Ethiopia Program Update
Happy St. Patricks' Day! We hope this email finds you well and finding rest in God’s peace and plans for your family and your Ethiopia adoption journey!
As you know, over the past week AGCI has been working in collaboration with Joint Council, other licensed Adoption Service Providers in Ethiopia and the US Department of State to get clarity on the proposed changes instigated by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs that would have drastically reduced the number of adoptions processed by their office.
We have spent the entirety of this week and last connecting with our own Foreign Staff, participating in caucus calls led by Joint Council and the US Department of State, and independently collaborating with other Adoption Service Providers to get clear and accurate information concerning this matter. Your grace and patience has been so appreciated during this time! What we know as facts are:
MOWA posted a notice indicating as of March 10th they would be reducing the number of adoptions processed through their office to 5 cases a day.
Within days of this announcement, the director of MOWA and several other staff members from the ministry have been terminated.
Today we want to update you on the feedback we received yesterday from our foreign staff in Ethiopia, which was confirmed in a discussion with our adoption colleagues in a Joint Council caucus call later in the day.
At this time, all Foreign Staff on the ground in Ethiopia are reporting that MOWA has completed their staffing changes and are now currently working at full capacity to complete those adoption cases currently re-scheduled or assigned a court appointment through the courts of Addis Ababa. Our staff believe this to be around 800 cases they are working at full force to complete with no restrictions on the number of cases processed each day. This is great news! We are thrilled to hear these drastic changes do not seem to be going into full effect.
We are also pleased to report that for new cases moving forward; it appears the original changes proposed by MOWA will not be implemented to the degree of 5 cases a day. At this time it is unknown whether or not MOWA will issue a formal statement regarding how they will process cases in the future, but from all discussions it will not be a drastic decrease from before. Through the continued work, meetings, and advocacy of many Foreign Staff members in Ethiopia, it appears any future changes within the case processing for MOWA will avoid sweeping and disproportionate alterations to the number of cases processed each day. Rather, the hope is that MOWA, Joint Council, Adoption Service Providers, the US Department of State and other NGO organizations can come together to support the government of Ethiopia in strengthening the process for ethical adoptions to continue while also improving the general social structures to assist with family preservation in Ethiopia. This plan was acknowledged in the recent posting by the US State Department this morning at http://adoption.state.gov/news/ethiopia.html. We understand the US Department of State cannot issue a formal statement without MOWA issuing a retraction. Based on the information we are receiving, MOWA is concentrating on processing the current adoptions and the new staff is not focused on numbers, but doing their jobs.
AGCI and our trusted colleagues look forward to collaborating to ensure adoptions move forward with the highest level of transparency possible. It is our commitment to carefully, ethically, and mindfully complete the adoption process on every level for orphaned children. Our hope is that as we do this in collaboration with other licensed agencies, we can also help to eliminate future concerns by MOWA and continue to build trust between their office and the adoption community at large.
Despite all this talk and discussion about proposed changes, we want to share with you some highlights from just the past two weeks in our program. Even in the midst of all these proposed changes we have seen things move in positive directions:
7 children were referred to their forever families (wait time for a referral for our most recently placed families was approximately 10 months for an infant boy and for an infant girl)
9 families and children were issued their first official court date
3 families and children were approved at a rescheduled court appointment
1 family and child was approved on their first scheduled court appointment
9 families and 10 children were cleared by the US Embassy and invited to travel to Ethiopia to complete their final immigration visa appointment and bring their children.
2 children have returned home with their forever families.
As you can see from above, our attention over the past week and this week has been not only on gathering information on this issue but also on processing adoptions for many of the children at Hannah’s Hope. We will be calling each of you to check in for your monthly updates, paperwork calls, and to connect with those of you who are already referred and in the court process. For those of you in the paperwork process, Julie Salwasser will also be continuing to step in to provide support and answer questions. Thank you for your ongoing patience!
We want to encourage you all and to share that Ethiopia is still an active adoption program! We are so blessed to be looking back at all these wonderful moments and see God’s hand at work in the stories and lives of these children He loves. Thank you for your continued passion and dedication. We look forward to all the wonderful moments yet to come as we continue to serve in Ethiopia!
Kiersten, Brandi & Toni