Now that we have our referral, I know everybody wants to know when we get to bring our new little ones home. I do too! The answer is that it will depend on a lot of variables. There are three big milestones we have to hit:
1. Our Court Date - Paul and I will travel to Ethiopia and meet our new daughter and son. We will then then appear before a judge who will (hopefully!) okay the adoption. We will then travel in Ethiopia and return home without our children.
2. The Arrival of Our MOWA Letter - In order to be granted legal custody of the children, we need to have a letter from the Ministry of Women's Affairs. These letters were at the center of the big upheaval this spring when it was announced that the ministry was going to reduce the number of letters written. Some families find that this letter is already in their file when they appear for court while some are finding that it takes many weeks for it to get there.
3. Our American Embassy Date - After our MOWA letter arrives, we will be submitted for an appointment at the American Embassy in Addis Ababa. When that date arrives, we will travel for the second time to Ethiopia and get to bring our children home.
How long will all of this take? We really can't predict that. There have been many changes to the Ethiopian adoption process in the last year and families' experiences seem to vary widely. I've read stories of people who got referrals last July, traveled for court in October, and were able to bring their children home in December. I've also read stories of families who received referrals at the same time, traveled for court in December and were able to bring their children home in April. I've heard one or two stories about families who have seen an entire year pass before they were able to bring home their new children. The slowdown with the MOWA letters is just going into effect and it will be "interesting" to see how that affects the process. There doesn't always seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason as to why some families are able to move through the process so much faster than others. Certainly the entire wait will be an extended and painful lesson in patience. Our little ones have already been in institutional care for a long time and we obviously want to have them home as soon as possible.
For now though we wait some more. The Ethiopian court closes for two months beginning at the beginning of August but we're very much hoping that our agency will get our paperwork submitted to get in line for a court date before then. I've set my heart on an October court date, though there are no guarantees of that and it could end up taking much longer. IF we get submitted for a court date before August 5th, we should be notified of our court date sometime in late August or September. Please keep your fingers crossed about that for us.