Monday, October 31, 2011

Referral Acceptance!!

Congratulations to the happy family who accepted the referral for a beautiful baby girl today!! 

List movement:
Infant girl: everyone after #10 moves one spot.
Siblings:  everyone after #4 moves one spot.

Family's time on the waiting list: Sixteen months, five days.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IAN Office is Moving!

Dear IAN Families and Friends,

The IAN office will be moving to a new location (only 3.5 miles away). Our new address is 7500 E. Arapahoe Road, Suite 250, Centennial, CO 80122. Our office will be closed on Friday, October 28th while we move. We will be in touch with our in country staff and will contact families with important information about their adoptions. We will be back as usual on Monday. Thank you for your patience and we look forward to seeing you at our new location soon!

Joan Strauss
Executive Director

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

State Department Notices

Hello IAN Families,

Below you will find the notices posted on the state department's website this month regarding Ethiopia adoptions.  These can be found at  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your coordinator.

~ IAN Staff

Notice: Confirmation of Orphanage Closures in Ethiopia

Ethiopian government officials confirmed the closure of several orphanages in the Southern Nations state due to revocation of the orphanages' operational licenses. Each orphanage in Ethiopia receives an operational license that the Charities and Societies Administration administers and monitors to ensure compliance with Ethiopian regulations. This is an update to the previous Adoption Notice posted on August 3, 2011.
These orphanages are:
  • SOS Infants Ethiopia (Arbaminch, Dila and Awassa branches)
  • Gelgella Integrated Orphans (Tercha and Durame branches)
  • Bethzatha Children's Home Association (Sodo, Hosaena, Dila, Haidya, Durame, and Hawassa branches)
  • Ethio Vision Development and Charities (Dila and Hawassa branches)
  • Special Mission for Community Based Development (Hosaina branch)
  • Enat Alem Orphanage (Awassa branch)
  • Initiative Ethiopia Child and Family Support (Hawassa branch)
  • Resurrection Orphanage (Hosaina branch)
  • Musie Children's Home Association (Hadiya, Hosaina, Dila, and Kenbata branches)
  • Organization for Gold Age (Kucha, Dila, Hawassa branches)
  • Hidota Children's Home Association (Soto branch)
  • Biruh Alem Lehisanat, Lenatochina Aregawiyan (Hosaina branch)
According to officials in the Charities and Societies Agency office, which oversees the licensing and regulation of orphanages in Ethiopia, the children in the care of those facilities have already been transferred to other orphanages.
Ethiopian officials indicate that cases involving orphaned children from these facilities which are already pending with the Federal First Instance court will continue to move forward. The Embassy in Addis Ababa is working closely with Ethiopian officials to determine if children from these facilities who had been previously referred for matches will be allowed to continue in the adoption process. Regional officials have confirmed that the affected children's case files are currently being reviewed on a case by case basis by regional Ministry of Women's Affairs offices.
We continue to ask prospective adoptive parents and agencies that are hearing news of specific closures to inform the Department. Please send any specific information regarding orphanage closures to with the subject line "Ethiopia Orphanage Closures."
Prospective and adoptive parents are encouraged to remain in contact with their adoption service provider to stay up-to-date on any information pertinent to their individual case. The Department will post any confirmation on as we receive it.

Notice: Information regarding processing of Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, Filed at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa

In January,April and September, 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, the Office of Children’s Issues of the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted public meetings for adoption service providers (ASPs), adoptive parents, and other stakeholders to address concerns about the quality and completeness of intercountry adoption cases presented in Ethiopia. To ensure prompt adjudication and avoid concerns about possible malfeasance, it is important that I-600 petitions (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) and accompanying evidence be fully and carefully prepared before presentation to the Embassy.
Approximately 80% of I-600 petitions submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa in recent months were incomplete, contained inconsistencies or errors, or did not contain sufficient evidence to document the child as an orphan under U.S. law. In addition, the Embassy continues to see cases which involve abandoned children but do not include sufficient evidence to document the abandonment and/or evidence of appropriate efforts to locate a child’s birth family. The Embassy also has received evidence of unethical recruitment of children from birth relatives and cases involving known birth parents from whom parental rights have not been severed by the Ethiopian courts. In these cases, consular officers in Addis will need to take additional measures to confirm that a child meets the legal definition of orphan, which could delay processing by several months.
The Department of State and USCIS remind all families interested in adopting from Ethiopia that consular officers are required to forward any I-600 petition that is not “clearly approvable” to the USCIS Field Office in Nairobi for adjudication.
For families that already have an I-600 petition on file at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, consular staff will advise them when a determination is made to approve the petition and the case may be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview in Addis Ababa, or when the petition is not “clearly approvable” and forwarded to USCIS Nairobi for adjudication. Upon receipt of a petition,” USCIS in Nairobi will notify the parents that the case has been received and issue any requests for additional evidence if necessary. Families can find more information about processing I-600 petitions referred to USCIS Nairobi at under “Adoption/Country Information.”
It should be noted that, although this update specifically addresses I-600 petitions filed with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, USCIS sees similar problems with I-600 petitions filed with the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC). Families can contact NBC at
If families have concerns about their adoption, we ask that they share this information with the Embassy, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to their cases. The Embassy takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.
The best way to contact the Embassy on issues related to adoption is by email at Please include your name, your child's name, your adoption agency, the date of the adoption (month and year), and, if possible, the immigrant visa case number for your child's case (this number begins with the letters ADD followed by several numbers and can be found on any document sent to you by the National Visa Center). Please let us know if we have your permission to share concerns about your specific case with Ethiopian government officials and any other person or entity.
We strongly encourage you to register any complaint that you may have about an adoption agency in the following ways:
  • You may file a complaint with the state licensing authority where your adoption agency is licensed and conducts business. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, which is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, provides such a list at the link below:
  • You may also file a report with the state's Better Business Bureau. Following is the link to the Better Business Bureau's website where you may file a complaint on-line:
  • If your agency is a Hague-accredited adoption service provider, you may file a complaint on the Hague Complaint Registry located at the link below. While Ethiopia is not a Convention country, the ASP’ practice in a non-Convention country may impact its substantial compliance. U.S. Embassy continues to work with the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that appropriate safeguards exist to protect prospective adoptive children, their birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents.
We encourage prospective and adoptive parents to remain in contact with their adoption service provider to stay up-to-date on any information pertinent to their individual case. The Department will post relevant information on as we receive it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thank You!!!!!


We would like to send a big THANK YOU out to the families who have provided donations to the Care Center and Ajuuja Orphanage.  The staff and children of Ethiopia are so grateful for your big hearts and efforts!!

Since October, Ethiopia has received the following donations at the Care Center/Ajuuja.  This list is separated by different groups that traveled to Ethiopia.
- Formula and medications.
- A large container of formula and several jackets for the worker going into the villages.
- Another large donation of formula, a bumbo chair and Children's Tylenol.
- Toys, formula, and a monetary donation for the staff to buy formula. (they ended up buying this $250 worth of it!!)
- A new water filtration system.
- Many handmade baby hats.
- Other miscellenious items such as baby clothes, small games, blankets, shoes etc.!!

And on it's way now:
- A bible (requested by Sister Almaz)
- Pants for the older kids.
- Vicks for children.
- 48 scrubs.
- More formula and rice cereal.

Thank you to all the families who donated, knitted, carried, built, and coordinated these donations for our children, staff and friends in Ethiopia.  

Have a wonderful day!!

~ IAN Staff and Kids

Monday, October 10, 2011

Embassy Updates

Hello IAN Families,

As many of you know, the Embassy has been making numerous changes to their process over the last few months.  While we agree with their intentions, and know that these changes are all in the best interest of the children, there have been some challenges.  The Embassy, Ethiopian Government and Agencies are all working to improve the adoption program.   

The following is a letter that was presented to the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia from the many adoption agencies working in Ethiopia. The letter clearly outlines the frustrations that agencies are having and requests input to work these frustrations out and improve the overall Ethiopian adoption process. There has been no response as of yet to this letter by the U.S. Embassy, IF and when a response is given, IAN will do its best to post it on the blog in order to keep families in the loop. This letter has not been edited or modified from its original format.

The only way to make positive change is to work together towards a common goal.  We are happy to see these positive changes and improvements being made with the Ethiopian adoption program.  We all want to ensure the orphans of Ethiopia have an option of finding a forever family, and want the entire process to be as ethical and smooth as possible. 

Also, please note the US Embassy posted a new adoption Notice for Ethiopia on their website at in regards to their case review procedure.

Few Comments by US Adoption Agencies on the US Embassy prescreening process

It is evident that Us Embassy has greater responsibility in ensuring the US immigration law is full enforced in the issuing of visas to adoptable children. We also feel that we all have the same purpose of finding permanent home and loving families for children with dire need.
Having this common objective the US Adoption agencies with the unreserved support they received from the US Embassy had placed more the 9000 children during the past 7 years (2004-2010)
From our understanding of the Embassy in the past we have been encouraged to share concern and bring any question to the table in order to create more understanding and cooperation.
To this end we recently had a meeting to discuss on the Embassy’s prescreening process that has been put into effect since some time now.
Here is summary of the comments forwarded by participants in our meeting we had on August 27, 2011.
1.     General
·     The new Embassy screening process came into perspective without enough preparation from the government side. As a result getting responses for some of the questions asked by the Embassy were not that easy.
·                 These include posting announcement for finding birth parents of abandoned children, information on abandoned children, information on witness which include statement, signature, occupation, and death certificates or burial letter, life history based on the new form, etc.

2.     Agencies requested to do things beyond their mandate
·       Agencies are requested to put public notice to find parents who abandoned their children. The truth is that Agencies are not mandated to put notice to find the parents who abandoned their child. Anyone who abandoned his or her child is simply criminal by the Ethiopian law and searching for criminal is the right reserved for the law enforcement institution which the police, not for adoption agencies.
·       It took a lot of effort and time to convince the Embassy that the Ethiopian law did not recognize the parent-ship right of step fathers/mothers.
·       In some cases the Embassy Adoption Unit ask Agencies to bring amended court decision, Court decision as we know is the final step and should not be amended or altered unless there is a major error committed in the approval process.
·       Eg. One Agency had a court decision on a case of abandoned child. The court decree says’’ Abandoned Child” but the Embassy Adoption Unit asked the Agency to correct the court decree by saying” Child abandoned by the mother”. The unit could have seen the details from other documents attached in the Embassy paper work instead of asking the Agency to get the court decree amended.
1.3            Knowing the Context
·       We believe it would be helpful to know the context to give proper judgment on adoption cases. Although it is true that the Embassy’s current practice would definitely contribute to the effort being made by the government to improve the adoption screening process it would also be important to know the country’s situation and the practices carried out at different levels in order to set relevant criteria for reviewing cases.
·       Sometimes the requested additional documents are not obtainable within the law of the land. So in such situation the best way Agencies can do is provide explanation on the case and bring documentation that can be provided within the law of the land. However in most of the cases the Embassy did not seem to give attention to the explanations.
2. Document Review Process
2.1            Issue related to consistency
·       Agencies have noted some inconsistencies in the document review process. This problem is further revealed when similar cases are reviewed by different Embassy staff.
·       Further sometimes the Embassy’s adoption unit gives documents back to Agencies without providing enough explanation, only stating ‘’ something is missing”.
·       There have been situations where cases were cleared the next day after Agencies submitted copy of announcements for abandoned cases while it takes some weeks for the Embassy to clear some other cases even after it has received copies of the announcements.
2.2            The need to give comments exhaustively and oversight in reviewing documents
·       Agencies have experienced that some time comments are not given exhaustively, as a result Agencies are called by the Embassy now and then to provide additional information for the same case.
Such practice has become a cause of delay in processing the paper work at the Embassy leaving many adoptive parents to despair and frustration
·       Agencies are sometimes asked to provide additional information while the same information is already available in the attached documents submitted earlier.

2.3            Conclusions not based on general practice
·       Sometimes conclusions are drawn based on single or few experiences that do not represent the overall agencies’ practice in Ethiopia.
·       It is true that all Agencies are not the same; it is possible that irregularities could be seen more in some Agencies than others, However it would not be correct to assume that agencies are dominantly corrupted.
2.4            Birth parent or Relinquishing Care Takers’ interview
While many of us realize that the Embassy must do its own version of investigation we feel that the Embassy needs to consider some situations when planning to interview birth parents.
·                 Birth parents or relinquishing care takers travel a lot, from Kebele, Woreda to Federal level, to process the paper work, coming to Embassy for interview would be additional burden for them.
·                 In most cases birth parents come from remote areas, from entirely different environment. The interview apparently will create some stress especially when they are persuaded to say what the Embassy staff would like to hear from them.
·                 Some birth parents find it difficult to travel to Addis Because of different reasons, like chronic health problem, physical disability, and older age problems etc.

In summary we would like the Embassy – Adoption Unit to consider the following
1.     We believe there should be lead time between the initiation of a new procedure and the execution of the same so that we could prepare ourselves and our stakeholders who in most case are not receptive to changes, This period will also help to explore areas where the new procedures needs to be improved or changed before they are enforced.

2.     Although we know it is partly the responsibility of Agencies to keep the government stakeholders informed about changes of procedures and polices it will also be helpful if the Embassy takes the initiative to create awareness on changes of procedures and policies among relevant government bodies, This will obviously help all involved in the service have informed understanding and better cooperation in their duties intended to address children with dire need.

3.     We are asking the Embassy to make the interview process birth parent friendly if this tool is considered to be indispensable in the prescreening process.

4.     It is our hope that the document review process would be more consistent, comments are given exhaustively at one go to save our time and all agencies are not judged based one or two specific cases.
5.     We all believe we are learning agencies; we should be ready to learn from our mistakes. We are asking the Embassy to give us more time and opportunity to discuss on our issues and irregular practices before these are communicated to the government regulatory bodies.

6.     We believe training should be an integral part of the pre-screening process so that we all provide the service with capacity and efficiency.

Otherwise we very much appreciate the Embassy’s effort to make sure that the adoption cases are ethically processed and children who qualify for the service get a permanent home and loving families in USA.

Thank you

US Adoption Service Providers in Ethiopia.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mentor Program and Waiting Children Update

Hello IAN Families,
Just a quick Update concerning the Adoptive Family Mentor Program.
The program is completed and will be presented for final administrative approval next week.
Thank you to the families who volunteered and provided input in the composing of the beta version of this program. It was appreciated.
Also on another note there are new children on the waiting kids portion of the website please go take a look and assist us in finding these wonderful children a forever home.
There is also an Online Training Section in the family center of the website now, please contact your coordinator for log in information.
Finally there is also a way to log into the data base from the family section of the website. Your log in information has not changed.
IAN would like to say Thank You for your support and patience as we continue to improve our services to you and work to provide a more central communication arena as well.
Have a great weekend!
IAN Staff