Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Turning Point in Wait Times

Much has changed in the China adoption community since I posted this article last September (2006). The wait times have continued to increase, showing at this writing no signs of a significant acceleration. In fact, from what we know at this point, wait times are likely to reach 24 months by the end of 2007. I had assumed in September that the Hunan children held during the scandal period would help bring wait times down when they were "released" for adoption in April 2006, but this clearly did not happen. In all likelihood, many of those children were directed to domestic families, resulting in no "catch-up". The declining referral ages of the recently referred children is evidence that the CCAA is consuming what little supply they have.

The changes in requirements to go into affect in May 2007 will not have an impact on wait times until those May families are referred children, which will occur in late 2009 at current rates. Additionally, it seems likely that many families have accelerated their dossier preparation to beat the deadline, resulting in a higher-than-usual number of families in the pipeline between now and May.

There is no positive news in any of this for waiting families.

April 10, 2007


I have received many e-mails from waiting parents asking me if I think that the current wait situation is going to continue. Additionally, many ask how much impact the Hunan closure had on the wait times we are experiencing now. Drawing on the statistical data compiled monthly by Ralph Stirling (link), I have drawn out and compiled the referral wait times since the beginning of 2005 through last month, to see if the Hunan story (reported in October 2005) and its attendant closure of adoptions from that Province has had a discernable impact on referral wait times. In other words, were things slowing down before Hunan, or is Hunan the cause of this current slowdown.

Below is the number of days each month of log-in-dates (LID – the date a dossier is logged into the CCAA) until referrals were received for that month.

January 2005 – 180 days
February 2005 – 184 days
March 2005 – 196 days
April 2005 – 203 days
May 2005 – 216 days
June 2005 – 217 days
July 2005 – 201 days
August 2005 – 211 days
September 2005 – 211 days
October 2005 – 223 days
November 2005 – 245 days
December 2005 – 267 days
January 2006 – 275 days
February 2006 – 301 days
March 2006 – 324 days
April 2006 – 340 days
May 2006 – 360 days
June 2006 – 376 days
July 392 – 392 days
August 2006 – 402 days

Expressed graphically, it looks like this:

One can discern two main things: The trend of wait-times was already increasing in early 2005; the Hunan story has had a dramatic impact on wait-times.

What can families expect going forward? If nothing changes with China’s adoption policies, the wait times should decline over the next several months to the yellow trend line. Thus, if the Hunan stoppage had not taken place, one would expect that the wait time right now would be about 250 days. Thus, Hunan has added an additional 150 days to the current wait time. This has taken place over a period of 9 months, and it will take many months for the effect of Hunan coming back online to be fully seen.

But the underlying trend is still up, so we won’t see a return to the 200-day wait times. This is because overall, there are fewer healthy children available for adoption (for more on this, see my blog essay "The Hague Agreement and China's International Adoption Program"). For that reason, it seems likely that China will alter its policies in order to reduce the number of international families that can adopt. Their stated goal is to hold the wait-time at 365 days.

So, for families just now applying, or with dossiers already in China, what can they expect? Obviously it will take a few months for the available Hunan children to be referred. Thus, I believe that we are currently at the longest wait times we will see. Over the next several months we should see a dipping of the wait times. Within 6 months we should be back to the mean-average (yellow line). Any changes China makes to their adoption policy will not have an impact until late next year.