policy changes

Recently our agency (WHFC) shared information with us related to a couple of policy changes (one in place, one possible). Earlier this week we had a chance to talk with our case worker (during one of our regularly-scheduled monthly calls) about these, and it was great to be able to ask a couple of questions.

The first policy change is an internal one at the agency. WHFC has added a couple of additional screening steps prior to the referral of children. Essentially, WHFC is now taking the step to contact the birth family to ensure that 1) the information received from the government about the child is correct and that 2) the birth family understands the permanency of adoption and all that adoption means. These are steps that most agencies do not take, and we greatly appreciate the fact that WHFC has chosen to add additional checks and balances to ensure ethical adoptions. It’s especially important that they’re doing this after a child is referred to the agency but before the agency refers the child to an adoptive family. Given all of the recent discussion, I’m so glad to be working with an agency that chooses to take on more when it sees fit.

The other potential policy change we heard about is not in place; it’s just a possibility. Apparently there have been problems in Ethiopia lately with adoptive parents not taking their new children home with them, and essentially abandoning them. This has not been a problem with WHFC families, and the instances may not have even been American families, but apparently it has happened enough that the Ethiopian government is rightfully concerned about the situation. Keep in mind that adoptions from Ethiopia are finalized prior to travel, so these people are already the legal parents of the child. I cannot fathom who would do this, but as we all know, sometimes we have to create laws and protections to react to the actions of the lowest common denominator. So, the Ethiopian government is considering additional steps to ensure that parents will take their children home, and one possible way to address the situation is to require an additional trip to Ethiopia, possibly for the court date. Perhaps if the parents and child are able to meet earlier, some of this could be avoided. The leader of WHFC’s program in Ethiopia has been in discussions with Ethiopian officials about this situation and since WHFC is not an agency to get involved with the rumor mill, I take the fact that they shared this potential policy change with us to be a sign that it is a real possibility. I think a second trip would actually be pretty cool on a number of levels (plus it would make it so that our child is automatically a U.S. citizen without additional steps once we come home), but of course a trip to Ethiopia is not cheap, so the cost of a second trip would be significant. Our case worker told us that WHFC will continued to be involved with these discussions and that, as with all possible changes, the agency will advocate for its families as best as it can. In the end, of course, the Ethiopian government is the body with the decision-making authority.

I’m all for changes aimed at improving transparency and ensuring ethical adoptions. I never would have guessed a few years ago how complicated this international adoption stuff can be, but it’s necessarily complicated to protect the best interests of the children. Since we have a long way to go with our wait still, I suppose more changes could happen. It’s sort of hard not knowing exactly how it will all play out, but we know it will all be worth it in the end.

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11 Responses to policy changes

  1. Brandi says:

    I can’t imagine waiting and waiting for a child, then leaving them behind!! How horrible for that child! I can see where the government would be more leary of future adoptions, but how horrible for you with the expense of an extra trip. As long as everything works out for YOU, I’m all for the changes. 😉

  2. Jenny says:

    it is SO insane that people would leave their kids! stupid people make me mad!!! i’m hoping we won’t have to take a second trip… it’s just SO expensive… i just want to go pick him up and bring him HOME!!!!

  3. sue says:

    dumb people ruin it for everyone, don’t they? i just can’t imagine doing that after waiting so long to bring a child home. as hard as it is, it’s great they are trying to make things more transparent – better for everyone – especially the kids – in the long run!

  4. Wow. These are both *major* changes. But, like you said, they are ultimately for the better of everyone involved. It’s such a shame that countries have to resort to these checks and balances to make sure everything is done ethically, but how reassuring it must be to know that steps are being taken to prevent the country from halting adoptions due to a lack of ethics. Wouldn’t it be nice if every international program were so proactive?!

  5. CatherineD says:

    Wow… that is just crazy that anyone would get to that point, then abandon their child. Just… wow!

    But, it’s good to hear that your agency is taking extra steps above and beyond what is required. I know that must be comforting for you.

  6. E says:

    I can’t fathom how anyone could do that either. How do those people ever sleep at night? Awful. Well, it stinks that stupid, isolated acts like those are going to change the process for you and other decent people. But it is totally understandable and, I would think, a good thing in the long-run to keep the program as a whole going.

  7. Christine says:

    Wow. I’m blown away by what some people do…

    These both sound like positive changes for the children though, and as we all know… that’s the most important thing.

    I must say I’m a little jealous about your child coming home a US citizen considering we’re still waiting on that part!

  8. Kelly Cole says:

    Interesting … I’m very happy your agency is so proactive about changes and potential changes. They seem like they are really on the ball and very ethical and concerned first and foremost with the child involved. All good things. And I love that you have monthly update calls with your social worker during the wait. Any update on the potential time line for a referral? Do you have a # on a waitlist or anything like that?

  9. angela says:

    WHFC is a really good agency. I’m sure they feel watched even closer since little Zoe was adopted thru them. I love that they’re as proactive as they are, very smart on their part. I’m sure the media would love to sensationalize something from a celebrity’s agency and unfortuately and indirectly harm many innocent children and families.

    Gosh, the extra trip is a little weary for me.

    I don’t understand why someone would leave their child, but I’m thankful that they didn’t take them somewhere then abandon them or worse, commit child abuse. I know of one case in France where the children were actually abused. I would say these children would have been better off in poverty than sexually abused. Children are so vunerable, I know the extra step is for their protection. I applaud Ethiopia for their oversight of their international adoption program.

  10. Janet says:

    Sounds like good changes for the children & families involved. Making sure adoption is ethical is so important. The extra trip sounds a little like how Russia does it (I know people have to make at least 2 trips…maybe more). International Adoption is SO complicated…and understandably so. People just don’t “get it” unless you actually do it yourself.

    As everyone else has said: I still cannot people would leave their children behind…after everything involved…insanity.

  11. Michelle says:

    IA never ceases to amaze me with its laws but in this case, it does seem that it may weed out some the bad stuff, including ignorant people. I hope in the end, that things speed up for you guys. A possible trip doesn’t sound all that bad honesty, except for the financials 😦

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