Forums  •  Classifieds  •  Events  •  Directory


Guide to Adopting a Child in Hong Kong

on Thursday, 28 March 2013. Posted in Fertility 101, Life in the +852

Adopting a child in Hong Kong if you are a resident here is a fairly easy process. Read our adoption guide to find out more.

Guide to Adopting a Child in Hong Kong

Most Hong Kong people seem to love children and don't hesitate asking perfect strangers about their 'next-gen' plans—and specifically about the productivity of their reproductive organs. Be it the cobbler who resoles my shoes in Pedder Street, the tailor who alters my clothes at World Wide House, or even my favourite fruit-seller in Wan Chai, they have all at some point enquired about my children. My negative reply has never failed to surprise them, and always proceeds to produce effusive and kind child-bearing wishes.


The Starting Point

There is a well-founded stereotype that many newly-landed young expat wives, perhaps buoyed by the easy availability and affordability of 'help' in Hong Kong, promptly plan on having babies. While for most this process is a pleasure (of sorts), there are some for whom the entire endeavour involves heartbreak, leading to the likes of IVF treatments, surrogacy and even adoption.


If you have decided to adopt a child, the good news is that the adoption process in Hong Kong is a fairly easy and painless process.


China is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption , and since Hong Kong is a Special Administration Region of China, all adoptions in the SAR have to meet the requirements of the Convention which was itself adopted in 1993. The Hague convention seeks to safe guard the interests of adopted children.

Further, all local and inter-country adoptions in Hong Kong are administered by the Government's Social Welfare Department and governed by the Adoption Ordinance, Cap 290 . Such is the transparency of the process in Hong Kong that at any given time, prospective adoptive parents can look up the availability of children in Hong Kong on the department's website.


Your journey to adopt a child in Hong Kong will begin by making contact with the Social Welfare Department. At the point of initial contact, you will be asked questions which will determine your eligibility to adopt in Hong Kong. The case worker who answers your call, will quiz you about your marital status, age, occupation and the duration of your stay in Hong Kong before she provides you with any further information.



The Steps


Applicants who are desirous of being adoptive parents in Hong Kong have to fulfil certain basic requirements before they can proceed:


1.  They should be at least over 25 years old, mature and willing to make a lifelong commitment to adopting and raising a child in a stable environment.


2.  Should be physically and mentally fit to raise a child until independence.


3.  Should be reasonably well-educated.


4.  Should have been married for at least 3 years (the period is increased to five years if there have been multiple divorces).


5.  Be gainfully employed and have sufficient financial means to take on the responsibility. The Hong Kong government stipulates a minimum household income of at least $30,000 USD.


6.  Must have resided in Hong Kong for more than 12 months and must be prepared to be based in Hong Kong for at least another two years (local adoptions in Hong Kong can typically take between 12-24 months though inter-country adoptions can take even longer).


7.  Should have no previous criminal record. Once the input worker has gathered all the information and is satisfied with your answers, she will invite you to a briefing session which is conducted by the Social Welfare Department periodically.


At the briefing session you will be asked to register while you are introduced to the three main NGOs (adoption agencies operating on a non-profit basis), which handle the adoption process in Hong Kong. These services are provided free of charge by the department but you will have to furnish the cost of court fees HK$2,840 (subject to revision) at the 6 month placement in the process.



The NGOs


The three main NGOs selected by the Social Welfare department of Hong Kong are:


Mother's Choice 


Unit A, 21/F, Legend Tower 7 Shing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon

Tel: (852) 2537 2285 

Fax: (852) 2537 7151

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Handles local and Inter-country adoptions and works with three licensed agencies in the USA. Mother's Choice offers free seminars for people considering adopting a child in Hong Kong.



International Social Services, Hong Kong


6/F, Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Tel: (852) 2834 6863

Fax: (852) 2834 7627

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Currently the ISSHK provides inter-country adoption services for twelve countries: The Commonwealth of Australia (Australia), Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of India, New Zealand, the Republic of the Philippines, the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America (the USA) and the Kingdom of Sweden.

Singapore and the Russian Federation used to feature on the list but now adoptions to these countries have been halted as Singapore is not party to the Hague convention and adoptions from Russia have also been halted as the country is attempting to ban all foreign adoptions.



Po Leung Kuk


66 Leighton Road, Hong Kong

Tel: (852) 2277 8888

Fax: (852) 2576 4509

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Po Leung Kuk works with an adoption agency in the US and the government of Australia to provide adoptive homes for Hong Kong-born wards of state currently resident in foster homes, hospitals and special boarding homes. These children are aged 18 and under, though most are described as having 'special needs' (attachment or adjustment issues or physical or development needs) or are the product of complicated family histories (drug addicted/mentally ill parents, children born to unwed mothers, children who have been abandoned).


Once you have registered with the Social Welfare department and have signed up with an agency, the process of adoption gets underway. In Hong Kong, married couples as well as single people can adopt a child, if of course you meet all the initial criteria. In the case of local adoption, preference is given to Chinese families, in an effort to preserve the child's ethnic and cultural background keeping in line with the diktats of the Hague Convention.

The adoption process permits you inform the agency of your gender preference and also if you are willing or unwilling to accept a child with special needs. The adoption agencies also tell you that no formal mention has been made of the upper age limit of prospective adoptive parents and applicants in their 50's can also be considered though they are likely to be matched with older or special needs children.



Other Factors to Consider


Adoption by parents who already have children or large families

Although small families are generally preferred, parents who already have large families are also eligible to adopt a child from Hong Kong though are subject to increased scrutiny during the home study process. The youngest child in a large family must be more than a year old, if the parents are considering adoption.


Concurrent adoptions

Concurrent adoptions are not allowed in Hong Kong. Moreover, twins or siblings are rarely put up for adoption in Hong Kong.


Fees and costs

Apart from the fees that have to be paid to the Social Welfare Department, fees have also to be paid to the agency that you choose to sign up with. Aside from these fees, you will incur costs for medical, police and financial reports which are required for the home study process.

The fees for adopting a child in Hong Kong are, however, much lower than those charged on the Mainland (estimated to be more than $30,000 USD coupled with a wait period of 5-7 years). Inter-country adoptions from Hong Kong are estimated to cost approximately $25,000 USD.



Generally adoptions in Hong Kong tend to take 12-24 months, though local adoptions have been known to be quicker. Adopting a child from overseas into Hong Kong takes longer; the wait times from countries like India are currently three years according to the agencies while they are longer for countries like Thailand and the Philippines.


Getting pregnant during the process

There have been cases when the prospective adoptive mother has fallen pregnant during the adoption process. In this case, the social worker assigned to you has to be informed immediately. The adoptive parents are then expected to abandon the process at once, though there have been instances when adoptive parents have been permitted to proceed as they have been able to convince the department that they are willing and able to provide a happy and stable home for both children.


Home Assessment

Before you can proceed with the adoption of a child in Hong Kong, you need to be vetted by a home study process which is undertaken to assess your suitability to become an adoptive parent. This home study is conducted by a social worker who is appointed by the agency and can take anywhere from two weeks to around six months.


This assessment covers the applicant's desire to adopt, marital stability and the capability to provide a nurturing home environment for a child. Applicants also have to supply medical, financial records and references (for expats resident in Hong Kong, you have to supply two local and one overseas reference). A background criminal check is also required.


After home study is completed to the satisfaction of the authorities, prospective adoptive parents are then matched with a child. Once you have agreed to the match, the child is placed in your home for six months before the adoption order is granted. You are not allowed to travel out of Hong Kong during this time as the child will not have any legal documents.

During this six month period, the child's progress is monitored through regular interviews and visits, after which the adoption order is granted.


Support for adoptive parents in Hong Kong

Adoption can be a stressful and nerve-racking process for adoptive parents. Adoptive parents in Hong Kong have created a support group, the Adoptive Families of Hong Kong (, a non-profit organisation which provides much support and guidance to present and prospective parents through seminars, talks and events.



Some Statistics 


Number of adoption applications processed in 2012


Adoption by local homes


Adoption by overseas families


Privately arranged adoption by relatives, etc. 



Children in need of adoption as at: December 2012


Characteristics of Children up for Adoption


Of relatively complicated family background (e.g. abandoned children, birth parent was drug dependent, etc.)


Aged 3 or above


With health issues




Normal and healthy




* The above Social Welfare Department stats are accurate as of December 2012


Share your comments!

Scroll to top