At least when the adoption is done, I won’t have any more paperwork!
By the time adoptive parents are granted legal custody of their child, they have completed pages and pages—and what seems like books—of paperwork. Contracts, medicals, financial statements, letters of intent, employment documents, picture pages, THE HOMESTUDY, and so, so, so much more. Whole reams of paper, pens of ink and cartridges of toner are committed to the adoption process. It seems like a never ending battle to get that one last document finished. By the time the adoption is done, you are ready to just move on with life and never, EVER do another piece of paperwork as long as you live (or at least until your next adoption).
However, the point of adoption is actually the beginning of a whole other set of paperwork for many adoptions and especially so for those who internationally adopt. Most countries require at least one post-adoption report with many requiring multiple reports over the span of time. In most cases, the country has a set amount of required reports as determined by the country, but some cases may require more reports, especially in countries where a birth parent is involved in the process. Some countries even require reports until the child is 18 years old (that’s a lot of reports for kids who are adopted as babies or toddlers!). Even if the country does not require post-adoption reports, most placing agencies or at least home-study agencies require reports per agency or state policies.
Post-adoption reports are an important part of a country’s decision to move forward with their adoption program. Reports allow a country to measure the success of the program and the outcomes for children. It also allows them to know that the children are alive and still in the original adopted home, or in the case that they are not, where they are and whether the new adoption/placement was done correctly. (Note: post-adoption reports need to be honest and never cover up any issues. No one expects everything to be perfect and even knowledge of issues can be enlightening for change.) In some countries, birth parents/family and/or the orphanage that cared for the child have the right to review the reports in order to maintain knowledge of the child’s well-being.
At the onset of an adoption, parents are informed about the expected post-adoption reports (to the best of the agency’s ability as things do change over time), and parents sign documentation stating they understand the requirements and will abide by them. In addition, most countries require the adoptive family and/or placing agency to submit documentation as part of the dossier stating they will complete the reports as required. Unfortunately, not all parents fulfill this obligation to their child’s country and adoption agency. When that happens, there can be dire consequences for the children remaining in the country and/or for the children that could be placed by the agency in the future.
The Department of State recently published the 2016 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions. DOS reports that it met with 30 countries in 2016 regarding intercountry adoption. In these meetings, three main concerns were presented by countries as concerns—prominent among them was post-adoption report compliance. “Even after adoption, countries maintain a strong interest in knowing how children from their countries fare. Officials become concerned when they receive no reports about a child after adoption, often fearing that the adoption has disrupted or dissolved, or that the child has been harmed. When parents fail to fulfill the obligation they agreed to, it reflects badly on U.S. adoptions and may impact the country’s willingness to continue to engage and partner with the United States.” Countries have shut down over non-compliance in the past (for example, Ukraine closed for some time in October 2005 due to missing reports— link ) which hurts remaining orphans and potential parents in the short-and-long-run. “Several countries have conditioned the resumption of intercountry adoptions on receiving post adoption reports from parents who previously adopted children from that country.” (Quotes taken from the above mentioned report.)
The Department of State has since issued further notices regarding the importance post-adoption reporting. A May 8, 2017 notice states “Missing or delinquent post-adoption reports can negatively impact adoption service providers seeking authorization in affected countries, as well as U.S. citizen parents seeking to adopt in the future. The consequences of failure to comply with post-adoption reporting requirements are significant, particularly for thousands of children in need of permanency who would be adversely impacted if intercountry adoption programs are suspended or closed.” ( https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/about-us/newsroom/Post-AdoptionReportingOverview.html .)
It’s understandable that parents get busy and life moves on. In addition, it is clear to agencies that the vast majority of adoptive parents are devoted to the cause of the orphan and to the orphans and vulnerable children that remain in their child’s country. Agencies often see parents fundraise for or even create projects of humanitarian aid in their child’s country of origin. It is important for agencies and even countries to recognize these efforts made on behalf of the children. However, it is also important for adoptive families to realize that one of the most important things an adoptive parent can do to help orphans in their child’s country is to complete post-adoption reports on time and encourage others to do the same.
If you are an adoptive parent who has fallen behind on your reports, please contact your placing agency today to find out how you can help adoption remain a viable option for children in your child’s country of origin by catching up on missing reports. Please share this article and/or the Department of State’s notices in any way you can to encourage other adoptive families to do the same. If you have adopted a child after the dissolution of an international adoption, please contact your child’s original placing agency regarding reports as the countries still require them even if you are not legally bound to provide them. If your placing agency has closed, please contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues for information on how to comply with reporting.
As many of you know, EACI adoption agency lost it’s Hague status in December of 2016. As a result they had to move all their programs to other agencies. IAN was identified to take on India and China Cases. We have spent the last month or more working to make this transfer as smooth a possible and welcoming these families to IAN. It has been a difficult time for all those families involved, but we are happy that the transfer is completed and we can focus on serving our new families and their prospective adoption children!
The State Department issued more information for those transfer families on Friday, and we are posting that here so that our new families can stay informed! Please be sure to read this carefully, and follow up with our office as needed. Thanks to all our families’ patience, current and new, as we have worked on this. We are so thankful to be serving our growing network of families and children.
Here is the full text of the update from the State Department:
EAC Case Transfer Approval InformationFebruary 3, 2017
The Department of State confirms that the Council on Accreditation (COA) reviewed case transfer plans for the following European Adoption Consultants, Inc. (EAC) intercountry adoption programs. If you have been working with EAC to adopt a child from a country that is not listed below, COA is currently reviewing EAC’s case transfer plan for that country. We will update this site with new information as it becomes available.
Date Plan Finalized
Global Adoption Services, Inc.
January 13, 2017
International Adoption Net
January 13, 2017
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 20, 2017
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
1:17 Center for Global Adoption
January 18, 2017
All Blessings International Inc., dba Kentucky Adoption Services
January 18, 2017
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 18, 2017
International Adoption Net
January 13, 2017
Global Adoption Services Inc.
January 20, 2017
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 20, 2017
Uganda (families without referrals)
Little Miracles International Inc.
January 20, 2017
Creative Adoptions Inc.
January 20, 2017
Please note that EAC clients are under no obligation to work with the adoption service provider (ASP) named in EAC’s case transfer plan. EAC is required to execute a plan to transfer their in-process adoption cases to a designated agency, however, some families may instead request that the case be transferred to an alternate primary provider. COA has advised that in those cases, prospective adoptive parents should send a request to EAC indicating a preferred ASP to which EAC should transfer the case. COA should be copied on this correspondence.
COA has also advised that EAC reports they will be reaching out to clients to obtain written consent to release records. Such consent should comply with the guidance provided here . COA expects EAC to execute their case transfer plans within 10 days of receipt of COA’s letter confirming its review of EAC’s case transfer plan.
The state of Ohio, where EAC is licensed, has informed the Department of State that under Ohio law, if a prospective adoptive parent submits a request to have their case transferred, the agency must act upon that request pursuant to Ohio Administrative Code 5101-2-48-19. Prospective adoptive parents may wish to copy the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, email@example.com , on email communications with EAC regarding case transfers. Please include “EAC” in the subject line if you do so.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has also informed us that families experiencing difficulties getting EAC to transfer their file, or experiencing any other issues with EAC, may wish to submit a statement to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/about-ag/file-a-complaint , or call the hotline at 800-282-0515 or 614-466-4986. The hotline takes complaint calls Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. EST. Prospective adoptive parents who submit concerns in writing should include “EAC” in the subject line.
REVIEW OF CASE TRANSFER PLANS
When reviewing the transfer plan, COA verifies that the ASP selected to receive the adoption cases meets the following criteria:
- the ASP is currently accredited or approved;
- the ASP’s accreditation is valid for a sufficient period of time or the ASP has an application for renewal of its accreditation or approval pending and has made significant progress through the renewal process;
- the ASP is not currently subject to an adverse action compromising their accreditation status; and
- the ASP is authorized to work in the country they will receive cases for if such authorization is required.
COA’s review of the transfer is limited to the criteria listed above. It is important to note that while COA has verified that the ASPs are eligible at this time to receive EAC’s cases, there is no way to guarantee the new primary provider will remain eligible to provide adoption services.
POST-PLACEMENT AND POST-ADOPTION REPORTING
EAC is prohibited from providing adoption services, including “monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption”, and therefore EAC is prohibited from providing post-placement services, including post-placement reporting. Prospective adoptive parents who obtained custody or guardianship of a child and have not yet finalized the adoption need to find an accredited or approved ASP to provide any remaining services, including completing post-placement reports as required by the child’s country of origin.
The prohibition on providing adoption services does not apply to completion of post-adoption reports, which are required after an adoption has been finalized, to the extent allowed by state law and the country of origin’s requirements. Please be aware, that a foreign government may choose not to accept post-adoption reports from a debarred adoption service provider.
Families should be advised that the government of India has informed us that they will not accept post-adoption or post-placement reporting from EAC. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Federal regulations require EAC to complete the refund of fees paid for services not yet rendered within 60 days of the debarment. EAC should provide prospective adoptive parents with information on any refunds they may be eligible for or details of any fees that have not yet been expended for providing services that can be transferred to a new agency.
THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE’S ROLE
The Department of State’s role with case transfer plans is limited. As stated in the Notice regarding Case Transfer Responsibilities of Intercountry Adoption Service Providers , under 22 CFR 96.87, the agency or person’s execution of its transfer plans is under the oversight of the Accrediting Entity, the Council on Accreditation. The Department of State does not review or approve case transfer plans. The Department does, however, communicate with foreign Central Authorities and competent adoption authorities about the accreditation status of agencies and persons and case transfer plans, as needed.
Please continue to communicate directly with EAC and COA regarding specific questions related to your adoption case transfer.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have a loving Father, we know the feeling of love and protection. Little Zi knows this love…and misses it.
In all my years of working as an international adoption specialist, I have heard and seen a multitude of children’s stories—some sadder than others. Yet in all my days, no story has left me wanting a family for a child so badly as I want one for precious 8-year-old Zi.
When Zi was born, her birth mother left her father and much older sister to remarry. When many fathers might choose otherwise, her father raised her and her sister as best he could. In June 2014, the family got into a car accident that left Zi paralyzed from the waist down. Still, even as poor as they were, her father cared for her. Tragically, her father found out that December that he had liver cancer and died the next month. Zi and her sister went to live with a blind uncle while officials contacted their mother who once again refused to care for them. The children were then admitted to an orphanage. Her sister is now 18—too young to care for her and too old to be adopted with her.
When Zi came into care, she was in poor physical condition and would not speak. After being in the care of the orphanage, she is active and cute again, ready to smile, and has a good spirit. The orphanage personnel say she is very smart and cute, introverted and shy, can have a temper, and usually helps the nurturer look after the younger children. She likes writing, drawing, listening to music, watching TV and chatting. Her life is fulfill and happy with the exception of one important aspect—a family.
While single women can adopt from China, International Adoption Net feels this child needs both a mother and a father so she can once again have a Daddy . Could this little girl wrap your fatherly hand around her finger?
Contact Angela regarding this little girl, angela@
Important Adoption Update!!ast month we were informed by the State Department that they would be enacting yet another round of heavy regulations for international adoptions. We were given only 42 days to process and respond to these new laws that will forever effect all adoption programs. The adoption world is still coming to grasps with the limiting regulations of the UAA regulations that went into effect in 2014. Due to those regulations, the TOTAL number of adoptions to the US last year was 5,647. That is an incredibly low number considering the amount of children living in institutions around the world, or worse. These are not just infant adoptions. Existing laws have already limited the options for relative adoptions, and older child adoptions. In 2015, just 6% of intercountry adoptions were infants, and 72% of intercountry adoptions were children over the age of three. Perhaps most telling is that 13% of intercountry adoptions in 2015 were of children aged 12 or older! Our government should be supporting the permanent placement of older children with approved US families, however now we are faced with another round of overreaching and crippling laws that could result in the mass shut down of even more agencies. The concerns around adoption do not justify this over regulation, and children and waiting families are the ones who will pay the cost. We ask that you help us advocate against these new laws, which are being hidden from the public and put into effect before anyone can realize what is happening. Agencies are working together to get the word out to families who may never get the chance to adopt if these go into effect next year so that you can help us advocate for children in need! Please visit http://saveadoptions.org/ to learn more about how these new rules could impact your ability to adopt, and sign the petition. The State Department can enact these new rules with no oversight, warning or accountability thanks to special allowances given to them by Congress years ago. That means just a few people are deciding these laws and there is no direct representation of the American people, no voting, no popular approval. We ask that you educate yourself and call your Senators and Representatives to stop this unnecessary over reach by the Office of Children’s Issues. Please share with your family and friends and help us save adoption!
“Matthew” is an adorable, HAPPY little boy who happens to have extra lower body parts due to having an incomplete conjoined twin. He has underwent surgery for some of the physical ramifications of this conjoined twin, but he still other malformations that the doctors decided were too dangerous to perform surgery on at the time they were going to do so. He may need continued surgeries to correct the complications.
His China list diagnosis states 1.Tailend duplication malformation (post-surgery conjoined twins); 2.bilateral Undescended testes; 3.retarded growth.
The orphanage personnel and doctors were amazed when he started to walk and play. He is able to coordinate his malformed and conjoined legs to walk steadily and even competes with his friend to slide down a slope riding a swing car with both of his legs slightly hanging in the air. He also enjoys music time where he dances to his favorite song A Small Apple (we have video of him dancing!). He is starting to speak and is said to be a child full of wisdom with his own unique view on things. He does not fight for toys or food as other children does, but will instead walk over to take a caregiver by the hand and show them the child who has taken his toy or food with a grieved look on his face. He seems to be loved by all.
A careful review of his medical documentation should be made by an international adoption specialist and preferably with a specialist in conjoined twin separations to understand the level of surgery he has received, what his current situation is and what he may need in the future. Much information is available, including VIDEOS.
Please consider bringing this delightful boy into your heart and homes! We are all just in love with his simle, and hope we can find him a loving family soon!
This Blog post is written by one of our Adoption Coordinators, Angela.
As an experienced international adoption specialist for 11 years, I’ve seen a variety of medical conditions with children available for adoption with various international programs. However, a recent agency change has opened my eyes to a country I had always been interested in, but never had the opportunity to serve through adoption: India.
As I search the waiting child list issued by India, I am amazed and perplexed at the number of children available with conditions that are either correctable or manageable. Some of the conditions are even sought after in other countries as a humanitarian choice in adoption. Babies, toddlers, young children and older children with HIV, club foot, cleft palate and/or lip, heart defects, limb differences and other such conditions have waited years for families on the India list. One condition I had not previously seen appears quite often on the India list: ambiguous genitalia or other gender disorders. Of the 82 children ages 0-2 currently listed on the India waiting child list, at least three have some type of gender condition. The Mayo Clinic defines ambiguous genitalia as-
“Ambiguous genitalia is a rare condition in which an infant’s external genitals don’t appear to be clearly either male or female. In a baby with ambiguous genitalia, the genitals may not be well-formed or the baby may have characteristics of both sexes. The external sex organs may not match the internal sex organs or genetic sex.Ambiguous genitalia isn’t a disease. It’s a sign of a condition that affects sexual development, and it’s referred to as a disorder of sexual development.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ambiguous-genitalia/basics/definition/con-20026345
More information about ambiguous genitalia, including causes and treatment, can be found at the above referred-to link. There are many options for corrective treatment for a child born with ambiguous genitalia, all that is needed is the right family that is able to care for the child. With the medical resources in the USA, many children with this condition get proper treatment, and thrive with their families. In India, where conditions like this carry heavily negative social stigmas, these children may never get the care or love they deserve, and for many is the sole reason why they are in the orphange.
Due to privacy regulations, India does not allow children to be photolisted on such sites as RainbowKids. While I understand the reasons for the privacy of the children, these limitations can decrease the chances that these beautiful children will find homes, simply because they do not have the exposure as children with other programs may have. However, if more people knew about the India program and the wonderful children that are available, more people would open their hearts and homes so these little ones would be orphans no more.
To adopt from India, parents must be physically, mentally, and emotionally stable with no threatening medical conditions, as well as be financially stable. Married couples must have been married at least two years. Single women can adopt children of either gender, while single males are only allowed to adopt boys. India does impose age limits as follows:
Families are not allowed to already have more than four children in the home. As always, USCIS and state regulations also apply with regard to qualifications of adoptive parents.
Families must first complete their adoption paperwork and obtain USCIS approval before being eligible to be matched with a child. However, once a family’s paperwork is complete, their agency can immediately start searching the waiting child list for a child that meets the family’s desired and approved criteria. The more open a family is with regard to age, gender and special needs, the more likely they are to be matched with a child quickly and start the official adoption process.
Child in the photo is a stock photo and not available for adoption. International Adoption Net suggests all families talk to a licensed pediatrician for all medical advice and information when considering a child for adoption. Families are approved for children with medical conditions on a case by case basis after reviewing the family’s qualifications as best determined by the placement agency.
/contact/ This is a guest post from our partner Diane Hogan. She is an adoptive parent twice over, adoption and education expert, and President of A Step Ahead Adoption Services.
Are you a family who want to start or build your family and don’t know if adoption is right for you? If so, you have probably been on the Internet looking at all the choices, options and decisions you would need to make to just take the first step into adoption. Hopefully this article will help you understand your choices, fine tune your options and guide your decision-making process.
There are 3 primary paths to adopting a child – domestic (US) adoption, international adoption and/or foster-to-adoption. How do you know which path is best for you? Consider the child you see coming into your home and ask yourself these 5 simple questions:
1) What age is this child? Most domestic adoptions are newborn-to-1 year of age placements; most international adoptions are toddler-thru-school aged; most foster-to-adoption placements are 1-year to 18-years of age (after 18, most children “age out” of the foster care system).
2) What race or races of child can you consider? In domestic adoption, you have children of all colors of the rainbow and racial combinations; however, the least placed race (in the US) is Asian. For foster-to-adoption, again all the possible racial combinations of children are eagerly awaiting their forever families. International adoptions, you have to be country-specific, thus you will be defining race(s) upon selecting a country. To get an overview of options in this area, see: https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/adoption-process.html
3) What timeframe are you considering? Most domestic (US) adoptions can occur in 1-year or less unless you are gender-specific and then that could take up to 2 years. International adoptions are country-specific and will be dependent on how well your US agency or attorney is connected with the foreign country’s embassy, orphanages and laws. Generally speaking allow a minimum of 2 years for the process. For foster-to-adoption, you would need to be able and willing to foster a child until they are eligible for the adoption rolls. That process is often 1-2 years depending on your county’s policy for a birth parents time to attempt reunification – the goal of the foster system.
4) Are you gender-specific? If so, then focus more on international or foster-to-adoption because it is much easier to select a boy or girl, or both! In domestic adoption, you become dependent on a gender-defining ultra sound or waiting for a born baby.
5) Do you have a budget defined? Most domestic and international adoptions are running $30,000 -$50,000 for the cost of preparing, adopting and traveling. Foster-to-adoption is more affordable as you may only be asked to pay for legal fees and travel. Remember, we currently do have an adoption tax credit that may assist you after you adopt. For more information, see: https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html
Still confused? Feel free to send us an email or give us a call. We provide adoption education, guidance, support and resource referrals for many various aspects of adoption. If you are a family desiring a domestic adoption or adoption education, we have consultants across the US to talk with you and discuss the process of domestic adoption. If you are considering an international or foster program, we can connect you with agencies speializing in the programs you are interested in.
Diane Hogan is an adoptive mom of two “babies” (now respectively 21 years of age and 18 years of age). Along with her husband she adopted domestically and has two open adoptions. She hold BS and MA degrees in education. Worked for 20 years in public education (classroom teacher, curriculum developer, program specialist, teacher trainer). Besides her two children, she is most proud of her 2-years or remission from Hodgkins’ Lymphoma! Diane now owns/operates A Step Ahead Adoption Services for the last 16 years from Colorado Springs, CO. A Step Ahead Adoption Services (ASA), in the big picture, is a consulting services designed to help adoptive parents seeking a domestic adoption through an agency or attorney in the US. We educate, guide, support our client families who are seeking a domestic or international adoption. ASA also provides education for agencies and law firms that work in adoption. They can offer 1:1 classes, workshops and seminars. They have an extensive online adoption & parenting library for client families (over 80 documents), a prerecorded 20-minute class on the domestic adoption procedure and 45 short vignettes of interviews with adoptees, adoptive parents and an occupational therapist. Our ASA clients have access to all of those educational materials. ASA contracts with consultants who work for us across the US to support adoptive families and agencies. If you prefer to go international or foster-to-adopt, we will happily refer you to professionals in your area. ASA website is: www.astepaheadadoption.com .
If you would like your article posted as a guest on our blog, please contact us.
Please see below the latest update from the State Department concerning the new regulations from Uganda (found here- http://www.mglsd.go.ug/laws/
The%20Children%20Amendment% 20Act%202016.pdf (start page 32) and here http://www.mglsd.go.ug/laws/children%20act%20Chapter_59.pdf (start page 22)
These new regulations went into effect on June 2nd. The Laws were signed in May, but it had previously not been clear as to when it would go into effect, so some had hope that cases this summer would not be impacted. It seems now that this means any referrals made after June 2nd will need to abide by these new laws. IAN will keep its license in Uganda should a family want to adopt under these new regulations, however it seems that as things stand, it would be very difficult for any families living in the US to meet these standards. Here is a run down of the main things you need to know:
A person who is not a citizen of Uganda may in exceptional
circumstances adopt a Ugandan child, if he or she—
(a) has stayed in Uganda for at least one
(b) has fostered the child for at least one year under the
supervision of a probation and social welfare officer;
(c) does not have a criminal record;
(d) has a recommendation concerning his or her suitability to adopt
a child from his or her country’s probation and welfare office or
other competent authority; and
(e) has satisfied the court that his or her country of origin will
respect and recognise the adoption order.
45. Restrictions and conditions.
(1) An adoption order may be granted to a sole applicant or jointly
to spouses where—
(a) the applicant or at least one of the joint applicants has attained
the age of twenty-five years and is at least twenty-one years older
than the child;
(b) in the case of an application by one of the spouses, the other has
consented to the adoption.
(2) The court may dispense with the consent required under
subsection (1)(b) if the spouse whose consent is required cannot be found or
is incapable of giving consent, or the spouses are separated and living apart
and the separation is likely to be permanent.
(3) An adoption order shall not be made in favour of a sole male
applicant in respect of a female child, or in favour of a sole female applicant
in respect of a male child, unless the court is satisfied that there are special
circumstances that justify, as an exceptional measure, the making of an
(4) The application shall not be considered unless the applicant has
fostered the child for a period of not less than thirty-six months under the
supervision of a probation and social welfare officer.
(5) The probation and social welfare officer shall be required to
submit a report to assist the court in considering the application; and the
court may, in addition, require some other person or the local authority to
make a report in respect of the adoption application.
(6) Except where the application is by spouses jointly, an adoption
order shall not be made authorising more than one person to adopt a child at
the same time.
The main thing is that these requirements used to be able to be waived by going through guardianship decrees and then finalizing the adoption in the US. However guardianship is no longer an option if you are not a Ugandan citizen under the new amendments, so these residency rules now apply to all international cases. Obviously we understand that most families can not move to Uganda for an extended time. The state department is updating its Uganda adoption information page, and as soon as we have any more information about how this is playing out, we will be sure to let you know.———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Adoption < Adoption@state.gov >
Date: Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 7:48 AM
Subject: Notice: Uganda Announces Effective Date of June 2 for Amendments to the Children Act
Adoption Notice: Uganda
July 6, 2016
Notice: Uganda Announces Effective Date of June 2 for Amendments to the Children Act
As reported in the Department of State’s June 2 Adoption Alert , on May 20, 2016, the Ugandan president signed into law amendments to the Children Act. The full text of the amendments can be found on the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development’s website . Ugandan officials have informed us that these amendments went into effect on June 2.
If you have questions about your guardianship or adoption case, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org . We also encourage you to work closely with your adoption service provider.
We are so excited to announce that this month we have been approved for our Child Placement license in Florida ! We are opening our branch office, and will be starting up our programs there in the coming weeks.
Angela K. Vance, MSW will be our new Branch Director. This office will be able to provide homestudy and post adoption services to families living in Florida, as well be a part of our placement services for our International and Domestic programs. Angela has served hundreds of children and families through international adoption since graduating with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida in June 2005. Her love for adoption led her to being the mother of her beautiful daughter, whom she adopted from Ethiopia in early 2012. In her free time, Angela enjoys church activities and spending time with her daughter. Angela is available to assist all IAN Florida clients with a full range of services, and will be heading up our China Program as well. Welome Angela!
By now, many of you have seen the update posted on the Department of State website regarding Ethiopia. You can find the article here if you have not already read it: http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/ethiopia15-05-08.html . As some of you have reached out to your coordinator to further understand this update, we wanted to post a quick blog to explain the information to everyone.
The update starts by letting families know that the Department of State has been discussing with the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs the adoption delays various regions in Ethiopia is experiencing. In this update, the Department of State only speaks about the changes that affect adoption referrals in Ethiopia, and does not mention post-referral delays. First, they highlight the Tigray Region. While IAN used to work with the Tigray region, we have not had a working relationship with them for quite some time. We are no longer accepting referrals from this region as the Regional MOWA is no longer signing covering letters allowing the children to be adopted internationally. We do have a few children from the Tigray region that are currently in the process of adoption. These families should not worry as we received the children’s information before this region stopped processing international adoptions. We were recently able to bring home two boys from this region. There was a little difficulty in completing the final steps of their adoption because of a change in the process (i.e. A new representative to sign off on adoption decrees and birth certificates), but we were able to coordinate with the proper channels to advocate for these children to come home. As the process of adoption in Ethiopia changes frequently, we are always adapting and working as quickly as we can to comply with the latest update. As the article pointed out, changes in the region began showing around November 2013, so since this time, IAN has not received any referrals from the region.
The same holds true for the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR). We facilitated our last adoption from the southern region last year. This little girl was able to come home almost one year ago. Since this time, we have not received any referrals from this region either. For the regions Addis Ababa, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harar, and Oromia, we have not received confirmation from MOWA whether the bans on relinquishment are officially in effect. We are hoping to hear some input from MOWA soon. At the end of this paragraph, the Department of State points out something that is very important to keep in mind. They say, “In some cases, the supporting documentation…may not match the true circumstances of the child’s situation. In such circumstances, adjudication of the Form I-600 petition for the PAIR filing may take additional time.” We have seen this statement to be true as the Embassy recently took several months to verify the orphan status of some of our children. We even had a few families who were in the PAIR process for almost 1 year waiting for this verification. We are thrilled to report all of these families have finally received their PAIR letter and are waiting to receive a court date and finally meet their children! As all of these cases were abandonment, we have seen firsthand that Embassy is going to great lengths to verify the orphan status of a child. So please know that the PAIR process may take longer than expected, especially if the child you are adopting was abandoned. Don’t be afraid when we say that a few cases took 1 year to process, we have also had families clear PAIR in about 4 months as well! Whether the child is abandoned or being relinquished, know that USCIS and Embassy will still process the case. This potential ban on relinquishment cases only affects new referrals we will receive.
We know that adoption is a long and frustrating process. New changes in the adoption process can be hard for families to adjust to new procedures and know how that will impact their adoption. We appreciate your flexibility as you adapt to any new procedures or delays in process that you encounter. Knowing the end goal is to help provide a loving home for a child in need is a great way to remain motivated when it seems that everything is not progressing smoothly at the time.
Many families have asked about the slowdown of adoptions in Ethiopia, as we addressed in a previous blog. The climate of Ethiopian adoptions has changed over the years. We see that adoptions are being processed at a different pace than they used to be. This is why it is very difficult to give accurate timelines for your adoption. While things slowed down for a while, we are excited to see some positive movement in Ethiopia as well! We have received positive MOWA comments and court dates, which has been slow to receive recently. We are excited this seems to be picking up and that things are continuing to move forward. We know there are several families still out there waiting for their positive comment or their court date. We know the wait is frustrating, but know that we are doing everything we can to advocate for your adoption. We want to remind you to not give up hope yet!
Some families ask us to involve a lawyer to move their case along. While we have lawyers on staff and that we contract with, the way we are able to keep the process moving in Ethiopia is through relationships we have built. Our in-country director, Yared, has spent many years building relationships with all of key adoption personnel to help our adoption process. He has to be very respectful, and knows the cultural and ethical ways to advocate on behalf of our families. Overall, the officials in Ethiopia do not respond to the pressure of a lawyer as individuals culturally do in the United States. Because of this, we try to be respectful of the individuals we speak with so the adoption process can continue. Going outside of this can damage adoption for everyone. In the past, we have seen the negative effects of families pushing too hard with the Ethiopian officials, and this has in turn affected the process for everyone else. We try our best to move forward in a way that advocates for all cases and does not negatively impact other cases that are waiting.
There are a lot of steps in the adoption process, and a lot of people involved. When there is a delay in the process, it is not just one person holding up the adoption. The individual has supervisors who have people above them that they must answer to. We have to communicate with all of them to know exactly what is needed for your specific adoption. The adoption process can change at any time, and we must then address these changes as they come. Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed in adoption until you are home with your child.
Through all of the changes and updates in the adoption process, know that we are doing all that we can to keep up-to-date with the process so your adoption can go as smooth as possible. We may not be able to update you with every change that happens, but we are on top of it and continuing to push forward. The update from Department of State was information that we have known for a while and nothing to worry about. We are very exciting for the movement that is coming out of Ethiopia and we look forward to seeing what Ethiopia has in store for us next!
On an additional note, MOWA has reached out to us with a request to assist the older children in Ethiopia who are not adoptable. They are trying to create a plan to help get these children off of the street and get them the care that they need. To get the program started, MOWA has requested that we donate $6,000 to one of our orphanages who has agreed to take in 20 children from the streets. This money will go to help provide them with shelter, food, clothes, and other essential necessities for one month, as well as help build the beginning stages of the program. With this money, MOWA hopes to create a stable program to provide more support for these children in need. If you are interested in helping us support this exciting new program, please reach out to your coordinator and let us know.
We hope that this update provides you will a little insight on what is happening in the Ethiopia program. We are hopeful for continued movement and exciting things to come from our Ethiopia program soon!