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Monday, February 11, 2008

What Happens Next

In case you are wondering, dear friends, what will happen next as our dossier makes it's way over in Ethiopia I have posted bits of info gleaned from the Department of State web site on intercountry adoption. Here's how things should happen from here on out:

Step One - Prospective adoptive parents must take or send all of the required documents, already certified and authenticated, to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. for additional authentication. Once the Embassy has completed its authentication, the completed packet is returned to the adoptive parents. Then the prospective adoptive parents forward the documents to:Ministry Of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) MOWA reviews the documents for completeness and creates a dossier on the adoptive parent(s).

Step Two - The parents’ dossier is taken to the Claims and Authentication Section of the Protocol Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia to be authenticated. There is a fee for authentication stamps; the stamps are affixed to the dossier. The fee is 300 Ethiopian birr per document.

Step Three - The parents’ dossier is returned to CYAO. CYAO will then affix a summary sheet, on which will be noted items such as court decisions, background data on the adopted child or children, and the names of Adoption Committee members who will complete the form at a later date (see below). At this point, for private adoptions only, MOWA usually asks the U.S. Embassy to provide a letter of support for the adoptive parents. These letters are provided, free of charge, only after the U.S. Embassy has received directly from USCIS a notice of I-600A or I-600 petition approval for the adoptive parent(s).

Step Four - CYAO submits the parents’ dossier to the Adoption Committee for review and approval to adopt. The Adoption Committee meets periodically, sometimes as often as every week, to review cases. The Committee either approves or rejects the prospective adoptive parent(s), based on Ethiopian guidelines for international adoptions. Given the volume of work before the Committee, it can take weeks before the Committee reviews a dossier. Further investigation into the parents' qualifications is done if deemed necessary, and a recommendation is made. Only if all the members of the committee agree, and sign the recommendation, is the request approved.

Step Five - Once the Committee has approved the parents’ dossier, a child is selected and referred to the prospective parents to adopt, according to the parents’ preferences for age and sex. The child selected must have its own dossier at MOWA. That dossier describes the child, the child's history, how the child came to be an orphan, and who has legal guardianship of the child. Once a referral is made, the prospective adoptive parent may accept or refuse the referral.

Step Six - Upon acceptance of the referral, a Contract of Adoption is signed between the child's legal guardian and the adoptive parent(s), or the agency representative. If the legal guardian is also the agency that is processing the adoption, another licensed orphanage can sign on behalf of the child. This contract is the basis for the issuance of the adoption decree, which shows that the guardian or the orphanage has relinquished their parental or guardian right in regard to the adopted child. The contract must be taken to the Inland Revenue Administration office to be stamped. There is a nominal fee.

Step Seven - CYAO opens a file at the Federal First Instance Court to apply for an appointment date for the adoption hearing. The court date could be one to two months from the date of filing. The Court generally is closed between three and twelve weeks between July and October. The dates change every year.

Step Eight - A notice seeking any other claimants to the child is published in the local press stating the child's name and the name of the adopting parents. Anyone opposed to the adoption is requested to appear at MOWA by a certain date and time.

Step Nine - When the appointed court date arrives, the prospective parents or their agency's local representative will be asked to appear in court. Final decisions can be handed down quickly, but delays of weeks are not uncommon. Adoptive parents must obtain at least two originals of the court decree. One will be retained by MOWA and one must be submitted to the U.S. Embassy for the visa application. The original submitted to the Embassy will be returned to the parents.

Step Ten - After the adoption is complete, MOWA prepares a request to the city of Addis Ababa for the issuance of a new birth certificate, and a request to the Office of Security, Immigration and Refugee Affairs for an Ethiopian passport for the child in its new name. Both of these are best facilitated if the requests are hand-carried to the relevant offices. The U.S. Embassy needs both the new birth certificate and the passport to complete the child's U.S. immigrant visa application process.

Step Eleven - The court decree must be translated into English. The original and the translation are submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for authentication. The authentication stamp, seals and signature are placed on the back of the translation. If the adoption contract was made in Amharic, it too must be translated into English and the original translation authenticated by MOFA.


Zack & Rebecca Caldwell said...

I hope those steps move fast...don't you!

Kim said...


so confusing. I can't think about it I feel it is so scary I am afraid a step will be lost in my process!
googly eyes.

Bring Scout Home said...

Wow! I thought once it got to Ethiopia, it just sat in an orderly pile waiting for someone to pick it up and match a child with our family :)
Thanks for your comment on my blog... I started to get teary eyed when I read what you wrote about parting with your dossier!!
Kelly B

Stacey said...

Wow Jen! That's is incredible. I'll be praying that each of these steps go so quickly for you guys!!