What is a Dossier, and How Do I Put One Together?


If you’re new to China adoption, or international adoption in general, you’ve probably heard this word dossier quite a bit and wondered, “What is this dossier, and why is it a word that is associated with such dread?”

I’m paper chasing. Sigh.

I’m working on my dossier. Sigh.

Ugh. I’m trying so hard to be dossier to China by the beginning of next month.

Your dossier is time-consuming; it is expensive; it is indeed frustrating. It is so very important. Your dossier includes all the documents that tell China about you, and why you would like to adopt. Some of the typical documents included in a dossier for Chinese Adoption are:

Birth Certificate: You will need to obtain one certified copy of the birth certificate for each spouse.

Marriage Certificate: You will need to obtain one certified copy of your marriage certificate.

Financial Statement: This form typically asks for a calculation of your assets to determine your net worth. These numbers will need to match your home study.

General Physical Examination for Adoption Applicant: The form required for China is likely not the same as what is required by your home study agency. However, you can ask if your home study agency will accept China’s form. Please remember that the date of the exam and all lab work must be no more than one year old when your dossier is sent to China. In addition, if your physician has marked “yes” or “positive” on ANY items or if there are ANY medications or operations listed, the physician MUST provide a brief explanation of the medications or surgical procedures. If you have a medical condition, please check with a China adoption case manager to see if it will also require a letter from your physician on letterhead to be sent with your dossier documents.

Police Clearance Report: This form is done by your local police/sheriff’s department where a criminal history check can be performed.

Letter of Employment: This letter is taken to your employer and done on their letterhead to verify your employment.

I-797, Notice of Action; Approval Notice: USCIS will send you this document once your I-800A application has been processed and approved.

Adoption Application Letter: A letter, no longer than one page, asking for China’s permission to adopt. Each agency requires this be written slightly differently. Make sure to check on the exact requirements with your agency.

Homestudy: This is the final, notarized copy, of your home study.

Affidavit of Single Status (Single applicants only): Form enclosed. Single applicants are required to provide a signed and notarized affidavit verifying your single status, as well as information regarding sexual preference. Single applicants whose spouse is deceased or who have been divorced must attach to the affidavit one of the following as applicable:

Divorce Decree (Single applicants only): If you are single due to divorce, attach a certified divorce decree.


Death Certificate (Single applicants only): If you are single due to the death of your spouse, attach a certified copy of the death certificate.

Once you have all these documents gathered and notarized, you will send them to your Secretary of State for Certification. They will then go on to your local Chinese Embassy for Authentication.

The following documents are required for your dossier and DO NOT need to be verified and authenticated: 

Notarized Reference Letters (3): During your homestudy, you should have had several people submit reference letters for you. China requires that three of these letters be notarized and sent with your dossier.

Copies of Passports: Make a photocopy of the inside picture page and any addenda of each passport.

Please note: In order to obtain a visa to travel to China, your passport must be valid for more than six months from the date that you apply for a China travel visa. If your passport will expire in six or less months from your anticipated travel date, you will need to obtain a new passport.

Passport Photos: Submit two professionally taken passport photos of each parent. These photos should measure two inches by two inches. Many drugstores and copy shops offer this service.

Family Photos: Submit six photos that reflect your family life (e.g., photos of your home, you participating in hobbies such as gardening or hiking, etc.). These photos are part of the legal representation of your family to Chinese authorities.

Statement from Guardian (single applicants only): This document names a guardian for your child-to-be in the event you are no longer able to parent.

There are no real magic shortcuts to the document gathering process. Slow and steady wins the race here. One foot in front of the other, one document at a time. You can keep this list and try to gather some of these documents as you gather the documents you will need for your homestudy, but be very careful to watch the dates they are notarized. China doesn’t want to see documents that are too old by the time you send your dossier. Your agency can guide you on how old is too old.

Also, be careful to make sure that the day the document is signed matches the notary date. For example, if your physician signs the document on January 1, 2015, then the notary should reflect that date as well. This will make your processing through the embassy easier.

Once all your documents are gathered, certified and authenticated, you’ll hold it in your hand, probably take a picture of it, painstakingly photocopy every page of it, and then do one of the most stressful parts of this entire process…put it in an envelope and send it to your agency. Letting go of it will be so hard. Months of work, hope, and (sometimes) tears will go into that envelope.

You’ll track it to your agency where your case worker will scan it, upload it to China, and then send on the paper copy. These are the very documents that will be used to bring your child home. Being “Dossier to China” (aka DTC) is HUGE, and a very important step to celebrate.


For those of you who have done it, CONGRATULATIONS!!!