More changes were announced this week for the China adoption program. Just two weeks ago, agencies and families learned that the CCCWA placed tighter restrictions on adoptive families, including limiting the number of children in the home and requiring the youngest child in the home to be at least three years old before proceeding with another adoption. You can reference the complete list of changes here .
Yesterday, we learned that the CCCWA will end One to One orphanage partnership programs that allowed orphanages and adoption agencies to form partnerships for direct referral of children. This is effective December 31, 2017. Previously, based on other announcements from CCCWA, we believed that as orphanage partnerships expired, they would not be renewed, but this is no longer the case. Instead they will just all end at one time at the end of this year, no matter the time remaining in the contract. In addition, hosting programs for waiting children will also end.
From the CCCWA:
July 18, 2017
Relevant government departments and adoption agencies in receiving countries,
Following the enactment of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organizations within the Territory of China (hereinafter referred to as Administration Law) since January 1, we would like to notify as follows on relevant issues about the programs carried out by adoption agencies such as the One-to-One Assistance Program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program based on the regulations of the Administrative law and conclusions of competent authorities:
All activities concerning the One-to-One program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program will be terminated. For children who have been assessed by adoption agencies through the One-to-One program before the enactment of the Administrative Law and whose reports have not been submitted to CCCWA, if their reports are submitted through the provincial department of civil affairs to CCCWA before December 31, 2017 (subjected to the approval date of the provincial department), CCCWA will post these files to the specific list of the original adoption agency. Agencies are requested to look for children within required deadline, otherwise the files will be withdrawn by CCCWA when the deadline is closing.
Foreign adoption agencies should abide by the business scope specified in the registration when working in China. No activities with inter-country adoption as the purpose are allowed when agencies work in welfare and charity related activities.
Adoption agencies should look for adoptive families according to the requirements outlined in the Review Points for Decision on the Eligibility of Foreigners Adopting from China and avoid hasty placements without discretion within the deadline.
-China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption Center
So, what does this mean for agencies and adoptive families?
Agencies will no longer receive agency designated files from their previous partnership orphanages as they have in the past. Any children that Agencies are holding from one-to-one programs must be turned over to the CCCWA. Our hope will be they will eventually all be released to the database of waiting children. This could mean that their will be an increase in children available to all agencies to reserve and match with their families. This will make the process more consistent across the board for Agencies and Families, as well as more exposure for children who may have been waiting with one agency for some time. Prior to One to One partnerships, agencies requested all files from the shared list to match with potential families, so that will be the only way to match moving forward.
For adoptive families, this could mean a longer wait time for a referral of a young, minor needs child since those referrals generally came directly from orphanages. However, this is being seen across the board for all agencies. Overall, we have seen a decline in the number of young children with minor correctable needs being placed for international adoption. The culture in China appears to be changing, as more Chinese families are adopting domestically, which is great news for the children, as they are able to maintain their birth culture. Keep in mind that “minor and correctable needs” mean different things for different families. While one family would consider multiple surgeries for cleft lip and palate minor and correctable, another family could view surgeries and years of speech therapy as a long-term challenge that they could not undertake. There are thousands of children in China with varying medical and special needs waiting for families that are ready to be adopted internationally. Now with healthier children being placed in the general database just like those with special needs, it could mean more matching opportunities. As files are returned to CCCWA and hopefully submitted to the database, we will know more of what to expect. Overall adoptive families considering China need to go into the program flexible in gender, age and prepared to adopt a child with medical needs.
An obvious downside is the cessation of hosting, which has been crucial in years past to placing older children and those with more complex special needs. Hosting has helped hundreds of children be exposed to a wonderful experience, as well as increased opportunities to find their forever family. This option for children will be sorely missed, and hopefully agencies can work together to advocate for the return of such programs.
What we do know is that the China adoption program remains to be a stable and predictable program for families hoping to adopt internationally. The China program has encountered changes throughout the years and is still a strong program that places many beautiful children in loving families. We will continue to work diligently to unite children with their families as we navigate these recent changes.