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!