Reusing Your Dossier: What You Need to Know.

It’s a new year, a time to think about new beginnings. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a new adoption? Perhaps you’re one of the many families who has adopted from China before and now you’re considering reusing your dossier. There are many misconceptions out there about when you can reuse a dossier, and what it actually looks like to do it, so here at the Red Thread, we’ve decided to answer some questions!

Big Stack of Mail Isolated on White

  1. When can you reuse your dossier?

China allows families to reuse their dossier by submitting LOI for a specific, special focus child within one year of the placement date for their last adoption. If for some reason the placement date is unknown, they use the date 90 days after the TA was issued- but we can’t think of any scenario where the placement date is unknown.

  1. Can you reuse your dossier with a different agency than last time?

No, it is restricted to going through the same agency, as when you reuse your dossier the agency has to select your name from a list of previous families on the CCCWA website when locking the child, and they only have their families on that list. “But my friend reused their dossier and it was two different agencies!” you say. That’s probably true- that used to be possible, but with the new computer system and website the CCCWA restricted it to the same agency.

If for whatever reason you do go with a different agency, one bit of good news- the CCCWA now allows any family who has adopted from China previously, at any time, through any agency, to skip the birth and marriage certificates in the dossier!

  1. What documents have to be included when reusing your dossier?

The CCCWA requires three documents to be redone, notarized, and authenticated: an updated homestudy, I-800A approval, and a new adoption application letter. You’ll also need to include (but not authenticate) three new reference letters, two new passport photos per parent, homestudy agency license, and one new family photo (including the most recent member of the family!).

BUT

You may not get to skip as many things as you think. While you don’t need new medical exams for your dossier- you probably need them for your homestudy. You don’t need new police clearance for the dossier- but you need new background checks for the homestudy. Reusing your dossier saves you some hassle notarizing and authenticating, but in the grand scheme, it’s a small portion of the adoption paperwork.

  1. Is it cheaper to reuse your dossier?

Maybe- it depends on your agency. Some agencies may waive fees for returning families or those reusing their dossier. All families would save the cost of authenticating the documents that don’t have to be done when reusing the dossier (usually $400-$700).

However, if you’re looking at a child with another agency and want the file transferred to your agency so you can reuse your dossier, take a good look at the fees in both scenarios: if the child has a grant with the agency who has their file currently, or that agency has lower fees or travel costs, it may be cheaper to go with that agency than to have the file transferred to reuse your dossier.

  1. Is it faster to reuse?

Generally, no. While you don’t have to gather all those documents, you still have to update your homestudy and immigration, and those are the steps that nearly always take the longest, so there’s usually no time saved when reusing unless one of your other documents goes to a really slow state (I’m looking at you, New Jersey!). Once your dossier is in China, it does not get translated or reviewed any faster than new dossiers.

The one thing that does speed up your process (sometimes) is doing an extension on your immigration. This can be done regardless of whether you’re reusing your dossier or you’re going with the same placing agency again. If at the time your homestudy is complete your I-800A has not expired, but will expire in less than 90 days, you can complete a Supplement 3 and apply to extend your I-800A for another 15 months. Typically getting this approval is a little faster than filing a new I-800A application (about 3-5 weeks instead of 4-7 weeks). The first extension is free, and you can request USCIS refresh your prints instead of going in to be fingerprinted for the 100 billionth time in your adoption experience! After the first time there is a fee to do an extension ($530), and you can’t refresh your fingerprints, and whether it’s the first time or not, at the time of I-800, you have to pay $720 per child you’re currently adopting. So, it’s cheaper the first time (slightly), it’s more expensive after the first time, and only slightly faster. But for your family, it may be worth it!

  1. What about adopting two at once and reusing?

If you adopted two children on your last dossier, you can reuse the dossier for one child, the same way someone who adopted one child can reuse the dossier for one child. However, you cannot reuse your dossier for two children, regardless of how many children you adopted last time. While occasionally exceptions are granted for this rule, they are rare, and it’s generally when a family has already sent the documents for reusing their dossier to China and then adds on a child who is aging out or medically fragile.

There isn’t a soul out there that doesn’t wish there were a way to wave a magic wand to get their child home faster once they’ve decided to adopt.  Sadly, there just isn’t, and no one should feel pressure to adopt.  Please consider whether or not reusing your dossier is right for you before you jump in.  Hopefully, the above information will help you make an informed decision.