Although rumors have been floating around the adoption community for more than a week, we have been praying (and continue to do so) that they were not true. But this morning, Kiersten (our caseworker) called to inform us that the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) confirmed that MOWA (Ministry of Woman's Affairs) in Ethiopia intends to cut down their caseload by 90% by taking only 5 cases a day rather than the 50 or so they were taking on.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this all means....let me briefly describe to the best of my abilities.
Now that all of our referral acceptance paperwork has been submitted to AGCI, the staff in Ethiopia can now submit our file to the Ethiopian courts to open our daughter's case. Then we wait for our court dates. The first one is for the birth family, police, ect. to relinquish rights of the child and the second is for us to attend after we have met our daughter and decided to proceed with the adoption. During the court process, the judge has a "checklist" of sorts. AGCI has never had a family not pass court indefinitely, however, if everything on that "checklist" is not there, they will be rescheduled for another date...and another...until they do pass. One of the items on this checklist is a letter from MOWA (they review our file and the child's file and they need to write a letter to the courts in our favor for us to be approved).
So as you can see, this huge of a reduction in case load could delay our adoption process (and many, many others) by months or even years. Even typing those words stings. It's unfathomable to think that after a year and a half of waiting to see T's face, that she could be forced to grow up institutionalized for that amount of time.
Why is all this happening? MOWA says it is to ensure ethical adoption practices. Reducing their caseload would help them investigate each case more carefully. While I completely support their ultimate goal of ethical adoptions, I (and pretty much the entire adoption community) do not think this is the best way to do that. In fact, by cutting back this drastically and forcing children to wait THAT long to go home to their forever families....orphanages will be full in no time, with no room to take in more children. And then what will happen to them?!? I shudder at the thought.
But this isn't the say all, end all. This doesn't go into effect until March 10th, and there is time to change their minds! Almaz (our agency's orphanage director) will be meeting this week with MOWA's head hancho. And in the mean time, JCICS has helped organize a petition to put a stop to this!
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
We need to look after the orphans in Ethiopia and do what is in their best interest! And that is NOT being raised in orphanages and transitional homes....that is in loving and stable homes with a family of their own.
So as a desparate plea....for my daughter and many more like her...I ask you to do three things:
1) Petition - Sign the JCICS petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, to reverse this decision and find other means to ensure ethical adoptions through support of governments, NGO's, and foundations. I hope you don't even have to take a moment to consider this.
2) Prayer - Please pray for the government officials and all in authority who are making life-changing decisions for these children. Pray the agencies as they continue to strive to meet the demands of the Ethiopian authorities, advocate for the children in their care, and partner with these families to bring children home. Please pray for adoptive families who are crushed at the news and have already endured an incredibly long journey to their children thus far. And PLEASE...pray for the orphans! The fatherless, the least of the least, those without a voice....pray that people would step up and advocate for them!
3) Pass It On - Please email, facebok, twitter, or blog about the petition! Inform others how CRITICAL it is that we reverse this decision! The more people we get to sign, the better! PLEASE!
Furthermore, if you have already finalized an adoption through Ethiopia, JCICS asks that you would email them pictures and a short story about your adoption to present in their case against MOWA's decision. You can find out more about that on their website. ***UPDATE*** JCICS has shared via FB that they have received so many positive stories about Ethiopian adoptions that their server has crashed and has asked that you share them via FB!
For more information, or simply another insight, these are some more sites I would reccommend reading:
Thank you in advance for fighting with us in this way!