In order to adopt an infant from Ethiopia, parents should be married couples between the ages of 25-45. Single adoptive parents will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should also be between the ages of 25-45. Single adopters will be required to provide a statement that they are heterosexual. Any potential adoptive parents over the age of 45 will be considered on a case-by-case basis for an older child. Married couples should be married at least one year. Ethiopia prefers that you be married at least five years, but will accept a family who has been married for one year. Persons previously divorced are also permitted to adopt. Families who already have children in the home are allowed to adopt from Ethiopia. However, Ethiopia prefers that there not be more than five children currently in the home.
Boys and girls are readily available for adoptions. Their ages range from infant and up. Sibling groups may also be available as well as special needs children. Often orphanages are found with an influx of boys because of a high preference for girls.
Ethiopia will allow for a family to adopt more than one child when the adoption takes place as a sibling adoption.
There are essentially three major time frames involved in an Ethiopian adoption: (1) Preparing your dossier & receiving your Advance Approval for adoption from U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services (CIS), (2) Sending your dossier to Ethiopia while waiting for a referral and (3) Accepting a referral to final travel. The first time frame can vary from family to family. Some families are able to complete a dossier in as little as 60 days, while others may take longer. CIS time frames will also vary from field office to field office. The second time frame, the amount of time a family must wait before a referral, will vary depending on the gender and age requested. Some additional determinants of this time range include: the number of families that happen to be waiting ahead of you at the time you are placed on the waiting list, and the number of children that are available for placement. Once you have received and accepted a referral, the third time frame begins. At this time, a hearing will be scheduled with the Ethiopian Courts. The hearing is usually scheduled approximately 2-3 months after referral acceptance. Once your adoption case is approved by the Ethiopian Courts, final travel will take place in 4-8 weeks. In country stay is between 7-10 days.
After a complete dossier is submitted to FTIA, all dossiers are reviewed by your coordinators. We want to make sure everything is complete and correct. Once a dossier is approved by FTIA, we will send your dossier to Ethiopia to be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the dossier will be translated into Amharic.
Ethiopia is not a Hague Convention country. However, FTIA requires that each adopting family complete 10 hours of Hague parent education training through an approved entity or through FTIA. Supplemental education resources will also be offered to prospective adopting families regarding issues such as trans-racial, HIV related issues, special needs, and adopting an older child.
When a birth mother or other family member decides to place a child for adoption they will approach our Ethiopian partner organization, which is located in Awassa. The Admissions Team will meet with the family to decide why they are choosing to place their child(ren) for adoption and if there is anything that can be done to offer viable assistance to the family. For example: (1) If a family chooses to place a child for adoption because they have little means of income, FTIA may assist them in finding means of adequate employment so they can provide for their family. (2) If a birth mother becomes pregnant out of wedlock, the Admissions Team will offer counseling on how to approach her family with the pregnancy or help her reach out to a family member for support. If at anytime a child or pregnant birthmother appears to be in less than optimal conditions without any likelihood of improvement, the Admissions Team will admit them into the orphanage. The birth mothers will receive pre-natal care and counseling. When a child is placed in the orphanage, they will receive medical attention and detailed documentation regarding the child’s history.
Children live in orphanages that are maintained by our Ethiopian partner organization, which receives various means of support from FTIA. Once children are ready to be referred to a family, they will be moved to a transitional home that is maintained by FTIA while they wait to be placed with their new adoptive family.
The information you receive on the birthmother will depend how the child came to be placed in an orphanage. Often birthmothers relinquish their rights to the child because they may not be able to take care of the child or they became pregnant out of wedlock. Some women may experience ostracism or hostility in their village if they brought a child into their community who was born out of wedlock. In these cases, we are likely to have more information about the birthmother if she willing relinquishes her rights to the child. However, if a birthmother abandons a child, there will be very little history about the child. When a child is abandoned there often is very little information about the birthmother.
Generally the children adopted from Ethiopia are healthy. Developmental delays in certain areas are fairly common depending on how long the child has been in an orphanage and the age at time of placement. Special needs children's medical needs can range from minor, correctible needs, such as cleft lip and palate, a congenital heart defect, and other needs such as, albinism. Some children have more challenging needs such as being HIV positive or Hepatitis B positive. Many children are coming from very poor environments as 1/3 of Ethiopia’s population is below the poverty line. As a result, pre-natal and medical care received before a child is relinquished is likely to have been very limited. Children in orphanages are routinely tested for HIV and other basic tests. The results will always be forwarded to the prospective adopting family. There is always the possibility of unforeseen or undetected medical or developmental issues and families should be prepared for such.
The information you receive on a child at referral will vary depending on how the child came to be placed in an orphanage. You will receive photos of the child when you receive a referral. If the child was relinquished by the birthmother there is likely to be more information available then if a child was abandoned. Each referral will have basic information about the child such as age, health status, and how they came to be in an orphanage. Any family history or additional information will be passed along to the family. We will do our best to make sure you have all the available information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to accepting a referral.
The Survey Team in Awassa is dedicated to finding accurate information about children placed in the orphanage. When a child is relinquished to the orphanage, the Survey Team will interview anyone involved in the care taking of the child. They will also investigate the economic and social conditions of the care taker including their relationship with the child. The Survey Team will take photos of the child’s village and care takers to show the living conditions in which the child came from. The health and medical status will also be investigated to make sure all necessary vaccinations have been achieved. If a child is abandoned, all appropriate documentation surrounding the abandonment will be secured including a police report of abandonment.
FTIA does not require that the medical information be reviewed by a doctor. However, because FTIA is not in a position to offer medical advice, we do recommend that the family obtain an independent medical opinion. This is a personal, life-long decision so we want all families to be comfortable with the decision to accept the referral and complete the adoption. A list of International Adoption Medical Experts is available on the FTIA website.
The adoption is finalized in Ethiopia before you make your pick-up trip. This means that the child is legally your child before you travel. Currently, FTIA requires parent(s) travel. We strongly recommend that all parents travel to see the child's birth country and experience the culture. Also, parent(s) will need to be present for the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The trip is approximately 7-10 days. Travel time may vary depending on how available flights are at the time of your pick-up trip.
Each family will be notified when they need to schedule their prospective travel dates for Ethiopia. FTIA will notify you when to secure flights once all of your final adoption documents have been achieved in Ethiopia. You will stay in FTIA’s guest house located next to the transition home in Addis Ababa.
When you submit an application to FTIA you will be assigned a coordinator from the Ethiopia Program to work with you. When families are in Ethiopia, FTIA in-country staff will be with you to assist you on the pick-up trip. Families are always welcome to call or email FTIA and we will do our best to answer your questions and find you the help that you need through the adoption process.