I'm going to venture a guess that the particulars of this announcement are why we have yet to have a confirmed Embassy date. We knew the general, but that was a month ago. Now, the State Department has finally released an official statement on what it is they are doing. In pertinent part, it reads (with my highlights for emphasis):
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
Change in Processing Timeline for Adoption Cases
March 5, 2010
The Department of State shares families’ concerns about recent media reports alleging direct recruitment of children from birth parents by adoption service providers or their employees. In response to these reports, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has implemented some changes to adoption visa processing. Adoptive parents should be aware that an I-604 (Determination on Child for Adoption, sometimes referred to as “orphan investigation”) must be completed in connection with every I-600 application. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this investigation may take up to several weeks or even months to complete. Therefore, adoptive parents should not plan to travel to Ethiopia until they have confirmed with their adoption agency that their visa interview appointment has been confirmed.
Adoption agencies submit case paperwork to the U.S. Embassy for review before the Embassy schedules the immigrant visa appointment. In some cases the I-604 determination could take several weeks or more from the time a case is submitted to the U.S. Embassy to the scheduling of a visa interview appointment. We understand that in such cases this will result in a longer period before parents are able to bring their adopted children to the U.S. However, this additional scrutiny is required to ensure that the adoption is legal under both U.S. and Ethiopian law. The U.S. Embassy will work with adoptive parents and their adoption agency to ensure that each case is processed in the most expeditious manner possible in accordance laws and regulations. Families should continue to work through their agency to schedule immigrant visa appointments and answer questions regarding pending cases.
families have concerns about their adoption, we ask that they share
this information with the Embassy, particularly if it involves possible
fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Embassy takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.
How do I say this diplomatically?
I call B.S.
Given that we passed court February 8th and we have yet to have our date confirmed, I'm guessing we're into the "several weeks" and hopefully not the "several months" category. And, even with the gut feeling of our adoption agency and its representatives that our Embassy date will still be the 30th, I'm losing any hope of that the further into March we lumber.
I do not understand what it is the State Department is hoping to accomplish by doing this. I know what they say they are doing and what those parents who suddenly develop a concern and suspicion of international adoption are saying (funny how all those people already have their kids home), but my question is--what does this mean?
If we believe that all this represents is one, final fail safe before a child is allowed to enter the United States as the child of United States citizens, then we must also ask, "What happens if there is a failure, even after months, to satisfy the threshold of the State Department?" I don't even know what that threshold is, but it makes me wonder nonetheless.
If a child's file doesn't meet that threshold, then what happens to the child? the family? the adoption?
If it is purported to be more than another set of hoops to jump and that this is actually trying to accomplish something, then it would follow that for all the positive outcomes (American citizens can finally go retrieve the children they have worked so hard to bring home), there will be some negative ones (children for whom the threshold will not be met). Then what?
At that point, the Ethiopian court's final order will likely still stand. Some American family is considered under Ethiopian law to be the parents of a child. But, the American government won't recognize that order and will not grant the child a Visa to enter the country. Then what? Pretend for one, unfathomable moment, that the parents take this lying down and decided, "Okay. Well, if that child isn't available for adoption, we will try again." I doubt the Ethiopian system would look favorably on a family who left their child and never came to take him/her home. Good luck with that one.
This would end in limbo. A limbo in which I doubt anyone really wants to participate, especially because an outcome is hard to determine. Which leads me back to the original question--is this for show or are we really going to start takesies backsies with these children?
I think if there is a question to the legitimacy of how children end up in care in Ethiopia, it needs to be handled on the front end. For our daughter, for instance, there is no home to return to per se and as far as the government is concerned, she belongs to us. I'm sure with all that paperwork in place, I could go to Ethiopia tomorrow and make arrangements to see my child. If I could arrange my own Visa status, I could likely remain there until her Embassy appointment--if only we knew when/if it were forthcoming.
I am just frustrated beyond measure. There is only so much that can be shoveled into your face that you can blithely choke down. Eventually, you gag and sputter and start resisting the line you're being asked to swallow.
If, at this point, there is a scintilla of a chance that our daughter may end up being deemed 'unadoptable' after she's already been adopted...I do not even WANT to imagine what that means to her life after that. Or mine. Or whomever will be answering the phone, fielding my visits or trying to figure out a way to leave their house with me on their front lawn. Seriously. I'm very, very over this.