In the last week, there has been some global news that is consuming much of the adoption blog talk. I'm FAR from the inner circle of this particular buzz, but the first I saw of it was this article. But it's consistently been on my heart and mind, so now you have to be in on it too. Ha! Here's my outsider's/layman's synopsis--for those of you who are even a little more outside:
Adoptions of children in Ethiopia have increased dramatically in the last few years. When we were looking at agencies and countries, it was clear that programs in Ethiopia were able to match younger babies with a shorter wait. With this increase of the adoptions being processed, there were several documented cases of unethical operations taking place that slipped through the cracks of bureaucracy. If you are unsure of what I mean, a lot of it has to do with how or why children are admitted to orphanages in the first place. Did a birth family member relinquish them, or were they found and considered to be "abandoned" when in fact their family was simply out working in the field for the day...that kind of thing.
In an "effort to clean up a system rife with fraud and corruption" the Ministry of Women's, Children's and Youth Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia made an announcement that they would be cutting back the amount of adoptions they process by 90%. Instead of processing 50 cases a day, they will process 5.
Cue: every heartfelt reaction from one polar side to the other. Some see this as a great idea, as it is clearly in the best interest of the children. Others see this as a political move that will produce no clear change but will punish orphans and adoptive families. I find my opinion swayed gently with each new blog hop.
This information directly affects 2 families very dear to us and at least 3 other families with whom we have become friends during this process. As is expected, our first gut reaction is to panic--they are being told to expect at LEAST a 12 month additional delay if their papers are already being processed and a wait of 4-5 years for dossiers yet to be submitted. No waiting parent wants to hear this. It's heart-wrenching.
But after that selfish, human response, our next reaction is to consider the impact on the thousands upon thousands of legitimate orphans already living in institutions. Is this in their best interest? I don't think anyone is upset that MOWA wants to make strides to protect children and have a more ethical and thorough adoption process. But, in my humble opinion, this seems to be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In my simple mind, I feel that there could be a less-drastic method to promote ethics and best-practice.
So, here's what I'm praying and I invite you to join me if you wish: there is a large-scale meeting taking place, most likely tomorrow (Monday, March 14th) between the US State Dept, US Embassy to Ethiopia, MOWA and several adoption agency representatives. My prayer is for God to grant WISDOM and GUIDANCE in this meeting. I pray that the best interest of the children will ALWAYS be the first concern--even if that means getting news we don't want to hear. I'm praying for all the children--both legitimate "orphans" and any others caught in the crossfire of this crazy mess--that somehow, someway, they will learn of the Love that is real and endless and can heal every hurt. I'm praying they be blessed with a loving family, whether that is their birth family or an adoptive one. I'm praying for all of my friends whose hearts are already in that East African country, that they, too, will have wisdom on how to proceed (for those that still have a choice) and peace with understanding, no matter the outcome.
One of those dear friends, Rory, has already fallen deeply in love with the country of Ethiopia and has a heart for orphans like very few people I've ever met. I want to end with some words of hers from an email she sent to me, because it's a reminder for all of us waiting parents about who's really in charge:
Among a host of other things He's been speaking to me, one was "I am a Father to the fatherless. Not you." Doh. It's hard for me to
relinquish that kind of control when I want to "father" them! They should be HOME! In a family! But God. But God. But God. He is the defender. He is the Father. He is the vindicator. He is more than capable and He is not bound by an earthly government.