Hello IAN friends and family. Allow me to preface this blog with a disclaimer. The information below will seem harsh, but it appears that this reminder needs to be given. Let me start by saying that the adoption process is definitely an emotional and very personal process; I don’t think there is a single person in the world who could argue otherwise. For the children of Ethiopia or even in the US, for that matter, whose parents are relinquishing their rights for one reason or another, it can be even more difficult. These parents are making the ultimate sacrifice to place their children for adoption so that their son or daughter may have a better life than the bio parents could ever offer them. Often times this decision is being made because the mother is young and prostitution is her only way of making money, perhaps she is sick, maybe the father is relinquishing because he cannot care for the child alone and sadly the mother has passed away. It doesn’t matter what the reason is that the child is being relinquished, that parent is making the most difficult decision of their lives for the sake of their children.
Recently it has been brought to my attention that many of our families are concerned that birth families are returning to the Care center to not only see their children, but are also staying in the building. Many of you have shared concerns on the effects seeing birth families will have for your children. While we understand this, there are a few facts to be pointed out. I’m sure we could debate all day between the positive and negative outcomes of allowing a birth parent to continue to see his or her child. At the same token, I’m sure we can argue about the effects of just taking a parent out of the picture. Either way, the child will experience some trauma. However, the birth parents or the custodial guardian have rights to the child until the very last moment that he or she appears in front of the judge to relinquish rights. That being said, we cannot tell birth families or guardians that they may not come back to see their children. In fact, doing so could result in IAN losing their license and being accused of child trafficking. We have no right, legally, to tell these parents that they cannot see their children.
In fact, many parents place their children in the orphanages on a temporary basis. They know that they are destitute but have the hope of being able to care for their children again. The parents or guardians have the right to come back and visit their children as often as they would like. Actually, it is encouraged by MOWA.
Many of you know that my background is foster care. I know that this is not foster care, but the situations are similar. Once a court case reached the point of terminating a parental rights either via court or voluntarily, a final visit was scheduled. If a parent had been visiting throughout the case then visits slowly diminished. In the situations where visits were rarely or never happening, we still offered a final visit. Children need to know that their parents are safe, as well as that they are the ones who want their children to be adopted and have more opportunities.
I can rant on and on all day as I said, however, the bottom line is that we cannot and will not stop biological parents from visiting their children. These men and women have a right to their children until the very last moment in court that they relinquish their rights. I think it is fair to say that these parents and guardians can change their mind about the adoption process up and until the moment of court. Birth families are counseled by the social worker at the orphanage as well as our in country staff once again outlines what international adoption looks like. Once again, I emphasize that if we start telling these families that they cannot see their children, we are jeopardizing all adoptions for our agency. In my experience, when children found out that they were stopped from seeing a parent or family member, they become angry! We at IAN totally understand that you all have the best interest of your soon to be children at heart.
I also would like to point out the social media policy that IAN has. It outlines the fact that you cannot post pictures of your children on any social media until after court, when your parental rights are established. This is not merely and IAN policy, this is an Ethiopia policy as well. To piggy back on that, blogs, Instagram, twitter, etc. are all social media. Posting anything about your child that is identifying, is against policy. Anything being put on the internet can be found again, regardless of if you delete it today or ten years from today. Writing negative comments anywhere concerning the birth family of the child you are hoping to bring home, is strongly discouraged. Please try to put yourselves in their shoes and imagine what it would feel like to have to say good bye to your child forever. For some families, forever starts the day your child enters the orphanage, for others it is when the child leaves the country. Either way, this person is giving some other family the most beautiful gift, the gift of a child.
MOWA can scan the internet and see your blogs and any posts. Therefore, IAN will begin contacting families on an individual basis if this policy has been violated. Again, please no identifying information concerning the child you are matched to. This includes, name, region, pictures of the child’s face, information concerning the birth family, etc. If MOWA were to read any of blogs or comments our families make it could shut down adoptions. The team here at IAN totally understands that this is probably one of the most frustrating processes and it is also a process that as an adoptive family, you have very little control over. Your blogs are a window into this process for your loved ones, and a place to vent your frustration. We just ask that you be cautious about what you are posting.
Also, many of you know that we have acquired a second care center building since we are growing. There is an additional room upstairs that can be occupied by anyone for the purpose of the child’s case. This includes bio parents coming for court/embassy, adoptive families who want to stay close and even police or finders for embassy interviews.
Once again, I want to reiterate that this blog is not intended to offend anyone, or belittle the process and anyone’s feelings about adoption. This is merely the best place to inform many of you that there are legalities involved that we as an agency must follow and ask you the family to follow as well.