Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interim suspension of Aus/Ethiopia program

I am numb. This news is so heartbreaking for my many friends currently in the Ethiopia program. The 'unknownness' of the future of the program is the hardest part. I've shed a lot of tears today. Hoping and praying that after the review there is a positive outcome for the program's viability. I've bolded the paragraph of most interest...

The Attorney-General, the Hon Robert McClelland MP, has decided that the Ethiopia–Australia program should be suspended because of concerns that Australia can no longer conduct intercountry adoptions in Ethiopia in a manner consistent with its obligations under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.

Australia is committed to ensuring that all our intercountry adoption programs comply with the principles of the Hague Convention. This is the case whether or not the partner country is a signatory to the Convention.

Adoptive families should note that the Attorney-General’s Department is not aware of any allegations of child trafficking in the Ethiopia–Australia program. There is no suggestion of illegal practices in relation to any adoptions previously finalised between Ethiopia and Australia.

The program will be suspended pending the finalisation of a formal review which is expected to be completed by the end of 2009. The review will assess the viability of the program and its compliance with the principles of the Hague Convention. A decision about the future of the program will then be made.

Activity during the interim suspension will be restricted to those children already referred to the Australia program. This will ensure that no children will be disadvantaged by the arrangements. The following cases will be progressed:

* cases where prospective adoptive parents have already been allocated a child from Ethiopia, and
* cases where a child has already been referred to the program and the child can be matched with a family approved to adopt from Ethiopia. Children who have already been referred to the program will be matched in the usual way with the most appropriate adoptive family in accordance with the Matching Guidelines. In these cases, it is likely to be a number of months before applicants are advised whether they are allocated such a child.

No new children will be accepted by the program during the suspension. Applicant files currently waiting in Ethiopia to be allocated will remain there until a decision about the future of the program is made.

A key reason for the suspension is a new requirement of the Ethiopian Government that the program enter into a formal agreement to provide community development assistance. The Australian program has previously been exempt from the requirement to provide financial/material assistance because of its unique Government-to-Government arrangement. We have recently been advised that this exemption can no longer continue. The review is considering whether implementation of the new arrangements is consistent with Australia’s obligations under the Hague Convention.

The Attorney-General considers it is not possible for the program to continue accepting new referrals of children into the program until a full review of the program is completed.

Australia values its bilateral relationship with Ethiopia and looks forward to working closely with the Ethiopian Government during the review to ensure that the best interests of children are met.

We understand that many families who are waiting to adopt a child from Ethiopia will be distressed by the decision to suspend the program. However, it is important that we have confidence that children are in need of an overseas family and that no improper financial gains arise from the process.

Further information and updates about the program will be made available in due course.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fly Away Children

I watched the report 'Ethiopia - Fly Away Children' last night on Foreign Correspondent. Again, it raised critical issues around child harvesting and trafficking for international adoption. I encourage you to take half an hour out to watch it (the video is online as well as the story).

I am disgusted at the footage of the worker from adoption agency Christian World Adoption going into villages and asking parents who among them might like to hand their children over to live in America.

I struggle with removing children from a country when they have a known parent there. There is a difference between relinquishment due to poverty and abandonment. The problem is, some agencies feed lies to adoptive parents, who truly believe they are adopting an orphan.

These are tough issues for many prospective adoptive parents to deal with, but they must be addressed. We cannot pretend these issues do not exist. We need ethics in all areas of adoption, and as horrible as the program was to watch last night, I commend the ABC for broadcasting it and raising awareness.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


It's our first year LIDverasry today. Let's look how far we've come in the past year.

When we were logged in, there were 948 days worth of log-ins in front of us.

There are now 899 days.

That makes it a grand total of 49 days referred in the past twelve months.

The most recent referrals were logged in for over 41 months.

Working on an average of 3.1 days of referrals a month, we are due to receive our baby some time in January 2019. (See the calculations)


Even if things speed up 10x (what are the chances?) and CCAA starts referring month for month, it will still be 30 months more of waiting, or February 2012 before our referral.

I'm still optimistic that things will speed up after we get through the May 2007 files (when the rules changed). When people ask I tell them we expect it to be another three or four years wait. Surely it won't be ten.

Monday, August 31, 2009

So very young

The latest referrals to come to Australia included two very young babies; one born April 2 and one born April 17 - THIS YEAR! That makes them less than five months old each. This is the youngest age of referral I have heard of.

I actually thought Chinese orphanages had to advertise the finding ad for each child for six months, but I've gone back and checked some facts and it is actually only 60 days. If no-one comes forward within that time to claim the abandoned infant, then the orphanage can pursue the adoption route with that child.

It's difficult for waiting families to know what to prepare for. Recent referrals have included toddler girls, toddler boys, lots of infant boys, and now extremely young infant girls! Once upon a time, most referrals were infant girls, age approx 8-14 months age. Now it seems there is no pattern.

Congratulations to all the families who received the glorious news of a referral this month.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

International Adoption Day 2009

Today was IAFQ's annual International Adoption Day. Did you see it on Channel 9 news? Hurrah for positive press! I don't know the final figures yet, but I think there were about 900 or 1000 attendees. See pics and read about the 2007 one and 2008 one if you like.

I spent much of the day on the IAFQ table, providing info to members and prospective members, selling t-shirts, loaning library books to members and so on. I managed to take off for an hour in the afternoon to sit in on a film festival by adult adoptees. They shared a series of short films dealing with adoption issues, and I was so impressed. I'm relieved that our children will have a strong community of other adoptees to journey with and learn from. I'm also grateful that as prospective adoptive parents we can learn from the mouths of adoptees as they share their experiences.

One thing took me by surprise and I've been thinking about it since. Some teen and adult adoptees sat on a panel to answer questions, and when one of the panel members was answering a question she said she would definitely adopt if she couldn't have kids. Why is adoption only seen as an option when all other means to create a family have been exhausted? When will adoption be seen as a legitimate way to build a family regardless of reproductive ability? I wonder how the general public will begin to change their perception on this issue when people within the adoption community still haven't.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm still here!

I missed posting about our 7th and 8th month LIDversaries. Life has been busy and fun and hectic. I am now Vice President of IAFQ and enjoying that very much. We are starting up coffee afternoons for parents-in-waiting. Apart from that, when it comes to the adoption all we can say is 'still waiting!'. Things have stalled a bit in China due to the swine flu, like they needed any assistance slowing down!

More to come...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

6 months logged in (and a droopy eye)

It's the eighth of the month, which means we are celebrating six months logged in! I feel that the time is flying by. Not sure I'll still be saying that over the years to come when we are still waiting!

Today is also International Womens' Day, celebrating the economic, social and political achievements of women past, present and future. IWD is a holiday in China.

I'm celebrating both by going to the doctor. My eye was pink and sore yesterday, and I woke up today and things are worse. It's all puffy and swollen, and my eye-lid is droopy. It's super-attractive. Hopefully it can be treated quickly as I have a lot I need to achieve this coming week.

All images licensed under Creative Commons. 1. keyboard 6, 2. Six is a Crowd, 3. 6

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Batch 9 Referrals

OHMYGOODNESS! Qld Batch #9 have received their referrals!

T and P were referred a BOY! See his gorgeous face at China Moon.

After a long, dry spell of no referrals for Queensland, this is joyous news worth celebrating! Can't wait to hear about others in the batch.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Stolen and Sold

Imagine finding out your adopted child had been stolen and sold to an orphanage, and was not willingly relinquished by his/her birthparents.

I recently blogged about Love Our Way, the story of an Australian family who found themselves in this heartbreaking situation. The situation is devastating, but thankfully the outcome for this family and the birthmother has been positive.

Last week, ABC's Foreign Correspondent program ran a documentary about this family's story. Please take the time to watch it (27 mins). We need these issues to be exposed. We need increased awareness. We cannot afford to be naïve when it comes to adoption ethics.

China has had its fair share of child trafficking issues. If you've been around China adoption for a while, you'll remember the Hunan scandal in 2005. It's a conundrum; many orphanages pay a 'finders fee' when abandoned children are handed over. This encourages trafficking and kidnapping. In a developing nation where child abandonment is not uncommon, without an incentive program such as finders fees there is little hope for genuinely abandoned babies.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

5 months logged in, pending referrals and another hat to wear

Eek! I missed our five month LIDversary on Sunday, but that's okay - we were out with our China adoption support group for a belated CNY lunch, so we celebrated in style!

Queensland is *this close* to referrals for new babies from China. We had NONE in 2008, so everyone in the support group and China adoption community here is hanging out for good news. I know some of the couples in the batch about to be referred, and it was so disappointing last month that they missed out by one measly log-in day. At least we know they will definitely be next.

In other news, the President of our state support group IAFQ (International Adoptive Families of Qld) contacted me last night. He is going to nominate me as Vice President at the AGM next week. OMG what have I got myself in for. I am already over-committed and time-poor. I will need to work hard at doing justice to the position.

Oh, one more thing - OziMum is in China (finally!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Australia Day! Happy Chinese New Year!

Australia Day and Chinese New Year day fall on the same day this year. Funny thing, that lunar calendar.

I'm being completely un-Australian and doing some work today; I have to apply for my own job, as it was a tap-on-the-shoulder thing and policy requires that you can only act in a position like that for a certain period of time in Government, and then the job has to be advertised and appointed properly. Or something. All I know is I have some serious selection criteria to respond to.

So, it's no BBQ for me, no Triple J Hottest 100, no beach cricket. Just a computer, a headache and a whole lot of corporate jargon.

We headed into Brisbane's Chinatown to celebrate CNY on Friday night. Aaron and I are both in green and on the left in the first pic, and that's me trying not to get mowed down by a lion dance in the second pic.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

4 months logged in

It's the eighth of the month, which means we are celebrating four months logged in!