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April 3, 2007 | By More

My wife and I adopted our two wonderful daughters from China on two separate occasions, in 1999 and 2001.? We very much appreciated the way that the Chinese orphanages took good care of our daughters.? When we traveled to China to meet our daughters, we were treated well by the many Chinese people we met who ran China’s adoption program.? Everything was straight-forward and as we expected.? I also cannot say enough good things about Children’s Hope International, the American adoption agency we used.

Throughout the adoption process one bit of irony repeatedly occurred to my wife and I: We had to be highly scrutinized before being allowed to adopt.? The Chinese government (and our own agency) wanted to make certain that we were going to be good parents.? My wife and I sometimes commented to each other that absolutely anyone is qualified to have a biological child, whereas people trying to adopt were treated with suspicion.? To be approved for adoption, we had to produce our arrest records, medical records, recommendation letters and a home study.

We periodically get newsletters from Children’s Hope.? This month’s letter includes the current requirements for adopting a child from China. Interesting stuff.? In fact, the requirements are much stricter than they were a few years ago:

  • China bases eligibility on each person’s age. If one spouse is under 30 or one spouse is over 55, the couple is not eligible to adopt.

Families are not eligible to adopt if any of the following apply:

  • Diagnosed with major depression or any other severe mental health concerns;
  • Current diagnosis of depression or anxiety or currently on medication for depression or anxiety.? Must be treatment and medication free for over 2 years.
  • History of alcoholism within the last 10 years;
  • Any major surgery or transplant within the last 10 years; contact our office with questions.
  • One or both parents use a wheelchair or mobility aid; or missing limbs.
    Any diagnosis of cancer within the last 3-5 years and will be reviewed on a case by case basis;
  • No disease in infectious stage.
  • If either parent has a severe disease which requires long-term treatment and which affects life expectancy, like malignant tumors, epilepsy. lupus, nephrosis, etc.?
  • No blindness.? No deafness unless adopting a deaf child.
  • BMI over 40. [This item includes a body fat calculator–to give you an idea, if you are 5’ 10 tall with a BMI of 40, you weigh 278 pounds].


  • The family must show a positive net worth (assets vs. liabilities) of at least $80,000.00.
  • Adoptive parents must demonstrate an annual minimum combined income of $30,000. This represents $10,000 per adult + $10,000 for the adopted child. An additional $10,000 income is required for each additional person in the household. For example, a married couple with two children living in the home must earn at least $50,000

Criminal History – Families are not eligible to adopt if any of the following apply:

  • Current warrants or currently on probation.
  • History of drug use or charges.
  • Any arrest for a violent crime (examples: assault)
  • History of domestic violence, sex abuse, abandonment or abuse of children, even if they are not arrested or incriminated.
  • Any felonies.
  • Applications will be considered on a case by case basis if the parent has less than three criminal records of slight severity with no serious outcomes with ten years passed or less than 5 traffic law violations with no severe outcomes.

Marriage Requirements

  • If the first marriage, couples must be married over 2 years.
  • If either spouse has 1-2 divorces, the current marriage needs to be a minimum of 5 years.
  • Couples where one or both spouses have 3 or more divorces are not eligible.

Education Requirement:

  • Both parents must have received education at or above high school or vocational skill training.

How many children?

  • The CCAA [the Chinese agency that administers adoptions] limits the number of children in the household to a maximum of five.

Religious Requirements

  • Families with religious beliefs that prohibit any kind of medical treatment, including blood transfusions, for the child, will not be eligible to adopt. According to the CCAA this includes religions that use alternatives to blood transfusions, as this is not available in every country.

If you don’t like these requirements, don’t get angry at Children’s Hope.? The American agencies don’t create these requirements.? The American agencies are merely the messengers of what China requires.?? China has created these requirements because it is believed that people who meet these requirements will be healthier and live longer, thus better able to take care of the young children they are adopting for many years.

I find these requirements?intriguing.? Though I don’t agree with all of them, I can’t help but think that if I were a child about to be adopted, I would prefer that my adoptive family met these requirements or, at least, most of them.

Then again, think of the riot that would result if the state or federal government insisted that Americans had to meet these requirements?in order to legally?have their own biological children.?

The topic of eligibility requirements for having one’s own biological baby is truly a 3rd rail of American politics.?? So much so, that we can’t even discuss the possibility of requiring the sterilization of people convicted of maiming or killing their own children.?? Uh-oh . . . I mentioned it.? How awful that I would dare suggest that to have biological children, a potential parent must not have a track record of hurting or killing his/her own children. This widespread reluctance to discuss this issue surprises me, because people convicted of child abuse aren’t noted for having a strong governmental lobby.

I have a friend who has worked at a Family Court for 20 years.? He is liberal in his thinking, but shakes his head from side to side when he tells me of recurring instances of 5, 6, or 7 or more highly dysfunctional children coming through the Family Court, all of them born to the same woman.? Many of these children were born after one or both parents have had children removed from the home due to child abuse or neglect.?? My friend states that almost all liberal-thinking people who work with the Family Court for any length of time start thinking that people who harm children should not be allowed to have any more of their own children.?

But there is no government program to enforce sterilization, even of those people who have been convicted child abusers.? There is absolutely no governmental effort to prevent dangerous parents from adding new children to their homes—unless they are trying to adopt.? I’m not advocating a particular government program–I’m merely pointing out the inconsistency and the irony.

But I do want to end this post on a happier note, because the world is filled mostly with dedicated parents raising beautiful children. And many of those parents first met their children after traveling half-way around the world.? Thus, the ancient Chinese belief of the “red thread,” a story embraced by me and by others who have been truly blessed through adoption.

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.


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Category: American Culture, Culture, Law, Politics, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. Skblllzzzz says:

    Amazingly, you can be a smoker and adopt a child. Then again, considering China is a chain-smoker itself, it may simply not have occurred to them…..

  2. Al says:

    Yea Gads! Child abusers fine & dandy, but not SMOKERS!

  3. EAnne says:

    I appreciate your candor regarding parenting however I'd like to add some of my perspective. This is lengthy but please take the time to read it.

    I am a nurse with 20 years experience in both pediatric critical care and emergency helicopter transport. As such, I have seen the most heinous of crimes to children–both by neglect and intentional trauma. In addition, I have been a victim of severe verbal trauma from my own father. I have actually said those same "liberal" statements about neglectful and abusive parents not being allowed to further add to population. Loading an abused child into a helicopter while watching an abusive parent pretend to cry has affected my heart so many times.

    But here's a thought from the other side of the coin: I have endometriosis. My husband and I tried for 15+ years to have our own children. We also looked in to adoption, but due to limited finances, had to make a heart-wrenching decision to do one or the other–both costing around 20K. So as we were early in the process and both under 25, we thought our best choice was to pursue medical options and thus underwent many procedures including laps, ZIFT, GIFT, and IVF. At one point, I got pregnant (actually 7 years into it) and with no procedure. Heartbreakingly, I miscarried at 13 weeks and never got pregnant again. To make a long story short, I ended up with severe endometriosis, no ability to concieve and a total hysterectomy at the age of 37. So much for the 20K–it was probably more than that due to fraudulent insurance practices but we stopped counting. The toll on our hearts and minds was much greater than our pocketbooks.

    Now 4 years later, the option to adopt has been nagging at me again. So in investigating the possibility, I find that no one on antidepressants can adopt from a foreign country.

    It took a long time for me to acknowledge that I was depressed let alone to seek treatment. With the above history, I challenge any of you–who would not be depressed? I believe God is good and my husband and I are learning to be content. But that does not mean that depression does not happen especially in extreme circumstances. With the volume of disasters I see in my job, trying to take good care of my dying father, and dealing with the forever grief of not only not having children but to have lost the one you had for a brief 13 weeks, I had used up all my seritonin stores and I finally sought help after a Christian counsellor advised it. And I have to acknowledge that it has helped me. I was and am a productive member of society. Even with the depression, I got up and went to work every day and gave my heart to both my patients and my coworkers. I sought help so that I could continue to do this.

    Now I cannot adopt internationally. I do not know about locally. It seems like more salt in the wound. Although it is perhaps the answer to the prayer that we have had–should we adopt? We both know God has many plans for us–my husband is a well-loved teacher in a Christian school, Bible study and YP leader. I am a flight nurse and the educator for our flight team. I have sat at more bedsides and help the hands of so many injured, sick and dying people. I consider it a privilege to be a part of the most difficult moments in people's lives and I know that God uses me in these times. So if that is the reason so we can continue our work, then so be it. God is good.

  4. Jody Johnson says:

    I have two adopted children from Asia, and I have used antidepressants for over 12 years. You are not barred from ALL international adoption- China is the only country I am aware of that will not take prospective parents who have used antidepressants. Try Korea, Ethiopia, Haiti… Call up your local adoption agency and ask about their international programs, and which countries are open to people who have used antidepressants. Don't give up hope. There are many children out there who need good families and they don't need us as parents to be perfect. Just to love and care for them.

    Jody Johnson, MS

  5. Janet says:

    It is good that they've put these standards in.

  6. Katie says:

    How many people have never been through a crisis in their life when they were so hurt, so grieved that they became extremely depressed? Or who hasn't had teenage angst so bad that they did something stupid that they regretted later on? Who says that depressed people are likely to stay depressed? They aren't. Who says that people who get help for depression are worse off than the many (and I have met VERY many) of people with severe mental and emotional issues who never bother getting help? Getting help for mental illness is a sign of strength, of being strong enough to admit when you need it and do what you can to get yourself better. I don't think that should be held against someone. And I don't understand this because at the top it says they have to be free of mental illness. Free for their whole lives or free at the time? Free for the past 2 years? The wording is confusing. If it's 2 years I would agree with that. You can be free for a few years, have a family and be a wonderful mom. And I've personally known a few kids who grew up just fine with medicated mommies.