Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tick Tock.

It seems like the adoption world (at least, for families adopting from Ethiopia) is an increasingly fragile one.  In the past few days, there were first rumours, and then a newspaper article, discussing the intention of MOWA (the Ethiopian ministry of women's affairs) to reduce the number of cases that they look at, from up to fifty files/day down to five files/day.  The stated intention is to reduce the number of adoptions from Ethiopia by up to 90%, so that mowa can focus energy on investigating more thoroughly each reduce the amount of adoption corruption issues.

I have a few thoughts/comments to make about this:
  • First, like every adoptive family I know, I want corruption issues to be minimized to any extent possible...none of us want to have to deal with the aftermath of an adoption that has such huge ramifications for our children and their birth families.  I have been expressly supportive of mowa's many changes and initiatives in the last two years, knowing that what they are doing is designed to reduce improprieties that we know exist within the system.
  • Second, my hunch is that, although mowa may well deal with up to fifty files/day, I think that this must be the exception rather than the norm.  In fact, it was communicated already some time last year that the number of files being processed daily by mowa had been reduced to 20-25/day.  This makes more sense to me as a starting point.  Think about it.  There are 260 working days in the average year, but let's reduce that down to 225 working days in the year by mowa, to account for any additional training days or religious holidays.  If fifty files were being processed during a typical day, over 225 working days, that would represent 11,250 adoptions being processed per year.  But worldwide, approximately 5,000 Ethiopian children are adopted every year, including in 2010.  That means that, on average, approximately 20-22 files are being processed daily.  To reduce the number being processed down to approximately five is a huge change, but I wanted to be realistic first about what the real differences are.
  • The fact is that, as I just mentioned, a reduction from twenty down to five files/day is huge.  It will have massive implications for the number of families able to adopt, should this be a direction that mowa persists with in the medium term.  My hope, of course, is that it is a short term situation as we have often seen before; that either mowa will find itself able to process more than they think they can, or that they will bring additional staff in to deal with the backlog of files that will accumulate very quickly.
  • I'm also scared for ourselves.  I'd be lying if I said otherwise.  The new directive is effective March 10.  Our second court date is seven business days later, on March 21.  Our passing court on that day seems significantly less likely now, if mowa will be dealing with only five files/day.  The second implication for us is that, if we don't pass court on March 21, it is likely that a third court date will not happen quickly.  And in the meantime, our children live in an orphanage.
I'd also be lying if I said that this wasn't taking a toll.  The six weeks between our first and second court date is admittedly passing more quickly than I could have anticipated, and I am grateful for that small mercy.  It seems, though that every time we get close, some other obstacle is presented.  Even ignoring our pre-Ethiopia adoption history for the moment, our journey to these particular children has been fraught with delays:  First the bankruptcy, when we were so close to a referral, followed by time spent to enable corporate recovery; then, our first referral fell through because of things beyond our control; then, at long last, after an accepted referral which appeared to be proceeding smoothly, a failed court date and the prospect of additional delays yet to come.

And I'm one of the lucky ones!  We have a referral.  We are in the system and have every hope that eventually we will pass court.  I feel horrible for people, many of whom have become friends, who are still waiting for a referral, knowing that it is possible that this turn of events may lengthen even more their wait.

I'm so thankful to know the faces of our children.  But I have to confess that I'm so, so tired of waiting and waiting, wondering how this new hurdle will potentially impact us; wondering what obstacle will next threaten our family's future.  This month marks nine years of being in the adoption process.  Nine years.  God, if you're trying to teach me patience, resilience, isn't it possible that I've learned those lessons by this point??  I'm tired and worn out from this process.  I want our kids home.


  1. Hi Ruth,

    I have been thinking of you and the others who did not pass court that horrible day. My hope for you is that MOWA had already earmarked your files for approval and were just waiting for the new undertaking. Do you have any idea when the new papers should arrive in Ethiopia? I am sure they would give precedence to your files before authorizing new ones, wouldn't you think??? My heart is so heavy these days, thinking that this may not happen for us. I have a hard time in finding the meaning in all of this. You know I am not a religious gal, but I like to think that things happen for a reason. I just can't figure out why all this heartache, my boys crying for a sister and the thought of so many children in need of caring homes NOT getting them could be what is meant to be. I just don't get it.

    Anyways, I really hope we all get some clarification this week. I can't stand not hearing anything official and that silence is making me worry...


  2. I thought of you as soon as I heard this news Ruth. . . . I hope that the changes do not impact your court date.

    While I think that slowed process for ethical improvements is an acceptable trade-off, I can't help but think that MOWA is going at things from the wrong direction and that everyone would be better served if investigations/family supports etc. were instigated when children are relinquished rather than in when it comes time for adoption court (after referral).

    I hate the fact that this new rule has the potential to lead to more time in institutional care for children, regardless of whether they are adopted or not.

    In any case, I will be thinking of you on the 21st!

  3. Hi ruth...I don't even know what to say anymore. I read this yesterday on the first page of a novel I started, and it seemed to fit how I was feeling...
    "Suppose we could peer through a tiny peephole in Time and chance upon a flash of what was coming up in the years ahead? Some moments would make no sense at all and some, I suspect, would frighten us beyond endurance." (SGrafton)
    I guess it's why it is such a good thing we CAN:T look ahead...this would be one of those beyond endurance moments for me, I think...
    praying for a successful court date for you on the 21st..hoping and praying. For us anymore, I don't even know what to pray. Love darc

  4. Hugs to you Ruth.
    I pray that March 21st will be a day of celebration for you and your family!
    Thanks for the number break down in your post, it gives me a glimps of hope.
    I will be cheering you on!

    Kelly DTE Oct.15.08(currently waiting for ministry children and youth ministry approval)

  5. Ruth,
    You've been much in my thoughts lately as I've wondered how you are coping, and have assumed that the time between your posts means that you are heavy of heart, have much on your mind, and are dealing with and processing a myriad of emotions. I don't even know what to say, other than there are so many people hoping and caring about you and your family. I cannot believe that you might have yet another hurdle in your path. How much can one person take? You are in my thoughts, and I'm praying that your court date goes through on the 21st.

  6. When I heard about this change I thought of you Ruth. I hope it doesn't delay you passing the next time. This must be so difficult when you have met your kids. My thoughts are with you... The rules change so often I would hope that this is just a temporary thing. I also hope that they will do something to try to make the kids in the process already a priority. I really find it frustrating how they implement these new changes so fast without any warning. Grrrr... I wish we had more of a voice to change that. It sucks feeling like you have no control over what is happening to you and your children.
    Hang in there, things will come together. Thinking of you,

  7. Oh Ruth, I can't imagine how hard it must be to deal with this changes while you are in the middle of things. I think this is a really helpful and balanced post- a really good summary of all that's encouraging and sad, at the same time, behind these new developments. Thinking of you - hoping you aren't feeling too overwhelmed. xxx

  8. Thinking of you Ruth
    I am pretty much at a lose of words over all
    Hoping the next few days bring some clarity to us all.
    and here is to time flying ( I know not very likely ) but I can still wish it.
    and I am hoping that the 21st is the miracle day and you can start to breath all over again.
    Much love