Expats apply to raise a Chinese baby as their own in China

Expats looking to adopt in China are required to get approval from their home countries first.

On January 31 in 2013, right before the Chinese New Year, Mai Xiong, an American doctor of Taiwanese descent, took an orphan baby girl home from the hospital to better look after her. An enthusiastic volunteer who has been helping orphan care facilities in Shanghai since she came to live in China in 2009, Xiong soon bonded with the girl and filed for adoption two months later. In July 2014, she finally officially adopted her daughter, little Angelina.

Expat adoptive parents are in a very unique position, according to Xiong.

“The process of adopting [a Chinese child] in China is the same as in the US, but there are some special circumstances to doing the paperwork since we are living overseas,” she said. “Unfortunately, many adoption agencies in the [adoptive parents’] home country don’t even know how to advise families, making it even more complicated.”

Compared with being put on a waiting list, bonding with the child first and then trying to adopt is more common among expat adoptions, Xiong said.

The biggest challenge adopting as an expat, according to Xiong, was “living in daily fear and anxiety” because there’s no guarantee that the child would be matched to her.

Wu Gongzhan, vice president and managing director of the Asia department of the Gladney Center for Adoption, an American adoption and advocacy organization headquartered in Texas since the 1880s, agreed that expat adoption is more complicated.