crazy talk, remember that families which sent a dossier through the standard (non-special needs) program in early February 2007 waited eleven years to be matched. And a lot of February 2007 is still waiting.

However, not all 1000 of those families ahead of you are waiting for young girls with minor needs. It’s important to remember that LID versus special focus is a rather arbitrary designation that reflects the most popular needs. A lot of families talk about “going the LID route” but this isn’t a system where you have to pick an option. Many families will be matched with special focus files either before or after their dossier is logged in at the CCCWA because their agency found a special focus file which was a good fit for the family. For this reason, I think it is still a good idea to ask about the number of waiting families at an agency before making your agency decision. Don’t assume you will only be looking at LID files. In an agency with fewer waiting families, you very well might be matched much sooner with a special focus child which is perfect for your family.

Let’s say that 500 of the dossiers ahead of you are matched with special focus children. That brings your potential wait down to five years. If half of the remaining 500 dossiers are open to boys, your wait might be as little as three years. I believe several agencies are now quoting three years as the estimated wait time for a young girl with minor needs. I think 3-5 years is probably more accurate since I wouldn’t assume the number of LID files will keep increasing.

It is accurate to say that the China program is transitioning from young children with minor needs to older children with moderate or greater needs. There are still young children and children with minor needs available but the more flexible you are on your child criteria the faster you will be matched. Because of the increasing matching times for those young children with minor needs, families are beginning to choose other programs. In 2018, there were increases in adoptions from India and Colombia. I think the number of families adopting from China will continue to decrease. When the US Department of State releases the 2019 numbers, I think it’s very possible there will have been under 1000 adoptions from China.

So, should you adopt from China if you will only accept a young girl with minor needs? I can’t say what the future holds and I certainly don’t know what is best for your family. If you are absolutely set on a young girl and only open to a few needs, I think I would look at other adoption options. I can’t stress enough that most months there are 10 or fewer LID girl files, some of which are older girls, but 70+ agencies with hundreds of waiting families. People always want to know why it takes so long. That’s why–supply and demand. There are far more families who want to adopt young girls with minor needs than there are actual girls who need families.

However, for those who are more flexible on age/gender/medical need I think the China program is still a good option. There are more than 3000 children waiting on the shared list who DO need families with no wait necessary. Each of those children deserve a loving family just as much. Maybe one is the child you’ve been waiting for.

Shared list data 2019

Disclaimer: I am not an agency employee. Any ads you see benefit WordPress because I’m using their free version to blog. I do not have an Amazon affiliate account. I do get a couple of bucks if you buy my book

I am happy to be able to again share data from files released to the shared list over the past year. Here is a link to last year’s post, but I will put the charts with 2018 and 2018 data below 2019 to make it easier to compare. A reminder that the elimination of the partnership program was announced in 2017. Partnership files continued to trickle in over 2018 but the overall number of files released to the shared list in 2018 was double that of 2017. There was another increase this year, but not to the same degree as last year.

  • Special focus boys was +99
  • LID boys was +9
  • Special focus girls was +59
  • LID girls was +35
  • Overall there were 202 more shared list files this year; 158 special focus and 44 LID
  • My thoughts on what this means for the future of LID files are in this companion post.

 

Here is the 2019 chart

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The 2018 chart

 

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The 2017 chart

 

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Trial new matching method for LID files

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Recently there have been some rumors that the CCCWA will be changing their method of matching files again. There have been a lot of complaints since the partnerships ended that some agencies are unable to lock LID files from the shared list. If you look at the number of files uploaded on file release dates, the number of LID files is usually under 10. There are 70+ agencies around the world are all trying to lock this handful of files at the same time.

One agency has sent out information to their waiting families which says that the CCCWA will begin testing a new matching method this month. This matching method only applies to the LID files, which can only be matched to a family who already has their dossier logged in to China’s system. For the 17 new LID designated files this month, each agency can submit the name of one family they would like to match with that file. The CCCWA will choose which family is matched with the file by LID date. The family still has 72 hours to review the file and make a decision. I would guess if they decide to decline the file the CCCWA will match it with another family but it’s possible they could move it to the shared list instead.

This method of matching is a mix of special needs program matching with the old NSN (“healthy” child program). The CCCWA assigned files to families under the NSN program with agencies and families having no role in matching. In later years, the CCCWA has matched NSN files with submitted dossiers according to LID date. The special needs program has always relied on agencies matching the files so they know the family is comfortable with the child’s special need. For this new trial method, the agency is still proposing the match, so the CCCWA does not have the responsibility of determining whether a child’s needs are a good fit for a family. The CCCWA is going to decide from the dozens of proposed families which one will be able to review the file.

The CCCWA has said that they will decide by LID date which family is matched with the child, as they did in the NSN program. If one of their concerns is the equitable distribution of the files, they might determine generally by LID date but also rotating around the agencies so that if an agency had a family matched with a LID file recently they won’t receive a file for a while even if their family has the oldest LID date. If they do this for all agencies across the world who have a China program, that could mean that agencies only get one or two LID files to match per year.

Let me give an illustration for this change. In the China program, hundreds of families are competing for the prize of a young child with minor needs. With the shared list system, all of the agencies were lined up and whichever agency hit the button a millisecond faster than the others won the prize for a family at their agency. The new method is more like a contest where there are semifinalists chosen but the one with the earliest entry submission wins. This is also a good illustration for how many more families there are who want to adopt a young child as healthy as possible than there are children like that available.

China has been transitioning to a moderate needs/older child program for several years now. The amount of LID files posted to the shared list is only a fraction of what were received by agencies under the partnership system. Critics of partnerships pointed out that orphanages would feel pressured to produce LID files since they were receiving resources from their partner agency. Seemingly many of those files could now be being matched domestically. Love Without Boundaries posts about the rise in domestic adoption numbers annually. In addition, more families have access to health care thanks to how much China has invested into their health care system over the past ten years making it likely that fewer children with minor needs are being abandoned. Finally, there has been some discussion that orphanages are preparing fewer files now that the orphanage donation is voluntary. Regardless of the cause of the decrease in files of young children with minor needs, it is evident that like the infamous “slowdown” of 2006, this is a permanent shift in the China program, not a temporary one.

USCIS changes may effect children adopted by military families stationed overseas

On August 28th, USCIS issued a policy update which states that US military or government employees stationed overseas are no longer considered “residing in the US” for citizenship purposes. Almost immediately, articles were published with headlines stating military dependents born overseas will no longer be natural born US citizens. Because of the confusion, additional clarifications were made. Military families and expatriates do adopt internationally so this policy update has caused a lot of anxiety within the international adoption community.

I took the time to read through the actual document as well as news articles from a variety of sources. HOWEVER, I am not an immigration expert. Nor have I ever been in the military or resided overseas. This is simply my understanding of the changes.

First, some people were concerned that because internationally adopted children were born to non-US citizens, that makes them ineligible to become citizens. However, at the point of legal adoption, you become the child’s parents. They are not considered natural born US citizens, but their citizenship is derived from your citizenship. Adoption is specifically addressed in the document.

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So, as long at least one adoptive parent is a US citizen, your child is eligible to become a US citizen. But all of these conditions must be met. That means if you are not residing in the United States when the child is adopted, the residency requirement is not met. This is detailed in the footnotes for the above section.

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For US citizen parents residing in the United States, their child’s citizenship is processed upon landing at a US port of entry. Previously, expatriates who adopted still needed to make a trip back to the Unites States to “activate” their child’s US citizenship. Most would make a short trip back to the US after the adoption was finalized in country, have the paperwork processed, apply for a passport for their child, then return to their country of residence. My understanding of the above is that this process would now only establish the child as a Lawful Permanent Resident rather than a citizen if the parents reside outside of the US. The child would only become eligible for citizenship after returning to the US to live with their parents in an established residency unlike natural born children who would be eligible through birth.

If this is correct, military families would have to file for citizenship for their adopted children once they return to live in the United States and this would have to happen before the child turns 18. This will probably be more of a problem for the children of diplomats who are more likely to reside outside of the US on a more long term basis than military families. The family at the “Diplofam blog” has adopted three children from China but because they are career diplomats they did not have a permanent residence in the United States during any of that time. (I do know this family but am not publishing their name for security purposes.) The USCIS official who responded to press inquiries stressed that these changes would effect “very few families a year” but this will still be a very serious issue for those in that situation.

Please leave a comment if you think I am interpreting this wrongly. I will update the blog post if more information becomes available.

 

China renews orphan hosting programs

In July 2017, the CCCWA ended their orphan hosting programs at the same time they announced that partnership programs would be dissolved. Now, two years later, the CCCWA is bringing back orphan hosting programs. Currently there are several different agencies known to be participating.

Cradle of Hope is one of the earliest to have full details available. They are bringing children to the DC area for hosting. My understanding is that the children in their program are considered the most adoptable from a particular orphanage, not children who might need more advocacy. The youngest child available for hosting is 4. Gladney’s US based hosting program involves a camp like setting with structured activities. CCAI also has information available on their US based hosting program. They list 5 as the youngest age of child available for hosting.

Many families are enthusiastic about orphan hosting programs because they can be very effective at placing children. However, there are some serious drawbacks as well. For younger children or those with cognitive disabilities, traveling can be traumatic because they do not have sufficient understanding about what is happening. Children are often told by orphanage employees that they need to be on their best behavior so they can get a family. This places a huge burden on the kids who will feel that they are to blame if they do not find a family after being hosted. For a longer discussion of the pros and cons of orphan hosting programs, see this post I wrote previously.

Previously, the files of children who were participating in hosting programs were held by the agency hosting them. It is not yet known whether that will be the case for those in the current program. If a family who is not involved in hosting is interested in adopting a specific child chosen to participate, will the family be able to submit LOI? Will the child be removed from the hosting program? If the agencies will hold the files, how long will they have the files? There is a lot of information we do not yet have about how all of this will work.

A few agencies are having volunteers or parents from the US travel to China. This aspect has generated a lot of discussion because it seems as if a parents who are matched with a child can use the trip as an opportunity to meet the child. Here is some initial information from CHI:

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Gladney’s information page, which I linked to above, has the following:

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In many ways, this is similar to other country programs where international adoptions involve two trips so that the parents and child can get to know each other. This can certainly be beneficial to both of them in many ways. For those concerned about reducing adoption disruption, having parents be able to meet the child can help them to have a realistic understanding of their child’s special need and development.

However, this could bring some major downsides. How will the parents be presented to the child? If the parents decide not to proceed with the adoption after meeting the child, will the child know that they have been rejected? The information from some agencies has been open ended enough that this could turn into a program where you get to “child shop” by meeting lots of children in the orphanage and choosing the one you like best to adopt. In all of these cases families still have the danger of not understanding that it can take a long time to truly get to know a child’s personality and abilities, whether you host them in their home or meet them in their orphanage. If a child seems unresponsive because they are shy around strangers, there is the danger than not only could the prospective family decide not to adopt the child, but that future families would be scared off because this initial wrong first impression.

For either hosting program, it’s important to ask yourself if it is truly beneficial to the child. Hosting programs, including this opportunity to travel to meet a prospective child you will adopt, are most likely to benefit older children who have moderate or greater needs. But previous experience has shown that they will mostly involve younger children with moderate or less involved needs. My opinion is that you should tread carefully, ask a lot of questions before committing to a program, and don’t immediately assume that hosting programs are always beneficial to the children involved.

Shared list 2017 & 2018

In July 2017, the CCCWA announced an end to the partnership system. Any files which reached the provincial level of civil affairs by December 31, 2017 would still be designated to partner agencies. The general expectation is that the amount of new files posted the shared list would increase throughout 2018 as the partnership files came to an end. You can see on this chart at Red Thread Advocates that there was an initial jump in shared list numbers in July 2017 with a steady increase thereafter.

I was sent a summary of shared list releases from 2017 and 2018. Here is the information from 2017:

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There was no real increase in the amount of files released to the shared list by the end of 2017. However, by the end of 2018 the number of files released to the shared list had doubled.

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That’s a lot of data to take in, so here are a few quick points that can be drawn.

  • In 2018, file releases remained approximately monthly.
  • The amount of files released to the shared list in 2018 was double the number released in 2017.
  • Other than one abnormally large file release in 2017, the amount of files released was generally around 30. Beginning in March 2018, there were never fewer than 50 files released in a month.
  • However, this is still not as many as you would expect to see if all files were being added to the shared list. In 2017, a single large agency could receive 30 partnership files in a month.
  • In 2017 the number of LID girls per release ranged from 0-5, while in 2018 it was 0-12. Even with all new files going to the shared list, there were never more than 12 LID girl files released for all of the families waiting around the world.
  • There has been much speculation that the number of LID girl files is decreasing. There were more than twice as many LID girl files released in 2018 than in 2017. But again, this is not as many files as you would have expected to see if all of the partnership files were being released to the shared list. While we don’t have any way of knowing the total number of LID girl files prepared by the CCCWA previously, it seems safe to speculate that the overall number is down even though the amount posted to the shared list has increased.
  • The age range of LID files has remained consistent. In 2017, LID girls were as young as 11 months and as old as 8 years. In 2018, the youngest was 10 months and the oldest was 8 years.
  • There continues to be more boy files released, both special focus and LID. In addition, girls are designated LID at older ages than boys. In general, LID boys are under age 3, though they can be as old as 5 (with a single boy in the past two years being age 7).

 

It’s impossible to know what the future holds for the China program. I think it is still stable and a good choice for those families open to a moderate amount of needs, to children older than 3, and especially those open to adopting a boy. If you are a family that is only open to adopting a very young girl with minor needs, I would hesitate before signing with an agency. There were only 70 LID girl files released in 2018 and we know that some of them were for girls as old as 8. If you choose one of the most popular agencies, I can guarantee you that they have more than 70 families waiting in line ahead of you. There is no reason to think that the number of LID files of young girls will increase. In fact, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that fewer files are being prepared in general, particularly after the change in orphanage donation requirement.

If you are starting the process now, it’s important that you choose an agency which is financially stable, but also make sure you ask about their number of waiting families. In the end, your child profile will be the biggest factor in your wait time to be matched.

 

Miscellaneous China program updates

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Almost all of my posts from the past few months have been about the many program changes of the last year. I don’t really have enough to post an update on a specific topic, but I wanted to share a few pieces of information about how the changes are playing out as they have been in place for a longer time period.

Child Updates – Now that the CCCWA is requiring all updates to go through them, the wait time to receive an update has increased significantly. I am hearing that two months is the average amount of time it takes to receive a child update. If you are requesting information on a child you are considering adopting, you should expect to make a decision about whether or not to move forward with only the information in the file.

Some agencies are charging for updates. I was told by my agency contacts that when the CCCWA started requiring all updates come through them, they stopped charging an update fee. Updates are now free for your agency. If your agency is requiring you to pay you are at their mercy if you want the update.

Third party update services like Ladybugs ‘n Love or Ann at Red Thread are still able to get updates from some orphanages, but many orphanages no longer work with them because of the new guideline.

Transferring files– There are still many families who are finding children on photo listings which they would like to adopt. The new US Department of State guidelines require agencies to transfer files if they do not have any interested families. The implementation of this policy has been mixed. Some agencies are transferring files as required while others are reportedly having an interested family magically appear at their agency just in time to prevent them from having to transfer the file. You can report agencies which you feel are not complying to IAAME, but it is unlikely that anything will be done in time for you to receive the file you think they are hoarding.

Submitting LOI– I have heard accounts that some agencies are allowing families to submit LOI without an approved home study. They will keep the child on their agency photo listing until the home study is complete to meet the US State Dept requirement that the child not be locked to a family without a home study. In theory, if another family stepped forward with a complete home study, the first family would have to rescind their LOI so that the second family could submit LOI. Time will tell whether this practice will be accepted by the DoS and IAAME.

Orphanage donation– Payment of the now optional orphanage donation continues to be a hot topic among families in the China program. Some orphanages have stated that they will not be continuing to prepare files because donations have fallen off so much that it’s simply not worth their while to do so.

A few orphanages have decided to “encourage” people to donate the full amount by offering different passport processing times for those who donate the full amount. If you make the full donation, you will spend the normal 5 days in province. If you do not donate the full amount, you will spend 2 weeks in province waiting for your child’s passport to be processed. I have to admire the creativity of this approach. Families tend to not spare money on expenses which make travel more comfortable for themselves such as economy plus airfare or executive benefits at the hotel. If you now have to pay for an extra week of hotel and guide service, you might as well put that amount of money as the orphanage donation and shave a week off your travel time, right? If orphanages are having to reduce staffing because of the decrease in donations, I’m sure they feel expending precious employee time preparing paperwork for families that don’t donate is a low priority.

Parents who are effected by this are angrily making claiming this constitutes bribery, which is a fair accusation. Even for those in other areas, people want to know what sort of reaction they should expect from officials in their area if they do not donate the full amount. I would like to remind people that the CCCWA implemented this policy without consulting the orphanages involved, or even giving them advance warning in order to try to cope with a steep decline in their operating budget. I think it’s asking a bit much to expect orphanage officials to smile and be happy as you offer them an insultingly low amount, a box of used clothing, or nothing at all. Many people have the view that they are doing the orphanage a favor by “taking these kids off their hands.” Please keep in mind that adopting these children in a privilege that China allows us. They can stop international adoption at any time. Orphanages ARE deciding that they will not do us the favor of preparing files. How much to donate is a very personal decision, but I encourage everyone to donate the full customary amount if at all possible. I address many of the concerns people have about the donation in this post.

IMG_0554Agency involvement in the donationThe CCCWA has made it clear that they do not want agencies involved in the orphanage donation in any way at avoid influencing the amount that families donate. Some agencies are distributing a kind of FAQ about the donation to families similar to my blog post to help clear up misconceptions that families might have about the donation. This is presumably to encourage them to donate but is merely giving information to help them decide how much to donate.

A few agencies are requiring that the families pay the full donation amount to the agency before travel. Families are free to choose the donation amount and what is not donated will be refunded once the family returns from China. This is kind of skirting the line of inducing families to donate. However, these agencies are refusing to release the Travel Authorization for families that do not hand over the full amount to the agency. As much as I encourage people to donate the full amount, this is unethical. As far as I am aware, the contract you sign with an agency notifies you that they will halt your adoption if your fees are not paid at the time of travel. These agencies are ones which have included the orphanage donation with their China program fees, so you may not have any legal recourse. However, I suggest that you report the agency to USCIS, IAAME, the CCCWA, and mention it to the US consulate in Guangzhou because these agencies will have to change this practice if they are told they have to by government entities.

Matching times– We are now at the point where there should be very few partnership designated files remaining. Most newly prepared files should be released directly to the shared list. Here is the breakdown of recent file releases:

August- 66 files: 52 special focus, 14 LID (7 LID girls)

July- 46 files: 36 special focus, 10 LID (3 LID girls)

June- 61 files (two release dates): 55 special focus, 6 LID (2 LID girls)

May- 74 files: 62 special focus, 12 LID (6 LID girls)

To date, there have been 388 files released to the shared list this year. In 2017, there were 314 total files released to the shared list. This shows that the amount of files released to the shared list has increased as the partnership system is being phased out. However, the amount of files released monthly is still less than one would expect if all the files received from partnerships were put directly on the shared list. There are a few theories people have for this:

  • Orphanages typically prepare files in batches once or twice a year. If many orphanages pushed to prepare as many files as possible by the end of last year, they might only now be beginning to prepare another batch. If this is the case, the number of files should only increase through the next year.
  • Fewer orphanages are preparing files or choosing to prepare fewer files because of the decrease in orphanage donations from parents.
  • The CCCWA has made a conscious decision to significantly decrease the amount of young children with minor needs available for international adoption, much like the sudden decrease in files of healthy infants available which occurred in 2006.

Any or all of these might be a factor. As you can see, there were only 18 LID designated girl files in the past four months. Some of them were older girls, not toddlers but there were also special focus designated girl files that had needs which many people consider minor. Either way, there are not many files available of the most popular “minor needs girl under 2” profile. Given the number of waiting families with agencies around the world, you will need to be prepared for a significant wait time to match unless you are open to changing your child profile.