Tag Archives: China program updates

Houston Chinese Consulate Update

The United States has ordered China to close their consulate in Houston by Friday July 24th. This consulate was not currently processing any adoption related paperwork so the closure will not have any immediate effect for families in process. However, there is some discussion that China will force a US consulate in China to close in retaliation. The closure of the US consulate in Guangzhou would presumably halt adoption paperwork, at least until those services are moved to a different consulate in China.

Updates: Chine has ordered the US consulate in Chengdu be closed.

Those who were in the jurisdiction of the Chinese consulate in Houston will now be served by the Embassy in DC. This means you will now need the additional step of having documents authenticated by the US Dept of State before submitting them to the Chinese Embassy.

Kelly Rumbaugh, who operates the Ladybugs ‘n Love courier service, posted the following message on the China Adoption Questions Facebook group. I am reposting with permission.

My advice to every waiting parent that is processing dossier documents or POA is to call your caseworker for their opinion on this process. The information below is up to date and you can tell them the data if they don’t know.

Current Embassy requirements:
· Documents must be less than 6 months old
· Documents must have the extra Federal State Department seal
· Notary expiration must have at least 6 months left on their commission
Current processing timelines:
· Mail-in is open for the Department of State for the federal seal that is required by the DC Embassy. This is taking approximately 7-8 weeks
· The China Embassy will accept documents close to the 6-month age mark for appointment only. These documents are considered urgent to them. Their turnaround time is about a week.

As for the 5 Consulates that also process documents:
1. Chicago is by appointment only for urgent cases (close to 6 months old like Embassy)
2. New York is closed
3. San Francisco is closed
4. Los Angeles is closed
5. Houston is closed
(This is the data I have that is current as of today July 22, 2020)
Since families must have a home study done first, it is imperative to watch your dates on your documents and most likely send in a batch of documents to be authenticated before your immigration approval comes.

The gap in time causes medicals and police clearances to reach 6 months old before the immigration approval is finished. The authentication process can be done as documents are ready. You can submit two batches or more if necessary, to stay on top of the documents aging out. Once authenticated the documents are good for at least a year.

As an adoptive momma who has processed hundreds of dossiers this is a hard time and I believe wholeheartedly that the CCCWA will move forward with your adoptions as soon as possible. We cannot dictate to China or CCCWA what to do any more than we can dictate to our State Department. We must be patient and follow all the guidelines we are given by the agencies. They know the climate the best and can guide you to be as expedient as possible in your process.

Please know that we do have HOPE that the children will come home. I’m praying for all of you as you wait and will try to keep you abreast of any changes in this group! Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

 

 

Shared List June 2020

Here is data on the shared list from June 4, 2020

Total shared list files: 3261

Girls: 914 (28%)

Boys: 2346 (72%)

Here is the breakdown by age:

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LID Files

If you remember, the CCCWA introduced a new way of matching LID files in December 2019. The general assumption was that there would be a monthly LID list like there is typically a monthly release date when new files are uploaded to the shared list. However, this was disrupted by the COVID19 pandemic.

There have only been two LID lists in 2020:

  • February’s LID list had 18 files.
  • May’s LID list had 10 files.

 

The files released in 2020 were all created before the pandemic began. COVID19 restrictions in China have prevented orphanages from being able to create new files. Even when pandemic restrictions are lifted, there will not immediately be a large amount of new files available. It can take 6 months to a year for a new file to be created. Those in process or considering adopting from China should expect the amount of new files to continue to decrease while matching times increase.

Updates and news June 2020

The US Department of State has released their annual report on intercountry adoption for FY2019. There were only 819 adoptions from China to the US, a significant decrease. Note that FY2019 ended on October 1, 2019 so this cannot be attributed to pandemic closures. The report notes:

“In FY 2019, consular officers issued 2,971
immigrant visas to children adopted abroad, or to be adopted in the United States by U.S. citizens. While the overall number of intercountry adoptions to the United States declined from the previous year, 75% of that decline can be attributed to the decrease of intercountry adoption from two countries, China (a decrease of 656) and Ethiopia (a decrease of 166).”

Adoptions from Ukraine, Liberia, Hungary, and Colombia have increased as people look for program alternatives to China. This increase is still relatively minor, as the overall number of intercountry adoptions was below 3,000. Ten years ago there were more than 3,000 adoptions from China alone.

 

On Friday, May 29th, CCAI broke the news that the as of January 1, 2021 children in state care in China will not “age out” of adoption eligibility until their 18th birthday.

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All processing required for dossiers remains either slow or unavailable.

On June 1, it was announced that USCIS would furlough 11,000 employees starting July 20th.

USCIS has announced a furlough starting 20 July pending funding. Expect longer delays, reduced hours and less responsive customer service.
“With a loss of nearly 11,000 employees, work and visitor visa petitions, asylum and citizenship/naturalization applications, green cards and refugee applications will not be processed.” -Everett Kelley, AFGE national president.

 

Although select USCIS services resumed June 4th, application support centers which take fingerprinting for adoption applications remain closed.

According to Ladybugs N Love Adoption services, the Chicago Chinese consulate is still closed for document processing. The DC Embassy is open about 4 hours a week by appointment only for emergency services. Documents submitted to the Chinese Embassy must be sent to the US Dept of State first, and their mail in service is taking about 7 weeks currently.

In one lone bright spot, the CCCWA has begun to issue LIDs and LOAs. Travel remains unavailable for the foreseeable future.

 

The Stauffer family adoption dissolution has been national and international news over the past week. Normally when there is a big adoption related event which people are discussing I will make a blog post on the subject. However, I know the Stauffer family personally. I met them in person during the adoption process and after their son came home. I have been in contact with Myka during their struggle with the adoption over the past two years. Because I’m not a viewer of their YouTube channel, I don’t know what is information they have made public versus what was told to me personally. For this reason, I will not be posting about the situation. Here are two posts I have written previously on the topic:

In addition, I would like to share two posts written by adult adoptees because the adoption community needs to amplify adult adoptee voices more. One was written specifically about the situation and the other is generally applicable.

 

COVID19 Adoption Update

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As the COVID19 pandemic continues to disrupt life worldwide, I’ve seen people questioning how it is effecting adoption and whether this is a good time to begin an international adoption. Certainly, being stuck at home for weeks on end sounds like a great time to embark on an epic paperwork journey. Let’s look at the different parts of an adoption from China and how they are being effected.

Home study– A home study involves gathering paperwork to meet your state’s requirements, a physical from your physician, fingerprinting, background checks, and your social worker must visit your home at least one time.

  • Some home study agencies are completely closed to new clients at the moment but others are trying to do everything but the home visit remotely. The home visit will have to be completed once restrictions are lifted.
  • Many doctor’s offices are only taking urgent appointments or tele-visits. Check with your physician to see if a physical is possible at the moment.
  • Many fingerprinting services such as FastFingerprints are temporarily closed.

Dossier-

  • Dossier- USCIS is still processing I800a and I800s, however their processing times are very slow.
  • Getting your documents authenticated at the state Secretary of State office may be difficult at the moment. In my state, they are only authenticating documents which are mailed in and documents may be held for later processing.
  • Chinese consulates are closed right now so you will not be able to get your documents authenticated.

Taking these factors into consideration, my advice to someone considering starting the process right now would be to continue to read and educate yourself about adoption but to wait on starting the actual process. Remember that Chinese consulates will not accept documents more than 6 months old, so you don’t want to have your home study process drag out so long that you need to start redoing paperwork. Figuring out which placing agency you would use and contacting your local home study agency to see what your process will look like are other good ways to spend this time.

CCCWA-

  • Dossiers are still being sent to the CCCWA and log in dates are being issued.
  • Only a handful of LOAs have been received.
  • TAs are only being issued for aging out kids. Remember that TAs are only valid for 90 days. It doesn’t make sense for China to issue them if people are unable to travel.

Matching-

  • There was one shared list release in early January, before things got really crazy in China.
  • There was also one non-special focus list released in early February.
  • Other than that, there have basically been no new files made available. Presumably the pandemic closures in China will have an impact on the creation of new files for several months.

Travel-

  • For families who were close to travel when things shut down in China, there is no end in sight for the completion of their adoptions.
  • Intercountry adoption depends on families being able to enter China as well as return to the United States. Your child must be able to obtain a visa while you are in China to be able to travel home with you.
  • Earlier this week, President Trump said that he was placing a 60 day suspension of immigration to the United States. An exception is included in Section 2 for minors immigrating through adoption. So, if anyone were to be able to travel within the next two months, this would not cause a problem for your child.  Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 3.10.32 PM

What to expect in the future? That is anyone’s guess. I think that there will be very few international adoptions in 2020. Even when businesses and agencies begin to open, they may not be working at typical speed and there will be a backlog. It is uncertain how many new files will become available in China over the next few months. Finally, as my last post discussed how financially precarious most adoption agencies are, I think we can only expect more agencies to close. Most of these agencies have zero resources available to weather a year with very few adoptions. If you do decide to begin an adoption at this time, choose your placing agency carefully. Having your placing agency close in the middle of an adoption is both expensive and disruptive to your process.

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.