Yes, you read correctly, there have been positive changes within the Ethiopian adoption program. This is such great news! There are many of you who have heard about the slow-down of prospective adoption cases and the 90% decrease in cases being processed. On May 10, 2012, a notice was released stating that Ethiopia had caught up on their caseload processing. According to the United States government intercountry adoption webpage, new cases are being processed within 2 days and wait time for birth relative interviews has changed to 1 week. This is intended to move the adoption process along at a faster rate. Let’s hope that the program is stable enough to deal with cases at its current level without issues.
The US Embassy in Addis Ababa also dealt with other issues in their recent notice. First they have reduced the US non-immigrant and immigrant visa cost from $404. to $230. This drop is reflective of the change in cost for submission. Second, their escort policy states that if a prospective adoption parent has previously met the child that they are adopting, escort services can be used to bring the child home. If you are looking to use this option, consider using an agency to ensure proper procedure. Third, the US Embassy recommends that prospective adoption parents obtain an entry visa from the Ethiopian Embassy prior to travel as opposed to using the ‘visa on arrival’ option. This is being phased out.
The fourth major announcement brought about in this meeting dealt with expedited processing. It appears that some adoptive parent’s request this service in order to bring a child home quicker. This option, of course, is limited to children with serious medical conditions. The US Embassy stated that all cases (up for expedition) are handled on a case to case basis. The only children eligible for this service are those who have serious to critical medical needs that cannot be met in Ethiopia. Children who are asthmatic or have HIV do not qualify for expedited processing.
We have talked in past blogs about the many cases that were coming out of the embassy as not clearly approvable. This appears to be still happening but the processing time for these cases has picked up as well. When a case falls under this heading, it must be sent to the USCIS in Nairobi to be processed. The average turnover on that paperwork is 3 weeks.
The notice dealt with a lot of issues that have plagued the Ethiopian adoption program recently. By dealing with the issues and coming to resolution, the Ethiopian program can quickly regain its popularity and footing in the intercountry adoption realm.
Ethiopia is not party to the Hague Convention and does not hold to its statutes.