Ethiopia Adoption Alert
Notice: Reminder on proper Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) processing order (July 17, 2014)
The Department of State reminds adoption service providers (ASPs) and prospective adoptive parents that the entire PAIR process must be completed in every case BEFORE the adoption petition is filed at the Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) in Addis Ababa.
The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa notes that many ASPs instead file with the FFIC at the same time as filing the Form I-600 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ National Benefits Center. It appears as though these ASPs aim to present the PAIR letter only at the final adoption hearing. Presentation of the PAIR letter at the final adoption hearing does not comply with the PAIR procedures agreed upon between the Governments of Ethiopia and the United States.
PAIR provides the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA), as well as the prospective adoptive parents, information on the child’s likely eligibility for U.S. immigration prior to the adoption proceedings. When an adoption petition is filed with the FFIC, the dossier is immediately transferred to MOWCYA for its review of the child’s best-interests. MOWCYA is given a specific time frame to conduct this review and is obligated to provide its determination at the first adoption hearing. MOWCYA requires that the PAIR letter be present at the time of the filing with the FFIC. Dossiers that do not include PAIR letters at the time of FFIC filing risk rejection by MOWCYA at the best-interests determination hearing. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Notice: MOWCYA Decision on U.S. ASPs approved to work with former IAG cases in Ethiopia (April 14, 2014)
Following the February 11 arrest and indictment in the U.S. of several employees of the U.S. adoption service provider (ASP), International Adoption Guides, Inc., (IAG) Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA), has placed a hold on the processing of adoptions by families working with this ASP pending its investigation. On March 31, MOWCYA agreed to allow these families to move forward with the assistance of a MOWCYA approved U.S. ASP that is licensed to operate in Ethiopia.
On March 31, the Office of Children’s Issues sent a notice via email to all U.S. adoption service providers requesting expression of interest to pass to MOWCYA for their consideration for approval to take on IAG clients. The Minister of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs provided her response via official letter on April 7.
America World Adoption Associates and International Adoption have been selected by the Minister to be approved to take on former IAG clients that are in the following four stages of the adoption process:
- Families that submitted a dossier to IAG but had not received a referral
- Families that had received a referral through IAG
- Families in the PAIR process with referrals from IAG
- Families in the pre-PAIR process with adoptions facilitated by IAG that are currently in the U.S. immigration process.
Additionally, the Minister indicated families in the post-adoption process must work with either of the two approved U.S. adoption service providers to submit the required post-adoption reports. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Notice:Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs Change in Procedure for Regional Approval Letters (March 28, 2014)
On March 13, in response to our request for clarification on reported delays from adoption service providers and prospective adoptive families, the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) informed the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa of a change that took place November 7, 2013 in the procedures for issuance of the regional approval for placement of a child for intercountry adoption.
On November 7, 2013 (October 29, 2006 Ethiopian calendar), MOWCYA issued a directive to regional Bureaus of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs stating that all letters of approval for children placed for intercountry adoption must be signed by the head or vice-head of the regional Women, Children and Youth Affairs bureau confirming the child's adoptability and eligibility for intercountry adoption. The directive states the purpose of the policy change was to standardize which office certifies eligibility for intercountry adoption across all regions in Ethiopia.
Initially, the request was to be retroactive, which caused delays in some regions. After some discussion between the regional and federal level offices, the change in procedure will apply to cases filed after November 7, 2013 (October 29, 2006 Ethiopian calendar) and those filed before will be grandfathered. Cases from all regions should be progressing on normal time frames. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Notice: Indictments of Employees of International Adoption Guides, Inc. (February 11, 2014)
The U.S. Department of State is aware of the indictment of employees of International Adoption Guides, Inc. We understand many current and former clients of the agency, which currently has an active program only in Ethiopia, may have questions and concerns about how this affects the processing of their adoptions. We ask that families send their questions to the Office of Children's Issues through the email address: IAGadoptioncases@state.gov.
The Office of Children's Issues will post any additional information that we receive on adoption.state.gov, and will arrange periodic calls with affected families. At this time, we have no indication that this issue will affect adoptions facilitated by any other U.S. adoption service provider operating in Ethiopia. Any questions related to adoptions from Ethiopia in general should be directed to AskCI@state.gov.
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