I talked with our agency (WHFC) this morning, and thought I’d share what I learned. Consider this an update as to where things stand with our adoption process.
Referrals from our agency have only trickled out recently. It’s been painful to watch our weekly updates and see little to no referral activity. It’s one thing to be anxiously awaiting your own referral, but to know that almost nobody is getting referrals is pretty darn discouraging. However, I know that some agencies haven’t had ANY referrals go out in months, so I suppose it’s good to see any referrals at all.
The slowdown is due to a couple of reasons. First, up until the past several months, about 80% of children adopted from Ethiopia came from just one part of the country – the Sidama region. Adoptions from that region have essentially come to a standstill, due to some changes at the local government level. And, when 80% of something becomes pretty much 0%? Well, that causes some problems. Add to this the government’s closure of over a dozen orphanages (our agency didn’t work with any of the closed orphanages) in recent months due to a variety of concerns, and you end up with a systematic slowdown in terms of referrals.
The in-country program director from our agency has been working on establishing relationships and connections with orphanages in other parts of Ethiopia. We have seen a handful of children referred from Afar and Burji, for example. Apparently it takes a long time to build relationships and then set up a system from scratch.
Another factor is the increased level of scrutiny both at the Ethiopian courts and at the U.S. Embassy. This scrutiny is good, because it helps to ensure that children being adopted are really and truly available for adoption and that there has not been any unethical or corrupt activity. Our agency is doing more legwork and investigation at the front-end of the process, before it matches children with adoptive families. It is great that this is done upfront, but it just means that it takes longer to get to the referral stage.
We know we are essentially at the top of the list and that we will receive one of the next referrals for a child in in our age range (0-18 months). However, when there aren’t many referrals coming, that just leaves us in a place of limbo. I was at least somewhat glad to hear our caseworker acknowledge that to reach the top of the list and experience a simultaneous slowdown in referrals is probably “torturous.” Yeah, I’d say that’s the right word.
So, we continue to wait. We continue on in any-day-now mode and know that the phone could ring tomorrow or it could be a few more months. I am trying to wrap my head around the very likely possibility that we will not have a referral by Christmas or by the end of the year. I was absolutely positive that we would at least know who he or she is by now – that we would have a face and a name and the knowledge of a son or daughter halfway around the world. It is at times overwhelmingly sad to be in the midst of yet another holiday season without at least knowing who our child is. So, please forgive me as I skip some blog posts and don’t comment on every cute photo posted on FB. As selfish as it sounds, there’s only so much I can take right now of other people’s kids meeting Santa, decorating Christmas trees, baking cookies, and doing other cute things. The holidays are a tough time to be childless if it’s not by choice.
Also, on another note, our agency received our completed dossier do-over yesterday. At least that paperwork is behind us.