Citizenship Certificates and Social Security Cards
We have a little update for you about post arrival documents. First, it seems to be taking longer for Citizen Certificates to come in via the mail than the stated 50 day period. We are seeing an average of about 3 months. If it has been about 3 months since your child arrived in the US (with an IR3 visa) and you don’t have the citizenship paperwork yet, you can check the status by emailing email@example.com and giving them the registration number off your child’s visa. This seems to encourage them to mail it out, so definitely give this a try!
For Social Security cards we also have lots of families wondering about where these are! With the DS 260 online Visa application, the cards are supposed to come automatically in the mail like the citizenship card. This does not seem to be happening for all of our families. We even had one family home with two children, where one got their card and the other didn’t! So we have been trying to get answers from NVC, USCIS and the Social Security Administration for several weeks now. Today we got what will probably be the most helpful answer that we will get:
Thank you for your patience. After further research it appears that this issue is not related to the electronically filing of the DS260. It appears to be an unrelated processing exception that will be further reviewed.
However, if it has been more than three weeks since the applicant applied for the SSN and was admitted into the U.S., then he or she will need to go into the local SSA office with all of his/her evidence (birth certificate, foreign passport, immigrant visa, (I-551) to apply for the SSN.
If there is anything else we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to let us know.
National Visa Center
So unfortunately, if you have been home over a month and not gotten your social security card, it looks like you will need to apply at your local office. We were hoping that the DS 260 would allow our families to skip this added paperwork once home, but it looks like the system is not processing like it should. Instructions for applying for the social security cards can be found in your welcome home packet or here http://www.ssa.gov/people/immigrants/children.html
If you have any further questions about this please contact your coordinator or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Thanks and hope you are all having a great start to the Holiday Season!
IAN is excited to share some news from one of our humanitarian partners! We have joined efforts with Springs of Hope International in Ghana, which works to provide support for orphanages and families in need. Springs of Hope and IAN are working to expand their efforts to reach those facing severe poverty. Recently, Springs of Hope Director Alfred Aidoo and his team held a clothing drive and were able to hand out much needed clothing items to many families in their community. He has shared some pictures with us!
We are excited to be partnering with Springs of Hope International and supporting them in their efforts to impact the community around them!
Happy Friday everyone!!
We are super excited about our family mixer dinner IAN is hosting on November 14, 2014 at 6pm. We already have several families that have RSVP’d; some with children home, some just starting the process and some recently matched with kids!
This event is a way for IAN staff to build our relationships with families after the adoption process and for Heaven, the new post adoption coordinator, to meet the wonderful families that the IAN Ethiopia program has been blessed with. This is also a great opportunity for our local families to get to know each other!
Activities will include getting to know each other with community seating of dinner, some Ethiopian traditional dances and a coffee ceremony. So, what are you waiting on? We hope to see you there!
Please RSVP to email@example.com by November 12th. Please include the number attending and the dishes you would like. Portions are pretty substantial, so a couple children can probably share one dish. We suggest you bring cash for the meal and tip so it will be easier to coordinate. Let us know if you have any quesitons at all!
Here is the menu for the evening:
November 14, 2014, 6 pm
Starter & sides
Timatim Fitfit $5.00 (Recommend for Kids as meal)
Pieces of injera bread mixed with chopped fresh tomato, onion, jalapeño and Ethiopian herbs
Mix of berbere, herbal butter and seasoning spread over freshly With baked injera; served in a bite size
Vegetable/Beef Sambusa $3.00
Vegetarian pastry shell filled with sautéed whole lentils, onions and jalapeño pepper; served with sweet chili and plum sauce
Tibs – Spicy or Alicha (Amharic word for not spicy) $9.95
S – Cubed tender beef/lamb/chicken marinated with our special sauce and fried with onion rosemary, jalapeño pepper and a touch of fresh garlic Lamb stew simmered with onion, garlic, turmeric and herbal butter
A – Beef/lamb/ chicken stew simmered with onion, garlic, turmeric and herbal butter
Kwanta Firfir – Combination of shredded injera with spiced homemade beef jerky
Veggie Combination $9.95
Combination of Mesir Wot, Kik Alicha, Gomen Alicha and Tikil Gomen
Yebeg Kikil(Not Spicy) $9.95 (Feeds 2 kids)
Pieces of lamb with bones cooked in mild green pepper and turmeric sauce seasoned with onion, garlic, herbs and spices
Kik Alicha (Not spicy) $9.95
(Feeds 2-3 kids)
Split yellow peas simmered until very tender with onions, garlic, turmeric, fresh sliced tomato, onion, green pepper and African Spices
Ethiopian Pasta with veggie/meat sauce (Not Spicy) $8.95/$9.95 (Feeds 2 kids)
The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia has released the following information stating that no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola have been found in Ethiopia! We have been glued to the news hoping all of our children and staff stay safe and we know many of you have reach out to us very concerned about this as well. We hope that the Ebola virus will be contained very soon and that no will have to suffer any longer!
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Message for U.S. Citizens: Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Update – Information and Resources
October 14, 2014
The U.S. Embassy would like to provide an update to our August 12, 2014 Information Message for U.S. Citizens regarding the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Ethiopia continues to have no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola.
The Embassy is aware of erroneous media reporting regarding suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in Ethiopia. Ethiopian government officials have also recently dismissed such rumors. U.S. Embassy officials, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), continue to maintain a close working relationship with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute in both preparation and prevention of EVD.
The U.S. Embassy would like to again point U.S. Citizens traveling or residing in Ethiopia to consult online resources to best educate themselves about EVD. Visit both the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites for this specific information via the links below:
CDC Ebola Website – http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/
CDC Ebola Fact Sheet – http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/index.html
CDC Digital Media Toolkit – http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2014/dpk-ebola-outbreak.html
World Health Organization (WHO) – http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/
Additional information from the U.S. Department of State, including an Ebola Fact Sheet for Travelers, can be found at:
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Ethiopia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) . STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website , where you can find current Travel Warnings , Travel Alerts , and the Worldwide Caution . Read the Country Specific Information for Ethiopia . For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.
Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is located at Entoto Street, P.O. Box 1014. The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached by telephone: +251-111-306000 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org , and is open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens should call +251-111-306911 or 011-130-6000 and ask to speak with the duty officer.
My name is Heaven Tesfaye, the Post-Adoption Coordinator at IAN. I am an Ethiopian native born and raised. I came to the United Stated when I was 15. For the past 13 years Colorado has been my home, granting me the opportunity to be well connected with the Ethiopian communities in the states. I can speak and write the Amharic language and have intermediate understanding of Tigrinia. I hold a BA in Psychology with an emphasis in child development. There is not a cause I am more passionate about than that of a child’s wellbeing.
This position is most humbling and is the fire that has been missing to ignite my soul. With my passion of helping children accompanied with the reference of my own personal journey and my connection ot the Ethiiopian communities across the states; I believe my unique position will give me the opportunity to better the lives of families.
IAN strongly feels a strong post-adoption program is essential to the success of our families and believes there are many changes that need to take place; I am here to do just that. Moreover, I am here to be a helping hand that creates the bridge to help families thrive.
My plans for Colorado Families include: hair care classes, language classes, cultural classes, cooking classes, support groups…etc. As a Colorado family, what resources would you like to see?
For our out of state families, I am well connected in the Ethiopian communities across the U.S. Please contact me if you would like me to connect your family with your local community. Any families who are struggling with their adoption or any family considering to dissolving their adoption, please contact me. IAN wants to be involved to help you after you come home. Please do not hesitate to call me.
Lastly parents, I would like to create a FAQ and resource page to help all families after they come home. I hope you will help me create this. I ask that you email any questions you have (or had) in the process to help me with this list. Also, please send me any helpful resources that you think other families may benefit from.
Please email me your questions at email@example.com
Post Adoption Coordinator
International Adoption Net
7500 E. Arapahoe Road
Centennial Co. 80112
እንቁጣጣሽ Happy New Years Ethiopia!!
On September 11, 2014 Ethiopians will be celebrating one of the biggest holidays of the nation, New years! Also known as እንቁጣጣሽ (Enkutatash)! According to the Ethiopian calendar, the current year is 2006 which means in two days we will be dancing, eating, drinking to bring in the New Years of 2007.
This is the time when the entire Ethiopia is covered with the yellow flower called Adye abeba (yellow wild flowers). In my family this is how we celebrated new year’s.
The preparation begins 3days before, September 11. We get lamb and chicken which is traditional meat to sacrifice on holidays. The elder man usually my grandpa or dad blesses the meat before it is cut and prepared to cook. Then for two days the women of the house will cook with guidance from my mom. This processes is long do to my mom inviting to many people which included, family, friends, guests or random person who I don’t ever remember meeting before the holiday. All the cooking the cleaning out with the old and in with the new of everything is done on September 10.
On September 11 me and my siblings (mostly me-the youngest) wake up everyone to have them get ready for the day. After everyone is in their best traditional outfits, the women including my older sister prepare the table to eat. At this time the guests, families, friends and the random person are at my house. Then before we eat all the girls including my cousins start giving out the Adye Abeba to the elders for an exchange of blessings and candy money.
Then my grandpa gets everyone quite for him to bless the food for us to eat. Then eating, laughter, joy, prayer, blessing is over taken the room! After the fest, it is time for Buna (coffee) celebration. While the adults are drinking Buna, me and my cousins will be dancing to entertain the families, friends, and guests. Then in the afternoon, we go to another family’s house to repeat the celebration!
Love is patient, love is kind… wait this isn’t a wedding, this is my goodbye blog. Maybe I’m referring to how you are with your kids or maybe just maybe I could change those words to be adoption means being patient, it is being kind. Honestly it is isn’t it? Adopting means being patient or at least pretending to be patient. It means being kind to your coordinator, even when you don’t want to, or your spouse or other friends and family members, when they don’t quite get how you are feeling.
The last almost year and a half has been quite a ride working at IAN. I had the pleasure of visiting Ethiopia twice and meeting most of the kids who have been matched since early last year as well as working alongside our Ethiopian staff. It’s such a joy to see these kids in Ethiopia and then to see them via photos, or in person, once they are home, I just don’t even have the words to properly describe it.
I have been lucky enough to be the coordinator for 500 families. Just kidding, over 50 families which also means I was a part of this journey for about 65 kids! I have been able to listen to you cry, listen to you scream, listen to your frustrations (which can make for both an interesting email and phone call) and listen to the joy that comes with a referral or a court date. If you’ve met me then you know I have a strict no crying rule, because I’ll cry right there with you. Honestly, you could be crying about the weather and I’ll tear up with you.
We’ve watched PAIR come into play and mess with many of your hearts and lives and coordinators’ lives too. I witnessed some of you feel as though it was never going to happen and just about give up hope until a miracle happened. Then there were the priceless magical moments I was able to witness in person, when a family finally met their child for the first time. I was able to stand in the background and tear up with you while you held that child for the first time and the adoption became 100% a reality. I was also able to witness the bittersweet goodbyes that come with embassy appointments, coffee ceremonies and leaving Ethiopia with your new child.
During my time here, some families gave me a hard time and believe me; I have your addresses memorized. Just when you don’t expect it anymore, I shall pay you back, think ice bucket challenge only larger! Just kidding, although that could be fun, we all know that the craziness (remember I say this with love) comes from the fear of the unknown, the anxiety of adoption, the love that fills your heart for a child living thousands of miles away that you can’t hold yet.
I leave you with one last soapbox, because I couldn’t leave any other way!
Please be patient with your coordinators. They too feel the stress when things don’t go as planned. If you’re the praying kind then please pray that this process will become smoother and more predictable. If you’re the betting kind, then bet that it will never go as planned and your timeline is best used as a piece of wallpaper in your bathroom. Trust your coordinator and rely on them for support. Know that our in country staff, no matter what program, wants to see your child come home to you as well. Rely on your fellow families going through the trenches of adoption with you, but remember they may not always be right and their situation is 100% different than yours.
I have decided that international Adoption’s slogan should be “1 st world expectations in a 3 rd world process.” Tell me that isn’t spot on! In a perfect world adoption would take a month and there would be no hassle, no fix your home study, no phone calls that your fingerprints expired, no phone calls that court was moved back or a birth parent missed their date and no rainy season closing court down!
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this job can be incredibly frustrating, but just like getting a tattoo, the pain heals and you are left with a beautiful picture to look at forever, or in this case a beautiful family. If you’ve ever been to one of my trainings, then I openly and lovingly (as I said above) tell you that you will become the craziest person you yourself have ever met, once you have a referral. To be honest, sometimes we, your coordinators become crazy too. If only I had documented the moments of immense crazy laughter that comes from the end of a stressful moment, or the moments that we coordinators take to calm down. However, those moments and the evidence, must stay locked in a dark place so, I can’t share the details let’s just say French fries and matches could have been involved.
So I say thank you. Thank you for the kind words that you’ve said and emailed. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of something so incredibly personal, yet frustrating. Thank you for the hugs and of course thank you for the pictures you send! This isn’t goodbye because you probably didn’t fully read your referral packets but I am now the God mother to all of your children! Don’t forget me on Christmas and my birthday! Just kidding. Truly from the bottom of my heart I have been blessed by all of you, whether I was your coordinator or just answered a question one time for you. And I just need you all to remember that there are no returns!!!!!
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller
My Travels in Uganda
I was able to spend 10 days in this beautiful country just a couple of weeks ago! Here at IAN we have been working to improve and expand our program in Uganda over the past year. We have been so privileged to have Robert, who has actually worked with IAN in our Uganda program since the start of this program in 2012, as our facilitator in country. He is a wonderful young man with a huge heart and incredible vision. He has actually just began his own NGO (or non-government organization- a non-profit) that is focused on the needs of those vulnerable- mainly children, youth, and women- in his native region. One of the homes that IAN partners with is located in this region. IAN plans to work alongside this NGO in order to better serve this region and the people of Uganda. Robert has shown his dedication to the children in need in his country and his dedication to working with IAN to help Ugandans and their children! Spending ten days with him was proof to the fact that he is the cornerstone of our program here. Having a trustworthy, reliable, and committed facilitator is the foundation to a spectacular program! We are so grateful to have him!
Robert and Chelsea
Robert and I met with our attorneys and prospective attorneys, several social workers, some regional officials and of course visited several children’s homes! These travels took the better part of our week and took us around most of the country.
Our meetings with attorneys were unbelievably insightful! One lasted close to three hours as this particular attorney let me ask as many questions as I wanted. I believe I may have learned more in these 10 days than I could have learned in a full year here at home! I was also able to meet with social workers who will be doing the groundwork for paper collection for our children. It was encouraging to meet them face-to-face and see their knowledge of the process and their dedication to this work. I also had the opportunity to meet with regional officials to discuss our involvement in their communities. What one regional officer really stuck with me- he made it very clear that there were hundreds of children in his region that were in desperate need of homes. He told me that he did not want to use institutionalization as a solution to this problem, as it is not what is best for these children. He expressed his desire to find these children permanent homes with good families, and that there is just too much of a need for them to all stay in Uganda. It left me feeling overwhelmed at the amount of children that need help in this country, but also inspired that there are so many people out there that are willing to help these children and not settle for institutionalization as an option. Now I just need to find families!
Hit the Road!
We first traveled to a region about 5 hours west of Kampala, where I had a chance to meet with the foster families several of the children we currently have in process. It was simply wonderful to be able to visit the homes of these generous people who held our children in their custody even though they were too impoverished themselves to raise the children permanently. Many also had several children of their own to feed and care for. All of the families I was able to meet were very gracious to IAN for finding forever homes for these children that they still care about and love very much.
Our next stop was to the region next-door to visit with Hope, the director of one of the homes we partner with. This community based organization includes a home and a school to help educate and care for local orphans. We currently have a few children in process who have been referred to us from Hope’s home. I got to meet these beautiful children! It was so exciting to see and hold these precious children of whom I have heard of, seen pictures of, and talked about to the excited adoptive parents!
Then Hope took us to visit her school. Little did I know they had done quite a bit of preparation for my visit, including preparing some excellent dance performances!
Her organization assists these 140 children that attend this school, all of whom are orphans or semi-orphans. Seven of these children reside in her children’s home and the other children live with a guardian of some kind. I was incredibly moved by these children. They were beautiful, simple and in need of so much. Hope shared with me that sometimes she does not have enough money to pay the meager salary for the simple staff of 5 teachers at this school because the children cannot afford to pay their tuition. Their tuition is about equivalent to 2 US dollars per term. She asked us for our support of her home and school. The school is in need of books, funds for teachers’ salaries, and ultimately a new building- as the current building is a simple concrete room of about 100 sq feet used to teach all 140 of these students. Her home is in need of a new roof and new bathrooms for the children. As we continue to build this program we hope to work toward many changes and improvements to help Hope and the children she cares for.
Meeting with Hope
Our next stop was to BOL, another home we currently partner with. This home is run by Shawn and Primrose. Shawn is actually a native Coloradian that I fortunately have had the pleasure of meeting several times before beginning this partnership.
Caleb, Primrose, Shawn, Chelsea, and Robert
Their home is located in a region in the very southern tip of Uganda about 7 hours away from Kampala. They currently have 19 children residing in this home ranging from about 2 to 10 years old. It is a very well taken care of home on a gorgeous plot of land. I had a wonderful time meeting all of their beautiful children- watching them play together and even sing for me as Caleb (the house director) played guitar. This is a wonderfully run home with happy children with big bellies! Shawn and Primrose told me of their vision to expand into another home in the near future in order to house more children. We are hoping that together we will be able to see this home open!
Back in Kampala I was informed of a local children’s home that houses mostly abandoned babies. I met with the director and staff and had the chance to hold and feed some of their precious little newborns. There is such a need for homes for children in this country! I think this home really need our support and we would love to work with them to provide for their needs and help find homes for their children with no one.
On my last day in Uganda we made the trek up to a region about 3 hours west of Kampala.
There is a beautiful and simple home there that we just had the pleasure of beginning a partnership with.
Robert, Elias, Chelsea, Diana their social worker and a staff member.
This home was started by a woman named Lise. Lise and her husband Elias adopted 2 Ugandan children, a road that led them to opening their own children’s home. It is a lovely little place with very sweet and loving children. They even have a little school on site where their children can go to school. We just began this partnership a couple of months ago and are currently working toward making referrals from this home. They currently hold about 15 children, but have the capabilities to hold more than this. With the proper resources and adoptive families, this home seems very capable of helping many more children in this region.
Uganda is such a beautiful country with simply lovely people. Everywhere I went everyone was very grateful to IAN for what we are working to do for Uganda. My overall take away is that this is a country with many many needs. Half of the population of Uganda is under the age of 15, and this was very apparent when traveling around there. There are children everywhere, and you will often see small children roaming the streets alone. From seeing a roomfull of beautiful abandoned infants to meeting many many older children who just long to be loved and cared for- it is so apparent that there are so many children in need of homes here! But not only that, we as an agency have a vision of not only finding homes for children that have none, but to help the communitites these children come from and helping these childrens relatives, friends, and neighboors as well. We have a lot of vision and hope for what we could accomplish in Uganda. We are hoping to see this program grow and flourish so that we area able to have the ability to accomplish some of these incredible projects in regions we work in! And of course to find loving, permanent homes for some of the beautiful Uganda children that are without!
Ethiopia: my second home
Ok, so it’s not really my second home. If you were one of the families lucky enough to meet me in country (really I was the lucky one), then you probably realized how much I love Ethiopia. This was only my second trip, but I feel like I could go back over and over again. With each trip that I take, I hope to learn more about Ethiopia and the steps included in the adoption process.
Rainy season is drizzling into play, more like pummeling its way into Ethiopia. While I was there, I think I witnessed half a dozen rain storms. At least during my stay, it was a lot like Colorado rain. It would rain briefly, then the hot sunshine would come right back out. Sadly, all it takes is that brief rain storm to cause some major flooding. As of right now court is rumored to be closing for the season in early August.
I was lucky enough to head to Harare for three days. The pictures above are the road we travelled to Harare. On this particular day, we didn’t even have a huge storm, just a smidgeon of rainfall and the roads look like this. This is fairly typical. Although the main roads in Addis are paved and made to American standards, once you get out of Addis (and even still in Addis on some roads), the roads are mostly dirt and rock.
As I said, I was lucky enough to go to Harare. It was an almost 12 hour drive, by the time you take a break or two to stretch! While I was in Harare, I was able to visit the two orphanages that we are now working with, Tsion and Engida.
Both of these orphanages are kept very clean and are well run. There is always a need of course, for improvement. Tsion could use a laptop and a camera. The director is one the hardest working men I have had the pleasure of meeting. However, he is operating off of a 1980s PC and his phone is an old school Nokia. So when all of our Tsion families are asking why we can’t get updates, this is why. Both orphanages could use a playground, or at least some more toys. Right now Tsion mostly has babies. Clothes, formula, diapers and vitamins are always welcomed as well.
Many of our referrals currently are coming from Harare. Most of the children here that are eligible for adoption have been abandoned. Due to this, there will always be a 60 day holding period on the referral. During this 60 days, the orphanage staff will be doing their due diligence and searching for any parents or relatives. A posting must be done in the area announcing that this child has been found. Seriously, the posting goes on a board in the center of the town. Also, a posting must be done in the newspaper. Both postings must be up and in the paper for 15 days each. The regional MOWA will not sign the cover letter approving this child for international adoption purposes, until these steps have been taken.
In other news concerning MOWA, I think most of you have heard of the most recent changes. Due to fraudulent activity that was happening concerning regional MOWA letters, Federal MOWA will no longer give their comments on a court case, without hearing for a second time, from the regional MOWA. Basically, they want proof that the regional MOWA person did in fact approve each case for adoption. I know it is a huge headache to all of you who have been patiently waiting (or not so patiently, just kidding!). At the same time, it is another way of checks and balances in ensuring that your adoption is ethical and legal. Once Federal MOWA releases the comment (which is a written form), the comment is submitted to court and the judge will then assign the adoptive family court date and you can travel to meet your children!! All of our families will now have to be prepared for this process to possibly take even longer.
Over the last few months, we have had to acquire a second care center due to the amount of children we have. Now, our office and one half of the care center are connected in the same building. The old care center houses the older kids, and is just around the corner! We have hired some new staff to work on all of the cases, as well as we have increased the number of nannies on staff. With almost 50 children at the care center, our staff is always looking for doantions. We love things like medicine, vitamins, toys, games, movies, clothes, etc. A big heart felt thank you to those families who have mailed or brought in donations this last week. I think Chelsea’s suitcase was filled to the brim!
One of my favorite parts of the trip (tied with spending time with all of the kids) was all of the time I was able to spend with our families. Often, we only get to meet our local Colorado families (and let me tell you how excited I am about the amount of children coming to Colorado soon!), so meeting some of the out of state families was a real treat! I was able to get to know so much more about many of our families, and enjoy some down time as well. Don’t worry, none of us got on stage to dance.. at least not while I was in country!
WARNING: THE CONTENTS BELOW MAY BURN YOU:
I know that was extremely cheesy, but it’s time for my soap box again. Yes this is not a picture of a soap box at all, it’s a coffee ceremony! I just want to take a moment to give a gentle reminder. Although we have indeed hired additional staff, there is still a lot of work to be done. In the last week, I have made travel arrangements for 14 families. I am asking that you be respectful of our staff. If you are staying in country for your entire court and embassy process, please be mindful that you are not the only family that is probably in country and you are likely not the only case we have to work on. At the same time, we feel all of your cases are equally important. We ask that you sign an extended stay agreement. Part of that agreement is that you agree to not bombard our staff with daily calls and demands. I promise you that everyone employed by IAN, is aware that you wanted to be home with your children three months ago. However, if our staff begins to focus on one case only and the demands of one family, then there will be no movement on any other cases. Focusing on only one case will result in many other upset families. If we have families making such demands, I will begin to post your pictures on facebook for all the other families to see! Ok I’m just kidding, but it could work right?
Once you get to the court process, we are in the hands of government officials. Court decrees, birth certificates, passports and IOM medicals are all handled by someone who works for the government. We promise that we will do our best to move your case as quickly as possible.
Last but not least, the nannies have shared that they are felling neglected by our families. The nannies have said that when families come back to pick up their children, some families have not been willing to let the nannies say goodbye to the children. As coordinators, we constantly get emails from our families asking who the main nanny is caring for a specific child, or who this child’s favorite nanny is. These nannies serve as the caregivers and really, the parents, for all of our kids until the day that you leave the care center with them. I am asking you to please let the nannies say goodbye, this is a great time for a picture of the nanny and your child. Of course, expect tears at this point. The nannies fall in love with the kids as well and become very attached! Please be nice, or I’ll send this angry bull your way!
Ok that wasn’t my last point. Currently we have four boys at the Care center between the ages of 8-14, who are not matched. Please do not forget to take a look at the waiting kids on our website. If you are not in a place to bring one of these boys home, please help us by spreading the word!
To end on a positive note, we have tons of families coming home this year and in fact in the next few months. We would love to be able to welcome you home on our facebook page! If that is something you are comfortable with, please send us your favorite family picture via email!
Last week we had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with USCIS, National Benefits Center, the Council on Accreditation (COA), and about 200 Adoption Service providers (ASPs) to learn more about the Universal Accreditation Act (UAA). On the 22 nd , there was also a call for adoptive families, so hopefully some of you were able to attend that.
The UAA is a bill that is taking effect on July 14 th , 2014 which will require that ANY adoption service provided for an international adoption be carried out by or supervised by a Hague Accredited Agency or individual. This applies even if the adoption is being carried out in a non-Hague country (For example our Ethiopia or Uganda programs). The purpose of this is to make sure that all adoptions are carried out ethically and held to the same standard across the board.
Many of you will wonder, what does this mean for me? Well that depends on where you are in the process. The good news is that IAN is Hague accredited and processes the bulk of our services by Hague guidelines already, so for the majority of our families, there will not be much of a change. If you are adopting through one of our Hague programs (Mexico or India), you will not need to make any changes to comply with this act. For the rest of you:
- If you filed your I-600a with USCIS before July 13 th , 2013 your case will in no way be affected, as you are grandfathered in under the old system. You can check the date on your I-171h approval notice to see the date on which you filed.
- If you filed after July 13 th , 2013 but before July 14 th of this year, you will only be affected if you did NOT use a Hague agency for your homestudy. In this case it is our understanding that this act will affect your process when it is time for you to update your homestudy. You will just need to switch to a Hague agency or individual to complete the update. In some cases, IAN may be able to ‘supervise’ the homestudy. We will determine the best plan of action on a case by case basis.
- If you have not yet filed your I-600a, starting now IAN is requiring that ALL homestudies be done by a Hague accredited Agency. This is because there will now be certain wording and requirements for homestudies that USCIS must have to give a family approval, and only Hague agencies will have the right certification to carry out these homestudies. If you have not filed your I-600a with USCIS, but have a completed homestudy, please contact your coordinator for further instructions as this will be handled on a case by case basis moving forward. So, to be clear, if you have NOT started your homestudy and are researching agencies, we ask that you please be sure to choose one that is COA Hague Accredited. Your coordinator can help you track down some options in your state if you are having trouble. You can also search here for Hague agencies in your state http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention.php
Obviously not every family is going to fit neatly into one of these three scenarios, and its seems like USCIS itself if still working to figure out what changes will apply to cases in the different stages in the process. So we will do our best to navigate these changes with the information they are giving us at this time.
Based on what was discussed on the call, it seems like the adoptions that will be affected most by the legislation taking effect will be independent or kinship adoptions in countries where not many agencies have programs. It is now required that adoptive families have a supervising agency to facilitate the adoption process. Two concerns many agencies had about this was the cost for families who now are required to work with an agency or face a penalty, and the risk for agencies to supervise an adoption in a country where they know little about the adoption rules and regulations. So we will be following this closely to see how these types of independent adoptions are able to be carried out in the coming months as the new rules take effect.
If you would like to read more about the UAA Hague requirements and how the new requirements might impact your adoptions process here are some links for more information. If you have any further questions please contact your coordinator.