I wanted to take some time to respond to some comments I have recently heard from our families about our care center. First, thank you to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts with me. I cannot make improvements to the agency and the program unless parents bring their concerns to me directly. We must all work together to provide the very best care for our children.
As you may know, we are very much in the process of improving the care center. I'd like to share with all of you my plans for this:
1. Liz Bogetveit, International Program Supervisor, traveled to Ethiopia in April, with one of her goals being to improve the care center. The following changes have come as a direct result of Liz’s visit:
- More space has been devoted to children by moving IAN offices out of the care center.
- New sanitation policies are now in effect to minimize the spread of germs. These include more frequent clothing changes, hand washing, use of purell, a room for newly arrived children until their health status is determined.
- We have hired a pediatrician who visits the care center weekly to evaluate any health needs.
2. We have asked one of IAN's adoptive families to visit the care center during their court trip next week, and they have graciously agreed. This family has extensive experience in orphanages from various developing nations, and have adopted from Ethiopia before. This family will present an unbiased report, and we will implement any suggested changes.
While our first priority is the care of the children entrusted to IAN and it's families, it is also important for us to maintain our respect for the culture and people of Ethiopia, not to demand our American standards be met. More importantly, we need to maintain perspective on exactly how and why these children came to be in our care. Please allow me to share some thoughts from Abebe Bayou, IAN Ethiopia Director.
"We work on Ethiopian standard, supervised by MoWA, MOJ and MoFA at least twice a year. We have been given no negative feedback for the last three years.
It is true most children are fragile, malnourished and sick when they arrive at our care center; we are not ashamed of that. We are proud and glad for saving their lives and improving their quality of life.
Shall we reject such children and search for the best, well-fed, healthy children? No way, that is not what we stand for and believe. Adoptive families understand the problem of institutional care. Adoption is preferred from institutional care because whatever you do in an instituion it is always the last choice."
IAN is committed to continuing to improve the care given our children, while giving respect to the history and culture in Ethiopia. I encourage any family with additional thoughts or suggestions to email me directly. We will continue to post updates about the progress of this Care Center Improvement Project.
Joan Strauss, MA