One of the questions we get asked most often in the office is “What’s taking so long?” Simply, adoptions to the US from Ethiopia have skyrocketed over the last 3 years. There were just over 400 Ethiopian children adopted by US families in 2005, and by 2008 that number had quadrupled to more than 1700. While it’s wonderful to have all these kids coming home to their families, the courts in Ethiopia are overwhelmed. We’re seeing the results of this in our program.
First of all, due to the volume, there is a slowdown in every step of the process. More families wanting children means IAN now has a waiting list for all children. A higher volume means a longer wait a for a court date, and even embassy dates take a bit longer than even six months ago.
Secondly, the Ethiopian government is continually adding new requirements. While for parents this can look like more hoops to jump through, it really is a safeguard against corruption. When a program grows as quickly as Ethiopia has, it becomes fertile ground for unethical behavior and abuse. It’s very reassuring to know the Ethiopian government is taking steps to avoid this. We have seen remarkably few cases of corruption in Ethiopia, and we have every reason to expect this high standard to continue.
Finally, Ethiopia is specifically becoming more and more stringent in passing cases in which there is a living parent. Again, this is being done entirely to protect Ethiopia’s families and children. It’s not uncommon for a case to be presented in the courts only to learn during the hearing that there are brand new requirements that must be met. While it’s a setback in terms of time, it is a step forward in assuring that all children available for adoption are available without corruption or coercion.
We understand that it’s incredibly disappointing to not pass court on the first try. However, it isn’t a signal that something is wrong or a cause for alarm. It’s simply part of the process of adopting from a country that is still developing. IAN is doing everything possible to ensure that families do pass court as quickly as possible. Our Ethiopian facilitator and his team are in constant contact with MOWA and the courts to stay on top of new requirements and to advocate for our families. Your program coordinators are constantly being trained on new requirements and spend hours checking and double checking your cases for completeness.
While we are asking for your patience, we also want you to feel free to ask questions, check in with us whenever you’d like and know that we all have the same goal: Bringing children home happy, healthy and as quickly as possible.