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Archive for the ‘Adoption Option’ Category

Before I clue you in to why I titled this post with an appropriate Kanye lyric, I will give you a Peanut update….

He is growing!  He is now 22 inches and 9.5 pounds!  We are eagerly awaiting our court date in LESS THAN 3 WEEKS.

Now for the reference…

Our agency publishes a monthly newletter.  This month included a trivia section.  Since I know you all area eager to brush up on your ET trivia,  I am copying it straight from the page of the e-mail for your taking.

Pop quizzes to follow, so be prepared or Prof. M. may reprimand you.

Ethiopia Quiz

Questions, Answers and Links for more info!  Answers below!

1. Ethiopian Christmas, called “Ganna”, is celebrated on December 30th.
True or False

2. Does Ethiopia have a sea coast?
Yes or No

3. Coffee is Ethiopia’s greatest export.
True or False

4. The population of Ethiopia is:
a. 63 million
b. 76 million
c. 82 million
d. 95 million

5. Ethiopia is one of the top 20 most populated countries in the world.
True or False

6.  The median age of a person in Ethiopia is:
a. 6 years
b. 16 years
c. 26 years
d. 36 years

7.  An average Ethiopian woman has 4.2 children
True or False

8. Prime Minister Melese Zenawi came into power in:
a. 1987
b. 1991
c. 1995
d. 2001

9. Ethiopia has an estimated 10 million mobile phones in use.
True or False

10. It is not certain how old the name Ethiopia is.
True or False

Answers:

1. False, Ganna is celebrated on January 7th!

-For more information on Ganna, click here.

2. No, Ethiopia is landlocked!
-The entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure
independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993  For more information, click here.

3. Yes – Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy, with exports of over $350 million in 2006.
– Among the many legends that have developed concerning the origin of coffee, one of the most popular accounts is that of Kaldi, an Abyssinian goatherd, who lived around AD 850. One Day he observed his goats behaving in abnormally exuberant manner, skipping, rearing on their hind legs and bleating loudly. He noticed they were eating the bright red berries that grew on the green bushes nearby. Kaldi tried a few himself, and soon felt a novel sense of elation. He filled his pockets with the berries and ran home to announce his discovery to his wife. ‘They are heaven-sent,’ she declared. ‘You must take them to the Monks in the monastery.’
–    Read the full history of coffee here.

4.  -According to CIA Factbook July 2008 estimate, Ethiopia has 82,544,840 people: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html

5.  True – – Ethiopia falls at #16 for most populated countries of the world. The only other
African country with a greater population is Nigeria. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2119rank.html

6.   –  The median age (CIA, 2008) is 16.9 years. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html Follow this link for a comparison to other countries: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2177.html It is interesting to note that the US median age is 36.7 years.

7.  False – -There is an average 6.17 children born to every Ethiopian woman: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html

8.  – https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html  follow this link for more information on the Ethiopian government. Here is a link for more in-depth information on Zenawi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meles_Zenawi

9.  -False, according to CIA Factbook (2007) Ethiopia has 1.208 million mobile  phones; ranking them at 126th in the world. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2151rank.html

10.  – Its earliest attested use is in the Iliad (appears twice) and in the Odyessey (appears three times): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopia

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Court Date!

So we have a court date of January 28th.  Yeah!

At our court date, Peanut will legally become our son after a judge in Ethiopia decides it so at a hearing on the 28th.  This begins the process of getting the required paperwork so we can travel to pick him up and bring him home.

Just so you get an idea of the process, I am copying a section from an e-mail I received notifying us of our court date:

Hooray! We received word from our staff in Ethiopia that your case has tentatively been assigned a court date of January 28, 2009.

It is important to note that court dates can be postponed, or delayed at any time, for a variety of reasons. J. will keep you apprised of any new information that we feel may affect the progress of your case.

Also, we don’t always hear how court went immediately — it may take us a few days after the 28th until we hear whether your case was decided or rescheduled.  J. will notify you of the outcome of the hearing within a few business days.

Regarding travel, we are hoping, hoping, hoping that we are able to travel 4 weeks after our court date.  Nothing in this process has been shorter than the time we have been quoted, but I am willing to be hopeful.  While sending us hope, we could use some directed in the way of passing court the first time.

Pictures of the nursery will come – soon, I promise.  Right now it is a mess with all of the stuff that has been graciously passed on to us in piles between set up furniture, a ladder, and a chair moved from the spot the balsam pine is currently occupying in our living room.  When I am off work over the Christmas holiday I intend to finish the curtains and crib skirt and then there will be something worth viewing.

Can I appease you with a pic of Matisse giving me the evil eye as I make him try on one of Peanut’s hats from his hand knit collection?  I also added a picture of some of the contents we sent Peanut in his care package.

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kind of sureal

We don’t have a referral, but I can substantially think we are days away.  There are children in the care center, referrals have started up again, and my specialist even confirmed that this movement is “very good.”  On the forum list we are now holding down spot 7-9 (we share the same date with 2 other families).  If the reports of 15 children being referred in this batch, we may be parents.  Regardless of if it comes Monday or next week, it is highly likely that our little one has made the transition from their first family to care center right now.

I wish there was a way to capture the excitement & anxiety this moment holds.  With birth you have the opportunity to possibly identify the gender of your child, you have a due date, their age is exact.  With adoption we know it will be a boy or girl, we have no idea when they will be referred nor when we will travel to get them, and their age can up to 12 months.

What we do know, though, is that after 5 years of waiting we are finally going to becomes parents.

I am fortunate to have the TC Marathon to distract me this weekend.  Although it would be AMAZING to have the specifics to ponder while I run the 26.2, I can be satisfied knowing it is possibly days away.

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ugh.

Can you tell from the lack of posting that there has been a lack of news on the baby front?  We passed 6 7 8 months of waiting and may soon add 9 to that growing list. Ugh.

I feel rather conflicted about complaining about waiting. I am waiting for a much yearned for child, but another mother is mourning the loss of her child as she knows them. My waiting is anticipatory, her waiting is an attempt to savor the last few moments she will be able to stroke her little ones head. I hate that I am rushing her moment to get mine. Every time I sit down to scroll out a whiny waiting post, I give this disclaimer and get no further. Not only do I become lost in contemplation, but any complaining I have to do seems rather selfish.

So, let me say it once and perhaps never again. Waiting sucks. I hate it. I want to know of my child right now. I want then home with us. I want to start making memories with them.

Now, rather that try to switch gears, I am going to just draft another post.

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Yesterday marked the 5th month of our “official” wait for a referral.  For the most part, 5 months has gone by rather fast.  Other than mentioning it to M. early in the day and having him shrug back at me unimpressed the day got little acknowledgment.

When I say the wait has gone fast, I mean for the most part it has gone by fast.  I still find time between meetings, training, and social engagements to obsess over whether or not we will receive a referral before court closure cutoff which is approximately June 15th.  When we turned in our dossier back in November the current wait was 5 -7 months, and since the cut off date was the longest time frame in our wait window, we knew thought we would get a referral late spring and travel in the summer.  But now since the cutoff date of June 15th no longer marks the longest estimated wait time, but rather 7 months of our wait, we sit on the cusp of court closure which halts referrals for the 4 – 8 weeks that correlate with court closure in Ethiopia.  I can continue to explain and you will scan to the bottom and comment politely that you hope the wait goes by fast, or I can summarize, in which you may still do the same, but at least I will not have wasted my energy explain something that may not hold true anyway.

In summary, for those of you asking when we will receive a referral, my current answer is:  “Families are currently receiving referrals in their 8th month of waiting, so we will either receive a surprise referral in late June or it will be September.”  I may even quote the very nice response sent our way from our program specialist when I inquired about our time frame on April 3rd:

I agree with previous program specialist that we can’t predict if you will receive a referral before court closure.  To give you a sense of where you are in comparison to others, families who submitted a dossier in mid-July are currently at the “top of the list” for receiving the referral of an infant.
 
The timeline for court closure is never predictable, and we often don’t have much information to provide families as to when exactly courts will reopen, or when we will begin presenting referrals again. Our thoughts at this time are that we will stop presenting referrals in mid-June (June 15 is the tentative cut-off) in preparation for the court closure.  Courts are typically closed form early August through early October.  In preparation for courts to reopen, we hope to begin presenting referrals again in early September and will pick up where we left off on “the list.”
 
We estimate that families will travel 12-16 weeks after accepting a referral; 12 weeks seems to be the typical time frame for most families right now. 
 
I appreciate the desire to have better information to plan with, and I wish that I could be more precise with my responses.  I hope that this information gives you some sense of direction.  Let me know if you have other questions or concerns.

If I left out the court closure part of my response above, then you will ask, “Why June or September, but not July or August?”  To which I will reply  the courts close in Ethiopia during the rainy season so to prevent families getting a referral and not making it through court before closure and having to wait more than the already 3 MONTH wait after referral to travel and pick up their child, our agency chooses to stop giving referrals in a time-frame that correlates with court closure.?

If you are still engaged at this point you may follow-up with questions like, “Courts close completely?” or “Isn’t the lengthening time-frame frustrating?” or “How can you plan?”, to which I answer, “Yes, Yes/No, There is little concrete planing in adoption.”

I feel as if I am waddling through my 9th month of pregnancy lately because I did tell people that we would be hearing something late spring. Although I kind of knew this may be a possibility becasue waiting and adoption are tight buddies, it just seemed a little easier to grasp spring/summer rather than fall/winter because it was at the time less than a year away.  Even though I may not know anything new, I don’t mind being asked, and actually enjoy talking about it because I have learned how many people are so incredibly excited for us.  Just think how fun it will be to share the news.  Perhaps I should start posting more in anticipation, huh?

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About 3 weeks ago we received this e-mail from CHSFS:

January 23, 2008
Effective immediately, CHSFS is suspending any birth family meetings and all ongoing contact between adoptive and birth families (including Post Adoption Intermediary Services). This is in direct response to statements made recently by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa citing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1989; regarding orphan status, irrevocable relinquishment and termination of birth family rights.

These concerns aside, this decision to suspend the adoptive parent-birth family meetings is in contrast with what is generally accepted standards of adoption law and practice in the US. It is generally believed that such communication is in the best interests of the adopted child. CHSFS Vice President of Adoption Services, David Pilgrim, will be going to Ethiopia along with several other agency leaders and Tom DiFilipo, the President of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS), the largest organization advocating for families and children to discuss the situation. However, this is seen as an issue between the Consular Section of the Department of State and any inter-country adoption program. JCICS and CHSFS will continue to work with Consular Section staff toward a resolution of this situation.

CHSFS sincerely regrets this change as we believe our practice, based on over a century of adoption experience is in the best interests of the adopted child, their family as well as their birthparents.

Regards,

A  few days later we received this follow-up: 

CHSFS Ethiopia Program
January 25, 2008
As you are aware, CHSFS has suspended the CHSFS adoptive parent visits in Ethiopia with their child’s birth parents and intermediary contact between adoptive families and birth families. We have taken this step because the US Government has raised the question that under the US immigration laws any contact between the American adoptive parents and the Ethiopian birth parents COULD POSSIBLY be used as evidence that the birthparents had not or did not feel they totally and irrevocably ended all right to the child for which they had made an adoption plan. As CHSFS developed our adoption program in Ethiopia, we felt that it was in the best interest of the adopted child to give a full background history of all that is known and to facilitate a voluntary visit between the adoptive parents and the birth parents AFTER the birth parents’ legal rights were terminated and AFTER the adoption was finalized under Ethiopian law. This was the practice as well of other US agencies in Ethiopia providing adoption services. At no time was any money or support between the adoptive and birth parents encouraged or allowed.
We and the other adoption agencies have now received notice from the US Consulate in Ethiopia which calls into question this practice of facilitating voluntary visits between adoptive and birth families under current US immigration law. The US Consulate Officer in Ethiopia was pleased that CHSFS sought permission to share this notice with our families- which is offered below.
Please know that CHSFS is working with the US officials in Ethiopia and the US for a clarification on this issue. We will have high level staff members in Ethiopia all of next week working this issue. We ask that you do not contact your congressional officeholders as we need time to confer with US officials directly.
US Consulate Notice
TO: Adoption Agencies in Ethiopia
FROM: Consular Section Chief Paul Cantrell
RE: Ensuring that adoptive children qualify as orphans
The staff of our Consular Section appreciates your effort and cooperation in making inter-country adoptions possible for American citizen parents. I am writing to bring to your attention an issue that is of the greatest importance to successfully concluding inter-country adoptions for American parents. I want to make sure that you and your staff members are fully aware of the requirements that adoptive children truly qualify as orphans.
American citizens coming to Ethiopia to adopt children will in most cases come to the Embassy to apply for an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa for the child. In order for a child to qualify for either an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa, the child must qualify as an “orphan” as defined by section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
As part of the inter-country adoption process, it is the responsibility of the consular officer to review the circumstances by which the child became available for adoption and to confirm that the child qualifies as an “orphan” as defined by section 101(b)(1)(F). This step in the process is accomplished when the consular officer approves the I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative and is confirmed through the officer’s completion of Form I-604, Request for and Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation.
If the child does not qualify as an “orphan” as defined in the INA, the officer cannot approve the I-600 petition and an immigrant visa for the child cannot be approved.
For this reason it is absolutely essential that all adoption agencies that are coordinating adoptions for American citizen parents be fully aware of the definition of “orphan” as stipulated in the INA. Agencies must be absolutely certain that a child qualifies as an “orphan” according to the INA before matching that child with American adoptive parents. If agencies are unsure whether a child qualifies as an “orphan” as defined by the INA, they should not assign that child to American adoptive parents until it can be confirmed that the child does qualify. A consular officer does not have the authority to approve an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa for an adopted child unless the child qualifies as an “orphan,” as defined by the INA. If agencies have questions about this concept or about an individual case, they are welcome to contact the Consular Section for assistance.
Agencies are urged to review the following information, which is provided as clarification of how a child may qualify as an “orphan” according to the INA.
According to U.S. immigration law, a child may qualify as an orphan because either:
(a) The child has no parents because of the death or disappearance, abandonment, or desertion by, or separation from or loss of both parents (9 FAM 42.21 N13.2-4 and 9 FAM 42.21 N13.2-5); or
(b) The child’s sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing proper care and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption (9 FAM 42.21 N13.2-4 and 9 FAM 42.21 N13.2-6).
Of particular interest here is (a): “the child has no parents.” U.S. immigration law recognizes six ways in which a child might lose his/her parents and qualify as an “orphan.” An orphan may have no parents due to any combination of the following six reasons: death, disappearance, abandonment, desertion, separation or loss.
Of these six reasons, the one that appears to cause the most confusion among adoptions in Ethiopia is “abandonment.” According to U.S. immigration law, “abandonment” means that the parents have willfully forsaken all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, as well as all control over and possession of the child, without intending to transfer, or without transferring, these rights to any specific person(s).
Abandonment must include not only the intention to surrender all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child, and control over and possession of the child, but also the actual act of surrendering such rights, obligations, claims, control, and possession. A child who is placed temporarily in an orphanage should not be considered to be abandoned if the parents express an intention to retrieve the child, are contributing or attempting to contribute to the support of the child, or otherwise exhibit ongoing parental interest in the child.
Further, U.S. immigration law clarifies that a relinquishment or release by the parent(s) to the prospective adoptive parents or for a specific adoption does not constitute “abandonment.” Similarly, the relinquishment or release of the child by the parent to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of, or preparation for, adoption does not constitute “abandonment” unless the third party (such as a governmental agency, a court of competent jurisdiction, an adoption agency, or an orphanage) is authorized under the child welfare laws of the foreign-sending country to act in such a capacity. A child released to a government-authorized third party, however, could be considered to have been abandoned even if the parent(s) knew at the time that the child would probably be adopted by a specific person or persons, so long as the relinquishment was not contingent upon adoption by a specific person or persons.
I have emphasized the items above in italics to remind agencies that the Embassy cannot approve IR-3 and IR-4 immigrant visas for children adopted from intact families who have given up their children because of, or contingent upon, some expectation that:
• the adoptive parents will provide some financial support to the natural parents
• the adoptive parents will be willing to provide information about the child to the natural parents
• the child will be of some benefits to the natural parents at some point in the future
Recently, some agencies have indicated that they routinely attempt to arrange meetings between adoptive parents and a child’s natural parents. While such meetings might provide certain advantages, agencies should be aware that meetings with the natural parents may in some cases be interpreted as evidence of the natural parents’ “ongoing parental interest in the child,” and as such may invite additional scrutiny by consular officers when reviewing the I-600 petition on behalf of such a child.
To avoid confusion and ensure that agencies are fully aware of all requirements of U.S. immigration law, consular officers will be arranging to meet individually with adoption agencies in the coming weeks. We are most interested in learning how agencies acquire the children who are matched with American adoptive parents and in helping agencies avoid matching any children who would not qualify as “orphans” according to the INA.
I appreciate your cooperation in the endeavor and invite your questions, comments, and suggestions about how we can work together to improve the integrity of the inter-country adoptions process.
Regards,
Paul Cantrell
Consular Section Chief
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa
———————————————-
Scott Driskel
Vice Consul
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa

 Tomorrow I will comment on all this.

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Spinning

With the lapse if time between my posts, you would almost assume the wait is going by swiftly and without reason for write.

Yeah, wouldn’t that be swell.

Today is 3 months. Three long months. Three very long months. I has not helped that we submitted our dossier right before Thanksgiving when the clock was ticking fast and would continue to tick away till we threw out the 2007 calendars. January & February are remarkably long and dark in MN. Our social calendars have been booming and we commiserate that we are swamped at work, but even the distractions can not draw attention from the obvious. Quite a bit has happened on the adoption front, but evening finding the energy and time to write about it lately has been a challenge and an additional reminder that this is a long energy sucking process.

The two most substantial changes are the suspension of birth family contact and the extended wait which may push our referral out till after the court closure.  I will write about both more extensively this weekend, but for now I am enjoying the mood lift of a sunny and warm February day.  Tomorrow is supposed to snow, cloud over, and whip us with a wind chill reminder that it is still winter.  I will save those posts for tomorrow when my assumed mood will correlate with the topic.

Adoption is a strange process.  Not a bad strange, but just unlike anything I will most likely ever experience.  It is a suspended happiness.  A true grass is greener situation where we will be happier when we add to our family.  Don’t misunderstand me, we do live everyday to the fullest and really are appreciating this stage of our family, but for the past 5 years we have existed on a precarious slope teetering between the extremes of emotions and anticipating living.  After a few years of squatting, we made this home.  We were refuges who knew we would never go back to the way it was but also didn’t know where our ticket out would take us.  Now we have the ticket, we know the path, but again we do not have any control over the process.  As I will half sleeping through a 6am spin class this week, I closed my eyes and really tried to imagine that I was not sitting on a bike in a room reminiscent of a one-sided hall of mirrors. I wished the industrial fans were rather trade winds and the lingering stank of sweat was instead the salt of the ocean.  When the instructor called out that a huge hill was ahead I was taken from my happy place.  Adoption makes you feel like you are spinning your wheels constantly.  You crank through one part only to realize there are many huge hills ahead.  I do close my eyes and imagine our family, perhaps even our family on a warm winter vacation where I enjoy every moment of chasing a busy toddler across a sandy beach.  For now, though, I spin away.

Perhaps someday I can trade the bike for a jog stroller. Until then, I will have to close my eyes and imagine.

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