Tag Archives: Mine In China Book

Mine In China Changes

As we near the 3rd anniversary of the halting of the China adoption program due to the COVID 19 pandemic, I have decided not to continue supporting the information available on this blog and in the Mine In China book. I have continued to pay fees related to webhosting and book maintenance during this time but at this time there is no indication that the program will reopen in the future.

The Mine In China book will continue to be available until January 1, 2023. The book has been better maintained than the blog and over half of the information is relevant to any international adoption program, so purchasing it before the end of the year is the best way for you to keep the information if you think you would like to refer to it in the future, or even if you have found this blog helpful through your adoption journey and would like to show your appreciation.

This blog will be available through September 1, 2023. If there are any changes in the China adoption program through that time I will continue to post here. And of course, if the program should reopen I will continue to host the blog and make the book available again.

I would like to encourage those of you who adopted in the time period between April 2016 and 2020 to continue to file your post-placement reports. This is such an important step that has a far greater impact than just on your individual family. If your provider has closed and you aren’t sure how to file your reports, please contact Holt’s Post Adoption Services for information. Holt offers support for families even if you didn’t use their agency. This includes adult adoptees who might have questions related to citizenship status.

Finally, I would like to express my support to all of the families who have a child waiting in China and have not yet been able to complete the adoption process. I truly hope and pray that both governments will be able to agree on a way for these adoptions to be completed. I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling, not being able to bring your child home. Please know that you are not forgotten.

Mine In China 2018 revision available

When I published Mine In China in April 2016, I thought once I’d hit the publish button I’d move on to other things. I thought I’d revise it again in a couple of years as things changed a little. I certainly didn’t expect to find myself publishing the third version in under two years. Last year, I published the revision in May, China announced changes to parent eligibility criteria in June, and an end to the partnership program in July. It was painful for me to read a Facebook comment from someone saying “I have Mine In China, but it’s out of date now” not even eight weeks after the new version was published!

Accurate information is a top priority for me. However, I couldn’t immediately begin to revise the book because it takes several months to see how the program changes would play out. How strictly will China enforce things like one year between adoptions or the ages of children in the home? Would they once again start granting waivers since the criteria is more restrictive? Will agency NGO status have any importance without the partnership system? Even now, we don’t have a clear idea of what matching times will look like on an all shared list system because agencies are still receiving partnerships files that were in the process of being prepared before the end of the year. And in a turn of events that I could only laugh at so I wouldn’t cry, the day I printed up a proof copy of the 2018 version was the day we all began to hear that the US State Department will require families have a completed home study before they can be matched with a child.

I will rein in the whining to say that the Mine In China 2018 revision is now available. This version has had substantial changes.

  • The new parent eligibility criteria is included.
  • Sections on partnership files, adopting two at one, and hosting program have been reduced to give context for what used to be options. I included links to my blog posts on these topics in the Additional Resources section in case any of these become an option in the future.
  • I added a section explaining how matching from the shared list works.
  • I added numbers from the shared list to give families an idea of how many boys and girls under 5 are waiting to help decide what age range to be open to.
  • Because most people will now be choosing an agency first rather than looking for a waiting child and going with the agency that holds their file, I have expanded the chapter on how to choose an agency. There is now information on things to consider when looking at an agency’s website, evaluating agency fee schedules, how to find if an agency has a substantiated claim against them, and how to find their IRS 990 form online.
  • The chart showing USCIS approval times has been updated to show 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 rather than 2011-2014.
  • I added a section covering post placement reports including both schedules.
  • Because of increasing interest, I added a section discussing birth parent searches and giving resources.
  • Checked the website links to correct or replace broken ones and add new relevant links such as a link to the new Chinese visa photo requirements.
  • I corrected small errors in the text and made some changes to improve readability.
  • Mine In China continues to be right at 400 pages.

If you have been holding off on buying a copy because you wanted the updated version, it’s now available in both ebook and paper format.

If you previously purchased the ebook, you can simply download the updated version.

If you previously purchased a paper book, sadly there is no free way to get an updated copy. If you are starting the adoption process again, you can find information on the changes by using the “China program updates” tag on my blog. If you purchased your paper book through Amazon, you should have the option to buy a discounted copy of the ebook.

Not sure what paper copy you own? Look at the copyright information located on the back of the title page. The newest version says March 2018 revision.

Revised Mine In China this weekend!

One of the reasons I chose to self-publish rather than seek a traditional publisher is because it would allow me to easily update my book. I envisioned updating it every couple of years as the China program goes through minor changes. Who knew it would change so much within a year! So now, right around the one year anniversary of its release, a revised edition of Mine In China is being published. Here is what you can find in the revised edition:

  • It now reflects that China is currently not granting any waivers.
  • The US consulate in Guangzhou is now taking two days to process visas rather than one.
  • I have included information on the “former shared list” program in the chapter on understanding China’s file designations.
  • An explanation of the new law in China requiring agencies register as an NGO, as well as the impact it might have on the partnership program.
  • Some people told me that the process outlined in my book is a little different because of their special situation. I have added links so that American expatriates living in China and Canadians can now find groups for support.
  • I added a section listing common mistakes in notarizing documents.
  • In some areas I expanded sections, such as giving more ways to evaluate potential agencies.
  • I have updated links which have changed as well as added links to new resources throughout the book, including several which will help you to get a medical evaluation of a file for free.
  • I revised the text in minor ways to clarify points and to correct typographical errors.
  • Because I am committed to keeping Mine In China around the 400 page mark (it’s kind of ridiculous that I even have to write that) I tightened up the text in other areas to make space for the new information that I added.

If you have already purchased the ebook version of Mine In China, you can download the revised edition at no cost.

Unfortunately, if you purchased the paperback there is no way for you to exchange it for the newer one. As you saw above, the most major of the changes have already been posted on this blog so there is no reason to purchase a new paperback. However, I will be running the ebook on sale at Amazon Mother’s Day weekend so that you can get a low cost version. I know it’s not the same as a copy you can hold in your hand, but it certainly makes clicking through the links in the Additional Resources sections easier!


Five Reasons to Adopt From China


November is National Adoption Month! I thought I would kick off the celebration by giving some reasons why China’s adoption program might be a good fit for your family.

1. The process is streamlined and predictable. Unlike adopting from foster care, domestic infant adoption, or programs from some (but not all) other countries, the China program has a clearly defined set of steps. Most families will bring home a child 10-15 months after they begin the process. Many people switch to the China program after a failed attempt at adopting through another program, so the stability is appealing.

2. You have the ability to choose your child’s age, gender, and the special needs you are comfortable with. You will not be assigned a child, nor will you be penalized for declining a file which you do not feel is a good fit for your family.

3. China is generous in granting waivers for families or single women who do not meet the program requirements, particularly those regarding family income or parental health. Recently, they even approved a single man to adopt making this one of the few countries where it is possible for single men to adopt.

[Note: As of January 2017, China is no longer granting waivers. Most agencies expect this to be relaxed after a few months as has happened in the past, but no one can guarantee the future. If you do not currently qualify, speak to a reputable agency to find the current waiver status.]

4. Travel is a single two week trip, possibly longer if you are adopting two children, and only one parent is required to travel. Some countries require multiple trips or a lengthy stay in country to complete the adoption. While this gradual approach is undoubtably better for the child or children being adopted, the fact is that many families could not adopt if that were a requirement. China’s travel requirement is one which most families can meet.

5. China allows families to adopt two unrelated children at the same time. While I would urge families to carefully consider this option before deciding to do it, it is something which appeals to many families. [Note: As of June 30, 2017 this is no longer an option in the China program.]


If you are just beginning your adoption journey and found this post helpful, you might consider buying my book which has all of this information and more, including several chapters on travel.

Mine In China at your library!

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 8.36.21 PMMine In China became available in paperback in July but it is now available for public libraries to order through their catalog. I would like to take a moment to encourage you to request your library order a copy the next time you are there even if you have no interest in adopting from China. Let me tell you why.

As I shared in the book introduction, when we first considered adopting one of the first places I stopped was at our public library. I found several books on adopting from China but all were 20 years out of date, detailing how to adopt a healthy infant girl. One of my motivations to write my book was to make available a comprehensive resource to adopt from China’s current program.

A bigger reason for you to request your library order a copy, even if you know you will never adopt or if you are done adopting, is for it to be there for people considering adoption. International adoption is at an all time low in the United States. While it’s wonderful that foster adoption numbers are up, the reality is that fewer people are adopting in general. Cost is the biggest reason tossed around, I feel that the real culprit is that adoption is no longer the “healthy infant girl” as described in those out-of-date library books. For some reason, adopting a 3 year-old is much more intimidating than adopting a 3 month-old. If you don’t believe me, join an adoption community on Facebook where questions such as “What is the difference in attachment issues if I decide to be open to a 24 month-old instead of an 18 month-old?” are routine.

Also, the phrase “special needs” is a huge deal breaker for most families. There was a time, as China’s program was transitioning from non-special needs to special needs, when people frequently choose to wait additional years for a referral because they couldn’t handle any special needs at all, needs like repaired cleft lip, a large birthmark, or a heart murmur, which are now often referred to the non-special needs people. I worked really hard to tackle these topics in my book, so that people will see that adopting an “older” 3 year-old or a child with medical needs is a viable option for most families. (Yes, I do also spend a lot of time going over the hard aspects of adoption.)

There are thousands of wonderful children in China waiting for families. Please consider requesting your library order a copy as a way of promoting adoption among families in your community. In the interest of full disclosure, I receive all of 37 cents when a library orders my book.

Just as a reminder, if you want to order a personal copy (or one to donate to your library), you can use the link on the sidebar to order either the ebook or paperback through Amazon, or even better, search for it using the Love Without Boundaries affiliate link. I do not have an Amazon affiliate account because I feel that LWB would benefit more from a couple of dimes than I would.

Mine In China in paperback

As promised, Mine In China is now available in paperback. It’s 400 pages! You can order it through CreateSpace here, as well as on Amazon. You can use the link on the sidebar to order either the ebook or paperback through Amazon, or even better, search for it using the Love Without Boundaries affiliate link. I do not have an Amazon affiliate account because I feel that LWB would benefit more from a couple of dimes than I would.


I do apologize that the paper copy is almost $15. This is almost entirely publication cost. I actually receive less per paper copy than I do from ebook purchases. However, the extremely good thing about having a paper book available is that you can request your local library order a copy. Libraries are usually happy to accommodate patron requests. I know I wasn’t the only one who browsed my library adoption section when we first starting considering adoption. Everything at my library about adopting from China was a decade out of date. With international adoption number plummeting, I hope that my book will help more people to consider the China program as an option. I know how many people are scared away by the term “special needs” and I tried hard to address all those concerns and more in my book. Requesting that your library purchase a copy is a wonderful way for you to advocate for more people to consider adopting from China. (Disclosure: I get about 30 cents if a library purchases my book, so I’m really not benefitting from this unless a couple hundred of you go storm your libraries).

While reformatting the book for print, I took the opportunity to upload a revised version of the ebook. If you have already read the ebook, it is probably not worth your time to download the new version. However, if you recently purchased the book or are currently referencing it because you are in process, please download the newer version. All of the changes were minor. To give a few examples:

  • Corrected the typographical errors which slipped through prior editing
  • Changed references to USCIS in Missouri to reflect their new location in Kansas
  • Added 3rd party dossier service preparation service info
  • Reformatted the 10 page annotated packing list to be easier to read

Boy or Girl? Talking about the adoptive parent preference for girls

Welcome to my 100th post! This is chapter seven in the Mine In China book, an updated version of this previous controversial blog post. You might also want to read Why You Should Adopt A Boy.

照片 049 copy

When you and your spouse started discussing adoption, I’ll bet there is one thing you agreed on right away– that a little girl would be perfect for your family. Wondering how I know? Because 90% of adoptive families feel the same way. Although everyone has their own personal reason for choosing to adopt a girl, they are usually surprised to hear that everyone else wants to adopt a girl, too. Adoptive parents overwhelming prefer girls to boys to the extent that 75% of the children in China waiting to be matched with a family are boys. One major agency shared that for every forty dossiers they have logged in for families wanting to adopt a girl they will have only one family open to a boy. That’s a huge imbalance! Another agency shared that when they post a girl to their photo listing they will receive an average of twenty-five inquiries about her while most boys on their photo listing receive zero to one inquiries. It takes a boy three times as long to find a family as it does a girl. For this reason, there is a saying among advocates and agency personnel that “boys wait for families while families wait for girls.”

Maybe you are thinking “But everyone thinks that girls are abandoned in China, so that’s probably why people who adopt from China are thinking girl.” Nope. This preference holds true whether you are talking domestic infant adoption, adoption from foster care, or adopting internationally from any country in the world. A few countries have tried to counter the girl preference problem by setting criteria for requesting a girl. If you are a European parent, you aren’t allowed to choose the gender of the child you adopt. But for the most part, if you are an American couple who wants to adopt, you can choose to say that you will only adopt a girl, and most will do so.

Why is it that adoptive families prefer girls? I have been active on adoption groups and reading blogs for quite a while now, and the one theme that really keeps popping up is that women really want to have a daughter. Because women are usually the one in the couple who suggests adding to the family, they will often drive the adoption discussion. Don’t men want sons? Well, maybe, but perhaps they feel some inward reluctance to have a son who isn’t genetically related pass on the family name. Or it is also possible that men feel if they adopt a girl they get to take a pass on more of the responsibilities. One woman shared that her husband felt that by adopting a girl he wouldn’t have to worry about getting a call that his teenage son was in jail, until a neighbor pointed out that a daughter might tell him that she’s pregnant! And of course, if you are adopting as a single mom, you probably feel better equipped to parent a girl than a boy.

Perhaps the two most common reasons given are that a woman has one or more boys but has always wanted a daughter, or has a single daughter who really wants a sister. These are perfectly reasonable desires, and adoption can certainly be a way to fulfill those desires while giving a family to a girl who doesn’t have one, as long as you keep in mind that you will be adopting a girl who is a unique individual and may or may not meet your expectations. After all, sometimes sisters are best friends and sometimes they are worst enemies. Not all daughters have any interest in wearing skirts accessorized with bows as large as their head and taking ballet lessons. These sorts of family dynamic issues are faced by all families, biological or adoptive.

I’m not at all surprised when women who have two or three boys decide to pursue adoption to have a daughter. What surprises me is how persistently people will choose a girl regardless of their family composition. While each family will make an individual decision as to which gender is the best fit for their family, in the end most of them will decide on a girl. Interestingly, people give the same justifications over and over. Families with a single daughter will say “She needs a sister” while families with a single boy will say “We want to have a daughter.” A family with two boys will say “We really want a daughter while a family with two girls will say “We always dreamed of adopting a girl.” Families with three girls often say “We only have three bedrooms, so we have to adopt a girl” while families with three boys and three bedrooms say “We really want a daughter.” When you hear from families with four or more of the same gender, you hear “We wouldn’t know what to do with a boy if we had one” from families with all girls while once again it’s “We really want a daughter” from families with all boys. I have never heard anyone say “We really want a son” or “He needs a brother.” It’s kind of like a flow chart which gives every possible family composition but they all lead to the girl box in the end.

It really makes me scratch my head. Why are bedrooms and hand-me-downs an issue if you have girls at home but not boys? Why is it so important for a girl to have a sister but not a boy to have a brother? Why do families with several girls say that they wouldn’t know what to do with a boy, while families with several boys don’t seem to worry about the learning curve for a girl? It’s easier for me to think that the reason no one dreamed of adopting a little boy from China, or adopts because they want a son, is because the general perception is that there are far more girls available for adoption than boys. When you see all the adoptive families with girls, you assume that’s what is available and maybe more families with only daughters would adopt a boy if they knew that boys need families too.

girlMany people share that a major motivation for them to adopt was an awareness of the discrimination against women in other countries. People who are adopting now grew up hearing news stories about China’s one child policy and the widespread abandonment of unwanted girls. They feel they can make a difference in one girl’s life by adopting one of those “unwanted” baby girls and letting her know that she is wanted and loved. I’ve heard women say “I’ve known I wanted to adopt a little girl from China since I was six (or nine or eleven) years old!” They feel that girls raised in China will face discrimination and a life of hardship if they are not adopted. This is usually based on an outdated view of attitudes in China. In fact, an agency representative shared that one of their partnership orphanages has a waiting list of over two hundred Chinese couples who want to adopt a healthy baby girl.

While I can understand this point of view, I am uncomfortable with how much adoptive parents discriminate against boys in their desire to make up for the discrimination against girls. In countries where there is a preference for boys, it is unlikely that a boy raised in an orphanage will have any advantages in life. For many of these boys, their lack of education and family connections will cause them to always struggle. They very well may not be able to have their own family because they cannot hope to be well off or well-connected enough to attract a wife. Any orphan is at a disadvantage and all of them need homes.



Boys are perceived as more violent, more impulsive, not as good in school, and more likely to have autism. Perhaps these fears keep people away from boys while the thought that girls would be more compliant (a loud ha ha from those of us who have girls) makes a girl sound safer. I heard one adoptive parent say that they were afraid a boy would be more likely to sexually abuse one of their biological children, even though they wanted to adopt a child under the age of two! Girls can also act out sexually if they have been abused, behave violently, not perform as well in school–really any of those negative stereotypes. I understand that adoption can be scary because of the unknowns, but choosing a girl over a boy will not rule out any of the possible negative outcomes. The idea that girls are somehow easier than boys is just wrong. There is no easy way out in parenting!

Okay, so the gender preference begins to become understandable. But then I become confused yet again when you start to bring in the religious angle. While the media has recently discovered the Christian adoption movement and several controversial articles have been written on the subject, it is impossible to deny that many people cite religious reasons for adopting. Over and over again people say that they felt called to adoption in light of James 1:27, which reads “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” One might assume that those adopting out of religious motivation would be less biased against adopting a boy. To the contrary, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say “God called us to adopt a little girl” I’d have enough money to fund another adoption!

Now, I should say upfront that in my religious tradition, we talk a lot about discernment, but it is less common than in the evangelical churches to discern a clear specific message from God. My husband and I felt that God was calling us to adopt, but we did not get a lightning bolt message regarding race, age, or gender. I do believe that God calls people to specific tasks, but when I look at the sheer number of people called to adopt a little girl, I have to wonder why God isn’t calling more people to adopt boys or older children or children with big special needs? The cynical side of me thinks that some of these people are reading their own desires into God’s message because it is hard for me to understand why God would call families with three, four or five girls to wait in line for months to adopt a girl when there are so many boys waiting for families. When Jesus said to welcome the children in His name, I’m sure that included boys, who are “the least of these” in the world of adoption.

babyroomBut in charity, I remind myself that it is always easy to obey God’s call when it aligns with your desires. Perhaps the families being called to adopt boys, older children, and children with big special needs are trying to ignore their calling. I know that when we first considered adoption, a girl is exactly what sprang to mind for us. And with three boys and a lone daughter, who could blame us? But when we learned how long the boys wait for families, it tugged at our hearts because we love our boys so much. Yes, we wanted a daughter, but we already have one. Was having another really so important? After a lot of prayer and discussion (both between ourselves and our children), and yet more discernment, we decided that we couldn’t choose when we had biological children, so why should it matter when you adopt? Adoption, for us, was about welcoming a child into our family, not about trying to create our personal idea of the perfect family.

I don’t expect all families to make the same decision as us, or to come to the same conclusions. I’m not trying to berate those who adopted or hope to adopt a girl, nor am I trying to make you feel bad. This is not about asking people to justify their choice or to choose a boy out of guilt. It’s about asking people to take a moment to consider their reasons for marking only the girl box. I hope that families, and especially women, who are usually the driving force behind the adoption decision, will take a good look at their motivations. Maybe a few more people will realize that they have a place in their homes and hearts for a boy after all. Perhaps after consideration more people will be open to either gender. Why limit yourself? Check both boxes and see what referral you receive. If you are adopting because you hear God’s call, then try leaving that opening to see if he is using this tug on your heart to lead you to your son. Consider the CHILD, not the gender. You can always decline a referral, so you’ve really got nothing to lose. If you take a chance, you might realize all of the fun that a boy can bring to your life!

Additional Resources

Snips & Snails v. Sugar & Spice: Gender Preferences in Adoption

New York Times: Black babies, boys less likely to be adopted

Love Without Boundaries: The adoption of boys

Love Without Boundaries: What about the boys?

Personal experience- A family with two boys writes about deciding to be open to either gender

Personal experience- A family with three girls writes about deciding to be open to either gender

When You’re Asking the Internet About Adoption

This is the updated version of my previous blog post of the same name, which appears as the third chapter in the Mine In China book. The pictures do not appear in the book.

This book is a compilation of all the things I wish I’d known when I was starting out. Much of it is the collected wisdom I’ve learned from other adoptive parents on the internet. The internet is absolutely one of the best and most educational tools you have as you start your adoption journey. Anything I include in this book will quickly become dated, as China is constantly tinkering with their process. Processing times slow down or speed up. Social network sites and online groups are probably the number one way people get their information. While you can adopt without being involved in these online groups, choosing to participate will guarantee that you are getting the most up-to-date information and even access to tips for speeding up the adoption process. If you aren’t on Facebook, I suggest you consider starting an anonymous account specifically for participating in adoption groups. If you are on Facebook but hesitate to join adoption groups for privacy reasons, be aware that any group you join which is “closed” or “secret” will not show on your profile, nor will friends see posts that you make in the groups. Because I will refer you to these online resources throughout the book, I wanted to give you some guidelines to keep in mind when you sit down to ask the internet a question.

Are you in the same time zone?

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.33.38 PMInternational adoption has been around for decades. In a Facebook group for people who have adopted through my adoption agency we have people who adopted 30 years ago. You can ask a question about meeting your child for the first time and one of them might pipe up with “Well, when we got to the airport to meet the flight . . .” Interesting, and maybe you feel a tiny bit jealous, but not really relevant to your situation. For some of the questions you want to ask, you need to try to figure out which responses are currently accurate. Include qualifiers with your question. You want to specifically ask “Has anyone recently gotten a waiver for this situation?” or “How much did you pay for your home study within the past year?”

This is especially important to keep in mind when you are looking at resources on the China adoption program. Many people watch National Geographic’s China’s Lost Girls or read Silent Tears by Kay Bratt or The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans. These are excellent resources as long as you keep in mind that they do not reflect the current state of adoption in China. The gender and special needs of the orphan population have changed, as has the care the children receive in institutions.

Sometimes it’s better to suck it up and ask

I have a theory that the internet is populated by introverts. It is SO MUCH easier to ask a question anonymously or at least without making eye contact, from the comfort of your computer chair. But sometimes you need to ask yourself if the internet is the best source to be asking. This is particularly true for those who are choosing an agency and have a question about agency policies. For example, you might ask which agencies will allow you to adopt out of birth order. Someone will say “Not agency X! I really wanted to use them but they told me they don’t allow it.” But I happen to know that agency X has changed their policy on adopting out of birth order, so I ask when this situation occurred. “Oh, it was three or four years ago” is the response. Agencies change policies all the time–sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. If you want to know what an agency’s current policy is for adopting out of birth order, two at once, pregnancy while adopting, refunds, or anything else, the best thing to do is call or e-mail the agency directly. You wouldn’t want to miss out on working with a great agency because you got outdated information.

You should keep this in mind during the adoption process, too. On my agency group, people constantly ask questions such as “How do I fill out this form?” or “What hotel will we stay at?” during business hours all the time. This is what you are paying these people money for, don’t be afraid to ask them questions! Even if someone has adopted from your agency within the past year, they might be unaware of policy changes. It is best to contact your agency directly regarding wait times for a match, how to complete necessary forms, travel arrangements, and many other important aspects of your adoption.

Don’t compare apples to oranges
When you are asking questions, make sure you aren’t being too broad. A common question to ask is “How long did it take to get your referral?” Answers will be all over the board from “We were matched before we started” to “We’ve been logged in for over a year and still waiting.” Do you mean how long did it take to get your referral for a boy or for girl? Are you open only to Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 1.55.13 PMminor needs or to a variety of needs? Even the agency you use will make a difference because the wait time for a match can be months longer at some agencies.

Similarly, another common broad question is “How much did your adoption cost?” It is normal to try to compare prices to see how expensive other agencies are. People will name off numbers, but some include travel costs while others don’t. Even if you’re just comparing travel costs, how many people went on the trip and what time of year? Before you make major decisions based on general responses, you’ll want to make sure your comparisons are valid.

Remember that your data pool is skewed

If you have concerns about big topics such as the challenges of attachment or special adoption situations like adopting an older child, it is great to learn from the wisdom of the adoptive parents in these groups. However, keep in mind that most of the people in these groups are there because they love their adoption experience and they want to help you to decide that you should adopt, too! One common question many people ask is “Should I adopt out of birth order?” and usually there are 10 to 20 responses, all glowingly positive. In a recent discussion, I brought up the issue of adoption dissolution in conjunction with adopting out of birth order. I was very surprised that multiple people chimed in saying that they had adopted a child from a dissolution and it was because the child had disrupted birth order in the original adoptive family. Th0se parents who had adopted from an adoption dissolution shared that they thought disrupting birth order was a major factor in failed adoptions. Where were these people in every discussion on adopting out of birth order I’d seen before?!

The fact is, it can be hard to bring up the negative aspects of adoption. It can be hard to be the one to speak up and say “That didn’t work out for our family” when you see that it seems to have worked out beautifully for everyone else who is participating in the discussion. While it is possible to have difficult and honest discussions about the hard parts of adopting, it doesn’t come easily. Many people will gloss over the hard parts so they don’t scare others away from adopting. While you shouldn’t discount the positive responses, keep in mind that the negative responses will be underrepresented. Particularly for discussing some of those special adoption situations, remember that your social worker and/or agency can also be a great resource on the pros and cons, and will likely be a more impartial resource than the adoptive parents in online support groups.

Be wary of the cheerleader & the naysayer

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 2.18.55 PMThis one mostly relates to choosing an agency. People can get very personally invested in the agencies they use. You give this organization thousands of dollars and trust them to bring a child into your life during a very stressful and emotional time. When someone doesn’t like your agency, it’s easy to feel personally insulted. When you ask people opinions on agencies you will get TONS. And usually the longer the comments go on the more pressure people start to apply. “I’ve adopted through Awesome Agency five times and I would NEVER use anyone else! They have never had a dossier declined from China and I wouldn’t trust anyone but their guides!”

It is wonderful that the cheerleader has had such a great experience that she has nothing but good things to say about her agency, but remember that most agencies will get you through this in one piece and with a new son or daughter (or two) at the end. I’ve seen a cheerleader tell a story about a rough trip in-country where the agency saved the day by moving heaven and earth to get last minute medical tests/providing middle of the night translation/talking China out of canceling an adoption. Actually, I’ve seen this story told multiple times and about different agencies. You know what? It turns out there are MANY different agencies who will go the extra mile for your family and that is WONDERFUL! So count the cheerleader’s vote as a positive but be a little skeptical that you will be in trouble if you don’t use Awesome Agency.

A little less common but still surfacing at times is the naysayer, who had a bad experience and wants to let you know it. There are some lousy agencies out there, and it’s good to be forewarned. There are also times that agencies have changed policies or personnel that caused negative feedback, but they are still stuck with the negative perception. This can work in reverse when an agency might be skating along on an outdated good reputation while they really aren’t that great anymore due to policy or staffing changes. I’ve found that sometimes the loudest naysayer doesn’t even have personal experience with the agency they really dislike. They only know that “everybody knows” the agency is in it for the money or whatever. It can be really tricky to sort out inaccurate information versus an agency that consistently provides lousy service. Good luck on that, but remember not to make your decision based on one person’s bad experience.

Don’t believe everything you read

I know this should be self-evident, but it bears including in the list. People can sound so authoritative when they share information on the internet that it is easy to believe them. It is very important to try and verify information or use someone’s comment as a jumping off point for additional research. For example, I have seen countless posts advising that you do not have to declare the cash you carry out of the country as long as you and your spouse are not carrying more than $5000 each. However, when I researched this I found it was not true. I included a link to the form you must complete if you will jointly be carrying more than $10,000 out of the country in the travel chapter. It is especially important to consult with a medical professional in addition to anecdotal information given by adoptive parents when you are considering special needs. Adoptive parents have the tendency to emphasize how easy a need is because they love their child and want other children with the same need to have families too. However, people being unprepared for the care that a special need will require is sometimes a risk factor for adoption disruption.

Watch out for the wishful thinking fairy

Humans don’t deal well with uncertainty. We want desperately for someone to tell us that everything will work out exactly the way we want it to in the end. Hearing the experiences of others can be really helpful in gaining understanding of the range of possibilities. However, it can never give us guarantees. You can ask how long everyone else’s adoption took from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean yours won’t take twice as long. You can ask how long it took for everyone else’s school-aged child to gain English fluency, but that doesn’t mean it won’t take your child longer.

This is especially important to keep in mind when you are in love with a child’s photo and are Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 2.36.21 PMasking other parents for medical information. Other parents can only tell you about their child’s situation. They can’t tell you how often your child will need a transfusion, or how many surgeries he will need, or if she will need a transplant. They can tell you how quickly their child overcame orphanage delays, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that your child’s delays are truly developmental rather than orphanage related. Try to be honest with yourself–are you asking a question because you’re looking for reassurance that everything will be fine and you’re going to end up with the best case scenario?

As long as you keep that in mind, the adoptive parent community can be a wonderful resource. Many of the medical needs you will encounter in the China program are relatively rare. There might not be anyone else in your community with dwarfism or thalassemia but your child. You can learn which doctors or hospitals are most knowledgeable about your child’s medical condition. You can get honest opinions on whether or not you should disclose your child’s Hep B or HIV status to their school. Being able to connect with other parents will give you support and help you to ensure that your child is getting the best medical care possible. It can be an especially wonderful place for the opposite of wishful thinking–gaining support. If you ask “Is anyone else struggling with this?”, you will find that you aren’t alone. When things aren’t going as expected, you can ask others who have dealt with the same struggles how they got through the difficult times.

You can find a DTC group composed of other families adopting within the same timeframe as yourself by typing “DTC” into the Facebook search bar. I suggest many other online adoption groups for specific situations in the Additional Resources section found at the end of a chapter.
Acronyms and Terminology List

If you wade into the online adoption community you will encounter a specialized vocabulary. Here is your guide to the acronyms most commonly used in China adoption groups.

A5- Article 5, a document issued by the US Consulate in Guangzhou which verifies to China that your paperwork is in order. It takes 10 business days for the document to be prepared by the US consulate. Once this document has been sent to the CCCWA your travel approval will be issued.

CA- Consulate Appointment, your appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou where your child’s visa will be processed.

CCCWA- Chinese Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption, the agency which oversees China’s adoption program.

CWI- Children’s Welfare Institute, the name China gives an orphanage which houses only children.

DS260- This is the online application for your child’s immigrant visa.

DTC- Dossier to China, when your dossier is mailed to China.

GUZ number- Applications for immigration visas are assigned a number which replaces the SIM number you had with USCIS. Those visas, which will be issued from the US Consulate in Guangzhou, are issued a number which begin GUZ. This is a small step in the immigration process which requires no action on your part.

Hague- An international treaty governing international adoption which was signed on April 1, 2008. Because adoptions from China operate in accordance with this treaty, your home study agency must be Hague accredited.

HS- Home study, the first step in any adoption.

I800A- The first immigration document you must file asking permission to adopt from China. Your I800A approval grants you general permission to adopt a child or children from China.

I800- The second immigration document you must file. Your I800 approval grants you permission to adopt a specific child or children.

LID- Log in Date, the date when your dossier is logged into China’s system.

LID only file- A file which is reserved for families who have a dossier already in China’s system.

Lockbox- Both I800 forms are sent to a USCIS lockbox facility in Texas. The lockbox facility will open the forms, make sure your payment is included, and mail the forms to the USCIS branch in Kansas which handles adoption.

LOI- Letter of Intent, a letter you send to China petitioning to adopt a particular child.

LOA- Commonly referred to as the Letter of Approval, this is a Letter of Action sent by China to confirm that you are approved to adopt the child you are matched with and seeking confirmation that you wish to proceed with the adoption.

LSC- Letter Seeking Confirmation, alternate acronym for the LOA. See above definition.

MCC- Medical Conditions Checklist. A form which tells your agency which special needs you are open to adopting.

NBC- National Benefits Center, the branch office of USCIS in Kansas which deals with adoption immigration benefits.

NVC- National Visa Center, processes the visa your child will be issued to enter the US after the adoption is completed in China. Your child will fly home on a Chinese passport; the visa will verify that they will become a US citizen once their paperwork is processed by immigration at your port of entry.

PA- Provisional Approval or pre-approval, an initial approval granted by China after you have sent a Letter of Intent to adopt a particular child.

Partnership- When a specific agency is paired with a specific orphanage. The agency will provide material aid and training to the orphanage in exchange for being the first agency to receive all the files prepared by the orphanage. They will advocate for the children at the institution and sometimes bear the cost of preparing the files. The partnership program was officially ended in July 2017.

Partnership files- The files an agency receives from a partner orphanage. The agency agrees to place at least 80% of the files or they might not be able to keep the partnership. LID files will be designated to the agency for only three weeks, but special focus files are designated for three months to give the agency a longer amount of time to advocate and find a family. The partnership program was officially ended in July 2017, although partnership files continued to be available throughout most of 2018 due to how the program was tapered off.

Referral- Your agency will refer a child’s file for you to review. When someone says “We have a referral!” it means that they have been matched with a child.

RTF- This is an acronym for rich text format. You will request an e-mail version of your NVC approval letter and they will send it to you in RTF.

SIM number- The number assigned to your immigration application by USCIS.

SF file- Special Focus file, a file which does not require a dossier to be in China for a match. Special focus files are those which China considers to be more difficult to place or they were LID files who remained unmatched after a certain number of weeks. You do not need to have started the adoption process in order to send a Letter of Intent.

SWI- Social Welfare Institute, the name China gives an orphanage which might also be home to elderly or adults who are unable to live independently.

TA- Travel Approval, a letter issued by China inviting you to enter the country to finalize the adoption. You have 90 days after the TA is issued to complete the adoption.

USCIS- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the American government agency which approves the Chinese adoption and grants citizenship status to your child.

Giveaway winners!

Today is the day that my book is released! It is now available for purchase and immediate download from Amazon. I suggest clicking through the Love Without Boundaries affiliate link so that their programs receive the benefits of your downloads or you can click through the link on the sidebar. I don’t have an Amazon affiliate account, so no one gets any additional benefit from that. It is also available to read for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member.

Thank you so much to everyone who supported me through purchasing the book or sharing information about it to spread the word. I hope you all find it helpful during your adoption journey.

The winners of the first contest are:

  1. Stephanie Maxwell
  2. Jan Stuart
  3. Emily Grantham
  4. Tori Schmidt

The winner of the pre-order giveaway is LeeAnn Niemiec.

Congratulations! I will be contacting you for your address. Thanks again everyone for celebrating the book release with me. I had the excitement of seeing it appear on Amazon’s Hot New Releases chart in the Parenting and Relationships>Adoption subcategory.

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Websites you’ll need in process

At the end of every chapter in my book, I have a section called Additional Resources. This is where I give website, book, blog, or video recommendations to help you get more information on a topic. I wanted to share a sampling of these in one post to be a quick reference for people in process. You might want to bookmark or pin it to return to as you move through each part of the process.


Dossier portion:

General USCIS adoption site– This has links to information on all parts of the process. It includes sample wording which your home study should include for a special needs adoption, visa information, and more.

USCIS contact information– Information on how to call or e-mail to ask the status of your case. Remember that the officers themselves will answer the phone or e-mail. Be polite and limit the amount of times you contact them so that they can spend their time approving cases.

List of FBI approved channelers for the initial FBI fingerprints you will need for your homestudy

Adam Walsh list of state contacts for child abuse clearances

Chinese consulate jurisdiction listing for authenticating your documents

ePassportPhoto for taking passport pictures at home

123PassportPhoto for printing six copies of a scanned passport photo on an 4×6 photo

USCIS I800a application form page.  Complete the G-1145 to receive a text notification that your form has been received.

China’s public holiday schedule – because once you send off your dossier you will suddenly want to know when the CCCWA is closed!

You can find more information in my blog post Tips for completing your homestudy and dossier


Matching portion:

Agency provided list of International Adoption doctors and clinics for file review

Listing of all OneSky (formerly Half the Sky) affiliated orphanages

Listing of Love Without Boundaries foster care locations

Ladybugs and Love from Above– updates and care packages

Anne at Red Thread China– updates and care packages

Brian Stuy’s finding ad service

The MDGB Pinyin to English dictionary– for looking up the meaning of your child’s name

Post-LOA portion:

There’s Always Hope courier service for visas

NVC contact information – for GUZ number and RTF

US consulate in Guangzhou holiday closure calendar

US Department of State visa status tracking site for Article 5 processing

Travel portion:

Quick reference of Chinese words and phrases with audio for adoptive parents

US State Department’s China travel page includes information on recommended immunizations and more

US Customs and Border Protection money declaration if you are carrying more than $10,000 out of the country jointly with your travel partner

US State Department passport application and renewal forms

US Embassy in Beijing’s pollution monitoring website

US State Department website providing pollution data for 5 major Chinese cities.

US Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to notify the Embassy of your in-country travel

A guide to hotel terms including bed measurements like the confusing Chinese “twin” bed

Hong Kong Airport Express guide for getting to the airport from a Hong Kong hotel

Websites for information on booking your own in-country travel:

The Man in Seat 61

China DIY Travel


Once You’re Home:

American Academy of Pediatrics screening guidelines for internationally adopted children

AAP statement on helping foster and adoptive families cope with trauma, to help you advocate for better medical care for your child.

USCIS page with contact information for Certificate of Citizenship

Form N-565 to request a replacement Certificate of Citizenship

Social Security website on getting a Social Security number for an internationally adopted child

Information on obtaining a passport is found on this State Department page on the US Child Citizenship Act of 2000

State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad on childwelfare.gov

IRS website on the adoption tax credit