Chris and Erin Hipsher of Bristol applied in January 2013 to adopt a child from Ethiopia, East Africa. In August 2013, working through an adoption agency in Florida, they were referred to a boy, Terefe, who was then in an orphanage.
Today they are bogged down in the red tape and inefficiency of the international adoption system, waiting for the proper paperwork to be finished. They are hoping for the process to be completed this year, but have no assurance of when that will be.
In the meantime, the Hipshers are able to have some contact with Terefe, who is now in a transition home. For a few minutes each week they are able to see and talk with Terefe on their computer using Skype. They have not yet met him in person, although some friends who have traveled to Ethiopia have seen the boy.
When the process is complete, Chris and Erin will travel to Africa to appear in an Ethiopian court. They anticipate that they may have to remain there for several weeks before they can bring their adopted child home.
Part of the long delay is due to intergovernmental bureaucracy, as the United States immigration authorities deal with the Ethiopian officials and courts in charge of adoptions. Their frustration has caused the Hipshers to get involved on a national level to raise awareness and advocate for change.
To this end they have joined the Both Ends Burning Campaign, which has produced a documentary film called “Stuck.” The news release accompanying this article gives more information about a free showing of the film on April 5 at the Elkhart County Historical Museum in Bristol. The women speaking after the movie will relate their experiences in adopting children from the Ukraine and from Guatemala respectively.
More information is available online at bothendsburning.org, where one can read about the proposed legislation called Children in Families First (CHIFF). The Hipshers join with other adoption advocates in urging interested persons to call members of the U.S. Congress to pass the CHIFF measure.
CHIFF has been introduced and sponsored in both the House and the Senate. The bill calls for the creation of a bureau within the U.S. Department of State, which will deal with international child welfare, including intercountry adoption.
CHIFF would streamline intercountry adoption cases (like that of the Hipshers) by placing these functions under the direction of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). The bill also calls for the establishment of a Center for Excellence within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which would advocate assistance for children in adversity.
We wish the Hipshers well in their personal goals and in their advocacy for others wanting to adopt children from other countries. Those wanting to learn more about their efforts can reach them by phone at 574-360-4719 or by e-mail at email@example.com.