What to do if you are planning to adopt a child in China.
An inter-country adoption is the adoption of a child habitually resident in one country by an individual habitually resident in another country.
Both the United Kingdom and The People’s Republic of China have signed and ratified the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. Intercountry adoptions between The People’s Republic of China and the UK are required to be processed under the terms of the Convention. The Hague Convention contains important safeguards and checks which ensure the safety and best interests of the child.
An adoption completed under the terms of the Convention and certified by the issuing of an Article 23 certificate is recognised in UK law and there is no need to re-adopt the child in the UK once the adoption is complete. An adoption made under the terms of the Hague Convention would also be recognised by all those countries which have signed and implemented the Convention.
If you are habitually resident in the British Islands and wish to adopt a child from China it is not possible to start the adoption process in China. All prospective adopters who are habitually resident in the British Islands and wish to adopt a child habitually resident in another country are required to comply with the requirements of UK adoption legislation and be approved and assessed by a registered adoption agency.
Habitual residence is a legal concept which is undefined in statute and subject to case law, and it is possible to be habitually resident in more than one country. You may need to take your own independent legal advice as to your habitual residence and your need to comply with the relevant legislation.
You can find out more on the procedures for inter-country adoption, as well as details of registered adoption agencies, from the Department for Education (if you live in England) The Scottish Government (if you live in Scotland), The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (if you live in Northern Ireland) or The Welsh Government (if you live in Wales).
British nationals who are not habitually resident in the British Islands and who live in China, may be eligible to adopt a child from China under a 2008 bilateral agreement between the Chinese and British governments: this is called domestic or in-country adoption. The China Centre for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) is the Central Authority on adoption in China. Families must undertake to provide the Centre with two reports during the first year of the child’s adoption.
The Hague Convention does not apply to in-country adoption.
Please direct enquiries about in-country adoption in China in the first instance to:
China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA)
No.16,Wang Jia Yuan Lane,
Dong Cheng District,
Telephone: +86 10 6554 8998
Fax: +86 10 6554 8856
Following the introduction of The Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) Order 2013 (the ‘2013 order’) and the Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and the Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013 (the ‘2013 Scottish Regulations’), domestic adoption orders effected in The Peoples Republic of China on or after 3 January 2014 are recognised in England, Wales and Scotland.
Domestic adoption orders effected in The Peoples Republic of China before 3 January 2014 would be recognised under UK law by virtue of The Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973.
Non-resident British nationals
As part of the UK-China agreement, when an adoption has been processed to the point of matching parents with a child, the British Embassy or Consulate-General (depending on where you live and from which province you are adopting a child in China) can provide you with two accompanying letters to pass to the CCCWA with your documentation. There is no scope or provision to amend these letters which are designed for specific purposes. There is a fee for each of the letters.
1. Letter of No Objection for Adoption Overseas
This includes a letter of “no objection” which has the sole function of confirming that the British national(s) in question are not habitually resident in the British islands and that as the child is not being adopted under British adoption legislation the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and British Embassy / Consulates-General in China have no further role in the matter.
It is not for the Embassy / Consulates-General in China to agree whether the applicants are suitable to adopt the child, or whether the child is adoptable.
Therefore, to obtain this letter, the prospective adopters must first obtain independent legal advice that they are in fact not resident in the British Islands and swear a statement witnessed by a lawyer that states: “I confirm that I have received independent legal advice and with reference to all circumstances of my particular case and in light of existing UK law, I can confirm that I am not habitually resident in the British Islands”. The British Embassy / Consulates General cannot issue any paperwork without seeing this sworn statement.
2. Letter Confirming Personal Information
The CCCWA request a letter that confirms your nationality, your marriage, date(s) of birth, how long you have been resident in China. To obtain this letter you must present us with your original passport(s), marriage certificate and written information confirming the length of time you have been in China.
For information about how to apply for these letters please read our Notarial Guide.
Nationality and Travel
On adoption, your baby should be issued with a People’s Republic of China passport. If you plan to return to the UK, you must apply for entry clearance in respect of the child or make a separate application for British Citizenship. Please note that applying for a visa or confirming nationality and applying for a first passport can take several weeks.
Chinese law does not recognise dual-nationality and you will not normally be able to choose to retain Chinese nationality for your child.
If you are normally resident in Hong Kong, once the CCCWA have issued you with an adoption certificate, you should apply to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in the district of adoption for a permit to enter Hong Kong with your child’s Chinese passport. You should approach the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Immigration Department for information on obtaining a ‘dependent visa’. Your adoption agent should be able to help with this process.
This information is provided for guidance only: your adoption agent and / or legal adviser should provide you with definitive advice.