Friday, May 29, 2009

3 Weeks....



Ok, I didn't think I would be ever putting these numbers back on this blog! But, it has been 3 weeks since the Ethiopian Courts has suspended hearing cases on abandoned babies from Addis Ababa. I thought waiting for a referral was painful....its nothing compared to now even wondering when and if this gets resolved and that each day that goes by we are now missing out on baby tiny's development and all the fun things!


It probably doesnt sound like it.... but, I am feeling optimistic. I think the investigation is progressing and I hope soon, one day..and I am emphasizing soon - I hope to post that the suspension has been lifted and we can get on with this!


Amara has a full closet of beautiful clothes and shoes! Most are size 6-9 months. I know she is small for a 7 month old, (more like the size of a 5 month old) so I am hoping we can get her home this summer. Its not only because I don't want her to outgrow her clothes before we even get to meet her. Its because a lot of these little outfits were picked out with love from many of our family and friends. Each outfit honestly has a special meaning to us! My husband even had me write on the tags on some of the outfits just so he can remember that who it was from when she was wearing it!

I am still following this blog, http://ethioadoptionnews.blogspot.com it has some interesting news/rumors. I am starving for any information that I can get regarding this situation.

All we can do right now, is enjoy the weekend and the nice weather.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just stuff....

I am such a bad blogger. Its actually hard to even talk much about what is going on. I don't have any new exciting news in our adoption case. This afternoon I had our 2nd
conference call with our adoption agency. They have set up weekly conference calls with the 10 families within the agency that this court suspension has effected. They didn't have really anything new today, but they are letting us know they are here to support us, answer questions and let us vent.

Yesterday, I did receive this bit of news,


Dear All:

We contacted the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court today. Court President Ato Dessalegn told us that the investigation into cases of abandoned children is still pending. But, the Court has begun accepting cases of abandoned children referred from Addis Ababa government orphanages. These include the following orphanages:

· Kebebe Tsehay Orphanage
· Ketchene Orphanage
· Kolfe Youth Center


I hope this information is helpful.
Regards,

Paul Cantrell
Consular Section Chief



In my opinion this could be a great sign that things are starting to move, maybe as this investigation proceeds more suspensions will be lifted.

Our baby tiny has turned 7 months old now. She was 3 months old when she was referred to us, and she is getting bigger every day. She is such a little doll. She is looking healthy and plump, such a HUGE change from the tiny malnourished baby I saw in the photos back in January.

We should be in Ethiopia right now picking up our baby. Last weekend we would have started this journey. There was no way I could stay at home, so John and I planned a last minute get away. We decided to take a road trip to Denver. We had a great time. We love staying at Hotel Monaco in Downtown Denver, and eating Panzano restaurant in the hotel, with lots of wine! :)







So while we are waiting for all this adoption stuff to get resolved, I have decided to keep planning some fun get aways so we don't sit around the house and stare at each other and so I don't have to avoid the second floor of our home right now, since that is where the baby's room is located.

We are going to head to Minneapolis the week after next. John has a meeting to go to, so we are turning it into another little get away. I just booked a swanky hotel room at Graves 601 in downtown Minneapolis.

I know I get a lot of hits on this blog now, I know a lot of families are in the same situation as we are. Many are overseas and many in the US all trying to adopt from Ethiopia. If you pray please pray, if you do positive thoughts please do those...whatever it is that you do, please do it.

We need all the help and postitive energy we can get to bring these babies and children home.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Update......

I am checking this other blog everyday. It really has some good information. One thing that was posted today was-

"the hold on abandonment cases started back on May 4th. This means that we are now 2weeks into the investigation. In case it's of interest, I've been told the last big MOWA investigation and halting of court cases (which resulted in extra paperwork and court steps for relinquishment cases) lasted about 6 weeks"

To anyone family in this situation, I recommend following and sending anything you hear to this blog.

http://ethioadoptionnews.blogspot.com/


My adoption agency has scheduled a conference call with all the families involved in this situation. I know our agency doesn't have any new information, but they are holding this call so we can ask questions.

I will post later today, the call is at 1pm central time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Update

We recieved very little information form our agency regarding the meeting on Monday with the Joint Council. Although another family has started a blog to update what is going on. I want to pass this website along to my international friends who are in the same situation. I will post any information I recieve on my blog, but I will also be checking for other info on this blog

http://ethioadoptionnews.blogspot.com

Today, May 18th, the Joint Council of International Children's Services had a meeting discussing the investigation in Addis Ababa.

They've not updated their website as of now, but this is from IAN:
All of IAN’s Ethiopian Program Coordinators took part in a conference call today with the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and approximately 15 other agencies working in Ethiopia.

The main focus of the conference call was to clarify the current status of adoption in Ethiopia particularly as it pertains to the cases of abandonment in Addis. At this time Ethiopia is suspending abandonment cases in Addis only and not cases for children who have been abandoned in other areas of Ethiopia. The court in Ethiopia recently discovered the abandonment of 16 children to one 1 police officer all at the same time; these children were then placed with 4-5 orphanages. None of these children were placed at Sele Enat, the orphanage where IAN’s children are placed. Because of the fear of possible unethical conduct and illegal practices, IAN strongly supports the Ethiopian governments investigation of these cases.

Other news from the conference call is that the Ethiopian government is expecting at least a 20% increase in international adoptions over the next year and that Ethiopia’s focus will be on maintaining it’s current level of adoptions instead of increasing adoptions over the next year; that there is a strong need for more adoptions of older children (over 4) and children with special needs; and that U.S. agencies are contributing to services for children in Ethiopia through not only international adoption, but also through health, education and other human service needs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

No news.....

I was really hoping to hear news today regarding the status of what is going on in Ethiopia. I haven't heard from our agency yet. I have received some emails from other families outside the US, in the same situation as us. Amazing. Sorry to hear so many families affected by this unfortunate situation. Apparently I am getting lot of hits on my blog due to this information that I am posting. I am glad I can help with passing along info I receive. Sorry that I don't have any yet today.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Update

Thursday evening we recieved an update from our agency.


Dear Families,

This is to inform you that the Joint Council on International and Children’s Services are working as well to confirm the extent of the illegal activities and investigations going on in Ethiopia regarding the abandonment children’s issue in Addis Ababa. They will be having a meeting on Monday, May 18th. Any updates on the situation that we may be able to find out from Joint Council on next week, we will be sure to pass along to you.

The State Department has also posted the information below on their website.

We are still trusting that this will have a positive end. We’re waiting to hear the judge’s decision after the investigation is complete. Certainly the MOWA can be expected to have their input as well. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waiting....


We are still waiting to see what is going to happen with our adoption. My heart is so heavy right now. I try not to think of the negative, but its so hard. I haven been able to even go into the nursery we created for her, since all this has happened. Its hard not to think that what happens if this goes on for months? What about all the cute clothes that she may not ever wear, or the bed she will never sleep in. I mean, really....if our baby is truly abandoned and the judge just never hears cases on abandoned children again, what happens to her? Or, what if her biological parent(s) were offered money for her and were so desperate that they took up that offer? Would she be returned to them? Does she end up living her life in an orphanage? I feel for the other 9 families in the same situation. We all communicate wtih each other now practialy on a daily basis. Its great support, but also heartbreaking to see so many people who have grown attached to all the photos of the babies they were referred. Its amazing how you get attached to photos and the idea of being this little persons parent.


I have received a couple updates from my agency and another family who is with a different agency has been posting the news she hears.
This is what my agency has sent us -


Dear Families,

I know that many of you have concerns and anxiety regarding the information given in the update on last week concerning abandoned children in Addis Ababa. If you have any questions or just want to talk please contact your adoption consultant. We will be happy to walk you through what we know regarding this situation that you still may be concerned about. One question that I would like to address further is the concern that this issue will affect ALL abandoned children in Ethiopia. This is NOT the case. This will only concern children abandoned in Addis Ababa, until further notice.

We work with orphanages in the SE, Northern Ethiopia, and also in the surrounding counties of Addis Ababa.

That is how some families who had court dates on last week, and are adopting abandoned children, were approved, while others with court dates that same day adopting abandoned children were not. This situation only affects those abandoned children in Addis Ababa.

The earliest that I thought we would hear anything regarding this issue would be yesterday(Tuesday), however after multiple phone calls to the country, and the power outage, I was not able to make contact by phone or email. I did speak to our in country representative this morning however, and though it is still not known how the judge is going to process these cases of abandoned children, or what new procedures will be put in place, if any; our rep did mention that the abandonment cases that caused the stoppage of hearing abandonment cases is being investigated by the police and a decision will be made on how the court will process future cases once they receive the results of the investigation. Our representative is hopeful that we could hear something some time next week.

The judge did mention that depending on the decision that would be made, the agencies could appeal any decision and ask the MOWA (Ministry of Woman’s Affairs) to give their opinion for the children who already have families and court dates. Because we have so many families who have had court dates long before this situation actually came up in country, our rep is very hopeful that the MOWA and the court will recognize that for the sake of the children, and give a positive opinion regarding these cases and allow them to be heard.

We won’t know of course until after the investigation is complete.


Though this situation is very stressful for some families and causes some uncertainly and anxiety, we truly want to uphold the highest standards of ethics as it relates to this work, and whenever there are unethical acts taking place in a country (any country), at some point, some one is going to notice that and take action to correct it, and this is what is happening here. That’s how different rules and regulations come into place in international adoption. We certainly want to place as many children that need a home as we can, however, we want to ensure that everything is in order for all children that we place, and I’m sure you do as well.. I would think/hope that the judge’s decision would not take too terribly long. We’ll certainly keep you informed on anything additional that we find out. Again please let us know if you have any additional questions and know that our prayers are with those families who are waiting in limbo at this time for the judge’s decision. I encourage you to remain positive, as we are, and stay strong.

Blessings, Ethiopia Staff


One of the familes with a different adoption agency has posted this -


Via the information I received today, from my agency director, who is currently in Addis, a preliminary investigation by the High Court has been completed. This preliminary investigation found that 1 police officer and 1 SW from Addis were involved in the cases of 17 children, which were "found" by the police officer and labeled "abandoned" by the SW.


Evidently, the children were not actually abandonded and do have birth parents. A more extensive investigation is currently underway, so they can, as soon as possible, get new court dates for the Addis children, labeled as abandonded, whose court dates have been postponed. It is believed that children other than the core (17) have NO connection to this single police officer and SW.


That is the extent of the information I received, and my agency director received it today from our in-country attorney (who's sister is the chief investigator for MOWA.) Tomorrow, my agency's director is having meetings with the US Consulate, MOWA, and court officials.If I recieve any more information, I will report it to this board.

Yesterdays update from her-

Families -- As promised, I want to pass along any information I receive from my agency director this week, while he is in Addis. Today we exchanged several emails (the internet is up and running today!). He did not have any new news about the families who have seen post-poned Court dates, but did say the Courts are "working diligently" to resolve the matter. He held meetings yesterday with Court representatives and MOWA. He seemed very happy about these meetings.


All we can do is wait. At least I know that she is in good care. I hope and pray we hear something soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where do we go from here......

I had to wait a couple days to post about our court date on Friday. I still have that giant golf ball in the back of my throat, I am hoping to get that to go away soon. It was hard enough to think about let alone to write about!

John and I are spending a weekend in Virginia. We lived in Southeast Virginia for a little over 3 years. John needed to take a business trip here, so I tagged along to see some old friends, check out the 2 houses we once owned and just have a nice relaxing get away!

I have been looking forward to Friday, May 8th for months. This was the day where Amara would become officially ours. I had all her pictures prepared in a video montage to post on my blog and facebook. The rule was, you had to pass court and then you can share your photos.

Friday morning was exciting. The other families with court dates are chattering away through email and the forum we have all connected with each other on. I was glued to my blackberry, and our adoption agency had set up a 1pm conference call with all the families. I decided to head over to Williamsburg to kill some time. I drove through the country and headed to the ferry to cross the James river. This was good, because on the ferry ride, I could read and reply to all the emails from the other families waiting like I was. After making it to Williamsburg, I received a call from Toni, our adoption case manager. She said she had some bittersweet news. The news was we didn't make it through court. We weren't denied by the judge, our case simply wasn't heard. She said on the conference call they will explain whats going on.

I wasn't too concerned. I was thinking oh....there were too many cases that day the judge didn't get to us, or maybe the power was out in Addis. I drove around for a while and ended up in a parking lot of a Target and a grocery store I used to frequent. John was in the middle of meetings and and couldn't get away. It was time to call in. Sharon the director of our agency had all the families on the phone that were in the same situation as we were. She proceeded to tell us the judge refused to hear our cases at this time.

The judge has suspended hearing cases of abandoned babies and children in Addis Ababa. Why? because of issues that are happening and happen with a lot of countries in international adoption. Corruption and unethical practices with other adoption agencies and orphanages. Babies who are sold and stolen and listed as abandoned.

I dont blame the judge. If it was found that our baby that was referred to us, had a mom out there that had no intention of giving her up, then that is where our baby should be - with her mom. Now...I truly think our baby was abandoned. I think this because of all the circumstances of her story and because I trust Children's Hope International. They strive to always try do things right.

That call was so hard. The whole adoption process is hard, lots of emotions that are up and down. I never imagined this would happen. Is there a chance we may never see the baby? Yes. But also the same amount of chance we will bring her home. The judge just needs to make the decision to hear our cases. The strangest thing is that I found myself in tears trying to make my way back to the Smithfield Inn where we were staying. I had a flashback of when I lived in Virignia years ago. People who are close to me know I had a very hard time when I had moved here before. I had just lost my dad at 56 years old. I was in a new marriage, moved to a new state and was terribly home sick. I spent a lot of time the first few years grieving about my father and a lot of driving and and tears. How strange that I am back in the same place in tears, driving and feeling grief about possibly not completing this adoption.

The hardest part is I don't know when this will happen. All through the process there was always something in the future, the day you complete your paperwork, the day you receive your referral, the day you receive your court date. I think the hardest part is there is not another date to be waiting for. I don't know what to focus on. The good thing is, our baby is getting great care by her loving nannies at the House of Hope. She will be 7 months old in a couple weeks. I received some new photos Friday night and a little update from another traveling family.

"She is adorable!!!!! Lots of hair and big beautiful eyes, she was sitting up in the walker and Paul took a picture of her doing so I will email that to you today "

Its so great to hear she is thriving. I cant imagine not ever seeing this sweet little baby. I am hoping and praying this all works out.

This is the update from our adoption agency -

Abandoned Child Issue

It has come to our attention that the Ethiopia Federal Court, as of this week, will not been hearing adoption cases of children who were abandoned in Addis Ababa, until futher notice. We had several families who had court dates scheduled for today who are being affected by this. Please know that this is not only affecting families with our agency,but for all agencies placing abandoned children from Addis Ababa, until further notice.

There was a case brought before the judge where a large number of children were presented as abandoned; there were many circumstances surrounding the children's paper work that made the judge suspicious,thus it was determined that the children were not in fact abandoned children at all. As a result, these adoptions were not allowed to go through. This was NOT Children's Hope families, and actually the name of the agency and those involved have not been released by the judge.

In our updates, we continually speak about ensuring ethical practices in adoption, for everyone involved in adoption. When something goes wrong in a country (in any country), it not only affects that agency, oroprhange, but many, and sometimes everyone involved in adoption in that country. That is the situation with the abandoned child issue that you may have heard families speaking about today. Everyone is not following the guideline of the Ethiopian Government and individuals are being made accountable.

We really do not have any information at this point regarding how long this decision will be in effect. The Judge in the Ethiopia Federal Court is making a decision regarding how the court will handle such cases. We will certainly keep you abreast of any information that we find of.

The Ethiopia team had a conference call with all of the families affected by this decision who had court dates scheduled for today. We elected to do that as there were 14 families with court dates today, our largest group at one time to date. We felt that it would be more effective and we could get information to each family in a more timely manner, and everyone would be hearing the same thing, if we had the mall on a call together. We certainly were hoping to give all the families the news that their adoption had been approved today and to discuss the process from here; however, unfortunately it turned out to be a call discussing why their adoption was not heard today.

We called families individually first to give them the news, as we didn't want them to here for the first time about their court date on the conference call, and asked families if they would not post any news about their court date until after our call with all of them. We certainly wanted them to hear the information from us first before they would post the information without really having details. We feel that that was in the best interest of the family regarding their personal adoption. We wanted to ensure that they had the information that WE would be presenting to them and that they would hear the news from us first and no one else, especially not from reading it on a blog . After the families received the information they were free to post as they'dl ike. The families also knew that this information would be in this weeks update for all families to be made aware of.

A few families did have their adoptions approved in the court today.These children were also abandoned; however, the children were not abandoned in Addis Ababa. Again the decision to not hear abandonment cases at this time only relates to children abandoned in Addis Ababa,not any of the surrounding areas.

The Judge in the Federal Court will determine what the next step will before all abandoned cases. We are hopeful that we will know something soon, however, no time frame has been given.

There are so many entities involved in presenting paperwork on the child that an agency would ultimately refer, that it is imperative that agencies, orphanages, facilitators, government offices, police officers,everyone involved in adoptions truly take a strong ethical stance for the sake of the children and international adoption.
I know that many of you will have additional questions. Please feel feel to contact your adoption consultant, or myself, and we'll be happy to

answer your questions.

We are believing for a favorable resolution, and our Ethiopia representative is very hopeful as well and he will be following this and of course going to the court to process other adoptions as well. We'll just have to wait, and pray, for now. Our prays are with the families too who had to receive this news today too,we know it's not easy to hear, or digest; but I say to you...

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute,if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8-9 God is still moving.!!

John and I are heading home today, back to Kansas City. It was nice in a way to not be at home when we received the news. I cant even think about seeing her nursery with her photos framed and the letters of her name on the wall.

To leave this on a positive note, my husband seems to always be right. He is one of the most logical and intelligent people I know. He isn't as concerned as I am, and he truly thinks this will be resolved quickly. He said this is what he deals with every day in his job in international business. John always seems to have a good sense of things and things always tend to work out how he predicts.

All for now, we are hoping for news this week.