We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Major upheaval in Ethiopian adoption programs

The possibility of having on-going contact with children’s first families is a huge appeal of Ethiopian adoption programs, not just for us, but for many people. Sometimes this contact has led to problems, as when adoptive families have learned things from first families that conflict with the official paperwork (indeed, that happened with us). I have no idea if that’s what led to this recent change, but one of the big agencies, Children’s Home Society and Family Services, just released a statement with a major policy change:

Effective immediately, CHSFS is suspending any birth family meetings and all ongoing contact between adoptive and birth families (including Post Adoption Intermediary Services). This is in direct response to statements made recently by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa citing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1989; regarding orphan status, irrevocable relinquishment and termination of birth family rights.

The statement goes on to say that, “this is seen as an issue between the Consular Section of the Department of State and any inter-country adoption program” and that CHSFS is sending people to Addis to deal with this immediately. I haven’t heard if other agencies are enacting similar policies.

This is particularly distressing because the change seems to be coming from the US Embassy in Ethiopia, who should be looking out for the best interests of Americans, including kids born in Ethiopia and adopted by Americans.

It’s hard for me to understand how this could possibly be in the best interest of our kids.

I’ll share more as I learn more.


24 January 2008 - Posted by | adoption, ethiopia


  1. If they’re citing immigration law, then my guess would be that it’s related to fears that people intend to get around normal immigration procedures by adopting a child with the intention of later sponsoring the whole family into the US. I know that under Canadian policy, the concern with termination of parental rights is partly fuelled by a desire to make sure the child was legally free for adoption, but also serves to ensure that birth family members cannot be claimed as relatives in a future immigration process.

    Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. Having contact with their birth family does not mean these kids still haven’t been “irrevocably relinquished”. And I actually believe that adopted persons *should* be able to sponsor their birth family members once they are adults, just like any other citizen could, but that’s a whole ‘nother argument.

    Comment by June | 24 January 2008

  2. This is a crazy can of worms alright. Going to be interesting how it plays out. The previous commenter may be on to something there. I can certainly see the US government being afraid of the child sponsoring their birthfamily later on…. and I have to agree with her to that they should be able to.

    Comment by Dani | 24 January 2008

  3. June and Dani, I’ve often thought the same–it should be up to my kids’ to decide if they want to sponsor their Ethiopian families later in life.

    It’s been suggested (I’m being intentionally vague here) that this agency has been singled out because many of the infants placed have been relinquished by two living birth parents. And they refer a high percentage of infants. That’s something I already knew about, and it’s disconcerting.

    This appears to be an issue that the Embassy is taking up with CHSFS and not other agencies. I’ve been looking all over for more info, but I can’t find it. I will post updates as I hear them.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 24 January 2008

  4. Well we all know that governments are notoriously bad at looking out for the best interest of the young. Look at the US Foster Care system, that has nothing to do with immigration but it’s about as messed up as you can get. I hope that we hear a resolution soon, one that is indeed in the best interest of the children and both of their families.

    Comment by Stacy | 25 January 2008

  5. I would think this is because of concerns about payments to the birthfamily.

    Comment by Lu | 30 January 2008

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