Sunday, February 26, 2012

February Redeemed

February was shaping up to be a big disappointment.  No referrals had gone out in almost 4 weeks.  It had also been months since any infant girl referrals had been issued. That is until Thursday and Friday when 4 referrals went out, one of which was for an infant girl.  In the P.S. world (post slowdown), this is considered a verifiable traffic jam.       

February is also the month when our agency sent out a very candid email explaining the recent slowdown in referrals.  In summary - the U.S. Embassy and MOWA continue to raise their standards of required evidence to prove a child's legal orphan status and legal availability for adoption.  There are challenges with obtaining and verifying all the documentation needed to refer a child.  Some of these challenges are unique such as obtaining documentation in remote regions or in areas where taking records is not standard practice.  Nonetheless, all documentation must be obtained before our agency will refer a child.  Sometimes documentation is not able to be obtained and a child will not be referred.  Sometimes an individual involved in a case cannot be located and a child will not be referred.  Unless our agency is confident that a referral will pass the strict review now in place, a referral will not be issued.  However, because of the increased time and effort needed to investigate each case to ensure a child can be adopted, this means fewer children are available to be placed in any given month. 

As for timelines, it is hard to say.  Families are being told to prepare for a wait of 24 months or longer.  But really, our agency just doesn't know how long any family will wait. 

This communication cleared up a few issues.  It was an acknowledgement that the previous estimated wait time of 12-18 months from dossier submission to referral had essentially flown out the window.  No one knows if the slowdown will continue, if things will pick up, if they will become even slower.....Right now we just take it month by month. 

The communication was also an explanation by our agency that they are aware of the changes in requirements by the Embassy and they will do everything they can to ensure each referral they issue is documented and able to pass the strict review.  Yes it means fewer referrals will go out each month and that we may be waiting a very long time.  But it also increases the trust I have in our agency that they are acting ethically and in the best interests of the families they serve.  It also means our agency is acting responsibly so as not to threaten the entire program.

Too many times I see - even now- agencies that are not licensed to operate in Ethiopia but instead "umbrella" under another agency.  They promise short wait times and quick referrals.  With the scrutiny now in place this is the biggest threat to the program being able to continue.  Obviously many of these agencies will not have done the careful documentation that is needed to pass court and the Embassy.  There will be questions.  Families may or may not have the support of their agency to clear up questions.  But the more questions there are, the more records are missing or conflicting in the haste for a quick referral, the more Ethiopian adoptions are perceived as unethical and that folks plays into the hands of those who would love nothing more than to see the entire program shut down.  Quicker is not better.  For anyone.

So what does that mean for us?  I am becoming resigned to the thought that 2012 is not going to be our year.  It kind of sucks when it is only February and you come to this realization.  On the other hand, it is a bit liberating - we can plan vacations, start projects, stop hording sick no who am I kidding.  It sucks.

But I am coping.  With lots of chocolate.  Last week it was home made dark chocolate brownies.  This week it is chocolate chip cookies.  However, as Shakira would say - Hips don't lie - and mine are telling me to stop coping. 

So I will let you all cope for me.  Try this recipe found at My Baking Addiction!   

Rolo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies


1 ½ cups unsalted butter; softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans
30 Rolos; frozen at least 2 hours


1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate chips and pecans.
2. Measure dough using a medium cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons). Roll into a ball and then flatten in the palm of your hands.
3. Place a frozen Rolo in the centers of the flattened dough balls and form dough back into a ball around the Rolo.
4. Place Rolo stuffed dough balls into the freezer for 15-20 minutes before baking.
5. On cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, place dough balls 2 inches apart.
6. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.


  1. Holy crap! Chocolate chip cookies...with ROLOS?? Is that even legal?? LOL

    Your agency sounds much like us as far as the information they have given out. Not that the explanation helps, but at least it seems like everyone is on the same page now.

    And you are so is kind of liberating because we can plan things now and not hang on to the anticipation of waiting. I felt the exact same way.

    And I have been a bad adoption friend by not responding in a decent amount of time to emails. Work has had me so insanely busy. But this week I won't have any meetings...or open houses...or parent conferences. So I should be able to send you the long emails again! :-)

  2. I'm soooo glad to hear that February was redeemed--it's a good sign. It sounds like your agency is doing a good job of communicating things with you. And those cookies? Oh, man, rolos are my *favorite*.

  3. It is certainly a new world out there, and yes, it sucks. I have been toughing it out until now for 2012 but my resolve to stay calm and not let it all get to me is wearing thin. But, it is what it is, you know? Hang in there. Make your plans. Live life and don't let this put everything on hold. Easier said than done, I know!

  4. Good, God, woman! What are you trying to do to me!?! That recipe looks absolutely scandalous. Must. Try. Now! Hang in there! I haven't gotten my numbers yet this month. I'm nervous...