older brother holding younger brother adopted from china making superman fist while other brother laughs

2021 Update: Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has temporarily paused all adoption processing. Prospective families may still complete a homestudy and submit a dossier. But at this time, it is not possible to estimate the length of time an adoption from China may take.

In addition, Holt is only accepting applications for children who are on our waiting child photolisting. These children are typically older, part of a sibling group or have more involved special needs.  Visit our waiting child photolisting to learn more about children from China who need families!

Visit Holt’s adoption webpage to learn more about other country programs that are now seeking families to adopt!

“Only girls from China need families.” 

“What?! No, only boys need families.”

“No, no, China doesn’t need any families to adopt anymore!”

“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, because who wants to wait seven years to adopt a child?!”

As a family considering international adoption from China, have you ever found yourself in a conversation like this? At Holt, we hear these misconceptions so often that we thought it time to offer some clarity in the form of a “Top 10 Myths” list about adopting from China.

Please share this list widely to help dispel these common myths and raise awareness about the need for families to adopt from China. Also share with families who may have been deterred from considering China because of misinformation! Despite the #1 myth listed below, so many children in China are waiting for loving adoptive families. Armed with the facts, you can help be their voice and their advocate!

Myth #1: China doesn’t need families to adopt anymore.

Fact: To the contrary, we need families for boys and girls with special needs. When you apply to the China program, you will not be “competing” with other families for a small number of children. You will be offering a loving family to a child who needs one and meeting a strong and urgent need.

Myth #2: Only girls from China need families.

Fact: Twenty years ago, the children coming home from China looked very different from those coming home today. Most children now living within China’s social welfare system have some degree of medical or developmental condition. They are between the ages of 2-13, and to many families’ surprise, they are about 50 percent girls and 50 percent boys. Most children are under age 5 at the time of placement.

Myth #3: We have to be open to either gender. We can’t say we just want a girl (or a boy)!

Fact: China is one of the few country programs that still allow families to specify gender on their application. Because over 80 percent of all adoptive families prefer girls, most programs — including China — need families to adopt boys. And many programs now require families to be open to either gender. But when you apply to China, you can state from day one that you will only accept referrals for a girl — or a boy! It may take a bit longer to wait for a young girl, but the choice is there for you.

Myth #4: It takes 8+ years to adopt from China.

Fact: Today, the overwhelming majority of children coming home from China — through all agencies — have at least some minor special needs. The process to adopt a child with a medical or developmental condition, or an older child, currently stands at approximately 24 months from application to placement.

Myth #5: Children with special needs are severely disabled and will require very involved, lifelong care.

Fact: While almost all children joining families from China have special needs, very few of them are severely disabled. Most conditions are manageable and include mild cerebral palsy, spina bifida, orthopedic issues, heart conditions, vision or hearing loss or delays to development. While some children will require medical care or physical therapy once home, most will go on to lead full, happy and independent lives.

Myth #6: All children eligible for adoption through Holt are on the China photolisting.

Fact: Only children who need extra help finding families — often older children or children with more involved needs — have online profiles posted for families to browse on their own. Children with more manageable special needs are matched directly with families.

Some agencies post to their photolisting information about children who are designated to their agency, as well as all the children currently released on the CCCWA’s shared list. They ask parents to sift through large numbers of child referrals without much support. This can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing for parents. This is the decision of a lifetime and we believe you should have the opportunity to work with as many professionals as possible to inform your decision.

Myth #7: Choosing an agency first will limit my options so I should just search for a child online and then work with whatever agency is assigned to that child.


Fact: We completely understand the appeal of approaching the adoption process child first, agency second. But allow us to explain why this approach is actually counterproductive, and will ultimately limit your options instead of leaving you open to every child who needs a family from China. First off, not all children eligible for adoption from China have online profiles. Second, when considering a family for a particular child, China always prefers families who have already completed their homestudy. So if you see a child online who you are interested in adopting but have yet to start the process with an agency, you won’t be in a position to move forward with a match. And in the time it takes to complete your homestudy with an agency, that child will likely be referred to — and possible matched with — another family.

Myth #8: All adoption agencies are pretty much the same.

Fact: We cannot stress enough the importance of choosing an agency you trust and feel comfortable working with. Different agencies also have different relationships and partnerships in China that can significantly impact your adoption process. Here are a few key facts about Holt International and the Holt China program:

  • Holt has over 65 years of unparalleled international adoption experience, including more than two decades providing adoption, foster care and other child welfare services in China.
  • Holt has strong relationships with the Chinese government and with several children’s welfare institutes.
  • Holt has a highly dedicated and experienced team of over 25 Holt staff members in China who get to know each child and can follow up with local orphanages when families have questions.
  • We have a strong track record of successfully matching families with children from the CCCWA shared list, including children with minor special needs and children designated as Special Focus.
  • Our child-centered approach means that Holt seeks a family comfortable and prepared to care for each child’s unique needs.
  • Holt has a long-term commitment to child welfare and family preservation projects in China, regardless of the changing adoption environment.

Myth #9: We don’t meet all of the eligibility requirements, so there’s no point in trying!

Fact: Eligibility for the China program is flexible in many cases. The central adoption authority in China often makes exceptions for families open to children who fit the Special Focus profile, such as those featured on our photolisting.

From experience, we have learned that there are nuances to China’s program eligibility that are not detailed in basic country criteria. We highly recommend contacting our adoption advisors with questions about a stated eligibility requirement. Adopting from China is a wonderful option for many families, so please check with us before closing the door due to an eligibility concern.

Myth #10: I will be expected to go outside my comfort zone and accept the first child “assigned” by my agency.

Fact: This is a common misconception among families considering adoption. It is unique to the China program that families truly drive the match process. From the beginning, families determine their level of comfort when considering age, gender and special needs, and may change their specifications at any time. You know your family best and are best equipped to determine whether to parent a particular child! If we present a child referral and you choose to decline, there is no penalty. No black mark. No going to the end of an imaginary list. We will simply try again, this time with greater clarity.

little girl with one arm kicking up sand at the beach

Adopt From China

Holt has three adoption programs in the China region. Learn about children who are waiting for families!

Or if you still have any questions not answered here, contact our adoption advisors at [email protected].


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