The potential policy change I mentioned in a recent post is now official. Today our agency (along with several other agencies) notified its PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) that as of March 1st, the Ethiopian government is now requiring PAPs to attend the adoption court hearing. This hearing takes place a few weeks after a referral is received, and up until now, it did not involve the adoptive parents. Because many steps need to be accomplished between the court hearing and bringing the child home (and this step takes several weeks), this means that we will most likely be required to make two trips to Ethiopia.
This is a good thing on many, many levels. If it helps to avoid situations where adoptive parents abandon their new children, then I’m all for it. It’s also a good step to take in terms of transparency and ethics. And, of course, we will get to meet our child earlier! So that will be wonderful. Also, because of this change, our child will enter the US on an IR-3 visa instead of an IR-4, and that means that he or she will automatically become a US citizen. Without the additional trip, we would have to complete the citizenship process once we are home. Additional benefits include additional time in Ethiopia to soak up the culture, tour around, and so forth.
Of course, the cost of an additional trip comes as a big shock to our finances. We’ll figure it out, though, so I’m not too worried about it. I’m just letting the shock settle in a bit. Also, I imagine it will be very difficult to meet our child and become his or her legal parents, and then have to leave for several weeks. Just thinking about that makes me choke up a bit.
I suppose this is all part of the unpredictability of international adoption. Our agency’s director in Ethiopia is participating in ongoing discussions about this, and we are scheduled to have a call with the agency next week. Hopefully there will be a bit more information then. For now, this is all we know.
And with that, I’m off to pour myself a big glass of wine!