update on policy change

Our agency held a call-in session yesterday to discuss the recent policy change in Ethiopia. The call lasted about an hour; the first 30 minutes consisted of agency staff telling us what they know, and the second half was a question and answer session. I think there were dozens of people on the call.

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a whole lot to know for sure. WHFC is conservative and cautious with sharing information, which I appreciate. They will not say “this is the way it is” until they 100% know that that is, in fact, the way it is. They are upfront in sharing what they know, when they know it, but they don’t just say things to try to appease anxious PAPs.

So, we were told to expect two trips to Ethiopia – one for the court hearing, and one for the US Embassy appointment and to bring our child home. They expect that each trip will be about a week long. While many things have not been figured out yet, they expect that the children will be moved to Horizon House (the WHFC transition home in Addis Ababa) for the court hearing. (Under the old system, the children were in the orphanages in the various parts of the country, and agencies did not take custody until the court process was complete.) We may well not be able to stay at the agency guest house for the first trip because other families will likely be traveling for the second trip at the same time, so there probably won’t be space. So, we’ll likely stay at a hotel for the first trip.

The time between the court hearing and the embassy appointment can vary greatly, between 2 and 8 weeks, so the agency does not recommend that anyone stay for the whole time. At this point, they do not expect changes to how the second trip plays out, so it will likely be the same as what we’ve been expecting all along.

A lot of the new system still needs to be worked out. For example, it’s not all that uncommon for court dates to be changed, or for problems to occur at the court hearing that requires a new date. So, what will happen if that type of thing happens while the adoptive parents are in Ethiopia?

It’s a new process for everyone – the Ethiopian government, the agencies, the parents, the children. For once, I am glad that we have plenty of time ahead of us, because we can sit back and watch it unfold. I really feel for those families who are going to be the guinea pigs through the new system, though. I also was sorry to hear that some families are choosing to stop their Ethiopian adoption plans because of this change. I understand that not every family can fathom the idea of leaving their new child behind between trips or make an extra trip work, but I know that I would be absolutely devastated if something interrupted our plans at this point. So, my heart goes out to those who are not able to move forward.

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20 Responses to update on policy change

  1. If there’s one thing you can count in adoption, it’s the unexpected! I’m glad your agency has kept you informed…I hope they continue to do so. Praying that this change makes a smooth transition!

  2. Leah says:

    It’s great that your agency is updating you. Ours has pretty much left us in the dark, and all they’ve told us is that most likely two trips will be inevitable, but they aren’t sure both parents will need to be at court, and they aren’t sure what happens if court is cancelled. (I can handle two trips to Ethiopia but not a 3rd and 4th if court keeps being pushed back which happens so often)

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but yes, stopping the adoption isn’t even an option at this point.

  3. Kelly says:

    Nothing is simple, is it? I will say that I’m impressed with your agency. They sound like they are on top of things, but like you said cautious about making predictions. It is nice you have some time to see how everything unfolds before you are at that point yourselves. Hard to believe some people are abandoning their plans because of this rule change. To find a silver lining here – perhaps that will only help you move quicker on the wait list 🙂

  4. Liz says:

    I love how WHFC handles things, and would sometimes get annoyed at PAPs who accused them of holding out on giving information or even outright lying…if they say they don’t know, they mean they don’t know, not they know but are refusing to tell you!

    I’ve written this already in a couple of other places – having been to Horizon House and seen the care and love the kids get there, and knowing how well the kids are prepared for the transition of being adopted, I would not hesitate to leave my child there between trips if I had to.

    Change is hard for a lot of people, glad you are handling it well!

  5. Michelle says:

    Nothing is simple when it comes to adoption, that is the one constant. Hang in there!

  6. This seems like a beneficial change. As an outsider to Ethiopian adoptions, it appears to me that they’re really trying to regulate things in order to prevent the shut-downs we’ve seen in Guatemala and Viet Nam. That said, I can’t imagine having to find the financial resources to make two trips, but you’d better believe we would find it. I’m with you Kelly – I can’t imagine jumping ship on an adoption just because of this change! And I agree that it’s nice that you don’t have to be one of the first families through this new procedure. Historically, when there are system changes like this in adoption, it takes a good deal of time for both countries involved to get caught up. I hope it goes smoothly for everyone though!

  7. Alan says:

    Great update, especially since I didn’t have the chance to get on that call.

    Lindy and I aren’t even on the waiting list yet, so we’re also waiting to see how this unfolds. I think it’s all for the good.

  8. Jenny says:

    yeah, i’m ready to see how it is REALLY all going to work and what all the changes REALLY are!

  9. angela says:

    I expected some change in 2010. However, I thought it would be due to the pending election. I am really glad I’m at this point as wel,l rather than having such short notice to plan for an extra trip.

  10. Thanks for your sweet sentiments on my blog today. It means more than you know. Hoping that all of this is ironed out before you travel. Stay positive! 🙂

  11. sarah says:

    Ugh. What to do with all that info. I guess it is good to know multiple trips is a possibility. Kudos to your agency.

  12. Erin says:

    That is a pretty big change. I am glad you have time to acclimate and prepare for it.


  13. Christine says:

    Wow. I still think this is a change in the right direction… but what a lot to take in! I completely agree with you that it’s best to have a little time in front of you so you can see how it plays out.

    I do love how your agency is handling it all!

  14. Janet says:

    Very interesting. Thank you for explaining. The two trips make sense to me now…but still know that is a HUGE change for people in the works and close to going over there. I’d feel the same way: GLAD for once to have some time in front of you so everyone involved can figure out the new system before you are directly affected. Of course, things always continue to evolve…so as everyone has said: always expect changes…not that they are easy. I’m glad your agency is sharing the information they know as they know it. Sounds good.

  15. Emily B. says:

    We had our update with Gladney on Thursday and it sounds like it was pretty similar to your’s. Gladney seems to think that the delays for court could still be there but our part would be taken care of when we go. So if the relinquishing birth relative can’t make or MOWA missed sending a document or whatever then there could still be delays in passing court but the PAPs wouldn’t have to stay. We would do our part and then leave. That is one of the reasons they don’t recommend staying in between because it is still unpredictable. It is so much to absorb!! Hope you had a restful weekend!

  16. E says:

    Glad you’re with an agency that is making it a point to keep the adoptive parents in the loop. At least you have an idea of how things might go and I agree about the adoptive parents who are going to be the ‘guinea pigs’ in this new process. It really stinks for them because it’s the unknown. It bodes well for you though, as any issues will hopefully be ironed out by the time its your turn.

    Keep hanging in there!

  17. CatherineD says:

    It sounds like you’re with an agency that’s really on the ball. Brian and I were talking tonight about setting up a meeting with our agency to learn more about their Ethiopian program. I’m glad that I have all of this info to eventually compare notes.

  18. sue says:


    like you said, i’m glad you have some time to see things unfold, but my heart also goes out to the first families that are heading into this new change blind.

    hang in there!

  19. Krista says:

    That change is the same here in Canada. I know a few families that are quite concerned about the added travel expenses.

  20. You are so talented! And to think, the only thing I can do is one simple crochet stitch. I love your work (and I especially loved the beautiful sweater you made for that adorable little girl!!).

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