[Ugh. I don't know what is up with the spacing. Sorry for the chaotic look.]
A few years ago I put a post up called "Ghana is not the next Ethiopia." I very rarely re-post something here, but now seems like the right time to put a link up to that post, and update it a little. In the last few weeks Rainbow Kids has highlighted AAI and Ghana in a few of their emails (which is just awesome). Also, with Ethiopia adoptions currently under more scrutiny than ever, families are looking for other alternatives in Africa. We've seen a steady rise in the number of families hoping to adopt from Ghana since the first of the year. I am so very glad about this! However, it also makes me want to put up my "caution" flag so that families out there have a realistic view of Ghana adoption.
Really, not a lot has changed since I posted the first "Ghana is not the next Ethiopia" post in June 2008. However, I feel like we now have a better over all view of the program than we did back then. Adoptions were really just getting started then. Now we're almost 4 wonderful years in!
I feel more than ever that Ghana is never going to be a large adoption program--at least not with the current system. There is no central authority to identify children who are in need of adoption. Also, the officials in Ghana are very up front about their desire that international adoption be the absolute LAST option for children. Finally, the U.S. Embassy seems bound and determined not to allow adoptions to increase greatly in a short amount of time. No, they should not have any say in it, but yes, they do. Go talk to any adoption authority in Ghana and they will be the first to tell you, "The Embassy does not want many adoptions. They tells us to go slow." Like it our not, the embassy has influence over the officials there. I can see Ghana adoptions, at their height, with maybe 300-400 adoptions per year. Never in the thousands with the currentl law and system.
I still very much believe that Ghana will never be a baby program. I was looking at the state department website recently where they break down the adoptions by age/gender/etc.. It was telling to see that out of over 100 adoptions, 8 were of children under 1 year old age. I was surprised it was that many, actually! That number would also indicate that agencies/facilitators are at least staying away from the corrupt practice of manufacturing baby orphans in order to meet the "demand." So thankful for that.
Happily, it seems that Social Welfare is a bit more open to larger families than they were a few years ago. That is a great thing, as it's normally the larger families who are open to adopting the older and special needs kids!
Just like in 2008, the process is not one that anybody could describe as predictable. The only predictable thing about Ghana adoptions is that each case is its own entity and proceeds according to it's own time table! Still, families are made. Adoptions *ARE* successful! This is not a program where we see lots of people start the process and become stuck at some point where they are unable to finish. The process works, even if it is somewhat chaotic and messy. Thankfully, ethical adoptions are possible, if only one is willing to stand up tall and fight for it.
In some countries it seems that an "adoption culture" is made whereby parents decide to make an adoption plan for their child out of a desire that they go to an American family (instead of doing so from absolute necessity). Although there seems to be more awareness of international adoption than there was four years ago, I still don't see that sort of thing in Ghana very often. More often parents have no clue what adoption is and need much counseling before making an adoption plan. I am not in la-la land about this though. Fact is, there are many people in Ghana who would gladly give their children for adoption just for a chance of going to America. Hopefully agencies/facilitators will not encourage that behavior. Hopefully, agencies/facilitators are only assisting those families who truly have no other choice but to move towards adoption. [Social Welfare is the only entity authorized to "place" a child for adoption. However, since there is no centralized way to identify these children it is NGO's and facilitators that are on the ground assisting the children and families.]
Four years in, I think Ghana is a very good adoption choice for some families. Those families might look like this:
**Parents with medical issues that are denied entrance into other adoption programs. Ghana welcomes you.
**Families with 0-5 kids are definitely fine, with a growing acceptance of families with up to 10 kids, and every now and then families even larger.
**Parents under 50 years. Still not seeing a lot of give on this requirement, unless maybe one parent is over and one much younger than 50.
**Parents who hope to adopt children 4 years of age or older. Yes, there are toddlers now and again, and once in a blue moon an infant 0-2. But really, if you hope for 0-2 this is not the program for you unless you're prepared to wait years or adopt a very special needs child.
**Parents who are open to adopting HIV+ children. We don't have many parents who are open to HIV+ kids in this program, because we don't have a huge number of positive kiddos. Parents who are sure they only want to adopt HIV+ kids got to Ethiopia or other countries where there are large number of positive children. That means that when we do have positive kiddos, we don't often have families ready and waiting for them. Consider adopting from Ghana if you are OPEN to an HIV+ child (but not ONLY open to a positive child).
**Parents who are pretty laid back and able to deal with lots of ups and downs. This is not a good program for you if you need exact time lines and explanation for every small delay. This is a program for families who are experienced with international adoption, or experienced with African culture (and "Ghana Maybe Time"), or really willing to invest time into learning about both!
Welcome, all who are ready to jump in to Ghana adoption! Try to see it for all of the wonderful things it is, and hold on tight!