In Support of the New Requirement

I’d like to take a moment to address why the change in adoption policy has taken place and why we ultimately support it. It’s fairly simple. Until now, families adopting from Ethiopia were allowed to appoint someone to be their power of attorney in Ethiopia and go to court on their behalf. Under this system, the child became the legal child of the adopting family without the adopting family ever seeing the child in person. This worked well in most cases, but unfortunately, there were some families that showed up to take their children home and then declined to do so. Reasons cited were that the children were of a different age than they thought and/or medical issues existed of which they had not been informed. While this may seem reasonable to some on the outside, the truth is that if these families had done even a small amount of research into Ethiopian adoption, they would have known that these issues are quite common and to be expected. Birth records are often inaccurate, and Western standards of health are often quite different from health standards in other nations. This is all basic information, and yet these families have claimed that they did not know this and that they are then justified in leaving behind children that are legally theirs.

The real punch to the gut in this situation is that adoption in Ethiopia is permanent, and regardless of whether these children are taken home by their legal families or not, they will not be eligible to be adopted by anyone else. Reports I’ve read state the number of families at forty; that means there are at least forty children (possibly more if the families intended to adopt siblings) who were assured that they had families, but who will now remain orphans because the families who committed to being theirs decided not to follow through. This is unconscionable.

And so, though this makes our journey more costly and more difficult in terms of meeting our child and then having to leave her behind until the embassy date (yes, I will cry all the way home after that first trip if it’s impossible for me to stay in country until the embassy date), we fully support this new requirement. If this means that every child who is adopted in Ethiopia goes home with their new family, then of course we support it. How could we not?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “In Support of the New Requirement

  1. Hi-

    Wanted to make a few points. I know that children who are not brought home from Ethiopia can in fact be readopted.

    Also, agencies have knowingly hid medical information and purposely lied to adoptive families in referral information.

    Yes, families are frequently surprised at how tiny their children are, at what parasites they might have, and particularly at how difficult attachment can be and how difficult the first months home can be. This is, I believe, especially true for families who do not participate in online forums and whose home study social workers and/ or international adoption agencies do not provide/ educate their clients.

    Bottom line is, going to a foreign country and meeting a child who is already yours is shocking, strange, wonderful all at the same time. But I do not believe these are the reasons families are not bringing their children home.

    There is a lot of unethical behavior on the part of adoption agencies, local orphanages and local governments in Ethiopia. The two trip rule is in part an attempt to hold these people accountable.

    If you are working with a supportive agency, and you are required to take two trips, you absolutely will be able to stay in Ethiopia between court and embassy. And you’d be the envy of many of us:)

  2. Rebekah,

    Thank you for your information and insight. I’ve read so many things that by now I don’t know what to believe, so thank you for clarification. I now wish I’d bookmarked all the links from everything I read so I could track down the sources of my faulty information. I am glad to be corrected, and am *especially* glad to hear that children can be readopted if they are not taken home. Still, how horrible for a child to think they have a family and then have it not work out.

    I am increasingly grateful that we are working with an agency that is honest and scrupulous in all proceedings. We have been very well educated by our agency and social worker, and I sometimes forget that not every family has the luxury of such a positive experience. Thank you for correcting me.

    When it comes to accountability, we are all for it, and support the two trip rule regardless of who is being held accountable (including us as adoptive parents).

    Because we are still near the beginning of our wait for a referral, we decided it would be wise to wait and see how the two trip experience pans out for others before we decide whether we’ll even mention to our agency that I would like to stay in Ethiopia between trips. I really don’t want to make things more complicated for our agency or for other families, and I am going to keep eyes, ears, and heart open to however this will unfold for us.

  3. I totally support the two trip idea as well, although sitting here close to referral with no extra cash makes it tough to picture. I support it to force accountability to the agencies that seem intent on bringing Ethiopian adoption down, and also to assist adoptive families. There is no doubt two trips helps us open our eyes to the process and the country in a way that can truly only benefit our children. And so forces us to be accountable in all kinds of clear and subtle ways. It’s so easy to just trust your agency, it’s pretty difficult to do comprehensive research along the way to make sure your agency and your referral are above board. But it is possible, and the more involvement we are required to have, the more questions we’ll ask. I’m a much more aware participant this time around.

    Maybe we’re using the same agency:)

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