Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


Because You Asked...

I try not to speculate too much in writing. Just doesn't seem wise.

But so many friends and family have been asking the whys of the recent changes to Ethiopian adoption regulations that I wanted to say a few words.

We still don't know if we will have to travel to be present at Baby D's court hearing and return later for her pick up and embassy appointment. But what we do know is that some families will amost definitely have to make these two trips.

The question is when the cut off date will be. The first news out of Ethiopia on speculative blogs was that this regulation was effective March 1st and would effect families with court dates beginning this month. Last night some agencies and blogs were reporting that the effective date has been moved to May 1st.

Our agency still has not said anything definitive. I think they are wisely holding off until all details are secured and the Ethiopian law has officially been changed.

Whether we are talking about March or May there is little difference for us. We don't expect to be in court until end of April at the earliest so there is high likelihood we'll be traveling twice. If the effective date is changed again then I will let you all know.

Now for the whys.
I can only share what I have read to be the reasons. (But I might speculate a tiny bit as well.)

Reason 1:
There have been instances of families arriving for their embassy date to bring their child/ren home, who for one reason or another end up choosing not to bring their child/ren back to the United States. The new regulations would require that families come to Ethiopia, meet the child, formally agree to the referral in court, and then return to pick them up when a visa is issued. No surprises. No abandonments.

Reason 2:
If reason 1 sounded like I was putting all of the blame on adoptive parents please read further here!

One of the reasons that there are instances of adoptive parents leaving their child/ren in Ethiopia is because certain agencies have not been detailed? honest? thorough? in their medical examinations or background investigations. Corruption corrupts thoroughly. And it effects everyone.

Non-specific example a) Family arrives to pick up sisters they have been told are ages 6 and 9. They are malnourished in photos and appear small so the family does not question. Upon arrival children are seen demonstrating behavior and developmental skills that appear to place their ages much higher. On questioning of the children, children state that they are ages 10 and 13. The family is not prepared for this age discrepancy and it becomes apparent that the agency either knew or suspected and did not alert the family prior to their passing court.

Non-specific example b) Family arrives to pick up brothers they are told are completely developmentally on target, well behaved, no problems, reading/writing, speaking, etc. Family meets the children and find that one has severe learning disabilities and the other is exhibiting extreme behavior issues like smearing feces, hurting other children, etc. The agency would have known about these issues but chose not to share the information.

I want to stress that these above examples are NOT real life examples. But they are the type of situations some families have found themselves in with unscrupulous agencies in Ethiopia.

Many families have brought their children home despite the surprises. Some families have chosen not to. A simple visit to accept a referral in person and attend court could ensure that families have met and agreed to their child before making a legal and binding committment.

Reason 3 which is pure and complete speculation:
Traveling families bring a lot of revenue to a country. Right now only one parent is required to travel once - for the embassy date. They are not allowed to travel around the country with their child/ren and must stay in guest houses with them. A new law requiring both parents to appear in court certainly would bring revenue to the country as families travel, sightsee, stay in expensive hotels, etc. They cannot take custody during that first trip so they will be much more likely to eat out, visit other parts of Ethiopia, shop in the markets, etc.

So there you have it. The general reasons for the change in adoption regulations along with a speculative reason.

Many other countries require two trips or a very long stay in country between court and embassy appointment. It is not unusual and it will certainly help to bridge the gap between adoptive parents - the agency - the child.

I want to add one other thing. Some bloggers are publicly blaming this change on families who share their experiences of feeling deceived publicly-on blogs, in articles, or on newscasts. I hope none of you will engage in this. What if that were US? At any point any one of us could find ourselves in a difficult situation. Adoption is not all rainbows and unicorns. Being realistic, sharing challenges, and calling out corruption where we see it are part of our duties as a community. A duty we have to our adopted child/ren and to those who have yet to be adopted. And while I do not agree with leaving your child in country or with bringing them on the news, I think we need to try to avoid putting blame on any one party.

Adoption is all sorts of corrupt. If you don't know that yet then you just haven't been in the adoption process long enough. You'll get there. We do our best and try to choose agencies based on the least amount of complaints and concerns. We struggle through and pray and plead with God a lot. In the end we have to support any measures that Ethiopia wants to take to protect their children and try to hold the triad of bio familes-agencies-adoptive families accountable.



  1. I love when you talk about this stuff. I hadn't even thought about the $ spent in country aspect. Truth is, if $ weren't an issue, we'd all go and travel around.

  2. So agree with your encouragement of readers not to judge, etc. I think there is another reason (a spin off of #1). Families return home and disrupt; ET is made aware through lack of post-placements and feels its children are not being cared for.

    As a mom to a child with SN not revealed before I adopted him, I believe it is critical that families share the truth. Whether other PAPs / APs agree is for them to decide, but we have to stop pretending that adoption is all rainbows and unicorns. It's so difficult, but so worth it in the end.

    Congratulations on your referral!

  3. I received an email today from our agency (YWAM) That the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Oromia is open again! The little girl we are trying to adopt wasn't effected by the closure but I remember reading that yours was! Praise God for his faithfulness! I nearly cried when I saw a few old faces back on site that had been taken off due to the closure! God is indeed faithful and desires a home for each and every one of his precious ones -- Especially your Baby D! :) How much are you hating the adoption roller coaster?

  4. Amen, sister! Well said. "If you don't know that yet then you just haven't been in the adoption process long enough." .... LOVED that phrase! Thank you for always shedding light on the importance of our responsibilities as part of the adoption triad.


About Me

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J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.