Friday, July 08, 2005

Adoption Advocates International

AAI is the adoption agency we decided to go with. There are only about four agencies in the United States that place children from Ethiopia, and we chose AAI based on their dedication to keeping costs low for adoptive families, their obvious commitment to orphaned children, and their flexibility (some agencies have strict rules regarding becoming pregnant during the adoption process, for example.) Merrily, the executive director, has been so wonderful and prompt about answering our questions, and has even adopted 15 children herself!

The mid-sized agency is located in Port Angeles, Washington. They have been licensed since 1983, and were approved to work in Ethiopia in 1997. After children are medically screened, they live in AAI facilities in Ethiopia while adoptive families are guided through processing the necessary paperwork required by both the U.S. and Ethiopian governments. This agency also places children from Thailand and China.

There are two AAI-run homes in Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia.) The babies and young children are cared for at Wanna House. The young children attend preschool, play with toys and sometimes go on field trips. Babies are held during each feeding and loved on by the staff members. School age children live at Layla House, a compound of four buildings. Teachers instruct children in English, math, science, geography, music and sports. The children play games, go on field trips, do chores, etc. All of the activities are geared to prepare them for life in America.

All of the children are given emotional support to help them deal with losing their family and also to prepare them for being adopted. They recieve a healthy diet, medical care and immunizations. (AAI is currently preparing to build a larger Layla House complex where children of all ages can be housed. This should be completed by September.) Needless to say AAI is doing an amazing work in Ethiopia!

The website for Adoption Advocates International is

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