Monday, August 6, 2012

Q & A Time...Part II

1. Do we have to travel to Ethiopia?
Yes. Twice. After we accept the referral of our child, we will wait for our court date (seems to be 1-2 months after the referral). During our first trip we will a.) meet and spend time with our child, b.) attend court, and c.) possibly meet our child's family. We can stay at a guest house or hotel, but will probably choose a guest house because it is much cheaper than the hotels. Plus, there are typically other adoptive families there and it will have more or a "home" feel than a hotel). We will go before the judge and she will ask us a series of questions that we will answer. Luckily, our adoption agency and other families who have adopted have provided us the questions they ask so we will not feel caught off guard by anything. As long as the paperwork is all in order, we will legally be declared parents of our child by the Ethiopian government. During our first trip we may have the opportunity to meet our child's birth parent/family members if he/she was relinquished (vs. abandoned). Our agency encourages us to do this if the birth family would like to meet us. This would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have read that it is helpful for the children to see a pic of their birth and adoptive families together and to hear stories of the meeting. This would also give us the opportunity to ask questions and share info with each other. It is suggested that we would make a photo album for the birth family so they will always have pictures of us, our families, our house, etc. 

After this first trip, we will come home to the United States.  Adoptive parents have said this is the absolute hardest part of the entire process-you have met your child, fell in love, and are legally the parents. Our case will be submitted to the U.S Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the cases of relinquishment, the birth parent/family is interviewed to make sure they understand all aspects if the adoption. In cases of abandonment, they have a police officer come in to tell his story. Our case will be submitted and then cleared. This usually takes place 2-4 months after the court date. Once again, there are factors that could affect the timeline at any point in the process. From reading others' blogs, it appears cases are being submitted and cleared by the Embassy faster than they have been (in another post I had explained that there changes to the system over the past couple years which greatly slowed things down). After our case has been cleared/approved, we will schedule our second trip to Ethiopia. When we arrive, we will go straight to the transition home and pick up our child. Our child will be able to stay with us the entire time we are in Ethiopia. During that trip we will go the Embassy and apply for our child's visa. A few days later it will be delivered to us. Because Chris and I will both meet our child before our court date, the type of visa our child will get means he/she will be an American citizen as soon as we arrive home.

2. Can you choose gender, age, etc?
Yes. You may specify whether you would prefer a boy or girl, as well as the age of the child.  I think it is perfectly acceptable for people to choose whether they would prefer a boy or a girl. Personally, I feel a little weird doing that because we would not be able to choose if we were having a biological baby (or "vagina baby" - yes, I used this term with the social worker-I thought Chris was going to die!). Also, this will be our first child so we do not have any preference, in comparison to other families who may be requesting a girl because they have 3 boys, or vice versa.

3. Will our child speak English?
I think people ask this question before they have actually given themselves time to think about the answer. No, our child will not know any English. The national language of Ethiopia is Amharic, although there are over 80 languages and dialects spoken in the country. So, it is possible that our child will be exposed to two languages before it learns English (if he/she comes from a region where Amharic is not spoken). How much language our child has already acquired will depend on his/her age in addition to other potential factors (e.g. malnourishment, stimulation/interactions from previous caregivers). Since we are adopting a younger child, he/she will be in his/her prime language acquisition years and we anticipate that he/she will acquire English rapidly once he/she is home (unless of course he/she has a disability). Luckily, mommy is an SLP so I will be paying close attention to this aspect of development to make sure he/she is progressing. I have downloaded a couple of Amharic apps for my iPad and I will be studying some basic vocabulary and expressions/phrases so we can communicate at a very basic level when we travel. I think it is respectful for people to try to learn some basic phrases when they travel internationally. Also if our child is not an infant, it may make our child more comfortable if we can communicate with him/her.


  1. You know what? You ROCK! I feel lucky to know you. Keep on keeping us posted Aja and I keep you in my prayers.

  2. The child that joins your family will be so blessed with love Aja. I can't wait for the travel and baby pictures.(KathyP)