Explaining Why There is a Slowdown in Ethiopian Adoptions

Since receiving our referral for Fitsum in March, many people have asked us about the process of adoption after being matched with a child.  This is a great article by World Magazine explaining the court and embassy process.  The article also explains why the Ethiopian adoption process has started to slow down.  Our adoption agency, America World Adoption, is also mentioned in the article.


The Ethiopian Trip | Court

The next few days after we arrived are somewhat of a blur. Part of my problem is writing when I should be writing. Writing to remember specific details after the end of the day seems to be my problem. Nevertheless, the thing that I remember most is seeing Fitsum.

With that being said, the other event that stands out, and was the entire reason for our trip, was our court appearance. Court in Ethiopia is a little different than court in the U.S. We had our court date scheduled by ourselves as there wasn’t anyone else from our adoption agency making a court appearance.  We were somewhat hopeful that we would pass court and be able to bring Fitsum to the hotel, maybe not that day, but in a couple of days.

We eventually learned that this wasn’t the case.

Sweet Sweet and I had planed on her staying in Ethiopia for the interim time period from this trip to the time we would be at embassy, which we thought would be about a month. We had packed food, toys, clothes, and other things to try to plan for Sweet Sweet to be in Addis for an entire month.

When we got to court, it was a little strange. All of the parents of the families looking to adopt are in one room. There are occasions when the room is supposedly packed, but the day we were there it wasn’t too bad. This is basically a cattle call and you go see the judge when they call the name of the orphanage your child is from. I have to do this in some courts, so that part wasn’t new to me. The waiting was the toughest part as the only thing running through your mind was praying that the paperwork was in order and the judge would sign the order approving our adoption.

Finally, we were called, after maybe an hour or so of waiting. Not too bad. The judge was very nice, she spoke English and she asked us simple questions about if we were ready to adopt and ready to adopt and have a multi-cultural family. We were told that our paperwork was in order, but we were lacking a letter of recommendation from the agency that is the investigative arm for the adoption process in Ethiopia. We were told by families that we had met on the plane ride over that this agency was about three weeks behind and their adoption agency told them not to expect to pass. We were also told that we could ask the judge questions and so we asked the judge as to time-frame for those letters to appear and she said that it was three weeks, but when we told her that Sweet Sweet was staying, she said we could ask this agency to hurry so the letters would get there quicker.

Our representative in court did not speak English and when what the judge told us was translated to the representative, he shook his head. The agency would hurry for no one, and we had heard that this was true. They were behind at least three weeks and should expect that sort of delay, perhaps longer.

We were okay with the delay in the end. That’s not to say that you want to leave your child, but seeing the excellent living conditions and the thought that Fitsum would be well taken care of despite us leaving, I think we felt much better about the situation than we initially thought. He was not just receiving excellent care and plenty of food, but he was also receiving plenty of love at the transition home. The nannies absolutely love the children, not just Fitsum. They all expend a tremendous amount of time and energy for the toddlers and this is not one of those situations where I think that they were caring for the children just because we were there.

It was genuine and it is incredibly appreciated.





One final story to this post. Every afternoon, the nannies would pull out receiving blankets to entertain the toddlers. They would all want to wear them on their head and they would want you to tie them either in the front or the back (they didn’t care, just as long as it was on their head). They would take them off and want you to put them on their head again. It struck me how little children need to be entertained. It’s amazing how much the toddlers loved these blankets and it was absolutely incredible to sit on the floor and have these toddlers sit on your lap and ask that you put a headband on their head.


It was truly good times.

The Ethiopian Trip | Seeing Fitsum For the First Time

To be completely honest, the trip somewhat snuck up on me.  It’s not that Sweet Sweet and I didn’t have plenty of time to be ready for the trip.  We had waited a year and six months for this moment, but to know that it was finally here was a bit surreal.  We were finally on our way to see our son.  I don’t know that I’ll track each and every day, but the first day of our trip was a long day and it was incredibly memorable because it was the day that we met Fitsum.

The first leg of our trip was a very long layover.  An afternoon flight from DFW to Washington, D.C. and we arrive in D.C. with all of our luggage (thankfully) in the evening and stay the night at a hotel just outside of the airport.

The next morning, we arrive at Dulles plenty early to sit and wait for our plane. Again, everything was going according to plan, other than having a long wait for security, but at this point, waiting an extra half hour seemed small.  Even the plane ride to Ethiopia was relatively easy, other than the fact that it was 13 hours of being on a plane.

It was the arrival in Ethiopia where we it all started to come together.  To put it plainly, things are different in Ethiopia.  Not necessarily bad, just different.  When we landed, the first thing that I noticed while looking out the window was the haze in the air.  That haze lasted the entire trip and it’s a part of life in Addis Ababa.  We did find all of our luggage, however, the toughest part was being able to put all of the luggage on a cart, and then having to go through security.  It’s normal to take donations on the trip, for the orphanages and the transition home and in addition to our donations, we took close to 280 toothbrushes and toothpaste for another couple.  Little did we know that toothbrushes could be such a big problem.  The woman scanning our bags told us that we would need to pay a tax as there was a possibility that we would be selling our toothbrushes.  The woman completes the paperwork and I then go to stand in line.  I’m not used to be pushy, but I was in this case, as I had one person stick their paper under the glass in front of me.  I figured that if I was going to have the tax figured I would have to not allow anyone else in front of me.  Other than taking close to an hour, I went from that line to the line next door where I then paid over $60.00 for the toothbrush tax.  It’s not that the process itself was unnerving, but it was the fact that we were waiting in line and we were in a place that was completely unfamiliar to us.  Sweet Sweet was waiting with our bags and I could feel that she was becoming impatient.  I was impatient too.

We were then worried that whoever was to pick us up from the adoption agency wasn’t going to be there.  We were saved by Job.  Yes, Job, one of the two gentlemen who works for the adoption agency and he was standing there.  I don’t think Job understands how happy I was to be able to meet him.  We get our bags and we head off to the Yebsabi Guest House, which is where most people in our adoption agency stay while handling the adoption process.  We drop our bags off and we meet downstairs to go with a couple who is leaving that evening as we are off to find some lunch.  You may be surprised to know that you can find some excellent Italian food in Ethiopia.  Ethipia was under Italian control for a period of five years, but during that time, somehow, Italian food remained.  We are off to an Italian restaurant and other than knowing that we’re so close to meeting Fitsum, it was just fine.

When we get to the transition home, the family we’re traveling with asks if they can take pictures and video for us as this is our “meet ya” moment.  This is a big moment for adopting parents and this would be the first time that we were meeting Fitsum.  The family’s new son took hold of Miranda’s camera, the mother took my camera and the father took the video camera.  I think we were covered.



To say that it was a special moment would be an understatement.  Although I don’t know this for a fact, it is probably akin to seeing your child born.  That was so amazing. I could go on about how that moment felt. Whatever I write would pale in comparison to those emotions, so I won’t try. The pictures will tell the entire story.





What I can say is that this was the day that Sweet Sweet and I had been waiting on for a year and 6 months.  It’s been way too long.

I wish I could explain how the light in these photos made them absolutely beautiful, but I think it’s actually because Fitsum is so beautiful.






We get to spend half a day with Fitsum before heading back to the guest house, but before we did, the other family that we were traveling with (this was a different family) wanted to grab some take-out pizza as they were leaving in the evening.  At this time I think I’ve been up for a really long time, although I really don’t know the actual number of hours I had been awake.  Some 13 hours on the plane, which doesn’t include being awake for the first 7 hours of that day and then you tack on another 9 hours as we were awake the day that we arrived and that’s about 29 hours or so that we’ve been awake.  As we were talking with this family I’m positive I was nodding off while actively engaged in a conversation.  We were so happy to finally get some sleep.