Thursday, August 18, 2011

Official August #

So at almost 11 months on the waitlist and 16.5 months in process, we are officially #21!!! (started at 69)
not only are we excited about it being lower than we thought and us being close to the teens, it's also Duncan's number! Neil was lovin' that!

Right now we are waiting to hear from Lutheran to schedule our home visit (round 2) to renew our homestudy that expires already in September. We had about a week where we thought we weren't going to have to renew after all but there was some kind of communication lapse between Lutheran and AGCI so we do have to renew!! Just as an FYI for those who are in process/waiting in Texas, you have to renew when your USCIS immigration expires - not 12 months! Please pray for our backgrounds checks to come back quickly!!

A lot of questions arise around this time of year in regards to the Ethiopian court system closing for 2 months. This will slow things down a little but it doesn't mean there won't be referrals, travel for final trips/embassy and more! I posted a great Q&A from AGCI about the closures for those who are interested!

Court Closure Q&A
Q: When do the Courts close?
A: The Court closure occurs each year for approximately 2 months in August and September. The actual dates of closure and reopening vary from year to year.

Q: When do we find out when the Courts close?
A: The dates for this year’s closure have not been released. Typically, we do not receive advance notification of when the closure is to begin and end, but our staff at Hannah’s Hope do notify our office as soon as possible after they hear word.

Q: Why do the Courts close?
A: Many refer to this time of year in Ethiopia as “rainy season.” It is definitely true that Ethiopia experiences a good amount of rain during this time of the year and it can make getting to work a bit tricky at times. However, we can also look at the Courts closing for a recess period as the staff’s opportunity for a vacation.

Q: Do the Courts still accept new cases and issue court appointments during the closure?
A: Every year is different in exactly how the Courts operate during the closure/recess period. In some years, they have been completely shut down. In other years, the Courts accepted new cases into their “cue” then once they reopened, court appointments were issued. Even last year, we were able to submit new cases and received a few court appointment notices, but the appointments were not set to occur until October. Unfortunately, it is not clear how the Courts will operate or not operate during this year’s closure, but our staff will continue to submit new cases until the Courts no longer accept them.

Q: Is MOWA also closed during the period of time the Courts are closed?
A: The Federal Courts of Addis Ababa and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) are separate government offices, though they must work in partnership to complete adoption cases. MOWA does not typically close while the Courts are closed. We are hoping that given that MOWA is supposedly processing around 10 cases a day, they will continue to review cases and issue opinion letters to the Courts during this court closure period. Historically, though, we have seen that the motivation of MOWA to process cases and issue letters during the court closure has been low, since the Courts were not open to process the cases.

Q: Will the Courts process MOWA opinion letters that are issued during the closure?
A: It is not clear at this time if, during this court closure, the Courts will process the letters from MOWA for cases that have already completed court appointments. It is our hope that these letters will continue to be processed so pending cases can be approved, but again, right now there is no clarity on this.

Q: Can families still travel for the second trip and complete a visa appointment with the US Embassy to bring their child(ren) home during the closure?
A: _You bet! The visa appointment is conducted at the US Embassy, which is part of the US government. The Embassy has historically been open and processing cases and visas during the time the Courts are closed. We have seen times in the past where the Embassy processes fewer cases during the closure time, but the US Embassy holds complete jurisdiction over its processing of cases.

Q: Can children still be assigned and admitted into Hannah’s Hope then referred to their forever families during the Court closure?
A: Yes, children can still come into Hannah’s Hope through government-licensed orphanages and referred to adoptive families while the Courts are on recess. One thing to keep in mind is that a great deal of investigation and follow up work must go into each child’s history before a child can be referred, and this can slow things down a bit at the front end of a child’s process. Overall, there is never a set or average number of children who will come into Hannah’s Hope and/or referred to their forever families in any given month, and August and September are no exception.

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