ABCs and 123s

Like so many things, adoption has its own lingo...its own terms…its own acronyms. As we’ve walked this journey we’ve become familiar with various combinations of letters, all charged with meaning and importance that (for those not adopting) simply look like alphabet soup. As this blog progresses, I may refer to one of these, so I thought it might be helpful to explain some of it in a post. So, here it goes!

Dossier…French-sounding word for “mountain of paperwork!” Okay, so that’s not totally true, but take a look at this picture of our dossier and see if you don’t agree! The dossier is, well, a mountain of paperwork that adopting families must compile to prove their ability to adopt and parent a child. It includes things like: birth certificates, marriage certificates, home study (social worker’s several page assessment of your family), financial statements, physical exams, police clearances, pictures, passport copies and a few other papers. All of these things then have to be notarized, certified by the US Secretary of State, and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate.
LID (Log in Date)…very important date in China adoption world. It is the date on which your dossier is officially logged into the Chinese adoption system in China. Your paper work is now in line behind everyone else’s paperwork who got there first.
NSN (non-special needs)…term for requesting a child who is known to have no pre-existing health conditions.
SN (Special Needs)…term for requesting a child who is either known to have a diagnosed medical condition or is older. Much of what is considered a “special need” in China, is either not considered to be so in the US or is treatable or surgically correctable.
Waiting Child…same as SN. Lily was a Waiting Child. Her special need is a congenital missing lower left leg.
Referral…a child that one’s agency has requested you consider. Most often this is your child.
Match…sometimes synonymous with referral, however this is your child. Once you accept a referral, you have a Match.
Match Day
…the day you accept your child’s file and say she is your child.
LOI (Letter of Intent)…Letter adoptive parents compose promising to care for and love their specific child. For children on the SN list, this letter includes a brief description of your plan to medically care for them.
PA (Pre-approval)… the CCAA’s acknowledgement or confirmation that your Letter of Intent has been received
LOA (Letter of Acceptance)…Letter from China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) responding to the adoptive parents’ LOI that you must sign and overnight back.
I-800…paperwork that “determines the child's eligibility for classification as a Hague Convention adoptee. The petition is filed by the U.S. Citizen prospective adoptive parent to finalize the immigration process of a child who habitually resides in a Convention country.”
Cabled…Immigration info cabled to China.
Article 5
…don’t know, but is apparently quite important!
TA (Travel Approval)…This is another BIG one. Issued about 2 weeks prior to travel, it is China’s permission to come during a specified time and pick up your child!
Gotcha Day!...The day you lay hands on your precious child! It is approximately 3-5 days after arriving in China.

So, those are the most important terms in a nutshell. You’ll see over on the side our important dates. Still several to come! But we are getting closer and we know for whom we wait!


  1. I am really looking forward to following your blog. So excited to celebrate the events with you as they unfold!
    Christina Price

  2. Thanks, Christina! It means so much to know our friends and family celebrate with us!