Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adoption Updates: Changes in Ethiopia?

It's been a month or two since the last update on our adoption journey so it's time for an update. We just got back from visiting family in Alaska and while there, when we finally found a few minutes of cell service, we saw a flurry of facebook comments from fellow waiting families in our adoption agency and emails regarding trouble in Ethiopia and a political meeting that had taken place regarding the status of adoption in the country.

Over the past weekend there was a multi-day meeting held by the House of Representatives in Ethiopia along with Ministry of Women's, Children's and Youth Affairs (MOWYCA) officials. A research paper was presented that was prepared by Parliament and MOWYCA. After the presentation the group of nearly 400 stakeholders split up into groups to discuss the issues presented - 7 of the 15 questions related to adoption. Our agency reported that many Parliament officials strongly lobbied to close international adoption in Ethiopia while many other participants lobbied for finding ways to increase domestic adoption, while still leaving international adoption as a good means for the current children in need. At the end of the meeting, the speaker of the House of Representatives commented that there are many conflicts of interest with government officials and adoption and overall did not speak positively of international adoption. He stated that they would present a strategic plan regarding international adoption in 10 business days.

At this point, it hasn't been 10 days and we are still waiting to hear what the future of international adoption in Ethiopia will look like. Our agency is hopeful that they will not shut down adoption but instead will create a plan for reform. As to what this plan will look like and what it means for families waiting, we aren't sure. Recent news stories have also discussed changing age limits and minimum requirements for adopting, which could certainly affect us.

A lot is at stake here for the families in our program that have been waiting for years on end and for the little ones who could get stuck in the middle of this without forever homes in Ethiopia. We're asking you to pray for the government officials and that  they find compassion for the children currently in government run orphanages who truly need a home and that any plans they make will not keep the children stuck in these orphanages indefinitely. Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7th - and as they enter the Christmas season and begin their numerous celebrations to remember Christ's birth we hope that these officials seek the Lord when making decisions for the future of their children and their country, whatever that may be. While reform is certainly needed and corruption is happening, we hope a plan will be put forth that continues to improve the process and find these children homes.

Adoption is a politically and emotionally charged topic in Ethiopia, like it is across the world. Elections are coming up soon and politicians are being lobbied on both sides of the spectrum. Additionally recent news regarding international adoption in Ethiopia has been in a very negative light, a film was shown about unfortunate cases of unethical adoption and children who were adopted and mistreated. Some officials and individuals in Ethiopia believe it would be better for Ethiopian children to remain in Ethiopian orphanages than to be adopted internationally. And while we certainly agree that domestic adoption should be emphasized and encouraged among Ethiopians, this isn't an overnight fix and the children stuck waiting in orphanages shouldn't be left there to wait this change out.

When I think about the last few months and how we were led to adopt one of the strongest memories that comes to mind was from a wise friend who told me it was all about the process, regardless of the end results. Even in such a short period of time, I certainly agree. Over the last few months we've come much closer to eachother, had amazing conversations with family and friends and most importantly strengthened our relationship with God. In an extreme way, adoption really forces you to put every aspect of the process in God's control. In so doing, it challenged us to think about other aspects of our life that are more common and comfortable that we may or may not let God have control of.

Pray also for us as we continue to seek the Lord in this process and understand if this is a door closing for us at this time or if this just the first of many scary times in this process where we need to trust God's plan for us and his timing. We pray that he makes our next steps clear for us.

Thanks for all your love and support friends! We'll update more when we know.

Link with info from our agency: