Ethiopia Program Update

2. April, 2014UncategorizedNo comments

April 1st, 2014

Dear Adoptive Families,

As we near the end of the first quarter of 2014 we are pleased to provide you with an update on the ever changing process of the Ethiopia Adoption Program.  Currently we are processing 12 PAIR cases, and finalizing only 4 remaining Pre-PAIR cases.  We are pleased to report that the PAIR process has proven to be much better than we ever anticipated.  USCIS and the USE have been extremely supportive, and easy to work with.  We feel that their objective is to work with us, and not against us.  Although we have received a Request for Evidence on most of the cases submitted, several positive points have emerged from them.  First, most of the requests we have received have been the same request, which is easy for us to correct and move forward.  Secondly, the 3 recommendations provided to us by USE during our meeting last month are consistent with what we had already recommended to our in country staff and the orphanages we work with.  Additionally, we have witnessed and experienced how eager and willing USCIS and the USE are to see these cases move forward, and how great they have been to work with.  We are truly happy to move forward with more PAIR cases and confident that this process is not only better assurance of a child’s Orphan status, but also will prove to be a better process for adoptive families and their child. 

Changes in the process have also taken place recently on the Ethiopian side, which again will improve the integrity of the adoption program.  While these changes have resulted in a decrease of the number of referrals issued over the recent months, these children are still in the orphanage waiting for their forever families.  We continue to provide support to these orphanages as they care for these children.  We have no doubt that these children will complete the local process, and be ready for referral soon.  We understand that the issue preventing new referrals from being issued has to do with a procedural requirement between the Regional Government and the Minister of Federal MOWCYA.  Over the past month the Minister ordered all of the Expert Investigators from MOWCYA to travel to all regions and perform an investigation on the orphanages, and their status since the new policy was incorporated by the Minister.  It is our understanding that that report has been presented to the Minister, and is very much in favor of the continuance of international adoption.   We learned this week that the Minister has planned a meeting on April 4th with the Adoption Agencies.  It is our hope that this meeting will provide the solution between the Regional Government and Federal MOWCYA in order for children’s cases to be finalized for referral again.  

As we have navigated through the new PAIR process, and the recent changes on the Ethiopian side of the adoption process, we have also made necessary adjustments and changes to the West Sands Adoptions’ Ethiopia Program.  Primarily, the time frame of the process once a family is matched with a child has changed substantially from how the process used to be.  Although the overall process is close to the same, the time between trips has drastically reduced.  Now families will wait longer before traveling on their first trip, but we anticipate only 6-8 weeks between court and bringing your child home for healthy children, and 8-12 weeks for children with HIV.  We are still hopeful that these timeframes from court to home will become shorter as we navigate and understand this process better.  We feel that this will be so much easier on families and children as the wait between trips has been so heart wrenching.   Due to this shift in the timeframe, we have found that the need and the cost of our transition home is no longer the best solution for transition care.  As sad as this decision has been for our team, we have decided to close our transition home, and shift the cost of transition care to greater orphanage support.   Rather than West Sands providing a home for children during the shorter time of transition, which included the cost of the home, staff, food, clothing, etc., West Sands has committed to providing additional support to the orphanages we work with so that the orphanages can care for each child until the child comes home.  We are pleased to report we have helped to staff and rent additional homes for two of the orphanages we work with so far.  We feel strongly that this is a better form of support to the children, and the orphanages; rather than funding a home that only serves the children in transition care for a shorter period of time.

Under this new process, when families travel to meet their child they will visit their child at the orphanage.  The orphanages have agreed to allow open visiting hours, and are eager to meet the parents of the children they are caring for.  Clothing, formula, and other donations that families bring to Ethiopia can now go directly to the orphanage their child is from.  This will further support the orphanages and their needs to continue providing for needy children. 

Finally, we have considered opening up another possibility for those families who may be interested in one trip to Ethiopia with an extended stay of 6-12 weeks.  Due to the decrease in time between trips, families could opt to stay in country for one longer visit.  Families interested in this option will be required to pay the full Orphanage Support Fee but can opt to take over care of their child and stay with their child at West Sands’ approved Guest house during the finalization of their child’s immigration documents, and medical exam.

Please know that these changes have weighed heavy on our hearts over the past month, and while we are saddened to close our transition home, we have relied heavily on the guidance and direction of the Lord.  We are grateful for all that the staff at the transition home has done for the children placed by West Sands Adoptions.  So many children’s lives were spared under the care of this project.  All of the staff at the transition home were given 3 months’ severance along with a letter of recommendation.  Many of the transition home staff members have already secured positions with the orphanages that we are supporting.  We are continually humbled by the love and strength of the Ethiopian people.  Upon the closure of this project our Ethiopian staff’s greatest concern was for the success of the program, and continued service to their children.  We appreciate your continued trust and faith as we pray daily for guidance and direction, with the sole purpose of serving God, and his children.

If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, please reach out to us right away.  We are always here for you.


With Love,

West Sands Ethiopia Program Team



TH staff