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?