Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Relinquishment hold in the Assela region

An email:

Two weeks ago we were told that the courts will not be hearing relinquishment cases in the Assela region. There is a hold due to MOWA revising their procedures and policies. Our case is the only one held up for our agency. I was wondering if there are any others out there. Our [children] are at the Numan Orphanage. Our referral was in September but we will not get a court date until they pass court regionally. Apparently the official court date isn't assigned until they are approved by their local MOWA and Courts. Then they will be transferred to the transition home and the Addis courts will hear their case.

If anyone is affected or has any information on this hold, I know this family would appreciate your response.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An email I received:

My agency informed us on November 13th that our case, among five others within our agency, is caught up in a delay due to an investigation of the local government (I guess this is called the Kebele) in the district that our son came from before he was moved to our agency's orphanage. We were told that this investigation is in response to the negative press that was aired by the Australian BBC a couple of months ago. We were told that the investigation has been going on for quite some time, but they are not sure exactly when it started or exactly when it will end.

If anyone has any information about this investigation, please email me or post a comment. Thank you!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Embassy Dates

Since the court re-opened, there has been talk of some new delays between court date and embassy/travel date. One US agency is saying it will now be 8 weeks from court to embassy, another is telling their clients to expect a 5-6 week wait (which for their agency is about 2 weeks longer than usual).

Similar to our court date list:
Those who have passed court after the October 2009 re-opening of the courts- please post when you passed court, and what your embassy date was or is expected to be. Hopefully we'll be able to get an idea of whether most people can expect a longer wait after court or if recent travel delays are more agency-specific. Thank you!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Court dates

(post bumped)

It was requested that a post be started about court dates so people could get an idea of current dates being assigned. Please post your newly assigned court dates here, whether it's the first date or a reassigned date, and when you got your referral (to see if earlier cases are being given priority).

The latest date I have heard of so far is:
-November 25

Medhanialem Investigation

Apparently the orphanage known as Medhanialem Children’s Help Association, which is thought to be a newer institution, is under investigation by the police, and holding up court dates of those whose children came from or are residing there.

It seems that authorities hope the investigation will be finished by the end of this month or beginning of next month, but if anyone has information concerning the investigation (when it started, why they are under investigation, when they expect it to be over, etc) please post here or contact me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Courts open

At least one US agency confirmed today the courts are now open. Good luck to those with court dates this week!

Updated: Another US agency announced today (10/13) that the courts are indeed open.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The court has extended their closure due to training. Many with early October court dates have already been rescheduled for later in the month; the latest date I've heard so far is October 21st. Here are what agencies are saying about re-open dates (updated):

-In 2 weeks, no date given- 2 US agencies
-October 12- 2 US agencies
-October 13- 1 US agency

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Re-opening of the courts

At least two US agencies so far have announced that the courts have delayed their re-opening until Oct 12th or 13th due to training.

At least one US agency has announced that the court will be closed for another two weeks for training (no re-open date given)

1 US agency said recently that the courts will be opening back up on October 7th 2009.

(post edited)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Abandoned children without clearance letters

An email:

"Are there any families that received referrals of children abandoned in Addis Ababa that meet all of the following criteria?

1. The children were referred before or during the ban
2. They had been reported to the police as abandoned BEFORE the ban, but
3. Had not completed their 60 day police clearances at the time the ban started

I would like to know if any of these adoptions have been processed and how many are still pending. We are in this category and know 3 others from the same orphanage that are as well and we are still waiting for our police clearances."

If you have any information regarding cases like this, please respond or email me. Thanks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ethiopia and singles

At least 2 US agencies have reportedly told their clients that Ethiopia is now closed to single individuals wanting to adopt. It is believed that those with referrals will be able to complete the process.

edited: At least 1 European agency was told no more singles after Sep 2009, and at least one agency in the UK has reported that the UK is officially closed to singles.

From the Australian government:
Australia has received advice from the Ethiopian Ministry of Woman’s Affairs (MoWA) that no further adoption applications from single applicants will be accepted by the Ethiopian program. This applies to any potential applications from single persons yet to be approved by State and Territory Central Authorities, including those who have lodged adoption applications and are currently under assessment.

MoWA has agreed that existing applications already approved by State and Territories can be progressed. This includes those applications lodged with the Australian Representatives in Ethiopia, and those approved and waiting with Central Authorities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Annual Court Closure

Obviously the courts have stayed open longer than usual, but it seems they will likely be closed after this Friday. Here is the current list:

Closing after August 21st
: at least 5 US agencies, at least 1 European agency

Reopening Sep. 25th: 1 US agency
...in about 4 weeks: 1 US agency
...in early October: at least 2 US agencies
...October 6th:at least 1 US agency

The earliest court date I've heard is October 6th. If you have a court date after August 21 but prior to October 6, please let us know!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The future of this blog...

As you may have noticed, I've had nothing to post lately. This blog was originally set up to pass on information specifically concerning the abandonment hold, though often the information was beneficial to anyone with an interest in Ethiopian adoption (such as MOWA closing for training, the dates of the annual summer closure, etc.)

I'm happy and willing to continue posting what agencies are saying about any Ethiopian adoption related topic whatsoever, not just the abandonment ban. If your agency shares some interesting news, please feel free to pass it on to the rest of us! Not all of us have agencies that are quick to learn of and share new developments in Ethiopian Adoption.

As for the abandonment hold, many families have now passed court and some are currently traveling or will travel soon. We understand this hold was necessary to make sure all ET adoptions remain ethical, and very much appreciate those in Ethiopia who worked hard to complete their investigation in a relatively short time frame!

There are many families still affected, unfortunately...some who are waiting for new court dates to come or be assigned, some who are waiting on essential paperwork before they can move forward, and some who were referred abandoned children without police clearances who are currently waiting for decisions to be made on how to proceed with such cases. Our hearts go out to these families.

Thank you so much to everyone who was willing to pass on what their agencies were saying, and to anyone who may continue to do so in the future :-)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Most agencies now seem to be getting court dates for new cases for early October, after the court closure. It appears that the majority of cases who had original court dates during the ban are being heard before the closure. If you're an abandonment case still waiting for a 2nd court date or if you've received one for October, please let us know.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A US agency announced today that the courts will be closed from August 21st to October 6th. There are now 4 US agencies who have heard a date of August 21/22nd for the closing, and this is the first (that I know of) to give an exact date for reopening.

*Note: I've heard of a new court date given recently for October 6th, which seems to confirm the information above that the court is indeed closing.
edited to add: Another case with a US agency has a court date of October 7th.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In case it's of interest to anyone, a couple abandonment cases did not pass court today due to no MOWA letter. (On a happier note, at least 5 cases did pass!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Edited: Several abandonment cases with no prior MOWA letters (from at least 2 different agencies) have passed court today... congratulations to these families!

Friday, July 24, 2009

At least 2 US agencies with court dates for Thurs and Fri (23rd and 24th) told their clients that court was canceled these days due to no MOWA letters, and their court dates have been postponed. One agency said it was because MOWA decided to open today, July 24th, instead of yesterday as planned.
If anyone has any information on whether or not MOWA is reopen (numerous agencies believed it would be by now), please post it here. I'll be out today an unable to update the blog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A US agency that previously said the courts had cancelled their annual closure is reporting that they have decided to close on Aug. 21st, and will reopen sometime the first week of October. They decided to delay their closure because of MOWA's current closing. I've updated my summary below.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Since there really isn't much news lately and the majority of agencies have their new court dates or are expecting some soon, here is another summary:

Courts staying open:
-all summer: 1 US agency
-open, but not saying for how long: 2 US agencies, 1 European agency
-at least through second week of August: 1 US agency
-1 week later: 1 European agency
-till August 21st/22nd: 2 US agencies
-through August: 1 US agency
-court will close beginning of Aug: 1 US agency

MOWA will reopen:
-22nd of July- 1 US agency, 1 European agency
-24th of July: 1 US agency
-28th July: 1 US agency

(I certainly may have missed some, but this is the minimum)

*Note: The latest court date I've been told about is for 8/19. This seems to be a decent indication that the court will be open at least till then!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today, a US agency confirmed that the courts would remain open at least through the end of August.

Another large US agency reports that since MOWA will be closed until the 23rd, the Federal court has decided to remain open for an additional 2 weeks, until the 21st of August. The courts will be closed from August 22 to sometime around September 25th. According to this agency, MOWA reports that they will be available to review files beginning on July 23rd, and will have letters for the court ready starting on the 24th.

This agency also confirms that the investigation into abandonment cases is over and that the ban is lifted.

*4 US agencies and 1 European saying the courts won't close (it's unknown if they meant they won't close at all, or won't close at the usual time), 1 European agency saying they will close a week late, 1 US agency saying they will be open at least through most of August, and 1 US agency saying courts will close on August 22nd.
A European agency confirmed to their clients:

1. The court will not close during the rainy season
2. MOWA will re-open on July 22nd

*I will add this to my summary post; that makes 2 US agencies and 1 European saying the courts will definitely be remaining open.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The agency that announced today that the courts will remain open says that this decision was announced on Friday, and that the process of referrals and court dates will continue on as normal from August through October. They said that all agencies are rescheduling court dates for after MOWA reopens. There is some contradiction as to when they’ll reopen, but they were scheduled to be out for 2 weeks, so this agency thinks they will reopen sometime mid-to-late next week.
A US agency has given more information concerning the reorganization of MOWA. From what they understand, abandoned children who are reported to the police will then have their cases sent to MOWA for oversight. The children will now be initially placed into the government-run orphanages before being sent to the various private orphanages. It’s not known how their distribution to the private orphanages will be determined or how long a child will have to remain in the government orphanages before being moved.

This agency is almost certain this reorganization will not affect those who had court dates during the ban or for those who were referred before the ban. They are not sure whether children already in the private orphanages but not referred will be affected by the reorganization or not.

Go here to see where this has been discussed before.
The US agency that had court dates scheduled for next Monday has had them re-scheduled for after MOWA reopens. (This is the agency that was told the judge would ask MOWA to have staff available to write the letters.) They believe they received some of the first rescheduled appointments for abandonment cases since they were one of the first to petition the court to hear their cases.

This agency also reported that on Friday an official announcement was made that the courts will stay open through the rainy season.

*That makes 2 US agencies who have announced that there will definitely be no closure.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is an email from someone hoping to find someone in a similar situation:

Our case is unique and wondering if anyone else is in the same position.

-Referral in early March for RELINQUISHED infant.
-Court date may 14 didn't pass
-Court date June 2 & 8 didn't pass
-Judge requested a paper Wk error be fixed on BM paperwk. It is now corrected BUTTT, our daughters case has been lumped into the abandonment cases now??!

No new court date :( and scared we won't make it thru before court closure

Anyone else with a relinquished child that had failed court dates caught in the delay?
Several abandonment cases with new court dates scheduled for early next week have been rescheduled till the end of the July due to MOWA being closed.

Please note that there are now at least 6 agencies with new court dates scheduled and at least 8 more that have indicated they expect to get new dates soon.
Today some clients from a European agency received new court dates for the end of July. (Their dates are for after MOWA reopens.)

edited: Other clients of the same agency received court dates of August 9th.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

An agency update:

[US Agency] has learned that there is an unexpected closure of the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) until July 28th. As you are probably aware, MOWA is involved in preparing letters for the court hearings. We are not yet sure what impact the Ministry closure will have on court cases that have been scheduled during this time. It is possible that they may be postponed and rescheduled before the court closure.
A US agency received court dates for all the families that were in this abandonment delay. The court date that was given was for the week after next. The families originally had a court date on May 8th. They agency reported to the families that they do not have MOWA letters, but the judge requested to the MOWA to complete the letters prior to the court date given the families. The agency stated the judge feels that this can take place for the MOWA to get the letters written prior to the court date.
An email:

My European agency informed me that the MOWA will close for two weeks because of trainings. This closure does not affect cases having already the MOWA approval. New court dates for old cases will proceed in 1,5 weeks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A US agency has heard that all 'new' abandonment cases from here on out will be sent to one orphanage, and it is unknown if they will be available for adoption. If they aren't available for adoption, this could potentially be bad news for those who received referrals during the ban.

(If you have any more information about this, please contact me!)
An email:

One family passed today. They had an original court date of May 4 (the first day of the ban, I believe). Five other families were issued court dates for this Friday (of course, we don't know whether a MOWA approval letter will be in place by then). The other six families from our agency (including us) still haven't heard any concrete news, except that our files are at the courts now.

Our agency also reports the MOWA "closing for training purposes."

Our agency also said the courts will continue processing cases through the second week of August, at least. They have not heard anything about court remaining open.
An email:

"Two families from our agency passed today. Both were abandonment cases, with all the paperwork done and the MOWA approval from before the ban."
A US agency (with no cases affected by the hold) reports that the court will be closing in 3 weeks. They did not hear how long they will close for.
(**Updated with more agencies)

With so much information coming in, I thought I’d summarize:

Saying the Investigation is over:
-7 US agencies
-9 European agencies from 4 different countries

Saying the ban is lifted:
-7 US agencies
-6 European agencies from 4 different countries

Told by the court to expect new court dates soon:
-2 US agencies
-4 European agencies from 2 different countries

Already received their new court dates:
-8 US agencies
-2 European agencies

Passed court:
-4 cases from 2 US agencies

Didn't pass court
-2 cases from US agencies (no MOWA letter)

I may have missed some, but these are the minimum that I know of.

Reporting MOWA is closed:
-At least 10 US agencies
-At least 2 European agencies

Reporting the courts are staying open:
-4 US agencies
-1 European agency
*saying open for 1 week later: 1 European agency
**saying open till end of August: 2 US agencies
Another US agency reports that the court told them they will receive their new court dates tomorrow. Unfortunately, it is unknown how the MOWA closure will affect this. MOWA writes a summary to the court that is not presented until the day the case is heard in court. Because of the abandonment hold no MOWA letters were submitted for existing cases. The agency is unsure how this will be handled now that MOWA is closed.
An email:

People from my agency have gotten their new court dates already. It's disappointing because they know they won't pass due to MOWA being closed, but everyone hopes when they are assigned another date it will be before the summer closure.
Another US agency confirms that MOWA is closed (that's 3 US and one European).

Edited to add: A 4th US agency confirms that MOWA is closed and they state they expect them to reopen at the beginning of August.
A European agency that was expecting news today says that it's still not clear whether we will be given new court dates (this agency's rep believes we will) or whether we will be passed without court as some are rumoring.

They also confirmed that the Department of Adoptions within MOWA has no staff available for passports, birth certificates, etc. until July 23rd. If they choose to pass our cases directly, that can probably still be done between today and 23. If they assign new court dates it would be after the 23rd.
A US agency (who has not yet been mentioned as one told to come to court with their cases today) reports that the court has completed their investigation and has stated that they will now hear pending cases. Families who had court dates and weren't heard will be receiving new ones very soon. Families who were waiting for 1st court dates will also now be able to receive them, and they will resume the referral of abandoned children. A time frame is unknown.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One US agency (wishes to remain anonymous) submitted their cases to the court Tuesday July 7th, and was told that all their cases were accepted and to expect new court dates in the near future. This agency thought it could even be possible that they would begin to hear cases by the end of this week.

*Note: Obviously this is not one of the 2 agencies that reported the MOWA closing.
Two US agencies announced today that MOWA will be closing for training, effective tomorrow and lasting until July 24th. One agency reminded their clients that MOWA handles both pre- and post-court paperwork; the closing not only affects abandonment cases waiting for new court dates, but it affects all cases waiting for court dates, cases scheduled for that time, as well as people who have already passed court and are waiting for travel clearance.
An email:

FYI. A friend from a different agency had their (first) court date today. It's an abandoned in Addis case. They didn't pass due to a paperwork issue, but as far as they know their case WAS heard.
An email:

I have just come home to find a message on my answering machine from my [European] agency: they (in turn) got a phone call from their chairman, who seems to be in addis abbaba right now, that the ban is finally lifted. the in-country rep was asked to come to court tomorrow (wednesday) to hand in our papers (and those of the other applicants) in order to apply for a new court date. the agency reckons that it might take some time until we get news about our new court date but the application process is going to start tomorrow.

*Note: This is now 4 European agencies (from 3 different countries) and 4 US agencies who were told to come on Wednesday with their paperwork.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The US agency that had the in-country rep at court late this afternoon/evening has stated that the rep was told to return to court this Wednesday. The agency has not received details on what was discussed in court but will let the families know as soon as they hear anything.
One of the US agencies originally reporting to hear news on July 2nd is reporting that after some internet problems, they finally got through to their rep who told them that the investigation is indeed over and that the court should have their decision by this Thursday.

Also, today another European agency announced that the investigation is over and the ban is lifted.
An email:

My agency, who is very careful about passing along information, has just informed me that the court asked agencies to come on Wednesday to the court with their files. They are not sure what will happen on that day but this is HUGE progress.
A US agency told families waiting to hear news today that their in-country rep has been at court all day and is still at court even though it is late afternoon/early evening in Ethiopia The agency will let the families know as soon as they hear anything.

Friday, July 3, 2009

An email:

My agency from [European country] just called me at 14:45pm and he said that the process is OVER, and between Monday and Wednesday they give new courts dates.

He told me that he spoke with two more agencies here in [European country] and they said the same.

The lawyer that is working for our agency ( for more than 7 years) thinks that it is possible that the court date is in before summer time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An email:

This was posted on the EthopiaAdopt yahoo group this am, by one PAP:

"Our agency, which generally only discusses facts, not rumors, said that abandonment cases could start petitioning for a new court date today (July 2), but there were hundreds of cases. They said it might be a little while before they heard on when the dates will be. Also, there are families in our agency with abandoned children that will have court early next week."

*Note: If this is the agency I think it is, the families mentioned with court dates are new cases, not ones who already had court during the ban.
From one of the two agencies who were told there would be news on July 2nd:

Hello –

I know you are anxiously waiting to hear something today about the decision. I have been dialing our in-country rep every 15 minutes since 7AM this morning. I get messages like:

All circuits are busy
The Network is not working
The user’s phone is busy
The user is out of the area

I will keep trying and hopefully have something for you by the end of the day.

Thanks for your patience.
An email:

My director just told me that they are expecting some kind of news or announcement tomorrow concerning this. I feel like we're just being strung along, and I know all our hopes have been dashed again and again, but I thought I'd pass it along anyway. My agency thinks we will hear something tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An email:

My European agency confirmed (the first time) that the investigation (police and orphanages) is officially over and that they found nothing suspicious. All currently existing cases are ok. The next step will be a meeting between the court president and the orphanages, it should have taken place last Friday, then Monday/Tuesday and now it is postponed to an indefinite date.

They assume that the cases have to go through the whole process again, i. e. need new court dates.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An email:

Our agency (United States) told us that they are going to start reopening cases and rescheduling court dates starting on July 2nd. I don’t know how long it will take to get all of us new court dates, but our agency is optimistic that our cases, at least from our agency, will be heard before the closure. They are very careful about not passing on rumors, so I tend to believe them when they say cases will be reopened late next week.

*Note: This is not the same agency that mentioned the July 2nd date earlier this week.
An email (European agency):

Our agency has informed us this morning that the rumors of the decision following the court should have announced this week and to be imminent. Unknown if the cases involved for which the trial took place during this period of time required new trial date or not. Think not. Hope so.

*Updated: This person has clarified a little using their case as an example. Their court date was on May 29th. All of their documents were submitted to the court, but of course their case was not heard because it was for a child abandoned in Addis. The orphanage this child resides has been investigated and cleared. The agency has suggested that cases like this may not require a new court date. The agency believes they may just sign the necessary paperwork to pass the case.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another US agency today is reporting that there won’t be an official decision from the court for another 2 weeks. This is the agency that has been keeping us updated about a meeting with the orphanage directors. The orphanage directors are supposed to call the office of the court in the next 2 weeks to find out the decision.

*Note: There is some conflicting information from the various agencies as far as a timeline for an official decision:
-2 US agencies and 1 European agency have told their clients it will be 2 weeks.
-1 US agency gave a deadline of July 2nd
-2 European agencies say there is a meeting this Friday to discuss a decision

It is possible that the 2 week timeline and the July 2nd timeline are the same information (depending on when the “2 week” wait began), and that the meeting on Friday is something different. We’ll just have to wait and see what unfolds.
From a non-US agency:

I just talked to my agency and they told me, that the meeting that was supposed to take place last friday is now sceduled for this friday. The president of the court is supposed to meet the directors of the orphanages and they try to find a solution on how to proceed. That would be brilliant because it means we don`t have to wait for two more weeks. But my agency also said that you never know whether the meeting really takes place. They confirmed as well that the investigation is definitively over.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A US agency is reporting that the final decision about the abandonment cases is supposed to be issued on July 2, 2009. This was confirmed to their coordinator by the judge today, June 23, 2009. This in-country rep has also heard the rumor that the courts will not close for the summer, but has not received any official word whether it's true.

*Note: This is not from the same agency we've been waiting to hear from concerning the outcome of the meeting, but it's possible that the July 2nd date was what was discussed in today's meeting with the orphanage directors and the court (if they held it).

Monday, June 22, 2009

A US agency is reporting that the scheduled meeting with the orphanage directors (to find out the court's ruling concerning abandonment cases) has been postponed until Tuesday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

From the US agency who expected some sort of announcement today:

The orphanage directors were told that the orphanages had cleared the investigation and we're just waiting to see how the cases will move forward. There was no information given out today so we will have to wait until next week to hear something.
A summary of an update from a different US agency:

There was a scheduled meeting with the court and the orphanage directors today, which was postponed until Monday. The court has received their final police report on the investigation and a ruling is expected on Monday. This ruling will concern all those cases that had court dates that have been postponed.

It is believed (but not confirmed) that MOWA is going to now be responsible for issuing clearance papers on abandoned children, rather than the Bureau of Civil and Social Affairs.
An update from a US agency:

We have word from our staff in Ethiopia that the ban on Abandonment Cases in Addis, has been lifted. We are currently assessing the issue and finding out our next steps to get court dates for those who have been effected by the ban.

*Note: This is a different agency from the one who reported yesterday about a coming announcement.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A summary of an update from a US agency:

An announcement is expected tomorrow, and we think the outcome is going to be positive. All the papers provided by the orphanages were found to be in order.
An email I received:

I have conducted a lot of research and upon hearing the news on the ban, my first impulse was to figure out who I could lobby to get my case through. Now after becoming an expert on Ethiopian affairs, I know that is not the correct approach. What I think we need to focus our efforts on is to ensure that our agencies are pushing the courts to postpone their recess until the situation is resolved. Unlike trying to influence the ban where tinkering in Ethiopian affairs by westerners is shunned, I think this is a doable approach on the grounds that any further delay is not in the best interest of the children being held up by the ban. I would ask that we all get in touch with our agencies and ensure that they are working on this.

*Note: The court apparently shortened their closure a couple years ago, so it would seem they would be open to doing this again. Most agencies should be aware of the rumor about the court closure being canceled this year, as it has been discussed on the JCICS member list serve. As of now though, I've only heard of one US agency who has stated that it is official and not just a rumor.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An email was received this morning from a US agency that gives daily updates:

Our director from our US agency is now in Addis Ababa. They have learned that the investigation is indeed over with the five orphanages have been cleared. The director is hoping to hear something by Friday on how all the families will proceed at this point.
Sorry for no official statements yet on the investigation being over.
An email:

With all this talk about the investigation being over, I thought I’d tell you that our agency says there are two different investigations. There was the overall investigation into why there was such an increase in abandonment cases, and there was also a separate investigation into police corruption. A policeman signed clearances for 17 children before their abandonment period was up. I’d like to know which investigation is over, because if it’s just the police investigation, then they still need to decide how to handle abandonment cases which is why the ban is still in place.

*Note: I’ve heard that the policeman was giving clearances to children after a week, instead of the required 60 days.

Friday, June 12, 2009

An email this morning:

I have just received newsletter from my agency here in [European country].
They have been confirmed both by the leader from the orphanage Edget (which was one of the 5) AND staff from the court that the investigation is OVER and the result was that nothing was found suspecious :-D
They expect new courtdates to be given very soon to the waiting cases :-D

Thursday, June 11, 2009

There has been some contradiction regarding the orphanage Betesaida and whether it’s one of the 5 orphanages that is/was under investigation. A couple non-US agencies have said they believe it to be one of the 5, while a US agency that works with Bete Saida says it is not. It is also possible that Betesaida and Bete Saida are two different institutions, though highly unlikely.

ETA: further information regarding Bete Saida versus Betesaida
(an email I received):

Bete Saida Hitsanat Merja Mahiber is not an orphange under investigation. I know someone that has seen the list and I can assure you they are not under investigation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An email:

I received word from our agency that the courts are going to remain open through Aug/Sept. This is great news!

*Note: At least one US agency and 2 European agencies have been hearing this rumor over the last few weeks as well.
Notes from an agency conference call today:

- Our agency stated again that the investigation is over
- This issue is not an agency issue, but an orphanage issue
- They are hoping that next week this will be formally announced, the orphanage directors will be informed on how this will proceed
- Our in country rep thinks this will be resolved very soon and remains optimistic
- They have no idea how court dates will be re-issued and what the time frame will be
One agency’s take on the new court dates being given out to cases from orphanages not involved in the investigation (summarized):

First, the simplified process of abandonment-
-Abandoned child is "found" and brought to orphanage or police
-Police issue a letter of abandonment that starts the 60 day wait
-When 60 day wait is over, orphanage petitions "the Bureau" for a "clearance"
-As soon as "clearance" is received and family's dossier is in
country, all the adoption case paperwork is compiled and a court date
is applied for

This agency says that for a couple weeks now they have been getting
June court dates for kids who have their "clearances", as well as for
kids who have finished the 60 day waiting period, but have not been
issued their "clearance" yet. Getting a court date for a child from
an orphanage that was not involved in the investigation does not mean
the case is going to pass. This agency has gotten new court dates for
children with their police clearances with the understanding that they
will not pass court if the ban is not lifted by the time their court
date comes. This agency has also gotten new court dates for children
without their clearances but knows they will not pass until the
suspension is lifted AND the "clearances" are given [apparently police
clearances are not being given at this time],

Only IF the ban is lifted will kids with their "clearances" that are
being scheduled court dates pass court.

*Note: This explains why some agencies are receiving dates for new
cases, but not receiving new dates for cases who have already been
affected by the hold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From a US Agency that gives daily updates :

The orphanages that are affected by the abandonment issue are supposed to go and ask that the ban be lifted concerning the abandoned children. At this time we do not know what the result will be but I’ll let you know what we find out. This hopefully will take place within the next week or so. This is all of the information that I have regarding this at this time.
An agency from outside the U.S. told their clients that last Thursday all the orphanages in Addis had a meeting to choose a delegation of them to meet with the Ministry of Social Welfare “in order to finish as soon as possible”. No mention of when the meeting with the Ministry will take place or if it already has.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The agency who posted last week about the investigation being possibly over says today that while it does indeed appear to be over, the ban is still in place. The individual orphanages are responsible for getting the results of the investigation, and not the agency representatives.

Agency Updates

Recently several agencies have been asking their clients not to post agency updates over the internet. You also may have noticed that I have amended several recent posts at the request of the sources who later felt like they had given away too much information, and didn't want to jeopardize their case or the investigation as a whole. To be respectful, I will no longer be posting any agency names on this blog, nor any word-for-word updates from any agency. However, as so many of us are so desperate for information that we may not be able to get from our own agencies, I will still be posting paraphrases or summaries of agency information from anyone who is willing to share. You can summarize the information any way you choose, and share whatever you feel comfortable. Again, no agency names will be used. I’m hopeful people will still be willing to pass on what they hear to the rest of us. Thank you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

An email I received (amended by the source):

The agency update you posted today seems coherent with what we were told by our agency today; we had planned to fly to Ethiopia... our agency suggested not to cancel our trip just yet but to wait until next week. I guess they have heard the same rumor and hope something happens soon.
An agency update (today):

Dear Families,

I hope you are still staying strong. I wanted to send you an email regarding the Abandonment Children’s Issue in Addis Ababa and my conversation with [Name withheld] this morning. I first want to preference this email by saying that the information was presented to me as RUMORED and not that anything has been officially confirmed or announced, but that this is what some agencies and orphanages in Addis have been discussing among each other. So there may be some truth to some of the information. I generally do not post about what’s “rumored” but I just wanted to give you a sense of what it might be looking like in Ethiopia regarding this issue. I will be traveling to Ethiopia on June 13th for 2 weeks and will look further into this situation while I’m there if it is not resolved before that time.

First of all, my understanding is that the investigation has been completed. This was told to our in country rep by one of the judges. Our rep was at the court to process other families’ adoption cases. This is all of the information that he received from the court and was not given any information regarding what the decision of the investigation is and what was going to be put in place to move forward. The ban has not been lifted as of yet regarding when they will start hearing abandoned children’s cases, as the announcement regarding the investigation or the next steps have not been officially announced. When asked what the decision was, our rep was told to go and find out himself as it is not in the judges power to give that information – it has to be given from a higher authority then her. I asked our rep to go to the proper authority to ask about the results, and he said that it is not an agency issue (except for the agency/agencies who were involved), but that it’s an orphanage issue, and a orphanage director in Addis would have ask for that information . I asked him to have one of the orphanage directors that we work with to go and ask. He noted that no one is going to ask. They want to wait until the orders are officially given, and not rock the boat, so to speak. I did mention to him to have Enat Alem orphanage to go the officials on behalf of our families who are waiting for children from that orphanage. Everyone is concerned about making waves before everything is announced. I will follow up on this when I am in Ethiopia.

[Name withheld] is very hopeful that all of our cases will go through and he has mentioned that even though the information that he is hearing is “rumored”, it’s all positive for the most part.

Unfortunately, our phone conversation disconnected before I could ask further questions or whether he thought your cases would be heard before the courts closed. I tried calling several times after the disconnect but was not able to reach him again. I’ll check in again with you one Monday to let you know if there is anymore information that I have received.

We’ll also be happy to have a conference call with you on Wednesday for those families who would like to be on the call. We’ll email you with the time. If anything more concrete takes place before than were we might need to have the call sooner, we’ll let you know. I know many of you still have questions and concerns. Hopefully this is helpful. At least it looks like it’s moving in the right direction. Again Ethiopia culture is one that doesn’t give out much information until the results are final, but I’ll continue to dig into this and keep you posted.

An agency update from yesterday:

"Good Afternoon Waiting Families:

...I do not have any "new" news to share. The court is still investigating past case files looking for any patterns which fall outside of protocol. As of this week the only situation we are aware of is the one concerning 16 cases which were cleared in one week to one orphanage by one police official. The orphanage is not one in which we work. I can say to you that the attorneys
representing the licensed adoption agencies are asking for a speedy resolution by the court but I will tell you what they have told me and that is the court will resume when they have completed their investigation and not before.

So, we are able to refer children, get medicals and labs, photos and monthly updates. During this suspension we cannot get legal papers on the child, abandonment clearances, review by the MOWA, court dates or finalization hearings."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

(This post was amended at the request of the source):

From a non US-agency it is reported that court dates are now given for abandoned children found in Addis Abeba from the orphanages Kids Care, Almaz Ashene and Sele Enat, and they expect more court dates.

The agency believes that five orphanages seem to be in focus: Enat Alem, Betezata, Edget, Betesaida and Godanaw, and that families with children here have to wait for the investigation to finish before getting court dates.

Unfortunately they have no news as to the status of the police investigation.

(12/6/2011 update: The organization Edget Baandnet Children's Center, located in Awassa, would like it to be known that they are not the Edget mentioned in this post, and that they were not involved in an abandoned children investigation in 2009.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From an agency representative (on May 29th):

What we were told today, from reputable sources in Ethiopia, was that the investigation will be complete and they will begin hearing cases again of abandoned kids by the end of June. That is really all I know. I guess that is at least a timeline. I am not saying that by the end of June doesn't mean it couldn't be earlier than end of June, but I really don't know that is just what we were told. They will get these cases on the docket through before courts close, I am sure.

Note: At least 2 other agencies have also been hinting about a possible resolution by the end of June.

*Edited to remove the name of the agency. I like to include agency names so people know where the information is coming from (and that it's coming from a reputable source--an adoption agency licensed in Ethiopia), but in this case I've decided to remove it. The person providing the information didn't tell me themselves which agency it was, and I'd like to respect their anonymity.
From CHI:

Still no closure to the abandonment child issue in Addis Ababa as of yet. As far as the questions that have been posed from some families regarding getting a new referral or getting a second referral while the abandonment issue is being investigated, the response was that the abandonment cases waiting must wait and can not be touched/moved until the investigation has been completed. As well, there can not be two cases open in the court for the same family and for different children. I still have no idea when the ban will be lifted; no date or time frame has been given. I have no other information at this time, I am sorry.

Toni Lynch
Ethiopia Adoption Consultant

Monday, June 1, 2009

From CHI:

Abandonment Child Issue
The abandoned child investigation still continues in Addis Ababa. The ban has been lifted on hearing abandonment child cases in the courts for about 3 government orphanages in Addis Ababa, as of this week. We do not work with government orphanages for the referral of children; and outside of those three orphanages at this time, the investigation continues. It is still unknown as to how long the investigation will continue; therefore while it is still in place, we will not be referring abandoned children from Addis Ababa. We are still referring abandoned and relinquished children from outside of Addis Ababa, however. This investigation is something that all agencies will have to wait on to be completed. There is nothing specific to CHI. We will just have to wait for the ruling from the court on how it will proceed with abandoned child cases in Addis, along with the other agencies.

Court Closure
As is standard practice in Ethiopia, the Ethiopia Federal Court closes for the rainy season from August until October each year (some smaller courts in the various regions begin to close for very short periods of time before that). Our Ethiopia staff will be working to get as many adoptions approved in the courts as possible before the time of the court closure. We have not been informed of the actual date that the Federal Courts will close this year but will pass that information along once we receive it. When courts are closed, referrals can still be given and families can still travel to pick up their children, as long as the adoption was approved in the court before the courts closed. Though the adoption process continues it's generally at a slower pace during these months then the rest of the year, as many take vacations and such, during this time in Ethiopia.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The US Department of State has issued their update:

Adoptions of Abandoned Children Halted by Ethiopian Court

On May 4, 2009 the Ethiopian First Instance Court temporarily stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children referred by orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing a substantial increase in the number of children being brought for adoption. The number of abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa has grown dramatically in recent months and Ethiopian authorities have become aware of possible cases of unethical practices associated with some of them.

Neither the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) nor the First Instance Court had been accepting abandonment cases from any orphanage in Addis Ababa pending an inquiry. However, on May 23 the Court confirmed that while the investigation into cases of abandoned children continues, it 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

Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on Ethiopia.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An email:

Just wanted to let you know that I have heard from two reputable sources that the investigation is narrowing to the orphanages in which the scandal took place. Additional pending cases will not be investigated. There is no clue as to when impacted cases will begin to be heard though. This is good progress.
Provided by PEAR-
From the Australian Central Authority to an Australian adoptive parent's organization., emailed by the Australian Attorney General's Office:

Ethiopia – temporary suspension of court cases involving abandoned children – Updated 28 May 2009

The Department has obtained additional information about the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court’s decision to suspend cases involving abandoned children in Addis Ababa orphanages. The Court has confirmed that the suspension applies to all existing and new cases. The Court has also advised that the suspension now only applies to children from private (non-governmental organizations) orphanages in Addis Ababa. Please note, the considerable majority of orphanages are privately run.

The Court is unable to provide an indication on how long the suspension will remain in place, given the nature of the investigations required. The Court hopes that the investigation will be progressed as soon as possible. At this time, the Department understands that the concerns are of a general nature and do not specifically relate to any Australian cases.

The Department supports actions taken by the Court to protect Ethiopian children. We recognise and respect the roles and responsibilities of Ethiopian judiciary and Government authorities in these matters and welcome actions taken to ensure appropriate practices and safeguards are in place.

If you have any queries regarding your adoption application, please contact your State or Territory Central Authority. Further updates will be provided when possible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waiting to hear back on which agency this is from:

Our agency in-country representative said that part of the issue with the suspicious cases is that the police were giving out abandonment clearances before the proper wait period, as defined by MOWA, had ended. I believe they’re investigating this as well as the overall increased number of abandonment cases, and we were told it could take awhile due to staff size.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From CHI:

I received the message below just this morning form the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. None of the orphanages listed are orphanages that we work with. It has also been brought to our attention that the abandonment issue has extended to other parts of Ethiopia as well, for example in some of the western cities and towns, none of which we work in however. It’s good to see that there has been some movement with some Addis orphanages. We’ll continue to keep you posted.

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.

Consular Section Chief, U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa]

Note: Gladney works with these 3 orphanages, I'm not sure if any other agencies do.

edited: apparently this information has now been forwarded from the original source to most US adoption agencies.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Info coming from AC (a Denmark adoption agency):

They say that the suspiscious cases especially are concerning some of the children found in the following subcities: Lidetta, Kirkos and Addis Ketema.

(...the children "especially came from" these subcities, so it does not rule out all other cases.)

Note: According to the Addis Ababa City Government, there are 10 sub-cities in Addis Ababa: Arada, Kirkos, Gullele, Kolfe Keranyo, Akaki-Kality, Nefas Silk-Lafto, Lideta, Bole, Addis Ketema, and Yeka. If you look at a map of Addis , you’ll see that the 3 sub-cities mentioned above are right next to each other.

People from AC have also heard that the court is considering canceling their two month summer closure for the rainy season. They believe it isn't to do with the investigation, but rather a general restructuring of their operations. This is very unofficial information, so please do not take it as fact, and if anyone can verify, please contact me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Support Board

A break from ban info for a moment…

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails telling their story. I'm continually surprised at how many people this is effecting. It’s heart-breaking to be faced with this just when we thought the long wait for our children was almost over. We know this investigation is necessary to keep Ethiopian adoptions ethical, but this is such a hard time for so many families as we wait for an outcome.

In addition to this information blog, I’ve gotten several suggestions for a forum where people can talk (complain!) about the situation and talk with other families going through the same thing. In response to this, we went ahead a created a message board (the link is on the right-hand side of the blog), if anyone’s interested in talking about it. Hang in there, everybody.


(you can continue to email me, or you can post questions there for me or for the group. I certainly don’t know all the answers, so maybe somebody else on the board will!)

Also, as the new week begins, please continue to send me any updates or info from your agency!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

An email:

Thursday our case went to court. The judge decided to classify it as an abandonment. Our son is around 9 years old and has been at the orphanage for about a year. He was not actually abandoned. He ran away from an abusive home. But of course, without the relinquishment signature, the case was thrown into the abandonment category. This delay is particularly frustrating to me because of his age and his background. I don't think there's much demand among adoption traffickers for 9 year old boys...Have you heard of other cases involving older children? We're the only one with our agency.
I added a back post here. It's old news, but it comes from one of the first agencies to know about the hold, and talks about their thoughts on how the investigation will go and the reasoning for it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From the Australian Government:

The Department has been advised that the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting intercountry adoption cases involving abandoned children from orphanages. This suspension is to allow for additional investigations. It is reported that the suspension is a result of concerns about recent increases in the numbers of intercountry adoption cases brought before the court concerning abandoned children.

The Department is seeking further information from Ethiopian authorities. At this point there is no suggestion the Federal First Instance Court’s concerns relate to Australian cases or orphanages that have referred children to the Australian program.

At this time, it is not possible to provide an indication on how long the suspension will remain in place.

If you have any queries regarding your adoption application, please contact your State or Territory Central Authority. Further updates will be notified on this website as soon as possible.
An email from someone with Adoption Ark:

I received a call from my agency this morning to provide an update on things. Our agency had families with court dates today and next week on 5/27 (that was mine). Our in country rep attempted to go to court today and had a prepared statement explaining that none of our children are from the 5 orphanages under investigation and requested that the cases be heard. His request was denied. The judge said that all cases of abandonment in Addis are "on hold" until the completion of the investigation, and that the cases today would not be heard NOR would my case be heard next week.

Our in country rep attempted to ask the proverbial million dollar question as to WHEN this would likely be resolved, and he did not receive an answer as to any potential timeline.

Our agency has reinforced that there is NOTHING any of us can do but wait. I offered to fly to Addis to appear at my scheduled court hearing next week in an effort to act as my own child's advocate. I was reminded, however, that this is NOT a personal thing------the courts are not saying that we are in some way less than ideal parents--------that this is PURELY about the need to ensure that there is no child trafficking happening. I COMPLETELY understand that, and certainly have the utmost respect for those critical efforts to protect children everywhere. That, however, is a 100% OBJECTIVE perspective, and there is a part of me at this point that is clearly struggling with maintaining objectivity. It feels like I just KNOW that the best place for my daughter right now would be here in the nursery we built for her. I keep thinking about how critical the first year of life is-------and that hers is being spent just waiting for this to be resolved before she can meet her family who loves her already. And what if it is never resolved? What would become of her precious life? For something that is "not a personal thing", it sure feels awfully personal........

Wish I had something more encouraging to report.

Hugs and prayers to everyone this holiday weekend.
From someone with Gladney:

I saw your comment and hope I can clear this up. There are a few goverment-run orphanages in Addis. The court is now allowing abandonment cases to go through from these orphanages ONLY. For all other non-governmental orphanages, the ban is still in place. Since one of the orphanages we use is government-run, some Gladney people will now get new court dates to have their cases heard. Hope this helps.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A comment:
Gladney has not stated there is a lift on this investigation. Per the most recent agency wide email... the investigation is still in progress.

NOTE: I do know, however, that a couple Gladney clients were told that the ban was lifted for their case. My guess is that these cases are at the one orphanage mentioned in CHI's email as possibly being exempt from the ban, and perhaps the same orphanage (Toukal?) used by AAA. I have no verification of this; so if anyone would like to correct me, please do. Also, if anyone has a child at Toukal and was told their case is still on hold, please contact me!
From CHI:

Dear Families,

Regarding the child abandonment cases in Addis Ababa, as we mentioned on yesterday on the conference call, we will be sending out a daily email to the families affected by this issue to let your know if we have found out anything new, or not.

An email from our representative today noted that the court ban on hearing these cases is still in place. It has apparently been lifted for one orphanage in Addis, however, but that is not 100% evident at this point, and the orphanage is not one of the orphanages that we work with. As mentioned on yesterday you may hear many things concerning this issue, as there are a lot of rumors going around. We’ll send out another update on tomorrow regarding any information that we might hear – or not hear.

Toni Lynch
From the source at AAA, the one whose director provided the information that the ban had been lifted:

I trust his [the director's] information implicetly, because he was in multiple meetings all last week with Court, MOWA, and Embassy officials regarding all these issues and standardization of the entire process."

I am not trying to give false hope to anyone, just passing on any information I hear for you to make your own judgment. Perhaps it's possible that the ban has been scheduled to be lifted, but not actually lifted yet. I guess we'll see. If anyone would like to share what your agency is saying, I know we'd all love to hear it!
From someone with IAI:

We had several abandonment cases not pass court this morning [May 21], and one relinquishment that did pass. Our rep was not told that the ban had been lifted, but rather that the cases were closed until the investigation had ended.
From Adoption Ark:

Dear Clients in the Ethiopia Program,

I received several emails this morning asking for verification of the rumor about the ban being lifted on the abandonment cases in Addis Ababa.

Of course I immediately called our in country rep and luckily I got through after only 5 attempts!

He said that he went to the court this morning and spoke with the judge’s secretary about this rumor.

There is NO official lift on the ban of abandonment cases. The investigation is still in process.

Regarding our cases to be heard on May 22 and May 27:

Our in country rep has prepared a written statement for the judge.

He will go tomorrow with his written statement and present our situation to the judge.

He will explain that the investigation has to do with 5 orphanages and that our children are not from those orphanages.

He hopes that the judge will consider this and either hear the cases scheduled for tomorrow or least assign a new date a few weeks out.

We plan to speak on the phone again tomorrow and of course I will provide an update at the earliest possible moment.
Wide Horizons is saying the ban has not been lifted:

Just wanted to let you know that our agency (wide horizons) and state deparment said the info is false- the ban has not been lifted.
An email/comment I received:

While I hope and pray that the news is legit- I have just contacted the US Embassy in Addas and they had no clue of the update.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hopefully the end of it all

To clarify, the rumors I'd been hearing all day that the ban had been lifted were said to come from Gladney. I didn't want to post until I had received confirmation from at least one other agency. A person from AAA (I linked to her blog below) wrote to her agency director (I believe he's still in Ethiopia) and asked him if the rumors were true. He said they were, as posted below.

I've asked my agency for further information, as each of you should. Just as agencies received information at different times that the ban had been put in place, so will they receive info that it's been lifted at different times. If anyone would like to pass on what their in-country reps have to say on the matter tomorrow, please comment or email me!

Take the information with a grain of salt until more agencies confirm, but I believe it to be true and I know we are all very hopeful that it is...

The Ban Has Been Lifted!!

I've been hearing rumors today that the ban has been lifted, but wanted to find confirmation before posting, so as to not get anyone's hopes up if false. I was just given this information, found here:

I am so pleased to be able to post that I just heard from our agency director, and THE COURT BAN ON ADOPTION HEARINGS FOR ORPHANS ABANDONED IN ADDIS HAS BEEN LIFTED! It’s over! All those affected families can expect to get new court dates assigned within the next few weeks, and they should not be long dates at all.
Thank you so much for passing this valuable information on. Many of you may have read this already since it was originally posted several days ago. This is from someone at AAA who has had direct contact with their agency's director, who has been in Ethiopia during this mess. The direct link is here:

I am co-moderator for my adoption agency’s yahoo group online. This is a group of potential and current AP’s using Adoption Avenues Agency and Toukoul orphanage (in ETH.) No one affiliated or employed by AAA or Toukoul is allowed on the board, rather, it’s an informational and emotional resource for parents.

As co-moderator I feel it is my duty to give parents the FACTS regarding any and all situations/questions/queries/fears that come up. Obviously, the recent High Court’s decision to postpone, indefinitely, the adoption hearings for children declared “abandoned” in the city of Addis, has been at the forefront of many parents minds. As such, I have sought out factual information to pass along. Our agency director, Radu, is in ETH this week, and this morning, sent me a PM with more information to send out on the board.

Radu has been investigating the situation and has been informed, directly by the High Court, the following information:

The “questionable” cases involved just ONE POLICEMAN AND ONE SOCIAL WORKER IN THE CITY OF ADDIS. There were 17 cases over the last year (2009) in which they “found” children, and then filled out paperwork indicating they had been abandoned. Those children were then sent to an orphanage (NOT TOUKOUL) and were referred to parents via an agency (NOT AAA.) The name of the orphanage and agency have not been released publicly, but individual agencies have been reassured they are not affected.

Because the High Court has the best interest of all Ethiopian orphans at mind, they have postponed the adoption hearings of ALL children listed as “abandoned” in Addis, pending further investigation. This is to ensure that Addis adoptions, and in fact, all Ethiopian adoptions are completed with the utmost ethical standards.

I KNEW our agency had nothing to do with this, but was so thrilled our director found out information first hand so very quickly, and reported the same.

My heart is aching for the children and families affected. The families who received referrals for the “found” children did no wrong. The children did no wrong. And, of course, the plethora of children and families whose adoption hearings are postponed because of these 17 cases, did nothing wrong. We can only keep these families and children in our hearts, minds, and prayers and be thankful the High Court wants all adoptions to be “above board” and ethical.

In addition, she said:
Per Radu, there was ONE US agency involved, and that agency lost it's license. That agency was required to tell all it's clients immediately; however the name of that agency has not been publically released.

And here is more, about the embassy appointments, found

I talked with our agency director, Radu, several times today. YEAH! I am blown over each time I communicate with this wonderful man, who is fast becoming a friend, in addition to our adoption agency director. He is so kind, loving, and knowledgeable. All he wants to do in life is unite children with families. How great is that??!!!

Anyway, Radu had meetings with Court representatives, US Consulate, and MOWA representatives yesterday. In addition to the court investigating any “questionable” cases of abandoned children in Addis, the representatives are working on ways to standardize Embassy procedures for all children/families. The following changes are being made/implemented:

GOOD NEWS: Families will now know, in advance, their precise Embassy date.

GOOD NEWS: the courts, MOWA, and the US Embassyare crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” twice and three times to ensure the most ethical adoptions possible.

BAD NEWS: this means that court passage to Embassy will take 6 weeks, instead of 3-4 weeks.

The breakdown is as follows AFTER you pass COURT

Week 1: Court documentation to be copied, signed and forwarded to the various offices.

Weeks 2-3: Birth Certificate to be issued (this used to be issued same day as court, now take 14 days)

Weeks 4-5: 3 days for MOWA letter, 2 days for Medical exam/clearance, 3 days for 2nd MOWA letter.

Week 5: US Embassy to receive/review file 1 week PRIOR to Embassy appt.

Week 6: Embassy appointment.

Also, each agency is now being given just 2 days/month for Embassy dates.
From someone with Adoption Associates:

We were originally told that the hold would only affect 4 orphanages, one of which is one our agency works with. We were told that no referrals would be given out from these orphanages and no court cases would be heard. Of course, we've now been told this extends to all orphanages within Addis.

I thought this might be helpful since it may help to confirm that the suspect cases are contained to 4-5 orphanages, as mentioned in IAN's notes from the JCICS conference.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I added a back post here. Probably old news to many of you, but I'm mentioning it in case some of you are like me and hadn't heard that the hold on abandonment cases started back on May 4th. This means that we are now 2 weeks 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.
This is a tip I received; we're not sure of the agency, but we think it's Adoption Avenues:

The children with the suspicious cases were all from the same part of Addis, according to our agency director. He says the courts are talking about hearing abandoned child cases from other parts of the city. Hopefully they'll start doing this soon!

I apologize profusely for any misunderstanding...I meant we think this tidbit of info came from someone at Adoption Avenues, NOT that Adoption Avenues is in any way involved!! I'm so sorry for the confusion.
From CHI (Children's Hope):

The Ethiopia caucus of Joint Council conducted a conference call where the topic of discussion centered on ethical practices in Ethiopia. There was really no additional information given regarding the abandonment child issue in Ethiopia, as the investigation still continues. No time frame has been given regarding how long it will take before a decision regarding abandoned children in Addis is made. Actually no additional information outside of what you already have been made aware of was given or known at this time.

The emphasis was actually on what each agency can do to ensure the highest level of ethics in adoption and incorporating adoption into a broader range of services where communities in Ethiopia are impacted, families are serviced, better health care is available, education for all concerned, which is a large part of the focus of Children’s Hope in all of the countries that we work in. Development Aid must increase just as the number of adoption increases. Because everyone involved in international adoption is not pro adoption, in order to ensure a long future in international adoption, agencies and everyone involved must be vigilant in ensuring that ALL of the work meets the government’s regulations, even if the process takes a little longer.

Remember that all information we can get on this is important, especially to those of us who have agencies that don't give as frequent updates (like mine!) If you'd like to share with other parents what your agency is saying, please email me at EthioAdoption@gmail.com

Monday, May 18, 2009

JCICS Conference Call

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.

Note: Sele Enat is mentioned above as not having any of the 15-17 suspicious cases. There has been talk of Enat Alem, which was involved in an investigation last summer, being one where at least some of these suspect cases are from. If anyone has any other information on orphanages that may or may not be involved in the investigation, please comment or email me at EthioAdoption@gmail.com. This does NOT mean that any agency who uses Enat Alem (or any other suspected orphanage) has done anything unethical. The hope is that they will soon start allowing adoptions of non-suspect abandonment cases to go through, so any collective info we can gather is helpful. Thanks!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Dear Family,

Yesterday, May 13, the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children's Issues* posted an alert on their website regarding adoptions from Ethiopia. The alert notifies prospective adoptive parents that the Ethiopian First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting adoption cases involving abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing concern over a recent increase in the number of abandonment cases being presented from those orphanages.

CHSFS would like to reassure you that we do not anticipate this decision to directly impact families adopting through the CHSFS Ethiopia Program.

Currently, children being placed through the Ethiopia Program at CHSFS are being cared for at orphanages in the Southern Region and Oromiya Region. Additionally, most of the children being placed through CHSFS have been found to be legally free for adoption through relinquishment by a sole-surviving parent.

CHSFS strongly believes that every concern regarding the ethics of adoption practices must be taken seriously, and we respect the Ethiopian First Instance Court for swiftly taking steps to look into this situation. We are confident that the Ethiopian First Instance Court will take whatever steps it feels are necessary to ensure that children, birth families, and adoptive families are protected from suspicious practices. CHSFS-ET staff are monitoring the situation, and we will notify families of pertainent developments.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this alert, we encourage you to contact your case specialist.

The Ethiopia Team

*The Office of Children's Issues is the office within the Department of State which serves as the U.S. central authority for international adoptions.

May 14, 2008 - It is Joint Council's understanding that Ethiopian authorities are investigating alleged actions of five children's homes in or around Addis Ababa. It is our understanding that this is affecting abandonment cases processed through the courts in Addis. It is unknown at this time if it is affecting just the abandonment cases of those children's homes under investigation or all abandonment cases in Addis. Joint Council is working to confirm the extent of the alleged illegal activities and investigations, the children's homes involved, and effects on the processing of abandonment cases in Addis. As information is confirmed and more information becomes available Joint Council will continue to update our website.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today this was posted on adoption.state.gov:

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

May 13, 2009

Adoptions of Abandoned Children Halted by Ethiopian Court:
The Ethiopian First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing concern over a recent increase in the number of abandoned children being brought for adoption. The number of abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa has grown dramatically in recent months and Ethiopian authorities have become aware of possible cases of unethical practices associated with some of them.

Currently neither MOWA nor the First Instance Court are accepting any abandonment case from any orphanages in Addis Ababa pending an inquiry.

Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on Ethiopia.
From CHI:

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From BFAS:

We have received confirmation from BFAS-Ethiopia that the Ethiopian Court have been working to safe guard the Ethiopian Adoption Process. As of last week, a large group of children being processed in the courts for adoption finalization were listed as "abandoned". This prompted the courts to cease hearing cases involving children listed as "abandoned in Addis Ababa". The court is not failing these cases necessarily, it is simply investigating this issue right now. The court has so far not given any information as to how long this process will take. There is a possibility for some court dates to be delayed. Children abandoned in other areas of Ethiopia are still having their cases heard, as are children relinquished by family members and children orphaned for other reasons such as deaths of the mother and father.

This has affected some of our clients, as well as many clients with all other agencies that are processing Ethiopian Adoptions. Please understand that this is one of the “unknowns” we speak about throughout the FAQ’s and during your application process. BFAS is doing all that we can to remedy this situation for our clients that have children under this category. We have spoken to all families that have received referrals to this point, and updated them as to rather or not this will affect their particular adoption case. We ask that you pray for these families during this difficult time until a solution can be found. We will keep you as up to date as possible as this issue continues to develop.
From AAI WA:

A "hold" has been placed on abandonment cases from Addis Ababa while an investigation is conducted. It seems that one agency submitted 15 abandonment cases in one day, all signed by the same police officer.
The following is a tip I received from someone who found this on a blog. They aren't sure which agency this info comes from, but since the director of this agency is/was in Addis, my best guess is Adoption Avenues. If anyone would like to correct me on this, please comment or email me at ethioadoption@gmail.com.

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.

UPDATE: There was an update to this info, posted on May 13th:
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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

From IAI:

The court has stopped entertaining police abandonment cases until an explanation is provided by the Addis Ababa Police Commission on the reason for the increased number of abandoned cases in particular areas within the city. It is reported that some 300 abandonment cases were reported to the police and their respective letters issued from them with in just eight days. Now the court is wondering what is going on.

To this effect, the court has asked the Addis Ababa Police Commission to provide an explanation on this. Until such explanation is provided and the court is satisfied with the answer, all police abandonment cases have been banned from being processed by MOWA upon the court’s order.

The investigation has been started and there have been several meetings held with orphanages and police forces here in Addis. But no one knows what the outcome of this investigation will be and how it will affect these cases.

Friday, May 8, 2009

From CHI:

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.