The Ethiopian government’s decision to halt international adoptions left more than 200 U.S. families — including the Nortons of St. Louis Park — in a difficult and heartbreaking position; After Klobuchar successfully pushed to secure visas for the Nortons’ sons, she met with the family to celebrate their reunion in October
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and a bipartisan group of senators urged the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to honor more than 200 international adoptions that have been halted by the Ethiopian government. In a letter to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Klobuchar, along with Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), encouraged the Prime Minister to lift newly placed restrictions on pending adoptions. The Ethiopian government’s decision to halt international adoptions left more than 200 U.S. families — including David and Katie Norton of St. Louis Park — in a difficult and heartbreaking position. Senator Klobuchar successfully helped them receive the necessary documents to apply for a U.S. visa, allowing the Nortons to bring home their two sons in early August. Klobuchar met with the family to celebrate their reunion in October.
“There are more than 200 cases in which American families have pending adoptions in various phases of completion,” the senators wrote. “We believe that Ethiopia’s pursuit of new adoption legislation must not prevent children who have already been matched with adoptive families from having the opportunity to complete their adoptions according to the law under which they were initiated.”
In May, Senator Young and the co-chairs of the Senate's Adoption Caucus, Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, led a letter signed by 122 members of Congress to Prime Minister Desalegn urging the nation to reconsider its decision to halt international adoptions. Their action helped unite dozens of families whose adoptions had been finalized but the children were not being allowed to leave the country. Today’s letter seeks to help the remaining children and their waiting American families that have been left in limbo.
“Thanks to your government’s cooperation, many children have been united with loving adoptive families,” the letter states. “With gratitude for your previous efforts, we seek your continued assistance with the remaining cases in which American families have pending adoptions in various phases of completion.”
Klobuchar, co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, is a strong advocate for adoptive families and children. In May, Klobuchar and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the bipartisan Vulnerable Children and Families Act to help make international adoptions a more central part of U.S. foreign policy and international diplomacy by establishing an Office of Vulnerable Children and Family Security within the State Department. Klobuchar and Blunt have also previously introduced the Supporting Adoptive Families Act to help provide pre- and post-adoption support services, including mental health treatment, to help adoptive families stay strong. The Klobuchar-authored International Adoption Simplification Act to help siblings stay together during an international adoption and protect adoptees from unsafe immunizations in foreign countries was signed into law on November 30, 2010. She introduced the Accuracy for Adoptees Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in early 2014. This law cuts red tape for adoptive families and ensures that corrections made to adoptees’ birth certificates by state courts would be recognized by the federal government. In 2015, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill she cosponsored to waive recurring visa fees for families whose adoptive children are unable to immigrate in a timely manner due to exceptional circumstances.
Klobuchar has also worked closely with adoptive Minnesota families to help them bring their children home from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Russia.
The complete text of the letter can be viewed below.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn,
We write to express our gratitude for the actions your government has taken in response to our letter on May 26, 2017, regarding intercountry adoptions. Thanks to your government’s cooperation, many children have been united with loving adoptive families. With gratitude for your previous efforts, we seek your continued assistance with the remaining cases in which American families have pending adoptions in various phases of completion. We feel strongly that any case involving an Ethiopian child matched with an adoptive family should be allowed to continue to completion under the Revised Family Code of 2000. With expeditious resolution of this issue, it is our hope that the bilateral relationship between our two countries can deepen further.
We continue to understand the Ethiopian government’s decision regarding future adoption policy. However, according to the U.S. Department of State, there are more than 200 cases in which American families have pending adoptions in various phases of completion. We believe that Ethiopia’s pursuit of new adoption legislation must not prevent children who have already been matched with adoptive families from having the opportunity to complete their adoptions according to the law under which they were initiated.
We share your government’s concern for the security and welfare of children. Children often form important emotional bonds with the adoptive families with whom they have been “matched.” We fear that failing to allow these prospective adoptive parents to complete their adoption processes will impose additional suffering on these children. This is why we remain resolute in our desire to work with you to resolve this situation.
Thank you for your continued attention to this important matter. Our two governments have demonstrated the ability to work cooperatively on a variety of issues. We hope that this issue continues to be among them. We trust that you will work closely with the Department of State to establish a way to unite these children with their adoptive families.