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.