The days on the long road of one families Ethiopian Adoption

This blog started out as a way to record the twists, turns, highs and lows in my families journey to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. Now our children are home and we have just finished celebrating our first year as a family.

I'm Kimberly (or Fendesha), an adventurous person who aspires to be a vagabond- but for now- I spend all of my free time travelling and my down time thinking of travelling. I'm a mom of 3 (the oldest being my gorgeous canine companion), a IT project manager, and on occasion I find myself the primary writer of this blog.

Happy Reading and thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Concerns regarding the required changes to Ethiopian Adoption process

The latest laws passed down from the Ethiopian Government as I've just heard have me confused, concerned amongst other emotions.
A few details:

I have to say that I find the adoption agencies keep people so closeted from the real Ethiopia because of their fear of how the culture will "handle' it- and vice versa -hoping to not "rock" any boats as we've been told over and over again. So, I'm confused by the "governments" decision to require these adoptive families that the agencies keep "hostage" - in the country for longer periods of time.

When we adopted- The agency made it particularly difficult for me to visit with my children while in country and I had to follow some rather ridiculous rules that put me at danger in order to protect the children.  Ie: travelling at night alone-or don't come. So I never did get to visit my children after a work day.  We had made arrangements, signed papers and made many phone calls while in the states to get permission for one specific person that I lived with to be able to assist me. They assured me it would be fine.  In the end-this person was allowed only once to visit with me (in 2 months).  While in country, I was never was invited to the baby house to meet these people at their offices.  The agency only communicated with my Husband in the states and he would call me in Ethiopia.     The above examples are what I'm concerned about-there is clearly a disconnect between the Ethiopian office and the US office at times.

But if you take the following item for example- this one is typical of Ethiopian Culture-there were many times the children would be at the doctors- with no explanation as to why and I wouldn't be able to see them again for 3 days unless I traveled alone after work (in the dark- not suggested as a foreigner) or called in sick to work.  Unless you understand the culture and know that these types of things happen-this above example would make you very angry as a foreigner.  But this later one didn't bother me-because I knew the children were in wonderful hands-being taken care of- and that this is just how Ethiopia works- sometimes you won't be told things and other times you will.

That brings me to the question of -what are they going to do with the families that decide to stay for a month or two rather than fly back or forth?  We almost selected Kazakhstan because we preferred this method of adoption for bonding reasons with our children-but found that our agency (although they also worked in Kazakhstan) did not have the ability to handle our request to do this with our Ethiopia adoption. So, how are they planning on handling this??

I guess most families will just stay onsite and enjoy being with their children day in and day out-but why-why won't the agencies encourage these families to volunteer teach or visit an NGO while they are there??? Go visit the challenges of the country- learn while you are there.

Third- I don't talk much about the actual adoption process any longer on my blog-but sending a bunch of people into Ethiopia that are not prepared for the poverty, the lack of "conveniences" and telling them they need to come and go a couple of times is not acceptable to me.   Locals hear foreigners that are adopting complaining about the "lack of conveniences" so many times.  The agencies are clearly going to need to do a better job preparing people for the conditions in Ethiopia- even if they don't have to "experience" them while at the orphanage guest houses.   It's amazing to me- one woman in our group was upset there was no air conditioning in the Embassy.  She was sheltered by the discomforts of being in the country at the guest house and had no idea that the embassy was running on generators that day as that area of town had no electricity or water.  The locals that hear these discussions have no idea that you as a visitor is being sheltered by the difficulties of everyday life in Ethiopia.

To that note- the sheltering of the visiting families by the agencies-does not allow people to really understand the local situation-and thus we often do not sound understanding or compassionate when we are in public situations.  The thought of what locals will think and hear if these same families are being forced to be in a developing country worries me for the future of adoption and for the reputation we will have in the country as adoptive parents. If you have the opportunity of visiting Ethiopia and seeing her beauty- you really should want to be there or as the agencies do- be cared for while you are there- but more than one "protected" visit concerns me with out awareness or education toward the local situation on exit from their host housing.

In my 8 months in Ethiopia- I met more foreigners that didn't like being there than foreigners that did enjoy being there.  Most individuals from the west find the extended discomforts difficult to handle.  The cold showers, the rotating electric and water schedules, the muddy conditions during the rainy season, the respiratory infections you get from the dust during the dry season,  open sewage, the transportation shortage because the gas stations are closed due to non-delivery of petro, or that there are sometimes public-bus bombings or other dangerous events (etc),  there can be a lack of bottled water because the "bottling factories" sometimes run out of bottles or that Coca could not import their product due to lack of US so there is sometimes a coca cola shortage.

Personally- at this moment as I try to absorb the new requirements- I find this disturbing- for many different cultural reasons. I ache for the waiting families that are looking at their finances in this already expensive experience.  I'm sick at the thought that the children will sit longer in the orphanages as required court dates will increase the wait-as agencies will likely begin to make groups that travel 2x together.. ughhhh.-and I am concerned for Ethiopia- and her sometimes challenged perception of foreigners and international adoption.

Although on the upside, perhaps this will require the agencies to actually begin to introduce us adoptive families to the Ethiopian Culture beyond that of a cultural dinner, a museum visit and a long drive that includes a Sheraton style hotel stay.

Let me put a bug in your ear- try to Volunteer or meet people while you are there. Volunteering would really help add a "benefit" to the adoption experience both for the country and the families.  After all the country needs assistance and you are there to bring home the children they can no longer support for one reason or another.

It seems if you the government of Ethiopia are going to require people to be there- and you allow the the agencies to require a "facility donation" for those lavish resorts you keep your adoptive guest in-that you the government of Ethiopia can also require "volunteer" work from the visiting families.  How bad could it be if  rather than keeping the adoptive families in the agency guest house and hiding them from the culture- instead with this plan the adoptive family could experience some of the culture while adopting Ethiopia's children.

Okay- a little off the mark there...but can't say this entry was as boring as my most recent -ha ha.  Perhaps saying what you are really thinking is the key to all of this... that my blog is really missing.


Evelyn said...

Great post, Kim! I agree on so many levels. I have no patience for Americans who go abroad and act like idiots. Those who don't have the cultural sensitivity needed to act civilized should not be allowed to adopt from another culture anyway, in my humble opinion. How will they raise Ethiopian children in the US? Yes, these new requirements really stirred up a lot for me, too. I cannot imagine being a waiting family right now.

kristine said...

so right on Kim! great job.

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