Families will have 1.5 hours in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon at their child's orphanage to visit/play/interact with their child daily while they are in-country for their court date.
Families will not be allowed to take children outside of the orphanage during this visit.
Families will not be able to meet/visit their child's birth family during their court trip. This meeting/visit will need to take place during the family's trip for the Embassy interview.
There is no guarantee that we will be able to meet our child's birth family. If there are any birth relatives alive, they will be present in court at the same time we are, but we will not be allowed to interact with them at that time. We will have the option to travel to see them when we travel to Ethiopia to pick up our child. I've heard from other families who have already been down this road, that it was not feasible to make the trip even then, because it was too far from the city the orphanage was located in. . .there just was not enough time. I cases where children have been abandoned, it is typically not known who the birth family is. We hope we will get the chance to meet our child's birth family, because it will help us answer questions that our child we will have about them as she gets older.
Other news that we've recieved lately . . .
- the courts in Ethiopia close every year during the rainy season. This year they will be closed from August 6 - September 27.
- The court now requires birth certificates issued by districts/kebeles (local areas of government in cities/villages around the country) when the cases are submitted to court. This was not a requirement until now (previously birth certificates were not required until after the court approved the case, in preparation for the Embassy interview). The districts/kebeles are not used to issuing birth certificates. Hence, this is something new that they have started to practice, and therefore will take them some time to "ramp up" to get things moving along at a quicker pace.
- A photo of birth parents or guardians is required to be attached along with the child's photo to the document that has the life history of the child when the files are opened at court. Formerly, only the child’s photo was required to be attached. This is not a requirement for abandonment cases. Thus getting the birth parents/guardians photos is another step in the process that will take time - getting these photos may (or may not) be easy, convenient, financially difficult - there are many possible barriers that could impede families from being able to do this quickly.
We do not feel discouraged by any of this news, even though these changes might make the process take a little longer. We know that we will be home with our child in God's time, and we were happy to learn that we will be able to visit with our child for 3 hours each day of our first trip to Ethiopia.
By they way, we have finally chosen a name. . .that announcement will be coming soon!