Ethiopia: US Dept of State Adoption Notice – Delays Expected

5 04 2011

The Department of State has published a Notice on Ethiopian Adoptions: Significant delays remain likely for cases presented to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs after March 8, 2011. The content of the notice is supported by Joint Council’s understanding of the current status of intercountry adoption in Ethiopia.

The highlights of the notice are;

• Adoption cases presented to the Federal Court of First Instance prior to March 8, 2011 will be processed expeditiously.

• Cases presented to the Court after March 8 will be processed in a more deliberate manner. MOWYCA will process these cases at a rate of approximately 5 per day.

• Prospective adoptive parents who did not reach the court summons stage before March 8, 2011, should expect significant delays in the progression of their paperwork through the Government of Ethiopia.

Click here for the full text of the alert.


Ethiopia: USCIS to Conduct Briefing on Ethiopian Adoption

25 03 2011

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will facilitate a meeting on Ethiopian adoptions for all stakeholders including adoptive families.  The meeting will take place on April 6, 2011.  The USCIS announcement and invitation is available below or here.

It is our understanding that USCIS will have adequate access lines for all who RSVP (as requested in their invitation).  If you intend on participating, please be sure to RSVP so that USCIS can ensure they have sufficient capacity on the conference call.


USCIS Stakeholder Meeting on Ethiopian Adoptions

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 @ 1:00 – 4:00pm (EDT)
White Oak Conference Room
20 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20529

The USCIS International Operations Division and the Office of Public Engagement invite you to participate in a stakeholder meeting in which we will brief on some of the findings of the recent interagency site visit to Addis Ababa to review Ethiopian adoptions. Members of the USCIS and the Department of State team that visited Ethiopia will provide the briefing and answer questions about its content.

This engagement will be available to any interested parties by teleconference and webinar with a small number of in-person participants.  Due to space constraints, in-person participation will be by invitation only. We request that in-person invitees send a single representative to attend in-person unless requesting clearance for a second in advance.

To Participate in the Session

All individuals and organizations planning to participate in this engagement must respond to this invitation. Please contact the Office of Public Engagement at by April 3, 2011, and reference the following in the subject line of your email:

  • If you plan to attend in person, please reference “Ethiopia – In Person”
  • If you plan to attend by phone, please reference “Ethiopia – Phone/Webinar”

Please also include your full name and the organization you represent in the body of the email.

Once an RSVP email has been received, USCIS will provide you call-in and webinar details.
We look forward to engaging with you!

US Dept of State Announcement: Ethiopia

17 03 2011

The following announcement was issued by the U.S. Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues on March 16, 2011.  It can also be found on their website.

U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, Adoption Division hosted a conference call for Adoption Service Providers on March 11, 2011 at 10:45 am to discuss recent announcements made by the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA). Below is a summary of information presented on the call.

As was stated in the March 9, 2011 Adoption Alert, the Department of State received information on the announcement made by the MOWCYA regarding the planned reduction in workload processing.

  • MOWCYA planned to implement a reduction of case processing from approximately 50 cases reviewed per day to no more than 5 cases reviewed per day.
  • MOWCYA has stated that this reduction is to improve screening of adoption cases while also devoting existing resources to other priorities on vulnerable children.
  • MOWCYA reviews each adoption case at two points in the process: after the match with prospective adoptive parents and after the final court decree to approve issuance of new birth certificate and passport for child.
  • MOWCYA has not announced any implementation guidelines on how reduction in processing will affect each stage of the process
  • If only 5 cases are reviewed per day, delays could be significant. Calculations based on rough estimates of cases in process (around 1000) indicate delays of one year or more.
  • Department of State defines ‘cases in process’ as those whose dossier has been accepted up to those cases that have received the final letter approving issuance of passport and birth certificate.
  • We are working on getting more details on implementation guidelines.

Since announcement, the Department of State has heard many rumors, but none have been substantiated.  The U.S. Embassy can confirm that the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs has shuffled the portfolios of key adoption personnel.  The Embassy has not been able to confirm how this reorganization may affect the processing of cases through the ministry.

Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is discussing the possibility of developing a consolidated assistance proposal to MOWCYA to find out what the resource needs are and find what assistance can be given to allow MOWCYA to accomplish their goals.

Notes from Dept of State Ethiopia Call

11 03 2011

Following are our notes from the Department of State Office of Children’s Issues conference call regarding Ethiopian adoptions.  These notes do not represent nor are they  in any way attributable to the Department of State or US Citizenship and Immigration Services.  We are providing the notes with respect to those adoption service providers who could not participate in the conference.

We extend our thanks to the Department of State for conducting the conference call and to US Citizenship and Immigration Services for their participation and contributions.

The Department of State is Actively Involved
•    The Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs announced a reduction in the processing of intercountry adoption cases from 50 per day to 5 per day, effective March 10, 2011.
•    The Department of State is actively involved in discussions with the Government of Ethiopia, other governments and stakeholders.
•    A coalition of countries is preparing a proposal to assist the Ministry increase its capacity.
•    Embassy suggested that children with special need’s cases should not be delayed.
•    The US Embassy officials have a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs for Monday, March 14, 2011.
•    There are areas of concern related to intercountry adoption, however the reduction is disproportionate.

Adoption Cases
•    Currently there are no implementation guidelines for in-process cases.
•    For adoption cases registered with the Ethiopian court, the best estimate is a one-year delay.
•    The staff change at the Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs has been confirmed as taking effect the week of March 13, 2011.  The impact this will have on adoption cases is not known.
•    It is estimated that between 800-1,000 adoption cases are currently on the docket of Ethiopian courts.

Adoption Alert: Ukraine

12 01 2011

Adoption Notice: Ukraine

January 12, 2011

U.S. Embassy Kyiv has learned the proposed bill to place a moratorium on intercountry adoptions in the Ukrainian parliament has once again been postponed. There has been no announcement of a rescheduled date.

In order to best prepare for all possibilities in Ukraine, Embassy Kyiv encourages any prospective adoptive parents with cases currently open in Ukraine to contact the U.S. Embassy Kyiv Adoption Unit with their case status and contact informa­tion.  The Embassy maintains a listserv to communicate with U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents and will use this to send updates as information is available.

The U.S. Embassy Kyiv and the Department of State will continue to post updates on their websites as new information is available.

Ethiopia: Day 1 from Rebecca

10 12 2010

I arrived late last night to the darkness of Addis Ababa.  The first thing that struck me on my return to this wonderful country was the relative calm of the city.   “I don’t remember ever thinking that Addis was calm” I thought to myself.  And as I looked around I saw the same sights I’d seen before – the taxis crowded around the Elephant Café, the legless child begging on the street corner, and the men and woman walking home late at night.  Everything was the same as before, so why did it seem so different?

Then I remembered.  I’d spent much of my time aboard this year in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  I had a new definition of chaos.  As my good friend was picking me up at the airport I commented to him on how calm the city felt.  “Why?” he asked, “Addis isn’t calm.”  I explained my trips to Haiti.  “Why?” he asked again, “why did Haiti feel so much more chaotic?”  As we drove down a silent street in Addis I painted him a picture of Haiti.  Imagine…the road is bumper to bumper cars, even like now, when it is late at night, and every fifteen feet or so there is a big pile of dirt, dust and broken concrete that all the cars have to gently maneuver around.  All along the road destroyed homes, hundreds of tents and thousands of people all seeming to move at one time.  Everywhere you turn.

Even tonight, after a long day, as I rest at my hotel I think of Haiti and how much my life, my views has changed since the earthquake in Haiti.  Just over a month ago, I was speaking with another friend, who runs one of the most well respected orphan care organizations I know.  We were discussing Joint Council’s, I am the Answer Campaign and the children we have cared for who have passed away.  She made a simple remark, “It is experiences like those that say with us, you never forget a child who died in your arms.”  It’s been almost a year since the earthquake and still the emotions, visions and heart-ache sit with me, raw, waiting to surface.  Just like Mbali, the little girl who died in my arms stays with me, Haiti will never leave – it will always surface.  But I’m not here to talk about Haiti, I’m in Ethiopia.

After a less than restful night’s sleep I headed to the U.S. Embassy to discuss their perspectives on the current intercountry adoption Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Ukraine

19 11 2010

As reported by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, the Ukrainian legislature is preparing to vote on a bill (4313) that would suspend all intercountry adoptions from countries that do not have bilateral agreements with Ukraine.  This would appear to include new and pending adoptions from the United States.  In Ukraine, a bill must pass two votes in the Rada and be signed by the president for it to become law.  At this time, bill 4313 has passed the first vote with an overwhelming majority, thus showing favor towards the suspension of intercountry adoption from Ukraine.  We expect that the second reading could take place in the next few weeks.  It is our understanding that if bill 4313 is approved after the second reading, it could be signed into law as early as the end of 2010.  The approval of this bill would also mark the beginning of the implementation of The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption (The Convention) in Ukraine.

It is Joint Council’s opinion that that while this change may promote long-term protections for vulnerable Ukrainian children, immediate implementation without the proper safeguards is not in the best interest of Ukrainian children in need.  The Hague Guide to Good Practice clearly expresses that ratifying countries should access and strategically implement The Convention, rather than prematurely ratify.  The Guide to Good Practice also states that Intercountry Adoption should not be suspended during the period in which The Convention is implemented.  It is clear that passage of bill 4313 is not in line with the recommendations of The Hague Permanent Bureau and will effectively end intercountry adoption in Ukraine for an undetermined amount of time and, therefore, eliminate a viable option for children in need of families.

Joint Council and its Member Organizations remain committed to the children and families of Ukraine. We continue to work closely with both the U.S. and Ukrainian governments for the best interest of each child.  Joint Council urges the Ukrainian government to implement The Convention in accordance with the Guide to Good Practice.  Further, if the Ukrainian government chooses to continue down its current path, we urge the creation of a ‘grandfather’ provision, which would allow adoptions currently in process to continue.

We continue to seek clarity on the bill and continue to work with our colleagues in the Ukrainian and U.S. governments to ensure every child’s right to a family, the proper implementation of The Convention by the Ukrainian government and, if necessary, the creation of a ‘grandfather’ provision.  Joint Council will update our website and blog as soon as more information becomes available.  Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up for Joint Council updates regarding Ukraine by clicking here.

Dept of State: Pending Adoption Alert in Nepal

7 10 2010


The following notice is sent as a reminder about the upcoming holidays in Nepal, and the dates on which the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be closed.  This notice will also be posted on our website, at  

Upcoming Embassy Closures

October 6, 2010

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be closed on the following days:

October 8– Ghatasthapana

October 11– Columbus Day

October 14-18– Dashain

November 5 – Tihar

The Embassy’s Consular Section will be open on October 12 and 13 and will continue to work on pending adoption cases and respond to public inquiries. The Consular Section will make every effort to investigate cases, to the extent possible, during the festival period, but Government of Nepal offices and businesswill be closed for many days between October 8 and November 7, as Nepalis typically travel home to theirvillages. The actual days off will vary, so it is difficult to predict when individual Government of Nepal offices will be open. In case of an emergency, American citizens in Nepal may contact the Embassys after-hours hotline at:977-1-400-7266 and 977-1-400-7269.

Inquiries concerning adoptions cases may be directed to (for cases being processed by the U.S. Embassy) or to (for cases that have been sent to the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services office in New Delhi).  Inquiries may also be directed to the Office of Children’s Issues at or to USCIS’s National Benefits Center at

Please continue to monitor for updated information on adoptions in Nepal.

Dept of State Announcement: Rwanda

31 08 2010

The Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues has issued the below notice regarding adoptions from Rwanda. This notice can also be viewed on their website at As further information is obtained by Joint Council it will be ditrubuted to interested parties.

August 30, 2010

Effective August 31, 2010,the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MGFP) in Rwanda is temporally suspending all new applications for intercountry adoptions so they can prepare for accession to the Hague Convention. MGFP announced that applications from prospective adoption parents already received by Ministry or any Rwandan Embassy before the above mentioned date will be processed. More information will be provided as updates are received from the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda.

Dept of State Announcement: Ethiopia

30 08 2010

The Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues has issued the below notice regarding adoptions from Ethiopia. This notice can also be viewed on their website at As further information is obtained by Joint Council it will be distributed to interested parties.

August 27, 2010

This notice serves as a reminder that as of May 9, 2010, the Ethiopian government requires that adoptive parents must appear at the federal court hearing for their adoptive child in order for the adoption to be approved. If there are two adoptive parents but only one parent can attend the hearing, special permission from the federal court must be obtained in advance. If approved, the attending parent must have a power of attorney from the other. However, please note that if only one parent meets the adoptive child before the court date, the child will be eligible for an IR-4, not an IR-3 visa.
This means that if the child qualifies for the issuance of an adoption visa, the child will not become a U.S. citizen upon entry to the United States, but will become a legal permanent resident.

Please be advised that while the Embassy prioritizes adoptions cases, it cannot guarantee expedited processing. It generally takes three or more weeks after the court date for adoption agencies to obtain the documentation necessary for an immigrant visa application. In addition, the Embassy is required by law to conduct an I-604 review (Determination on Child for Adoption) in advance of the interview. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this review may take up to several weeks or even months to complete.

Due to the procedures outlined above, we do not recommend that adoptive parents travel to Ethiopia for an immigrant visa appointment until they have verified with their adoption agency that their visa interview appointment has been confirmed.

We strongly recommend that adoptive parents who plan to stay in Ethiopia between the court hearing and interview obtain an Ethiopian visa in advance of travel, and ensure the validity of their visa to avoid immigration proceedings and/or significant fines.

The Embassy’s Adoptions Unit can be reached at

Please continue to monitor for updated information as it becomes available.

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