Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Approval Process

Several of you have asked what steps you need to go through before your approved and waiting for a child - so here's what I had to do:
  • My agency's application
  • My homestudy agency application
  • A letter to the Ethiopian authorities expressing my desire to adopt from Ethiopia, why I wanted to adopt from Ethiopia, and my requested age range. I chose a girl.
  • References from friends, coworkers, family, neighbors and community members
  • Certified copies of my birth certificate
  • Copies of my passport
  • Passport pictures
  • Copies of my Marriage License
  • Original copies of my divorce decree
  • Pictures of me, my house, extended family and dogs
  • Directions to my house and a diagram of my floor plan
  • My tax returns from the last 3 years
  • Health and life insurance cards
  • A government form called the "I-600A: Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition", which, after submitting this to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, goes through a lengthy process that includes my FBI background check and fingerprints as well as a detailed social work document on me, and turns into an "I-171H: Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition".
  • A local police clearance letter
  • FBI fingerprint background check
  • A child abuse registry check
  • A physical examination
  • A letter stating I was employed (w/my salary and hire date)
  • A detailed financial status document (included income, assets, liabilities, etc.)
  • The homestudy report done by a CA licensed social worker. She spent a half day at the house with me asking questions and updating our homestudy report. This report was submitted to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and to the Ethiopian government.
  • Proof of Hague Educational Training

Because there's a systematic approach to completing this and steps are dependant on other steps it takes a bit of time. I was able to complete these steps in 6 months but it can vary quite a bit. Also keep in mind that every bit of information MUST be notarized, then authenticated by the State Department so there's quite a bit of paperwork management. The good news is this process has a way of making you get your "stuff" together.

STATS: Ethiopian adoption increased from 732 in 2006 to 1,255 adoptions in 2007. Ethiopian government offices are now straining to keep up with the huge influx of paperwork. If the numbers of families interested in Ethiopia continue, we may see more slowing of processing times. I hope that additional staff will be hired so that kids can continue to come into families in a timely manner. It would be wonderful if progress could be made towards better supporting Ethiopian families so that fewer children would become orphans in the first place. But as long as the numbers of orphans in a country can be counted in the millions, I see an increase in adoptions from Ethiopia as a good thing.

OVERVIEW: Ethiopia, a land of rugged beauty, is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. The only African country that was not colonized by a European power, it is known as "the land of a thousand smiles." The ancient home of the Queen of Sheba, it was left bankrupt by years of civil war. Drought, floods, famine, and disease have pushed many thousands of Ethiopian children into institutions, because their parents are either no longer living or are unable to care for them.
A number of U.S.-based adoption agencies have been authorized by the Government of Ethiopia to provide adoption services, and several others pending accreditation. The government office responsible for adoptions in Ethiopia is the Adoption Team in the Children and Youth Affairs Office (CYAO), which is under the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA). Private adoptions are permitted in Ethiopia, but discouraged by MOWA because they take place under local adoption rules and may bypass the process and protections put in place by the Government of Ethiopia relating to international adoption.
Ethiopia requires families to submit post-placement reports on their children at 3 months, 6 months, and one year after the adoption. Yearly reports until the child turns 18 are also required.

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