US Embassy in Ethiopia will be closed: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

24. April, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

Dear Families,

Please see the message from the US Embassy in Addis regarding the holiday closure. A list of the Embassy’s holidays can be found at:


Dear Colleagues,

We were just informed that U.S. Embassy will be closed on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in observance of International Labor Day and will reopen for normal business on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

In addition, the Mission will close again on Friday, May 3, 2013, in observance of Ethiopian Good Friday and will reopen for normal business on Monday, May 6, 2013.

All agency’s whose intake falls on May 1st or May 3rd should submit their cases on Thursday, May 2nd.

We apologize for the late notice.


Adoption Unit

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa

Orphan Status Verification – Private Investigators

5. April, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

Dear Ethiopia Adoptive Families,

In light of recent discussions on Facebook as to whether or not families should retain a private investigator in Ethiopia to perform an Orphan Investigation of their child’s life history.  We feel it is important for us to provide you with additional information on this topic, and hope to support you the best way possible through your adoption journey.  Many families are being contacted by third party agency’s offering Orphan Status Verification Services with a promise that their case will be processed quicker at the Embassy stage.

We already provide this service for you.  Isn’t that why you chose West Sands Adoptions as your placing agency?  West Sands Adoptions has a full time Social Worker/ Investigator who verifies every child’d life history before the referral is given.  Our Ethiopian team has done an amazing job representing WSA to be sure that the children we refer meet the Orphan Definition under Ethiopian and U.S. Immigration Law.

West Sands Adoptions wants our adoptive families to know that we will support your decision to retain an investigator if you feel necessary.  However, we feel it is important for you to know that in almost all cases, this service is unnecessary.  We also want parents to be aware that the reason many of these Agency’s are pushing families to retain their services at the beginning of the process is because it is rarely needed in the end.   Of course, the U.S. Embassy is willing to receive any information that can be gathered, but that does not indicate that your case will be processed quicker.  Some families have decided to retain an investigator and feel that it may have helped their case process more quickly, but in most cases we do not agree.  We have yet to see a case where a private investigator has found more information than originally provided, rather their report has served as additional support to the information already provided.

During the course of your child’s adoption process if for any reason we become concerned, or feel that additional support is needed, we will advise adoptive families to retain immigration specific legal council.  We will never leave you during the process, and will assist you until your child comes home.  Be cautious of other adoptive families advise, and remember every child’s case is unique.  We hope you find this information helpful, and encourage you to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns.

Additionally, please read the following post from the U.S. State Department regarding Ethiostork: CLICK HERE to visit the State Department’s Site.


December 11, 2012

Notice: Status of EthioStork International Social Service Consultants

The Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs requested the Department of State provide clarification to U.S. families on the licensing of the organization, EthioStork International Social Service Consultants.  The Ministry informed the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa that the organization EthioStork is not licensed to facilitate intercountry adoption by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Charities and Societies Agency.  The organization is licensed to provide consultancy services by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and social affairs counseling services by the Addis Ababa City Administration Trade and Industrial Development Bureau.

For additional information on agencies licensed in Ethiopia to provide services related to intercountry adoption, please refer to the List of Adoption Agencies Registered in Ethiopia on the website of Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington, D.C..


Department of State Notice: Health Concerns in Ethiopia

4. April, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

Dear Families,

A new notice has been posted for Ethiopia. West Sands families generally do not travel to the areas listed, but we want you to be aware of current events in-country.

Notice: Health Concerns in Ethiopia

On March 14, 2013, U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa released an important message for U.S. citizens via email to U.S. adoption service providers and a notice on the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa website about a recent increase in suspected meningitis cases in Ethiopia.  The suspected cases are primarily in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), but the area of concern extends north to include tourist areas around Hawassa and Lake Langano.  The Department of State shares the full text below in order to ensure wide distribution among the adoption community.  As always, we recommend that adoptive parents and other U.S. travelers check prior to traveling to Ethiopia or any other country for the latest travel information from the Department of State.

Many adopted children come from SNNPR, and adoptive parents are encouraged to work with their adoption service providers (ASPs) to ensure that children who come from affected areas are properly evaluated by a medical professional, and that treatment or vaccination be given if required.  Given that children from all over Ethiopia live together in care centers in Addis Ababa, all adoptive parents should be aware that the risk of contracting meningitis is not necessarily limited to children who come from the affected region.  The Embassy’s Consular Section can provide a list of pediatricians working in Addis Ababa, but most ASPs have an existing network of health care providers, and general inquiries about your child’s health situation are best directed to your ASP.

On a related note, many adopted children face significant health challenges in Ethiopia that require continuing treatment after immigration to the United States.  While the Embassy’s panel physician evaluates children for their fitness to travel and the likelihood of them transmitting a communicable disease, such as tuberculosis, it is primarily the responsibility of the ASP and the orphanage to ensure proper medical treatment from the time a child enters institutional care until the day he/she travels to the United States.  Adoptive parents should expect that a child’s medical file will travel with him/her from a rural clinic in the village where they were born, to the pediatrician’s office in Addis Ababa, and then to be made available for use by the child’s new physician in the United States.  If such information is not made available as a matter of course, adoptive parents are encouraged to request it from their ASPs.

Embassy Addis Ababa Notice:

According to the World Health Organization, Ethiopia is currently at the peak of the meningitis transmission season, which extends through March and April up to the beginning of May.  Suspected cases of meningitis were reported in Southern Nation, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and Oromia Region.  So far this year cases were recorded in close to 60 woredas (local municipalities) across 14 zones of SNNPR and Oromia, with upsurges of cases in 16 woredas of SNNPR and Oromia.  Woredas reporting increased cases of meningitis include Arbaminch Zuria, Halaba, Hawassa town, Dale, Shebedino, Gorche, and Wonsho in SNNPR, and Arsi Negele, Shalla, Shashemene Town, Shashemene Rural, Dodolla, Siraro, Wondo, and Gedeb Assassa in Oromia Region.

In light of these findings, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa recommends that U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Ethiopia avoid travel to these areas unless they have been vaccinated against meningitis within the past three years.  If you were vaccinated recently, do not travel to these affected areas for at least 14 days after receiving the vaccination.  (Meningitis vaccinations do not take effect for 14 days.)
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website.  The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

If you are going to live in or travel to Ethiopia, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.  It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.  You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date. It is important during enrollment or updating of information to include your current phone number and current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.



Update to West Sands Donation Policy

1. April, 2013UncategorizedNo comments

April 1st, 2013

Dear Families,

Due to the IRS regulations regarding charitable contributions, donations made on behalf of specific families cannot be considered tax deductible. West Sands Adoptions will however, continue to accept donations and grants for non-specified families, and will issue donors and charitable organizations with formal donation receipts to be used for tax purposes. Donors who wish to receive tax verifiable receipt may request that their funds be contributed to a specific family, but the allocation of those funds is not guaranteed.West Sands Adoptions’ Board of Directors has conducted an annual review of our current Donation Policy, and has determined that revisions are to be made immediately.

Once a family has been awarded the maximum funds needed to cover their adoption costs, West Sands Adoptions will not refund any excess amount of charitable contributions to the adoptive family. Instead, those funds will be retained within our charitable organization to benefit others in need, and will be redistributed between other adoptive families, and/or the agency’s humanitarian projects. Excess funds received from grant organizations will be returned to those charities depending on the organization’s overpayment/refund policy. Excess amounts paid to a specific family as a non-charitable donation can be refunded to the family, so long as the donor did not receive a receipt for tax purposes. We will review each family’s account when donations or funds are received on their behalf, to ensure those funds will not cause an overage. If a family has reached the maximum funds needed we will return the funds to the contributor, to give directly to the family for third party expenses.

For families who currently hold an excess amount for their upcoming adoption costs, please contact your primary case manager to determine how future donations should be processed. Refunds will be provided to those who currently have an overage of funds that is more than their projected future costs. Refunds issued will be less the projected future costs.


West Sands Adoptions