Kati Foster 0

Letter to CHI: Rediate

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Dear Children’s Hope International,

“Pure religion in the sight of God is to care for the fatherless and the vulnerable. Faith in the Lord is the basis of our work and our staff, the energizing fuel of our daily work and the basis of the principles which guide us.”  

These are the words that are penned on your website and that greet families when they seek to learn about Children’s Hope International [CHI].  Caring for the vulnerable and faith in the Lord is the basis of our work and our staff are powerful statements that evoke feelings of trust, comfort, and ultimately the decision to choose CHI as an advocate to bring a family and child together through adoption.  

Although not all families who chose to work with CHI are Christians, many of us share this faith and your agency clearly is founded and driven by their faith in Christ.

As families enter into the adoption process, CHI staff encourage us to allow bonds to build with the families we meet both on the court trip and embassy trips, as well as being apart of the Yahoo group to find support and community.  As Sharon has said, the relationships that you will create with the other families are life long.  We can all bear witness to the close-nit fellowship that we share with other CHI families because many of us have cheered one another on from the paper chase through referral then court, embassy and finally arriving home and beginning life together as a family.  We have encouraged one another when tough times come, anticipated the joy of traveling to Ethiopia to either meet or bring home our children, and given guidance to one another for answers when families hit road blocks.  

As you may well know, despite staff members belittlement of the value of this group, the CHI families have created a community on Facebook for families in all stages of the Ethiopian adoption process.  There we have shared our hearts joys and as well as the dismay many of the completed families have experienced in direct relation to CHI staff and procedure.  Stories are shared and families openly discuss their experiences, so although CHI refuses to discuss other individual cases over the phone, we are all aware of what is going on.  In the past 96 hours, we have all been made aware of the Kologek family and their newest daughter Rediate’s transition home.  We are appalled with the lies this child was fed as well as the lack of support that CHI has offered this family.  When a family lands in the US, CHI is mandated to have obligation to this family to provide post-adoption support, counseling, and direction.  [This is outlined in the Hague Convention’s Code of Federal Regulations under section 96.38] Quoting the CFR: to be considered Hague accredited, an agency is required to provide:
(6) The agency's or person's goals, ethical and professional guidelines, organizational lines of accountability, policies, and procedures; and
(7) The cultural diversity of the population(s) served by the agency or person.
(b) In addition to the orientation training required under paragraph (a) of this section, the agency or person provides initial training to newly hired or current employees whose responsibilities include providing adoption-related social services that involve the application of clinical skills and judgment (home studies, child background studies, counseling services, parent preparation, post-placement and other similar services) that addresses:
(1) The factors in the countries of origin that lead to children needing adoptive families;
(2) Feelings of separation, grief, and loss experienced by the child with respect to the family of origin;
(3) Attachment and post-traumatic stress disorders;
(4) Psychological issues facing children who have experienced abuse or neglect and/or whose parents' rights have been terminated because of abuse or neglect;
(5) The impact of institutionalization on child development;
(6) Outcomes for children placed for adoption internationally and the benefits of permanent family placements over other forms of government care;
(7) The most frequent medical and psychological problems experienced by children from the countries of origin served by the agency or person;
(8) The process of developing emotional ties to an adoptive family;
(bold print adjusted by the creator of this letter)

As we all learn of the damage little Rediate has experienced and the trauma she is now enduring, we are calling CHI to make immediate restitution.  The acrimony that Mahlet has committed is unprofessional, lacks integrity and demands amends on behalf of the US CHI staff.  To suggest that a family Skype with other families is one option, but it speaks on no terms of the professionalism that is expected out of social workers and directors of an international adoption agency.  To suggest that the family place the child for adoption in the US is an audacious claim.  In an update from September 9, 2010, Ashley wrote: “We are all committed to your adoption and your adoption is important to each of us....Please know that we are here for you and work to assist each and everyone one of you in order that you can get to the end of your adoption journey with joy, even through the tough times.”  The Kologek family is experiencing one of your “tough times”, and all you and your staff have to offer is this?  

CHI claims that they are here for every family and they encourage open communication between families and their adoption consultant.  The response several families have had when making complaints to your agency is that “[CHI staff] are unaware of these issues”.  In compliance to Sharon, Nicky, Angie and Dwight’s request that “more families contact them with issues”, we are writing a collaborative letter on behalf of several of your families.  In our discussions we collectively understand that many of the families that are in our group have complained to CHI about oversights made by Mahlet and inappropriate and unprofessional acts she has committed.  We don’t believe it is necessary to list these in this letter because we know that CHI staff is already aware of these issues.  Therefore, we are demanding that CHI terminates their in country staff member, Mahlet, for the heinous acts she has committed not only with this child, but with several families since her hiring.  

CHI used to be an agency that was known for their integrity and success in bringing families together.  This is no longer the case.  As families share their experiences, word is getting out that CHI is no longer an agency to be trusted.  Outlets such as the Yahoo board that reviews Ethiopian Adoption Agencies, blogs, Facebook and other social media as well as writing a Hague complaint and contacting The Joint Council on International Children’s Services are all outlets we are all prepared to utilize to bring light to these issues.  We expect you will immediately address the grievance that the Kologeks are experiencing in a more sincere and resourceful way that will help resolve this conflict that your in country staff created.  Thank you for addressing this.



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