Before You Adopt
How long has Ethiopia been doing adoptions?
Ethiopia has been doing adoptions for several years with European countries and more recently, with American families. Ethiopia is now fourth on the list of countries from which children are adopted by Americans. According to USCIS, in 2007 over 1,200 children were adopted by US families.
Are there age limits for adoptive parents?
Adoptive parents, either married or single, must be at least 25 years old and couples must be married for at least two years. Parents up to age 49 will be permitted to adopt an infant. Parents age 50 to 59 may adopt a child age five years or older.
Does Ethiopia allow singles to adopt?
At the present time, Ethiopia does allow singles to adopt. This may eventually be under review by the Ethiopian government, and a new law prohibiting singles from adopting may be passed in the future.
Are there any stipulations on marriage?
Yes, couples must have been married for a minimum of two years. They will be able to adopt an infant until they reach the age of 50. After age 50, they will be approved to adopt an older child. Single females, 25 years of age or older, may also adopt from Ethiopia.
Can adoptive parents have other children already in their family?
Yes, a family may have up to six children already in the home. It may be possible for a family with more than six children to adopt, but they will need special permission from the Ethiopian government.
Can we adopt siblings or unrelated children?
There are a great number of sibling groups in Ethiopia waiting for families. It is also possible, and greatly encouraged, to adopt unrelated children, especially older children. Adopting more than one child at a time requires only one dossier, so there is no additional paperwork, and it is much less costly to adopt two children at once than to complete two separate adoptions.
Are there any additional in-country fees?
It is recommended that families take an additional $300-400 with them when they travel. This will be for tips and other nominal charges, such as entrance to the museums and orthodox churches. If families travel to other regions of Ethiopia, an additional cost will be incurred.
Does the Ethiopian government require any written statement from the adoptive parents?
Yes. The prospective adoptive parents will write a letter to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (the branch of the Ethiopian government that oversees adoptions) requesting permission to adopt a child from Ethiopia. The letter will give information about the adoptive family. The letter will also state why the family wants to adopt a child from Ethiopia and how they will maintain the child's culture and heritage. A sample letter is usually provided to you by your agency, along with all of the necessary information.
Length of Time
What is the length of the process once the dossier is submitted to Ethiopia?
Once your dossier arrives in Ethiopia your dossier will be translated into Amharic and sent to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, where it will be reviewed and approved. A referral will be made and a court date will be set and take place. You will travel approximately four weeks after the court date. Depending on your agency, the time from submission of dossier to travel is approximately four to twelve months.
How do I get cheap airfare?
The cheapest airfare is usually found by breaking your trip into two legs - the first from the US to a city in Europe, and the second from Europe to Ethiopia. London, Amsterdam, Frankfort, Paris, and Shannon Ireland are good places to start. Discount ticket search engines such as kayak.com or expedia.com often give the best deals. Being willing to adjust your days of travel by one or two days could make a big difference in cost.
One additional consideration traveling with your children is the length of the flight. If that is a concern, Ethiopian Airlines offers a "direct" flight from Addis to Washington DC. This is the fastest way to get to the US, but flights are more expensive.
Can children travel with adoptive parents?
Children may travel with adoptive parents. However, the family will incur greater travel costs as a result. The trip may be difficult for young children, but older children may have a wonderful experience.
Your Time in Ethiopia
What is the length of stay?
Most agencies have you stay in Ethiopia for approximately one week to ten days. You will also have one day traveling to Ethiopia and one day traveling home. You will receive your child the day after arriving in Ethiopia in most cases. During the week that you are in Ethiopia, you will have many opportunities for sightseeing and you will also have an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to apply for your child's visa.
Where will we stay while in Ethiopia?
Some agencies provide a guest house, but you may also choose to stay in a hotel. Generally the hotels have restaurants, internet connection, laundry service and the cost is reasonable.
What age are the children that are available?
Babies as young as six months of age at the time of referral are available. There are also many toddlers available who have lost their parents due to economic conditions, illness, or AIDS. Many older children up to age 12 and sibling groups are also waiting for families
Why are the children in orphanages?
For the most part, they are either a) economic orphans, b) completely abandoned, or c) orphaned due to the death of their HIV-infected parents.
What is the social experience of the children?
The children in the orphanages receive excellent care. Infants and small children are out of their cribs and with the caregivers as much as possible. Older children have a great deal of interaction with the caregivers and with each other.
Have the children been tested for HIV/AIDS?
The children have been tested for HIV on at least two occasions. Some children are tested when they enter the orphanage, but all children are tested at the time of the referral medical evaluation. They are also tested again by the U.S. Embassy doctor before the child’s visa is issued.
Is it possible to adopt a child that is HIV/AIDS positive?
It is possible to adopt a child who is HIV positive. In order to do so, however, the family must obtain permission from the U.S. government and from the Ethiopian government.
Are any of the children fetal alcohol affected?
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is not common among Ethiopian children, mostly due to the economic conditions of the country.
Are medical and social records available on the children?
Yes. When you receive the referral of a child, the referral will include as much social history as is available and a medical report. The social history may include birth parent information, why the child is an orphan, and how long the child has been in the orphanage. The medical evaluation is performed by a pediatrician and tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and VDRL are completed.
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