china collage

Nightlight offers an adoption program from China for parents who are interested in adopting a waiting orphan who has a special medical need or is an older child. We continue to assist families through the ‘traditional’ process who are waiting for a healthy child; however, with the current wait for that program being several years, we only accept families who are willing to adopt a child with a special medical need or a healthy older child, above the age of 8. We encourage any family who may be frustrated with the wait for a healthy child from China to reconsider the China special needs program. Many of the children available have minor or correctable conditions.


Our China program began in Kentucky with A Helping Hand Adoption Agency in 1996. A Helping Hand merged with Nightlight in 2014 and brought this wonderful program with them. We work directly with the CCCWA (China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) and we have a liaison in Beijing. Nightlight’s fees are among the lowest in the nation and we have a long history of successful placements through our China program.

Children can be matched with families through different processes:

One-to-One Partnerships – Currently Nightlight has partnership agreements sanctioned by the CCCWA with two different orphanages. Our partnership with the Social Welfare Institute of Beiliu City (Guangxi Province) started in May 2013. Our partnership with the Children’s Welfare Institute of Tongren City (Guizhou Province) started in April 2014. In May of 2015 we also signed two new agreements with the Children’s Welfare Institute of Qingdao (Shandong Province) and the Children’s Welfare Institute of Xiaoxian (Anhui Province). Through our affiliation with these institutions, our agency is granted exclusive right to place the children from these orphanages for a set period of time which allows us to quickly match children with our waiting families. This also allows us to obtain more information about the children including videos, assessments, and additional photos. Furthermore, we are able to develop a connection with the orphanage staff and directors to provide additional assistance by sending work teams to help deliver better care for the kids and specialized training to those caring for them.

Shared List – China maintains a secured list of orphans with special needs who are available for adoption. This list is accessible only by adoption agencies that have a waiting child program with the CCCWA. Children are placed into two categories: Non-Special Focus and Special Focus.

  • Non-Special Focus Children – Non-Special Focus (NSF) children are added to the list on a regular basis and are only available to families who have a Log-In Date (LID). In other words, your adoption paperwork (dossier) has been filed and registered with the CCCWA. Typically these children are younger with minor or correctable medical needs or healthy older children. The Nightlight China Department monitors the list as it is released in real time and searches for children who meet the criteria of our waiting families. When a child is locked for a family from the NSF list, a 72 hour hold is put on the child’s file so that the family can make a decision based on the referral information received which includes medical information as well as social and developmental history. The family must make a decision within 48 hours so that additional paperwork and translations can be completed before the 72 hour time period expires.
  • Special Focus Children – Special Focus Children (SF) are those who have moderate to severe medical needs OR children who were initially assigned to other agencies but were not matched. Families can usually be matched with a child from the Special Focus list before they begin the adoption process and will be given 6 months to complete their home study and dossier paperwork. Many families who do not meet all of the requirements to adopt from China may choose a Special Focus child to ensure they will be given a waiver for the requirements they do not meet and permission to move forward in the adoption process.

Agency List – In addition to the children added to our agency list through our One-to-One Partnerships, Nightlight is able to choose SF children from the shared list to be placed on our individual agency list. Nightlight is given the opportunity to advocate to find homes for those children for 60 days. Families interested in children on Nightlight’s individual list may have additional time to review a child’s file before making a decision.


Children from 12 months to 14 years with special needs are in need of adoption. It is up to each family to determine which medical needs they will consider and what they consider major or minor. It is impossible to list each and every medical condition. Medical needs vary from very minor and/or correctable to extremely sever and life altering. Minor to moderate special needs may include, but are not limited to cleft lip and palate, limb differences or other skeletal malformations, congenital heart defects which are correctable with surgery, club feet, blood disorders such as Hepatitis B, and developmental delays. Major special needs may include hearing or vision impairments, orthopedic issues, spina bifida or other neural defects such as cerebral palsy or hydrocephalus, albinism, or Down syndrome. Again, it is up to the family to determine what they feel they can handle. In most cases, vast improvements are seen in all children with special needs once they receive proper medical care and live in a healthy environment with the love of a permanent family.


China’s eligibility requirements state that only married, heterosexual couples or single heterosexual women may adopt. Both husband and wife must be between ages of 30 and 50 (singles up to 45 years old) at the time the dossier goes to China, and couples must have been married at least 2 years. (If either husband or wife has been previously divorced, they must be married at least 5 years at the time the dossier arrives in China). Additionally, applicants must be physically and mentally healthy (restrictions on certain mental disorders, neither parent may be blind, have a Body Mass Index of 40 or above, restrictions for applicants with a history of cancer or organ transplants). Financially, the family must be secure with a net worth over $80,000 ($100,000 for singles) and a minimum salary of $10,000 per family member, including the child to be adopted (minimum of $30,000 in cases of childless families) or be able to show that their financial status is at or above the local average. Applicants must have at least a high school diploma. Neither applicant may have a criminal record (includes domestic/sexual abuse and history of drug use). There are a few further stipulations for single women, which we will be happy to discuss with you. The CCCWA is somewhat flexible with families adopting children with special needs so if you find you do not meet one of the qualifications above, we can check to see if the CCCWA will make an exception in your case. Typically, these exceptions are given only after you have identified a Special Focus child you would like to adopt.


Some families can be matched with a child and then begin the process. Others prefer to begin the process and be logged in before being matched with a child. Regardless of the path you choose, these steps must be followed:

  1. Complete an adoption homestudy.
  2. Prepare an I-800A form to be granted approval by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). In the most basic terms, this process grants a pre-approval for you to bring an orphaned child into the US as a citizen.
  3. Gather documents which will go through a certification and authentication process to become your dossier. (We will help you through the certification and authentication process.) This step can be worked on concurrently with the adoption home study.
  4. Be matched by Nightlight with a child meeting your preferences. Have the file reviewed by a medical professional and, once you are committed, submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) packet to the CCCWA indicating your desire to adopt the specific child.
  5. Within 1-2 weeks after the CCCWA receives and approves your Letter of Intent, you will be issued a Pre-Approval (PA).
  6. If your dossier has already been submitted and logged in with the CCCWA, the review of your dossier will be expedited. If you do not have your dossier logged in at the time you are matched with a Special Focus child, you will be given 6 months to submit your dossier to the CCCWA. Once it is complete, it will be sent along with your PA, logged in and reviewed.
  7. A Letter of Approval (LOA) will be received from the CCCWA officially matching you with the child and allowing you to move forward with the completion of the adoption in country. The timing of the LOA is dependent on whether or not your dossier has already been reviewed. If your dossier has already been reviewed, you can expect to receive your LOA within 1-2 months after you LOI is submitted. If you log in your dossier after you are matched with a child, it can take approximately 2-4 months after log in to receive your LOA.
  8. Upon receipt and acceptance of the LOA, a travel meeting is held with the agency to explain the final adoption processes and travel procedures. A family can expect to travel in 3-4 months from the acceptance of the LOA. During this period, the agency will guide you through several steps that help your family receive Travel Approval (TA).
  9. Travel to China generally takes place 3-4 weeks after your family receives TA. Most families enter China in Beijing and then travel to their child’s province to finalize the adoption. The average stay in China is 12-14 days. Some provinces require a longer period of time to process the child’s passport once the adoption is finalized.
  10. Travel to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China to receive your child’s visa to enter the United States.
  11. Bring your child home from China!


Families typically travel approximately 3 to 4 months after receiving their LOA. More specifically, they will travel 3-4 weeks after receiving TA. This depends on how quickly the visa appointment at the US Consulate can be scheduled by our agency. If possible, families will be organized into travel groups. Whether a family is in a group or not, they will be accompanied by an English speaking guide. Usually the trip lasts 12-14 days, though it could be a little quicker or take longer depending on the process in the province from which the family is adopting.


Nightlight Christian Adoptions is committed to preparing families for the adoption of a child with special needs. We provide pre- and post-adoption education and information regarding medical resources.


China requires 6 post-adoption reports at 6 and 12 months after the adoption as well as 2, 3, 4, and 5 years post adoption. Clients completing a home study through Nightlight are also required to complete a 1 month post placement report.


Our program fee for a China Special Needs adoptions is $10,235 – $10,325 (this varies based on whether or not a family is pre-matched a child before sending paperwork to China). This makes our agency fees one of the lowest in the country! Additional estimated expenses of $18,330 – 25,455 will bring the total cost to approximately $28,565 to $35,780. Your out-of-pocket expenses may further be reduced if you receive scholarships or employer-provided adoption benefits. Exhibit A of our contract lists all fees and estimated costs for the China program. Please call (859-263-9964) or e-mail Rebecca, Stephanie, or Dana with any questions.

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To learn more about adopting from China, you may contact us, call our KY office at (859) 263-9964, or email inquiries to Becca at Stephanie at

China Adoption Program Details

  • Program cost will range between $28,565-$35,780.
  • Children will be 12 months of age or older
  • Parents age must be between 30 and 50 years old
  • Referral time is typically 4-10 months depending on the family’s openness to age, gender, and special need

More Information on China Adoptions

China Adoption Overview

China Travel Services

U.S. Relations with China

Families with Children from China website

Nightlight in the News