Continued Delays in Intercountry Adoption from Ethiopia

Intercountry Adoption

Update: January 14, 2018

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) stated that the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa confirmed that the Ethiopian Parliament passed legislation banning adoptions by foreigners in Ethiopia [PDF version].

Unfortunately, DOS does not yet have information on how this new law will affect pending intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia, which have already been subject to delays (as detailed in previous updates). We will update this article when the DOS posts further information on the subject.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that on December 12, 2017, the DOS reiterated its advice that adoption agencies should not make new referrals in Ethiopia [PDF version] (see our Nov. 13 update). For families, DOS issued the following advice:

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We will continue to update this article with information about the adoption situation in Ethiopia as it becomes available.

Update: November 13, 2017

On November 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that it had been informed by Ethiopian officials that only the following adoption cases from Ethiopia will be allowed to proceed [PDF version]:

Cases with a completed Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption determination; and
Cases that have a Form I-604 determination pending with the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian government will not permit any cases that are not described above to proceed to completion. The DOS explained that this means “that families who have been matched with a child but have not progressed to the Form I-604 stage may not proceed with adoption in Ethiopia.” Prospective adoptive parents who are unsure whether their cases still qualify for processing may contact the DOS for more information. On November 13, 2017, the DOS set up a special email address for adoption inquiries regarding Ethiopia at [email protected] that stakeholders should use going forward [PDF version]. However, those who had already sent emails to the general-use email address at [email protected] do not need to re-send the same email to the special address for Ethiopia adoption inquiries. The new address should be used going forward.

The DOS stated that for the time being, adoption agencies should refrain from referring new Ethiopian adoption cases for U.S. prospective adoptive parents.

The DOS asked prospective adoptive parents who have already filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate relative, with the National Benefits Center (NBC) for a child from Ethiopia before November 8, 2017, to contact it at with the following information:

Name of prospective adoptive parent(s);
Child's name; and
Where the case is in the adoption process.

The DOS stated that it “will continue to engage the government of Ethiopia to address its concerns about intercountry adoption.” Specifically, the DOS will work to allow for cases where a child has already been matched with a prospective adoptive parent to proceed to completion.

For cases that cannot proceed to completion, the DOS advised prospective adoptive parents to speak to their respective adoption service providers (ASPs) about whether fees can be refunded. However, the DOS noted that it “does not have a role in facilitating the transfer or refund of fees.” Under 22 C.F.R. 96.40(h), the failure of an ASP to return fees to which a client is entitled within 60 days may negatively affect the accreditation or approval of the ASP.

Prospective adoptive parents should consult with their ASP and, as necessary, the DOS and an experienced immigration attorney for more information. We will continue to update the website with more information on the adoption situation for Ethiopia as it becomes available.

Update: September 29, 2017

On September 29, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published an alert for intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia [PDF version]. The DOS explains that the U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa has heard reports of delays by the Ethiopian government in the issuance of necessary documents for adoptive children. In some cases, prospective adoptive parents have been waiting “for a year or more” for the issuance of necessary documents. The DOS has made inquiries to the Ethiopian government, but thus far it has received no explanation for the delays or when the issues may be resolved. The DOS stated that it will provide further updates when more information is known.

Update: June 16, 2017

On June 16, 2017, the DOS issued an update to its previous adoption notice about the suspension of adoptions from Ethiopia on May 26, 2017 [PDF version].

The DOS explained that since June 1, 2017, Ethiopia's Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWA) has resumed issuing documents to allow some adopted children with Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) approval to commence their U.S. immigration processes. The children who were permitted to begin their U.S. immigration processes were able to obtain Ethiopian passports.

The DOS stated that it has not yet received information from the Ethiopian government about which additional cases it will allow to continue. Furthermore, the Ethiopian government has not, as of June 16, 2017, released an official statement on intercountry adoption from Ethiopia.

The DOS stated that it would continue to advocate for intercountry adoption from Ethiopia. However, due to the current uncertainty, the DOS encouraged prospective adoptive parents to consider other countries to adopt from.

The DOS will provide updates as they come available. We will update the site when the DOS updates the situation. Those with questions should consult with their Adoption Service Provider and with an experienced immigration attorney in intercountry adoption.

Update: May 22, 2017

On May 16, 2017, the United States Department of State (DOS) updated the situation regarding intercountry adoption cases from Ethiopia [link].

The Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWA) informed the U.S. Embassy Addis Adaba that it will resume processing of intercountry adoption cases. However, Ethiopia will only issue negative letters. The DOS explained that this will apply to all intercountry adoption cases, “regardless of their stage in the process or the nationality of the adoptive parents.”

The DOS noted that the Ethiopian government has yet to provide any formal communication regarding the April 21, 2017, suspension of intercountry adoptions.

The DOS explained that it has been trying to obtain information about the intercountry adoption situation from the Ethiopian government. However, it has thus far been unsuccessful.

The DOS stated that it will continue to seek information and advocate for intercountry adoption from Ethiopia. However, it advised prospective parents to consider adopting from other countries because of the uncertainty regarding intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia. The DOS encourages those with questions about their cases to contact their Adoption Service Provider and monitor the DOS website for updated information.

We will update this article with more information as it is reported.

May 7, 2017

On April 21, 2017, the Ethiopian Prime Minister's Office suspended intercountry adoptions. On May 2, 2017, the United States Department of State explained that it remained unclear as to the particulars of the suspension, including how long the intercountry adoption suspension would last [link]. The DOS explained that it was working with the relevant Ethiopian agencies to ascertain information about the suspension. Furthermore, the DOS is working to encourage the Ethiopian Government to allow continued processing of adoption cases that were in progress before April 21, 2017.

The DOS announced that on May 8, 2017, it will host a conference call for the U.S. adoption stakeholder community on the situation in Ethiopia [link].

We will update the site with more information about the intercountry adoption situation for Ethiopia as it becomes known.