Our wait is going to be considerably longer than anyone had anticipated. Last year, there was speculation and some evidence of bribes being taken to expedite the placement of orphans into international families. Ethiopia responded with integrity and cleaned house. They restaffed The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. African officials worked with officials from Spain, Australia, and The United States to ensure police were processing thorough background reports to affirm each child's status as a true orphan. During this restaffing, the issuance of imperative approval letters came to a stop and the system became backlogged. Since that time, Ethiopia has rebounded and increased the numbers of these coveted letters to what they had been previously. The ministry came out running a safer and increasingly efficient program. That wait had been bittersweet. The time increase was disappointing, but we felt good about the additional checks to protect innocent children.
A few months later, there was another slow down. This time it was due to a few government orphanage closures and an issue with the presence of aggressive Muslim groups near the southern border. There' s a number of reasons clearances began to be denied or unable to be confirmed. Our agency and others graciously took on several of the orphans from this area, many of which will never be eligible for adoption, and committed to their care. We saw numbers at the transition homes swell as the numbers of referral decreased. All waiting for clearance.
Just when clearances began to pick up, The US's ugly bureaucratic head emerged. Evidently, USCIS/Homeland Security and The US Embassy do not share information openly. (Yes Taxpayers, this does seem INSANE!) The US Embassy decided to require an additional clearance through a birth parent interview (BPI). This translates into the Embassy requiring a living parent to make the often 3 day trip on foot to the capitol city from their rural home. They are required to appear and testify to each child's orphan status. Mind you, we chose Ethiopia largely due to the fact that its orphans are true orphans. This means more often than not, that children eligible for adoption only have one living parent. This parent has usually relinquished their child's care due to being in the last stage of a terminal illness, typically AIDS. There have been several instances where the birth parent had died or cannot be located. Cases then go to the Embassy in Nairobi for review and, prayerfully, approval. Needless to say, this process has slowed the process significantly.
It is especially difficult knowing that police have documented reports, Ethiopia has already confirmed this status months before giving their clearance, USCIS has already approved the child's VISA, and if you're with AWAA, they have completed and recorded a BPI video as well. The Embassy's request was totally from left field, and we felt frustrated.
On the heels of the decision, political groups began coming forward and strengthening a movement to end African adoptions. You've probably read articles or seen the news with UNICEF citing a plan to feed more children in the name of preserving their heritage. They are strong opponents of trans-racial adoption. To me, it seems more like an attempt to prevent the Black population in the US from increasing rather than working in the best interest of children. Considering current statistics and the death of an entire generation of parents, the answer is not to stop international adoption.
Osvaldo and I are in full support of establishing a foster care/ seed adoption program in Ethiopia. It's something we are invested in, and will continue working toward with time. We'll also continue supporting Compassion International and World Vision to help build infrastructures to feed and educate a generation of orphaned Ethiopians.
43 MILLION ORPHANS
Minus two- that's what we cling to. I don't pretend to fully understand all the politics. I won't ever have all the answers. The one thing I do know with complete certainty is that God is in control. So, we wait on Him. In the meantime, we pray. Will you please join us in praying for the country of Ethiopia? Please pray for our African children. Pray that they'll be protected from all harm and lies of the enemy. Pray that they'll be safe and secure in the knowledge that they are cherished by God and wanted by a family who already loves them.
We know that God will use this time to better equip our family and fully fund this leap of faith. We trust Him and rest in His Word. "But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed." Habakkuk 2:3