We now have a date for what will hopefully be the final step of the Embassy investigation; at the end of next week, Baby K’s birth relative will be interviewed by the Embassy staff in Addis. If all goes well (serious knock on wood), we should hear that same day or the following day that the Embassy has completed their investigation and that they are ready to issue her visa. We know that there are some situations where more questions are raised during the interview, and also that sometimes the interviews have to be rescheduled. So I have a feeling I will be holding my breath until we know that everything went ahead as scheduled, and went well. Once the Embassy clearance is issued, we should be headed back to Ethiopia within a week or two.
I should note here that it has been intentional on my part to not talk much about the circumstances surrounding Baby K’s need for a new family on this blog. We do know a bit – only a bit – but we believe that the information we have is for us to hold in trust for Baby K. We feel strongly that she needs to understand her life story before others know it, and that it is our responsibility as her parents to share the information with her in age- and developmentally-appropriate ways. To be clear: there will be no secrets. We will be talking with her about her adoption from day one, and carefully considering what information she is ready for and sharing it at appropriate times. But we believe it is our duty as her parents to hold information about her story in confidence until she can process it and make her own choices about what to do with it.
With that said, however, it is clear from my earlier statement that Baby K has a living birth family member who made an adoption plan for her. Ethiopia’s international adoption program is pretty unique in that we not only know the identity of this birth relative, but that we will also have the opportunity to meet with them on our second trip. (I’m being intentionally vague on gender, at least for now.) I am sure I will be a nervous and emotional wreck leading up to our meeting, but I know it will be a tremendous opportunity for all of us. Although Baby K will not go to this meeting, obviously everything we experience there will be shared with her down the road. We will be accompanied by a translator and our meeting will begin by us reading a letter to the birth relative. This letter is currently a work in progress, and we hope to refine it over the next week so we won’t have to scramble to finish it when we have just a few days’ notice of travel. We will also be able to ask questions, and while we certainly don’t plan to read questions from a list, we are working on preparing a list nonetheless so that we have thought things through. We have also created a small photo album to give to Baby K’s birth relative. The album includes many photos of Baby K, as they may not have any photos of her, and it also includes a photo of us with Baby K, and photos of our extended family, home and yard, and some nearby places like an elementary school and a playground. The goal is to give the birth relative an idea of what Baby K’s new life and home looks like.
Baby K’s birth relative will be on my mind over the coming week, not only because their meeting with the Embassy is the (hopefully) final step in our process, but because I know this must be a difficult time for them. While I understand and agree with the level of scrutiny involved in today’s Ethiopian adoptions, I also feel like this is a pretty big burden on birth families to be required to travel not once but twice to the capital to give testimony and repeatedly have to explain their decision to relinquish their children. I also know he or she will probably visit Horizon House and spend some time with Baby K and ultimately say goodbye to her. I get very emotional when I think about this, but I am also very grateful for both of them that they will have this opportunity to spend a little bit of time together.
Related to this subject, here is an interesting article about a U. S. family who adopted from Guatemala, later tracked down their daughter’s birth mother, and established an open relationship with her. It is an insightful and interesting read.