Monday, January 6, 2014

Ethiopia Have I Loved (Pt 1)

What has been going on lately with the adoption, you ask?
 Well,I wish I could say something wonderful, but in actuality, there is alot of talk about a shutdown and things are really up in the air right now for everyone waiting. This last week there was a meeting to address concerns over international adoption between ET and the US,and  in-country adoptions there. A conference call was held on Thursday by our agency, America World Adoptions, that basically seemed to leave everyone with more questions than answers. There was a lot of talk of being able to transfer programs (countries), lengthened wait times,more restrictions on adopting families, etc etc etc. Not very encouraging. They said we would know more on the 13th, when the 10 days are up and the Prime Minister has his say.

Here is someones account of the meeting better put than I can explain it:
(MOWCYA stands for Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs)
The minister of federal MOWCYA, Minister Zenebu, has declared she wants to shut down adoption to foreign families in the coming weeks, and the parliament agreed with her. The meeting was adjourned with a plan to create a committee that will present a plan to end adoption within 10 days. If accepted by parliament, the prime minister will need to sign it.

There are TWO main reasons we believe this is happening in Ethiopia. First, there have been many recent negative articles on Ethiopian adoption in the mainstream media here in the U.S. and in Ethiopia. Second, the implementation of the PAIR process in Ethiopia has greatly upset the adoption process.

(There have been several stories about adoptive children being abused, even killed, by their new parents. While this has happened (and sadly even occurs in non-adoptive families) it is definitely not the norm, however the media in both countries seem to like to make it a much more common case than it is.)

(PAIR stands for Pre-Adoption Immigration Review:)
"In the new PAIR system, USCIS will review and provide a pre-approval of immigration eligibility to the adoptive family on behalf of the child that they desire to adopt.  This pre-approval has been referenced as the PAIR letter.  Starting September 1st, 2013 it is expected that the Ethiopian government’s Ministry of Women’s Children and Youth Affairs will require each adoptive family to have a PAIR letter prior to submitting a recommendation letter to the First Federal Instance Court"

This one letter is taking families several months to receive approval status before they can go get their children, and apparently the waiting is on the US side, not ET.

Another problem is that there have been no infant referrals since July, and only 4 since February 2013. We are unofficially number 30 on the wait list ( probably farther down the "official" list since this one is only for families who are part of our agency's yahoo group) We are 28 months  DTE ( Dossier to Ethiopia) and the current wait time for an infant girl is 30-36 months. Normally, the case has been that families who are the next up to get a referral get them at the last part of this timeframe. So doing the math, we would theoretically be able to get a referral in August, but there are also at least 29 other families ahead of us. With only 4 referrals in the last 11 months, its not looking too good. 

All along, we've known there is corruption that does go on in the world of adoption. Its extremely sad, but its a reality. I believe our agency is not involved in anything illegal or immoral. If they were, it wouldn't be one of the few agencies not recieving referrals for the most popular age/gender group in international adoption. There are other agencies that keep trucking along ( and also who send out referrals for kids in countries that are shut down) I completely trust our agency and I wouldn't switch to another one even if it meant getting Zoey home sooner.

From EthioStork, an adoption resource agency that helps families with alot of their immigration papers and orphan verification, explaining why the wait is so long:

Are there children who are orphaned and need homes? Yes. Are there children who are adoptable? Not too many, at least not right now.  Let me explain why.

One reaseon is there are over fifty licensed child placing agencies operating in Ethiopia  (at least 20 of these agencies are based in the US).   Surely that shouldn't be a problem when there are so many orphans? Not true. While there are many agencies, serving many adoptive families and ready to place a child as soon as he or she enters an orphange, there are simply not many children who are ready to be placed. You may have recently gone to Ethiopia and visited orphanages overflowing with children.  Most of them are not paper ready.   But even those who are not paper ready are older children. You will not find too many available infants. 

The relicensing of many agencies (after a few months of standstill) may be seen as a good sign for adoptions from Ethiopia. Here is the problem however, the process of declaring a child an orphan and adoptable has changed. This means that you will not see many infants who are ready to be placed.  So the realtly in Ethiopia right now is there are many agencies but not enough infants who can be placed. 

My sincere advice to families;

1. Please be willing to wait.  I understand how painful it could be. But when there are not that many adoptable children , it simply means orphanages and agencies are not able to meet demand.  This opens a door for corruption. It will cease to be about best interest of children.  I hate to use a market analysis however, imagine what happens when demand rises but what is being demanded is few.   There simply are not many infants.  To keep the integrity of adoptions in Ethiopia, families must be willing to wait so that there are no orphans created to meet demand.  

2. Consider adopting a special needs or older  child (3 to 5 are not older children in Ethiopia as there is as much demand for children in that age range). There is always a child in this catagory.

However, if any adoptive family wants their baby girl right this minute. The family must be willing to accept that their demand is driving adoption in Ethiopia in the very wrong direction.  Unless more children become available, i urge families to understand that, while there is nothing wrong to wanting to adopt an infant,  they have to be willing to wait.   Because i know the last thing you want, is to learn that an orphan was created or bartered to meet demand.  

So right now, we wait for whatever happens on the 13th. Hopefully we will know more then and be able to relay some info. I really don't know where we will be with all this in the coming year. We have felt all along that Ethiopia is where Zoey is and have prepared ourselves for that. We want to make sure all avenues have been exhausted before we decide to change course, if it comes to that. We do have some other options though if things don't work out the way we thought. The Lord knows his plans, even when we don't, and I'm ok with that. Im not worried, I actually have a lot of peace about our options. Just wishing I could know for sure what's going to transpire. I know Zoey is out there, somewhere.

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