Adopting from Ethiopia is a wonderful way to expand your family. There are approximately 5 million deserving orphans residing in Ethiopia at any given time. These children are orphaned for several reasons ranging from civil war to poverty to disease. You can be a part of the solution.
This article will walk you through the basic steps required to adopt a child from Ethiopia.
Find a reputable adoption agency. The most important step of the adoption process is the first one - finding the right agency. You will want to make sure that the agency is accredited. You can find adoption agencies and get information on the accreditation process by visiting the website for the Child Welfare Information Gateway at www.childwelfare.gov/adoption.
Check references for your chosen international adoption agency before proceeding with your adoption from Ethiopia. While checking accreditation is critical, you will also want to ensure that individuals have had good adoption experiences through the agency. Check around on message board forums such as the one located on the Bethany Christian Services website at www.discussion.bethany.org.
Ensure that you meet the criteria to adopt from Ethiopia. As a general rule, parents should be at least 25 years of age at the time of adoption, but generally no older than 40 years older than the adopted child. For example, if you want to adopt a child who is three-years-old, you should be no older than 43. On occasion, Ethiopian officials have made exceptions to these guidelines for extraordinary cases, however. Singles are permitted to adopt from Ethiopia.
Complete the initial application process. After you have completed the above steps, you will go through a formal application process. This involved gathering background information and copies of vital records on yourself and your spouse (if you are married) and any other children you have living in the home. You will probably also have to fill out an extensive biography on yourself so that adoption officials can evaluate your suitability for adoption and help match you to the right child.
Decide on what your requirements for a child are. If you already have a child living in the home, you may be able to specify whether you prefer a boy or a girl. At this point, you should also decide the age range of the child that you are hoping to adopt. As a general rule, the older the child, the more quickly the adoption process may be able to move as older children are often considered special needs adoptions.
Complete a homestudy. The homestudy is the process by which you and any family members residing in your home are interviewed extensively prior to adopting from Ethiopia. This process also includes a home inspection to ensure that your surroundings are safe and appropriate for an incoming child.
Complete the dossier. The dossier is the official packet of paperwork you will submit for your adoption. It includes vital records, official adoption forms, health statements, background checks, divorce and marriage certificates, applicable death certificates, mortgage and financial statements, income tax returns, and several other official documents, all of which must be certified and notarised. Your adoption agency should help walk you through this part of the process as it can be quite daunting.
Submit your dossier to Ethiopia. At this point, your dossier will be authenticated in Washington, DC before being sent on to Ethiopia. Once in Ethiopia, the dossier is again passed through a legal process before a child is referred.
Receive your referral. Your referral should come from Ethiopia within a matter of months of submitting your dossier. Your referral should include a picture of the child and a limited health and history background.
Travel to Ethiopia to meet your child. Once you have accepted a referral, you can travel to Ethiopia, usually within a few months of the referral to bring your child home. You can also use an escort service, if travel is not an option. Once in Ethiopia, you will probably have a court date to finalise the paperwork required in Ethiopia.
Bring your child home! After you bring your child home, you will still have to go through a court process in the United States to finalise the adoption, but your child can live with you during this process. Ethiopia also requires regular follow-up reports with photos following the adoption.
Be prepared to disclose your personal and legal history Prepare yourself for the financial side of adoption - depending on the agency and the age of the child, you should expect adoption to cost between £9,750-30,000.