Over the past year or so the Ethiopian program has seen many changes, both with the US side of the process as well as the process with the Ethiopian authorities. As many of you know the PAIR process, which went into effect late 2013, has added several months to the processing times for our cases. Some families are unfortunately experiencing a greater wait time than others. Additionally, more and more paperwork is now required to complete an international adoption, both from US Embassy and for the Ethiopian authorities. While we support these measures as a way to cut down on unethical adoptions, we do understand that this is frustrating for families both on the waitlist and in process to see such a slowdown.
Here are few things to keep in mind as things stand now with Ethiopia:
- Wait times for referrals are getting longer. While we can’t say exactly how long the wait will be for a referral, we do know that all agencies in Ethiopia are experiencing a slowdown in the process. We can promise you that our staff is working very hard to gather all necessary paperwork and complete investigations in order for us to give referrals. There are several steps a child’s case must go through before they are available for international adoption. First, MOWA has to approve the child for international adoption, then the agency is referred the child, initial paperwork is gathered and then we refer the child to the adoptive family.
- The process is taking longer. We currently have families that have been in process with a referral for over a year. We are doing everything we can to keep the process moving forward as quickly as possible, but there are several steps that need to happen in the adoption process, and many of these steps are currently taking longer and requiring more to be completed.
- The process can change at any time. Both the PAIR process and the Ethiopian side of things can add or change requirements at any time. We do our best to keep up with and anticipate those changes, but sometimes they can add significant time to processing time. It is important to be flexible with estimated wait times and to know that your case may hit a bump in the road to extend your overall time in process. These additional changes are out of our hands, but we do the best we can to gather the necessary information as quickly as possible.
As of now we are still receiving referrals, though on a much smaller scale than a year ago. We are continuously working hard to continue adoptions in Ethiopia because we know there are children that need loving families. We have been assured that Ethiopia has no plans to officially close anytime soon, but it is no longer a quick or easy process. The slowdown, as far as we can tell, is a rather intentional move to minimize the amount of children internationally adopted in order to better regulate the process and verify orphan status.
We do not share this to be discouraging, but we just wanted to update our families on the current climate of Ethiopia. As always, please feel free to contact your coordinator for more details about any changes in the process or concerns you may have. We know this is not an easy process, and we will continue to work to make improvements to the process where we can.
In other news, we have learned of a small change that will make the process a little easier on our adoptive families! Now, whenever you apply to update your I-600A fingerprints, you send in your request, and they will send out an updated I-171H form with a new expiration date. You will not need to actually go to the USCIS office anymore to have your fingerprints taken again. So is great news! You will still need to submit an updated homestudy to extend the actual I-600A form, so please keep track of those expiration dates so you can update them when the time is right.
Finally, as many of you know, we have partnered with Project 143 to start a hosting program for older children in Ethiopia! We have had several families contact us to learn more about hosting and we are so excited to see the involvement from all of you! This is such a great opportunity for these children as they are often overlooked for adoption purposes. By hosting, the child gets to experience American culture while meeting several potential adoptive families in the process. If you decide not to move forward with the child’s adoption, maybe one of your friends will. We hope that through this program, we can promote older child adoption and find some of these children that have been waiting so long wonderful families! For more information about the hosting program and the children available, please visit http://www.projectonefortythree.com/ .