As the first quarter of 2012 has passed, and we are all getting ready for a new spring, we wanted to update you on what has taken place in Ethiopia the past few months. There has been much concern over the U.S. Embassy’s process, which tends to lead to the fear of the U.S. closing adoptions from Ethiopia. It seems as though the storm has passed, and things are settling into place again. Many families before you have helped iron out the wrinkles of the U.S. Embassy, and we all owe them a big “THANK YOU”. These families took their experiences of the immigration process, and lobbied their State Representatives. Also, many families participated in a survey used to shed light on the lack of care and respect taking place at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. Those families sit on the side lines now and root the newly submitted families on. These families used their voice to pave the way for future adoptive families and children, and continue to be a great advocate and supporter to the new families in the process. We are all grateful for what they have done!
We have seen great improvements in the U.S. Embassy’s process, and many quick approvals. A vast difference this quarter compared to the end of 2010. Many cases are still being forwarded to USCIS as “not clearly approvable”, but so far all have been approved by USCIS quickly and without the issuance of an RFE.
The U.S. Embassy and USCIS have improved on their communication with Adoptive Families, and seem more confident in their purpose to serve the orphans of Ethiopia. Abandonment cases have been the most common case forwarded to USCIS, mostly due to not enough details of the birth parent search listed by the police officer, or a lack of search in extending areas. Relinquishments always consist of a birth parent or relative interview by the Embassy, and approvals have been issued shortly after. Currently birth parent interviews are being scheduled approximately 2 weeks out, as well as adoptive parent interviews. This process should be considered the new normal. As long as cases are being approved quickly, and parents are informed of the process, it has not been a big problem. In most cases it has only added about 2-3 weeks to the process.
The Ethiopian Court has enforced the U.S. Embassy’s new requirements prior to Federal Court Approval. Resulting in Orphanages needing to re-do many children’s paperwork before they can be referred to their forever family. This and the issue with the Ethiopian government closing down most of the orphanages in the Southern Region of Ethiopia, has caused delay in referrals. West Sands is working in other regions of Ethiopia, and have recently connected with new orphanages in the north. Although we are still getting referrals, families waiting for infants are experiencing a slightly longer wait than originally anticipated. We encourage families to remain faithful in the process, and the purpose of this journey. God’s timing is always perfect!
We want you to know that all of West Sands Adoptions U.S. & Ethiopian staff is working hard to serve our Adoptive Families and the orphan children of Ethiopia. West Sands Transitional Home and Guest House has been a great success! We are so honored to be able to care for your children during their transition from the Orphanage to their home with you. If there is anything you need, or questions you may have, please let us know.