On March 10th a huge change was announced by the Ethiopian Federal Court. (I have been thanking God over and over that this one DOES NOT AFFECT OUR FAMILY because our case was submitted to the court system before this change was declared.) All adoptive families are now going to have to make TWO trips to Ethiopia. This is what the email said that our adoption agency sent last Wednesday:
"Beginning today, families need to be prepared to travel to Ethiopia approximately 4 - 8 weeks after receiving a referral in order to be present in Ethiopia for their appointed court date. Families will remain in Ethiopia for roughly 5-7 days and will then return to the United States. After officially passing court, families will then travel back to Ethiopia approximately 10 -12 weeks later to pick up their adopted child(ren)."
Before this change, a representative from the adoption agency would have power of attorney for the adoptive parents. They speak on their behalf at the court hearing. When adoptive parents arrive in Ethiopia for the first time, they have already legally adopted their children.
From what I have heard this has happened because of a few difficult situations where a family has arrived in Ethiopia and decided that the child that they have already adopted is not a good fit for their family. Ethiopian adoptions are not reversible, and it is difficult for that child to ever have another chance to be adopted.
This is how adoptions work in Eastern Europe, and I certainly understand the reasoning behind the change. But my heart goes out to all of the adoptive families that this affects in a difficult way.
- It adds $5000+ to the already overwhelming cost of the adoption.
- It requires two trips in a relatively short time period – twice the time away from the children left at home, twice the time off of work, etc.
- Adoptive parents will meet their child, grow to love him or her, and then leave him or her behind for months. (The waiting will be oh so much harder for them!)
I understand and support any policy that is best for the children being adopted, but I do fear that there will be fewer children adopted from Ethiopia because of this change. There are many families who have chosen to adopt from Ethiopia because only require one trip is required and consequently, the cost is significantly lower.
The second change comes from the U.S. Embassy, and it does affect us. The Embassy is conducting a more thorough investigation on each and every child to ensure that the child is “adoptable” because of the recent media allegations of misconduct in Ethiopian adoptions by a few agencies.
Prior to this, families could expect to travel approximately 6 weeks after passing court. So if we pass on April 6th, we would have probably gotten to fly to Ethiopia in mid-May. Now, THERE IS A 10-12 WEEK WAITING PERIOD AFTER PASSING COURT. So we are looking at mid-June to early July instead. Bummer.
They tell you before you begin the adoption process that everything is subject to change at any point. Big changes like this are just par for the course.
Please pray for the families who have just recently gotten referrals and are having to quickly prepare to make a trip (and pay for it!) much earlier than they expected.