We had a conference call with our agency, America World, today. We were able to get a bit more information about what is going on. It doesn't necessarily answer all of our questions about how this will all work out, but it was good to hear.
First, let me start by saying I love our agency. They do such a good job in giving good information, but only what they know is true. There is no speculating or emotional response with them.....which is so important since most of us are plenty emotional without their help! :) They are encouraging and tell us often that they are praying for each one of us - I couldn't recommend them more.
In a nutshell, here is what we learned:
Both parents are now required to travel for their children's court date. The biggest reason for this change is that sometimes parents were traveling to Ethiopia (after they'd passed court) and finding their child to be different than what they expected....more medical issues, developmental delays, etc. Apparently, some families chose to leave that child behind and come home without them. Here is the big problem: Ethiopian adoption is a fully irrevocable process. That means, in their country, there is no undoing it, which is really bad for these kids left behind. They are now stuck without hope of ever being matched with a new family. So, now we will travel to Ethiopia a few days before our court date and spend time with our child. Then, we will go to court to testify of our desire to adopt our child(ren). Honestly, it makes sense. I remember when our agency went to court for Elijah (on our behalf), it did feel a little weird that this child we had never seen or held was now legally ours by his country. I wasn't having doubts, but the process of that felt a little strange.
So, we will travel anywhere from 2-8 weeks after our referral to meet our child, go to court and then return home. (BOO for this part!!) We then wait for the Embassy to do the paperwork and investigating they need to do and will return to ET 8-12 weeks after our court date to bring our child home.....could be a little sooner. No one knows how this process will change over the coming months (it probably will!), but this is the current plan.....not that there is ever a consistent plan with international adoption....the only consistent thing about the whole thing is change!