Bethany Christian Services looks at the bright side of Ethiopia’s decision

By March 22, 2011

Ethiopia (MNN) — Yesterday, we alerted listeners to some
changes being made by Ethiopia's government  in their foreign adoption
policies. 

In an effort to get fraud under control, Ethiopia cut back on
the number of cases its agents processed from roughly 50 per day to just
five.   

The changes mean a dramatic slowdown in the number of cases
being presented, and some U.S. agencies launched a petition drive urging
Ethiopia to reconsider.   

However, the story isn't all bad news. Bethany Christian Services gave a
comprehensive rundown on what's been happening, and we spoke to their
International Services Coordinator for Africa, Sara Ruiter, for the positives of
this story.   

First, "Ethiopia is really invested in keeping their kids in-country and providing services such as foster care, kinship care, family
preservation services," explains Ruiter.

However, "Inner country adoption is
sort of the last option for kids that can't be placed with extended family
members or in their own community," adds Ruiter. "We find that a lot of those services are
either non- existent or they're very underdeveloped and under-resourced."

Second, family
services are Bethany's strength. "Right now we have 55 trained families and 30
on a waiting list that are ready and available to help take kids out of
orphanages, take kids out of
institutionalized care, and place them in loving, prepared, trained families."

Ruiter says that there are a lot of people working to try to
reach a win-win agreement for both the potential adoptive families and the
government. "We're hopeful that the
Ethiopian government will reconsider [limiting cases to] that number of five and will take on more
cases per day to move families through the system. We don't think that [they'll resume processing] the
numbers that it was before, but we do think that it's going to be a middle ground, where we can come to some sort of resolution."

Rumors are swirling viciously around the story. There are hints of drastically increased
wait times for families already in queue for children. Neither confirming nor denying the rumors, Ruiter
says their staff is taking a more moderate approach. "What we do envision, once
this thing settles down, is that there probably will be an increase in wait
time for families, but it's not going to be the wait times that people are
talking about right now."

Third, while the negotiations continue, Bethany continues to
build on their strength. Ruiter says, "We partner
with Christian organizations who have the same fundamental beliefs that we do. We partner with local churches and local Christian
families who think that Christ is the Savior of the world. Without that behind
us, we're just spinning our wheels."

Finally, Ruiter is
encouraging people to pray for wisdom for their staff. The families in limbo need prayer support,
too. "Pray that God would just wrap His arms around these families, and that
they would trust Him that He has a plan in all this and He knows about
this; we're going to get through
this together."   

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