Ethiopia Frequently Asked Questions

When did America World begin the Ethiopia program?
America World received a license from the Ethiopian government in 2006 and opened up the Ethiopia program to adoptive families.
How many adoptions have been finalized in the Ethiopia program?
As of January 1, 2012, approximately 534 adoptions had been completed through America World’s Ethiopia program.
What is the program’s estimated timeline and what are the stages of the Ethiopia adoption process?
Once a family is accepted into the Ethiopia program, they are assigned to a Family Coordinator who will assist them throughout the process. The process is broken up into three parts:

• Collecting Paperwork: This is the stage of the adoption process when a family gathers the legal documentation needed to adopt from Ethiopia. This typically takes 4-6 months, but is often affected by the family’s timeline in gathering the necessary documentation to complete their adoption dossier.

• Waiting Stage: Once the family’s dossier is submitted to Ethiopia (DTE date), the wait for a match with a child (also known as a referral) begins. We inform families of the current wait times for a male or female infant or toddler. These timeframes are always subject to change and vary based on the number of children available for adoption and the number of families in the adoption process. The wait times for older and special needs children vary greatly by the age and/or special need requested, but are likely shorter than the wait for a healthy infant. A great way to stay up-to-date on the current wait times in the Ethiopia program is to reference our blog. Each month we create a referral blog post that includes the number of referrals we have had that month, the age range of the referrals, the DTE dates of the families that received the referrals, and the most current wait times—which currently show a trend of increasing. These updates can be found here on the blog.

• Receiving a Referral & Court Process: A referral is identifying information on a child such as medical reports, a profile, labs, photos, and a summary of the investigation completed on a child’s case. Once a family is matched with a referred child, and once their referral acceptance paperwork has been submitted, the family is put in line for a court date. Once a family receives a court date, travel plans are made for the family to attend the court appointment in Ethiopia. Once a family passes court, the family waits for their child’s paperwork to be submitted and cleared to receive a visa by the US Embassy. Once cleared, arrangements are made for the family to travel to bring their child home. The timeframe from referral to bringing your child home can be as short as 2-5 months but has been as long as 8-10 months for some families. Each case is unique and has its own, individual set of circumstances that affect their processing time.
How many times must a family travel to Ethiopia? What are the purposes of these trips?
There are two required trips. The first trip is for a court appointment. The purpose of this trip is for the adoptive parents to meet their child in person and to be present at an Ethiopian court hearing to give their consent for the adoption. This trip is approximately 5-7 days.

The second trip is for a visa appointment. The purpose of this trip is for the adoptive parents to pick up their child and to be present at an appointment with the US Embassy to secure a US visa for their child. This trip is approximately 3-5 days. Only one parent is required to travel for this trip.
How are travel arrangements made?
America World has a travel department that sets up all in-country travel arrangements for the family. Once travel dates are established, families are welcome to book their own flights or contact a recommended travel agency for assistance.

America World has a devoted team of staff in Ethiopia, including travel coordinators, that are completely dedicated to working with our travelling families and making the trip as smooth as possible. Our travel coordinators are with our families from the second they step off the plane and will assist families throughout their entire time in Ethiopia.
What is the DTE date?
DTE stands for “Dossier To Ethiopia”. This is the day America World submits the family’s dossier to Ethiopia. It is also the day the family is officially put on the waiting list for a referral, and thus the family’s waiting time begins on this date. Please note that the average wait times presented at the time the family is DTE are not necessarily representative of the amount of time the family will wait for a referral. Wait times are always changing and have the current trend of increasing.
How are children matched with families?
America World has partnerships with several different orphanages within Ethiopia. Once an orphanage refers a child to America World, we gather and review all documentation on the child. This includes completing medical information, a full physical and social assessment, and an orphan status verification investigation. Once all of the children’s paperwork and history has been cleared through an extensive review process, the child is ready to be placed with a family. America World prayerfully reviews our Waiting Family List and looks for the next family in line who has a request that meets the age, gender, and health of the child. We take into account the family’s make up and current situation. Once the match is made by America World, the Family Coordinator calls the family and lets them know they have been matched. This is also known as the much anticipated “referral call.”
What type of information will a family be given at the time of referral?
Once families receive the news that they have been matched with a referral, they will receive an email with the child’s information. America World feels it is very important for families to receive and review full documentation of a child prior to accepting the referral. America World provides families with thorough medical reports including a general physical exam, developmental/social assessment, laboratory testing of general blood work (WBC count, RBC count, Hemoglobin levels, Hematocrit, Platelet count), stool examination, Hep B antigen test & antibody test, Hep C antibody test, HIV Elisa test, HIV DNA PCR as needed/requested, chest X-ray to screen for TB, bone X-ray for age as needed/requested, and Rapid Plasma Reagin (Syphilis). Families also receive social/biographical information, any police reports, summary of investigation and child’s history, and photos of the child. At the time a family arrives in Ethiopia for their court trip, they will also receive a DVD of the interview completed with their child’s birth parent/relative(s) or person who found the child abandoned.
Do families receive information on their children while they wait to travel?
America World works hard to keep families informed about their children’s health and development while waiting to travel for court and to complete their adoption. America World sends monthly updates (including photos, medical, and overall updates) to each family starting the month after they receive a referral, and this continues until the family is united with their child (excluding any months that the family was in Ethiopia with their child). As well, America World receives weekly health updates on children who are ill in the transition home. Family Coordinators then relay this information to the applicable family should a health concern arise.

Families are welcome to request additional medical consultations with a doctor of their choice at any time. The America World Ethiopia medical team and psychologist are available for consultation with families in country and desire to work with parents to make the child’s transition as smooth and successful as possible.
What is the age range of children available for adoption?
The range of children available in the Ethiopia program is wide, ranging from infants to teenagers. Both healthy children and children with various special needs are available.
Are families permitted to adopt more than one child or a sibling group?
While families are allowed to request siblings, we encourage families doing so to keep a very broad age range and to be aware that the request of young siblings may significantly extend their wait time.

Siblings: The request of siblings between the ages of birth to five years is rare. There has only been a small amount of families that have received this type of referral since the program has been open. We encourage families to include a specific age range and gender for one child they would be open to if siblings are not available at the time of referral. An example would be: “We desire to adopt two healthy male/female children from Ethiopia, either twins or a sibling group of two, between the ages of 0-4 years old. If this request is not available at the time of referral, we are also open to adopting one healthy, female child from Ethiopia between the ages of 0 and 2 years old.” Therefore, if two siblings are not available at the time of a family’s referral, a family would receive a single referral within the request they specified and not encounter an extended wait. Families are welcome to continue waiting for a sibling group if they desire with the understanding that the length of their wait is difficult to predict, and will likely be longer than the wait for a single child.

Non-related children: America World feels it is in the best interest of a child to be adopted individually whenever possible, with the exception of siblings. Therefore priority is given to any individual adoptive placements first. However, if a child is ready for placement into a family and America World currently has no individual placements available for that child, America World will consider (on a case by case basis) placing multiple unrelated children into a adoptive family at the same time. When families submit their request for two children, we ask they provide two ages with a natural age gap between them of at least one year. Typically, at least one child needs to be 5 years or older. Currently families are required to fill out an additional application to adopt non-related children which is submitted at the time of dossier submission.

There are not estimated wait times for sibling sets and non-related adoptions as they vary greatly based on children available and the child requests (age, sex and health status).
Does the Ethiopia program have a Waiting Children Program?
Yes, please see the Waiting Children page to learn more.
How does America World ensure the process is completed ethically and with integrity?
1. America World follows all the laws of the Ethiopian and US governments.
2. Neither America World nor any affiliated organizations have or operate an orphanage in Ethiopia (or in any other country).
3. America World only works with licensed orphanages, respected within their region, that are actively involved in orphan and family care projects – orphanages that are not just devoted to placing children for inter-country adoption.
4. America World only accepts referrals of children who have paperwork approved by the regional Ethiopian authorities.
5. America World closely inspects paperwork and completes background investigations for all children referred to us.
6. America World has project agreements with our partner orphanages in order to support family and community based initiatives.
7. America World never provides support or funds to an orphanage based upon the number of children referred or on a per child basis.
8. America World works to place all eligible children referred to us by our partner orphanages. This includes children ages infant – 15 years old, siblings, healthy, and special needs children-- with a focus on placing HIV positive children.

America World is very cautious when selecting the orphanages with which we partner. Each orphanage goes through an intense screening process before we make an agreement to work with them. America World holds high standards of work and maintains check and balance procedures for all employees and partners in order to help ensure integrity throughout the entire process. Additionally, America World does not refer a child to a family until there is a thorough investigation on the child’s case completed. Additional steps are made in every step of the process to help ensure each child in our custody is truly an orphan and in need of a family.
What is the Transition Home?
This is a home a child lives in from the time an orphanage notes the child is available for adoption until their adoption is complete. Therefore, while the family is waiting to finalize their adoption, this is where their child will reside. America World has two Transition Homes in Ethiopia. Additionally, we have nannies, teachers, social workers, a psychologist, and a full time doctor and medical team that care for the children while they wait to be united with their forever family in the transition home.
What are the post adoption requirements for Ethiopia?
Families are required to complete post adoption reports with their social worker at 3, 6, and 12 months after the child is home. Starting the year following the 12 month report, families must also submit an annual one page self report and photos to America World for the Ethiopian government until their child is 18 years old.
Are single women permitted to adopt from Ethiopia?
Applications for single women are reviewed a case-by-case basis.
What is Concurrent Family Building? Is this permitted in the Ethiopia Program?
Concurrent family building plans are understood to be a family’s efforts to build their family through two different means at the same time; this can include pregnancy, domestic adoption, or international adoption.

America World will accept and review applications for concurrent family building for families in any stage of the adoption process. All concurrent family building plans must be supported by a social worker and approved through a home study or social worker recommendation letter. All applications are subject to the adoptive country and America World requirements and will be reviewed for estimated placement timeline feasibility. All secondary placements are contingent upon a successful initial placement/birth and the continued approval of a social worker.

America World requires families to have a minimum of six months of time between placement/birth of one child and the placement/birth of additional children. This timeframe is set to help promote the successful placement and transition of the child(ren) and family. A family may need to suspend their adoption process for a period of time in order to meet the required six months between placements. Additional time between placements may be enforced if recommended by a social worker.
Is America World licensed in Ethiopia?
Yes, we are are licensed by Virginia and Hague accredited. We are also licensed by the government of Ethiopia for specific work as an NGO to do child welfare projects.
Has your license ever been suspended in Ethiopia? In any other country?
We have not lost or had suspensions on our license in Ethiopia.

We have not lost a license in another country where we work or had licenses suspended. There have been times when our licenses have lapsed between re-licensing efforts, but not due to violations or issues.
Do you have copies of audited financial statements and annual reports?
Our audited financial statements, annual reports, and performance and quality improvement reports are posted publicly here.
Can you provide references of families who have adopted from Ethiopia?
Please see our references.

These families are not screened in advance- we list families who have finished their process based on their willingness to serve as a reference.
Do any of your staff get paid on a per adoption basis? If no, then how are they paid?
No, neither our staff in the United States nor Ethiopia are paid on a “per adoption” basis. Staff is paid either hourly or salaried depending upon their role.
What are the common reasons children are available for adoption in Ethiopia?
  • Abandonments
  • Death of birthparents
  • Birthparent relinquishments due to:

      1. Birth family being unable to provide/care for the child due to poverty
      2. Birthparents’ illness leaves them unable to care for the child
      3. If a birthparent remarries and chooses to not bring an existing child to the marriage
      4. Birthparents’ making decision to no longer parent
      5. Birthparents are incarcerated and had their parental rights terminated or the incarcerated parents voluntarily relinquish their rights
      6. Extended families relinquishing children they’re caring for
      7. Many other causes/reasons.
Will the children likely have living birth parents? If so, are we allowed to interact with them? What will we learn from them?
A large number of children placed with America World have a living birthparent and living extended birthfamily members. Families have an opportunity (which we highly encourage) to meet with birthfamily members during their process. Birth families are often able to tell stories about the children and provide information about the birth family’s extended family members. This is also a great opportunity for the birth family to meet their child’s new parents. Many adoptive parents learn that the children being adopted have birth family members who continue to deeply care for and love the children, even if they’ve made a decision that they will not chose to parent that child.
Can we use an independent or second translator when talking to birth parents?
Yes, families can use an independent translator to be present when we interview birthparents. Due to the highly sensitive nature of this work, we ask that these meetings happen in conjunction with our agency’s work and that their questions are reviewed and approved by our agency staff in advance. As part of our interviews, birth families are asked if they’ve been promised anything, their understanding of adoption (temporary vs. permanent) and the circumstances pertaining the child’s relinquishment.
Who in Ethiopia determines that the children are appropriate for adoption?
Appointed regional authorities have jurisdiction to review a child’s case and make a determination if they are appropriate for adoption. These authorities are often regional government branch overseeing Women’s & Children’s Issues. Prior to the court process, MOWCYA completes a review of the case and issues a recommendation letter to the Court regarding the adoption. An Ethiopian federal judge reviews each case as part of family’s court process. The U.S. Embassy in Addis does orphan status investigations (called I-604 investigations) to determine if the child in question qualifies for status as an orphan eligible for an adoption visa.

While America World Adoption does make a determination regarding which children we’ll refer to families, we do not have the jurisdiction or authority to determine if a child should be available for adoption – that is the responsibility of the Ethiopian government.
Does America World interact with the birth parents?
We do not interact with birthparents until after an orphanage has referred a child to our agency for placement. At this time, we meet and interview birthparents to hear firsthand and record their statements regarding why they relinquished the child, if they were coerced or bribed, and their understanding of adoption.
Do you have initiatives in place for reunification or first family development?
Yes, America World sponsors close to 100 children/families in order to support family preservation and works with other organizations for vocational training and micro financing opportunities for poor and single mothers. This work is unrelated to adoption revenue.