Adopting a child from China; What is involved?

Ireland and China are both signees of the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. This legislation was expanded upon with the Adoption Act 2010, which commenced on the 1st of November 2010, with the intention of standardising domestic and inter-country adoption. The Adoption Authority was established to oversee the regulatory framework and to ensure that it works in the best interest of the children and that their protection is prioritised throughout an adoption process.

Because Ireland and China have both ratified the Hague Convention, they are subject to Article 2 of the legislation, which states that ‘the Convention shall apply where a child habitually resident in one Contracting State (e.g. China) has been, is being, or is to be moved to another Contracting State (e.g. Ireland) either after his or her adoption in the State of origin by spouses or a person habitually resident in the receiving State, or for the purposes of such an adoption in the receiving State or in the State of origin. The Convention covers only adoptions which create a permanent parent-child relationship.’

The process; *

*Under Article 22 of the Convention, the functions outlined in Articles 15, 16 and 17 of the Convention which are carried out by The Adoption Authority of Ireland may be delegated to approved Accredited Bodies. These include;

  • ‘Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency’
  • And ‘Helping Hands’ partner in China, ‘Bridge of Love Adoption Service’ (BLAS).

Article 15: According to the Convention, in order to be considered as suitable applicants, The Adoption Authority of Ireland carries out an Assessment Report (Article 15) and sends it to the National Central Authority (NCA) of the country of origin (example; Ireland). This will decide if the adoption process can proceed.

(The Adoption Authority of Ireland no longer sends Article 15 Assessment Reports to China. They are transmitted through 'Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency'.)

Article 16: The results of the Article 15 assessment carried out by Ireland will match the child with successful applicants ie; potential adoptive parents, through the Irish NCA and then the country of the child’s origin (example; China) sends an Article 16 (Child Study Report) to The Adoption Authority of Ireland to assess the suitability of the match.

Article 17: The Adoption Authority of Ireland sends an Article 17 (Child Placement Agreement Notice) to the NCA of China agreeing that it is suitable for all parties that the for the child should be placed with the successful applicants ie; the Irish adoptive parents.

Article 23: Following the granting of an Article 23 (an Adoption Order) the NCA of the country of origin issues an Article 23 certificate, which states that the adoption process has been undertaken in compliance with terms and conditions of the 1993 Hague Convention.


The fees required by the approved agency (Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency) was approved by The Adoption Authority Ireland (AAI) in 2017 and is payable in 4 stages. (1. Registration Fee (€650.00), 2. Dossier Fee (€4,500.00) 3. Placement Fee (€2,250.00) 4. Final Fee (€2,100.00))

  • Common Programme Fee (Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency) €9,500
  • For In-country Programme Fee/domestic adoption, please contact ‘Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency’

For further breakdown of fees, see the fee schedule here.

Two Programs:

There are two adoption programmes in China;

  • Special Needs
  • Non-Special Needs

The waiting time for a referral from China’s Special Needs Programme is dependent on the criteria for matching, e.g. age, gender and additional medical needs.

Generally speaking, ‘Special Needs’ is defined as having a physical or mental disability, an older child or a group of siblings. Sometimes, a minor physical disability e.g. a cleft palate) can be treated with corrective surgery.

The waiting time for a referral of a child from China’s Non-Special Needs Programme is currently 9 years. Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability issued by the Adoption Authority of Ireland are valid for two (2) years and may be extended by one (1) year subject to the approval of the Authority.

Profiles of prospective parents

The current requirements (as of January 2021, according to the Adoption Authority of Ireland) and profiles of suitable prospective parents will fit within these specifications:

  • Applicants must be at least 30 years of age.
  • Must be able to make 1 trip, for a duration 2 weeks
  • The age difference between the applicant and the adoptee should be no more than 50 years and can be based on the younger of two joint applicants
  • Upper age limit for sole applicants is 50 years.
  • Single heterosexual females and heterosexual married couples may apply.
  • Married couples should be married for more than two years.
  • Body Mass Index is a factor (consult Helping Hands)
  • Certain medical conditions are excluded (Contact HHAMA for details).

The following statistics are available for the number of children adopted into Irish families from China in the last eight years;

Year:                                       2018    2017    2016    2015    2014    2013    2012

No. of children:                      4          10        7          15        1          3          1

For more information, see here.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.



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