Bipartisan, bicameral letter seeks reversal of Ethiopia’s international adoption suspension

that leaves 200 U.S. families separated from their adopted children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week joined 122 members of Congress urging the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to reconsider his April 21st decision to suspend international adoptions. The order has left more than 200 U.S. families separated from the Ethiopian children they have adopted and are trying to bring home.

In a bipartisan and bicameral letter to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the 47 Senators and 75 Congressmen said, “While we respect your government’s decisions regarding future adoption policy in Ethiopia, we ask for your help in expeditiously resolving cases that were already underway on April 21. We are concerned that a failure to work with us to help these children join their adoptive families could have a negative impact on the relationship between our two governments.”

The group of lawmakers is particularly concerned about approximately 30 adoptions that have already been finalized but, because of the order, the parents are unable to obtain the final paperwork, or “vitals”, necessary to bring their legally-adopted children home. The government of Ethiopia has provided the adoptive parents no legal justification for the delays, which have had an adverse effect on the children.

“In many cases, children and families have already initiated the emotional bonding and attachment process,” the lawmakers write. “We fear breaking these attachments by delaying these adoptions may be detrimental to the children and adoptive families involved. Our constituents want to provide loving, safe families to those in need and simply wish to bring their adopted children home in a timely fashion and in accordance with the law.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn,

We write to express concern regarding your recent decision to suspend all intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia. We would like to work with you to ensure that orphans in Ethiopia have the opportunity to find safe, loving, and permanent homes. The United States’ relationship with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is founded upon economic growth, development, regional peace, and security. The United States and Ethiopia work together to enhance food security, improve health services, strengthen education, promote trade, and expand development. We have welcomed Ethiopia’s commitment to security in the region, including through peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

In this spirit of cooperation, we request that you reconsider your April 21 decision to immediately halt all adoption processing, including cases in which the adoption was completed in the Federal First Instance Court. Your government’s decision to suspend international adoptions on April 21, 2017, has left more than 200 U.S. families, and as many Ethiopian children, in a difficult and heartbreaking position. While we respect your government’s decisions regarding future adoption policy in Ethiopia, we ask for your help in resolving expeditiously cases that were already underway on April 21. We are concerned that a failure to work with us to help these children join their adoptive families could have a negative impact on the relationship between our two governments.

The cases of approximately 30 children and their families stand out as particularly troubling. These children’s adoptions were completed in the Federal First Instance Court, and the adoptive parents are legally responsible for the children’s well-being under your country’s laws. However, they have been unable to obtain the necessary paperwork so that the children can travel home to the United States to join their families. We do not believe the adoptive parents have received from your government legal justification for these delays, which have detrimental effects on the children, many of whom have had to return to orphanages.

We share your government’s concern for the security and welfare of all children, and that is why we ask for your help in resolving this situation without delay. In many cases, children and families have already initiated the emotional bonding and attachment process. We fear breaking these attachments by delaying these adoptions may be detrimental to the children and adoptive families involved. Our constituents want to provide loving, safe families to those in need and simply wish to bring their adopted children home in a timely fashion and in accordance with the law.

For these reasons, we ask you and your government to work with us and the U.S. Department of State to resolve this situation without delay. Once again, we respect your government’s right to make decisions regarding future policy on international adoptions. However, for cases already underway on April 21, we ask your government to help these children join their adoptive parents by allowing their adoption cases to continue moving forward.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter. We look forward to working with the Ethiopian Government to unite American families with the children they have legally adopted.

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