Adopting from Hong Kong

Adopting from Hong Kong

We brought our son, Nathanael (our 8th child), home from Hong Kong on February 12, 2001. During the process of adopting him, and since he’s been home these past three years, I always find it amazing the numbers of families who are unaware there is even a Hong Kong program or who think it’s somehow tied to the China program with the CCAA in Beijing. While a relatively small program (only 15-20 children or so arrive home to the USA from Hong Kong each year), it has certain qualities which may make it a very viable option for families who could be considered “too old” or who may have “too many children” for other international adoption programs.

The program in Hong Kong is run entirely through the Adoption Unit (“AU”) of the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department and there is no connection at all with the CCAA and Beijing. US citizens not residing in Hong Kong will adopt their child through one of three agencies in the USA, licensed by SWD, and with the assistance of one of two agencies in Hong Kong: either Mothers Choice ( or International Social Services ( , but always through SWD. Most of the children are residents of small private group homes or in foster care arranged by the group home, though occasionally a child will be residing in a crèche (similar to an orphanage). SWD gives great attention to detail in the adoption process and runs things very smoothly and ethically. All 3 of the USA agencies licensed in Hong Kong are very reputable, older organizations, with a long history of ethical and exemplary service to both children and families.

For citizens of the USA, the children will usually be 2-3 yrs of age on up as a minimum (though occasionally you will see children as young as 12-18 months old or so coming home) and there almost always is a special need of some kind involved, from moderate to severe in most cases. Additionally, Hong Kong is somewhat flexible on parental age and the number of children in the home as it relates to adoptive parents. The process, from time of submission of dossier until the child is ready to travel, is approximately 4-8 months depending on how fast the paperwork moves through SWD and on to the High Court. Families may travel for approximately 5 business days (one or both parents) or the child can be escorted.

The dossier for Hong Kong is very simple and most of the items only need be photocopies. No notarizations or authentications are required. Families must also have their physicians fill out a detailed 5-pp medical history form and certain tests (such as a chest x-ray) are required.

Families adopting in Hong Kong will receive good information regarding their child’s background history, medical issues, etc. Our son had several surgeries to correct syndactly of his hands and a clubfoot and we know without a doubt he received the best of care. In fact, when we were there to bring him home, we were able to travel to the hospital where he had all his surgeries and meet the staff and surgical team of the pediatric orthopedic surgery unit. The pediatric orthopedic surgeon he sees here at home was very impressed with how well Nathanael’s medical needs were attended to prior to his coming home. I’ll never forget Nathanael’s first visit with him shortly after he came home. The dr. took one look at his repaired right clubfoot and exclaimed with much enthusiasm “Great Cincinnati Release!” (A ‘Cincinnatti Release’ is a type of procedure used to correct a clubfoot.)

As stated earlier, pre-adoption finds children being cared for in a small group home or foster home (occasionally a crèche). Our Nathanael lived, from 14 months of age until we came to get him at 3 yrs 10 months, at Mothers Choice in Wee Care, which was the area for special needs children 3-6 yrs of age. He had in-house OT and PT and was attending Small World Christian Kindergarten three days a week. Volunteers came to spend time with the children, they attended field trips, had outings and without a doubt much love and care was put into their well-being. There is also the Home of Loving Faithfulness, located in New Territories, as well as foster care arranged by either ISS or Mothers Choice.

When we traveled to bring Nathanael home, we (my three teenagers—two of whom had been to Hong Kong before, and our daughter, Emilee, adopted from China and also a previous Hong Kong traveler) had a long all-day outing with him and our social worker our first full day, and then were able to have him with us from the next night on. Nathanael had a going-away party, which enabled him to say good-bye to everyone who had meant so much to him. He received not only a life book, which would have made any Creative Memories scrap booker proud, but he also received a book filled with pictures of those who had known him. Written beside each picture there was a special wish for Nathanael, as he left Hong Kong for his new life in America, along with a verse of scripture and sometimes an address or email. To this day, we keep in touch with a whole list of people who wish to remain a part of his life and to know how he is doing as he grows up. We feel the connections he has in the place of his birth will be vital to him in the years ahead as he will most assuredly have people with whom he can relate to when and if he returns to Hong Kong to visit.

Pat and Dennis are a good example of a couple that was able to adopt from Hong Kong despite the fact they are both in their mid-to-late 50’s! They not only have older, biological children, but they are also grandparents!! They used Holt to adopt Amanda, Amelia and Arthur, who were all school-age at arrival home. Amanda and Arthur both have Downs’ Syndrome and Amelia has brain damage but all 3 are doing well and bringing joy to their mom and dad!!

Polly and Kevin adopted their son, Grayson, in August 2001 at 4 yrs. of age; he was escorted home. Grayson has Downs’ Syndrome and is part of a family of 12 children ranging in age from 2-1/2 on up to 21. The children are from the USA (biological); Korea, Cambodia and the Philippines. Today, Grayson is a homeschooled kindergarten student. Polly says: “I loved the HK program, the process goes smooth and we received a lot of medical information. We were very informed throughout the process.”

${media.get("sideBar5")} class="paddedBorder" align="left"> Pam and Jim adopted their son, Thomas, in December 2001, when he was 9 years old, using Family Connections. Thomas was residing at Home of Loving Faithfulness. The entire family, including Thomas’ new grandmother and little sister Katie (from China), traveled to Hong Kong to bring him home. His special needs are beta thalassemia major (requiring transfusions every 5 weeks) and Moya Moya Disease (discovered after his arrival home). Currently, Thomas is a homeschooler and participates in children’s choir and AWANA club at church. Pam and Jim had originally set out hoping to adopt a son who was about 3 yrs of age or so and ended up with a 9-year-old boy!! Pam relates: “As for Hong Kong adoptions- you know how we feel about them-they are great! We loved the process, so simple, and the preparation and medical records are great!”

Mike and Jeanne adopted Eva Wu in 2001 when she was 8 yrs old. Eva is completely hearing-impaired and partially blind and has kidney, cardiac, nose, throat, dental, and growth issues as a result of a congenital condition called C.H.A.R.G.E. Syndrome. My children and I personally met Eva when we were in Hong Kong to bring Nathanael home and let me tell you from first-hand experience, this is one amazing young lady!! She received a cochlear implant and is doing beautifully and brings a radiant joy to her mom, dad, brother and sisters (Eva Wu has siblings adopted from China, Taiwan and Ethiopia). Jeanne relates of their experience in adopting from Hong Kong “No worries with Hong Kong. It is the best and smoothest program by far! We have adopted 4 times and our HK adoption was a dream. It took only 8 months and I think it would have been only 7 months if Sept. 11th hadn't happened. Really fast, really predictable, tons of information, the ability to ask questions about your child (and get the answers!!!!!!!!!!!), etc.”

Marion and her husband have 7 children, including Lia, who was adopted from Hong Kong last year at 18 months of age using Bethany; Lia has Downs Syndrome. Her husband and their older daughter traveled to bring her home. They had such a good experience with Hong Kong adoption the first time (they also have children from Korea), that they decided to do it again and their son, John , recently arrived home via escort. He was residing at The Home of Loving Faithfulness and is the first boy in the family!!… John is 5 yrs. old and also has Downs Syndrome. Marion says of their experience with Hong Kong adoption: “What impresses me most about Hong Kong adoptions is the personal involvement and care the staff at Mothers Choice has with the children. It’s very evident from all the child studies and also the pictures and items the children arrive with, that they are treasured. I also like it that you are able to ask questions about your child any time in the process. I felt more present and more connected to my children during the wait than during the wait for our other adoptions.”

Bill and Cindy already had one biological son and set out to adopt another little boy. They traveled to bring their son, Michael, home from Hong Kong in March 2001; he was 16 months old at arrival and has mild CP and microcephaly but his head size has continued to grow and he is doing very well. Of their adoption experience, Cindy says: “Our Hong Kong experience was amazing! The people we met in HK were so wonderful and our son was so loved. His transition into our family was spectacular. They really know what they are doing in caring for and preparing the children. A bonus to the HK program was getting to travel to HK itself. It is an awesome sight to behold and I will never forget the beauty and breath taking views. I am a city girl and this is the ultimate city to get to visit! It says something that we have not one negative comment on our HK adoption experience!”

Marvin and Apryl are another mid-50’s couple that decided they still had room in their hearts for more children (despite having older biological children and being grandparents as well!)… John-Gabriel arrived home from Hong Kong via escort at 2 years of age. Marvin and Apryl consider him their miracle boy. He had such severe retinopathy of prematurity that he should have been blind, but his vision is fine and he keeps the household hopping… In addition to the ROP, John-Gabriel was 12 weeks preemie and had Grade IV IVH, bilateral kidney reflux, bipartificated uvella (a cleft palate that didn’t finish forming), slight CP, mild hypospadism. Apryl says of their Hong Kong adoption experience: “ABOLUTELY WONDERFUL...The staff really loves the kids at Mothers Choice, takes optimal care of them as far as they are able which makes it much easier for parents to build on that love when they come home. As the parent of four SN adoptions, two from Russia, one from China and one from HK, I believe the kids from HK are better off physically, mentally and socially in spite of the sometimes more severe needs, than their counterparts in other countries.”

Australia is another country where children from Hong Kong are placed. All families living in Australia and adopting in Hong Kong go through their requisite governmental social services department and all the children will come through International Social Services. Australian families are required to travel and escorting is not an option as it is for families residing in the USA.

Here are two families who may be typical of those from Australia adopting in Hong Kong:

Anne and her husband are awaiting the arrival of a pre-school age daughter with some minor issues and hope to have her home relatively soon. They had been in process for China when Hong Kong became an option.

Carmel, a single mom, adopted her daughter, Sarah, in April 2003 at 2-1/2 yrs of age—she had some family background issues which made her available for adoption and she was diagnosed with mild CP and some epilepsy after she came home. Sarah joined an older sister, adopted from Romania. Of her experience, Carmel says: “My experience with ISS in Hong Kong was very good which included visits to the foster parent’s home on three occasions and then she was in the care of myself in the hotel for the remainder of the seven days before arriving back in Australia.”

In the USA there are primarily three agencies who place children from Hong Kong: Bethany works with both Mothers Choice and International Social Services; Holt also works with both Mothers Choice and International Social Services; and Family Connections (Modesto, California) works with Mothers Choice. For Australia, it may depend on which state one lives in—families should contact their social services division and make an inquiry.

While small, the Hong Kong program is a good option for families who may not fit the age requirements or family size requirements of some other international adoption programs. Families need to be prepared for a definite special need (or multiple needs) which more times than not is in the moderate-to-severe range, but in turn they can also count on getting good medical information as well as thorough social and background information and to know without a doubt that their child is being well-cared for. The program is affordable and offers flexibility regarding traveling or escorting (for those residing in the USA). Over the course of our two China adoptions and just going back to Hong Kong to visit our friends we have made numerous trips and Hong Kong has become very near and dear to our hearts. To be able to have adopted there was extra-special to us and and has further strengthened our family’s ties to a place we truly do feel is a second home.

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