Wednesday, May 7, 2014

In the wait

I received an email from our family coordinator recently just wanting to check in and confirm the details of our request. I answered all of the same questions as I have before (male or female, possibility of siblings, between 0-24 months). I told her about Liv, and how she brings us such joy,  smiles constantly, and overall is a very laid back girl.

Then, she asked a simple question, "How are you doing in the wait?" Well, I started to respond, and realized that the flood gates opened. I have so many more doubts, fears, and questions than I did when we started in 2012. I don't see this as a bad thing though. I think that this is a necessary process to go through instead of blindly walking through this.

I asked a lot of questions about why the wait is so long, why I don't hear anything about our specific case, and what comes of the orphans that are in orphanages right now. My family coordinator had some great insights, and I've included some of her thoughts below.

Basically, there’s lots of families and lots of children. I can ensure you this is very frustrating for me being in Ethiopia and seeing children who need families and knowing there are families waiting. However, it is mostly the government of Ethiopia causing this delay. We used to have very quick wait times years ago, but now the government is taking very long to sign off on documentation for a child to be cleared for adoption. We certainly support ethical adoptions and examining paperwork. But there’s lots of unnecessary holds. There has been negative adoption news coverage in Ethiopia, as well (one being the Hannah Williams story about an American couple who punished a child to the point of death). We are working to get more positive stories out to the Ethiopia government. But the reality is, there is  A LOT of documentation needed for each child’s adoption and everything takes much longer here. And sometimes, one level of the government doesn’t sign off on a document sitting on their desk for a while. And that document may be a preerequisite for another document. We have had a child sit in our Transition Home for a year before because of paperwork issues.
Here is some more information that may help, as well:
Included here are links to a couple of blog posts written by our CEO about ethical practices in adoption, especially pertaining to America World.
Below talks about how we get referrals and operate in country:
America World partners with several orphanages in Ethiopia.  Before we choose to partner with an orphanage, it goes through a screening process.  America World holds our partners to high standards and will break a partnership should there be any sign of unethical activity occurring.  Many of our orphanages do not strictly work with AWAA, but instead partner with other agencies and organizations, as well. 
America World also does their own investigation in each case before making a referral match.  We have specific staff that go to the field and investigate each child’s case.  In a relinquishment case, the staff member goes to the living family member and asks questions such as:
·         “Why did you give this child up for adoption?”
·         “How old do you believe this child to be?”
·         “How did you hear about adoption? Were you coerced into this decision?  Do you still want to give this child up for adoption?”
·         “Do you understand that once court is complete this is permanent?”
If it is an abandonment case, our staff goes to the locality of abandonment and interviews the local police and others in that area.  Our staff ensures this information is consistent with the information in the profile and that the case has no red flags.  If there are red flags, we further investigate.
Here is a note from Ryan Hanlon, the Executive Director of Programs:
Response to Book on International Adoption
At America World Adoption, we generally use our blog as a means of updating families on news and updates about adoption programs, training opportunities or other resources. Today, however, I want to use this forum to address some of the misinformation we’ve heard recently about Christian adoption agencies and the movement over the last decade in which Christians around the country have responded to God’s call on their lives to provide a family for parentless children.
A recent book calls into question the commitment, practices and motivations of reputable Christian agencies and the commitment and motivation of Christian adoptive families. This book, which I will not name, and the author have exaggerated facts, and misquoted and quoted out of context Christian adoption professionals.
As a licensed, accredited adoption agency, America World Adoption maintains the highest standards of service throughout our work. America World Adoption is proud of our work in Ethiopia and other countries and have been recognized by the U.S. Consulate in Ethiopia, the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues as well as the Ethiopian government for our strong efforts to ensure our work in Ethiopia is ethical, transparent and prioritizes children’s best interests.
International adoption is not the only thing we do in Ethiopia. In fact, we serve hundreds more families and children in Ethiopia every year that are not part of our adoption services. Our agency offers (free of charge) domestic adoption services to Ethiopian families interested in adopting a child. We are proud that we (with the support of our donors and adoptive families) are able to work with the Ethiopian government to provide financial assistance to vulnerable families so that we can prevent their family from breaking apart. In addition, we support nutrition projects, child education sponsorships and many other important projects. In total, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support vulnerable families and communities in Ethiopia that is not part of the adoption processes for the families we serve.
In the book I’m referring to, the author asserts that evangelical adoption agencies are trafficking children and willfully separating families at any cost for the sake of finding children for adoptive families. Unfortunately, we all know that many children and families are exploited in this world. However, I don’t think it’s fair to say that evangelical adoption agencies are fueling this problem. It may be true that some agencies have had poor practices or even blindly allowed poor practices to be part of their adoption services – but that is not characteristic of Ethiopian adoption or international adoption in general. We at America World Adoption find unethical and disreputable practices to be reprehensible. 
It’s commendable that the author of the book attempts to raise awareness for unethical practices in international adoption; however, there should be recognition that these practices are not characteristic of international adoption as a whole. It’s inaccurate of her to broadly paint Christian agencies and Christian families as responsible for problems with international adoption. This book does not adequately recognize that many of the organizations that are at the forefront of combatting child trafficking, caring for the poor and supporting family services across the globe are Christian organizations. We thank God for organizations such as World Vision, International Justice Mission, Compassion International, hundreds of other groups and thousands of churches around the world.
There are tens of thousands of children around the world that desperately need families. At America World Adoption we continue to affirm our mission of building Christian families according to God’s plan of adoption. Our hope and prayer is a world where every child can grow up knowing they’re loved by their family and loved by God.
Ryan Hanlon
Executive Director of Programs

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