News / Africa

Ethiopia to Cut Foreign Adoptions by Up to 90 Percent

Aaron Lieberman holds his son Theodore, 2, adopted from Ethiopia, as he shows his citizenship certificate, during U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Day ceremony in New York, 18 Nov 2010
Aaron Lieberman holds his son Theodore, 2, adopted from Ethiopia, as he shows his citizenship certificate, during U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Adoption Day ceremony in New York, 18 Nov 2010

Ethiopia is cutting back by as much as 90 percent the number of inter-country adoptions it will allow, as part of an effort to clean up a system rife with fraud and corruption. Adoption agencies and children’s advocates are concerned the cutbacks will leave many Ethiopian orphans without the last-resort option of an adoptive home abroad.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs has issued a directive saying it will process a maximum of five inter-country adoptions a day, effective March 10. Currently, the ministry is processing up to 50 cases a day, about half of them to the United States.

A copy of the directive provided to VOA says the reduction of up to 90 percent in cases will allow closer scrutiny of documents used to verify a child’s orphan status.

Ministry spokesman Abiy Ephrem says the action was taken in response to indications of widespread fraud in the adoption process.

"What we have seen so far has been some illegal practices. There is an abuse. There are some cases that are illegal. So these directives will pave the way to come up with [safeguards]," said Abiy Ephrem.

Investigations have turned up evidence of unscrupulous operators in some cases tricking Ethiopian parents to give up their children, then falsifying documents in order claim a part of the large fees involved in inter country adoptions.

American couples often pay more than $20,000 to adopt an Ethiopian child. Such amounts are an enormous temptation in a country where the average family earns a few hundred dollars a month.

U.S. State Department statistics show more than 2,500 Ethiopian orphans went to the United States last year. That is more than a ten fold increase over the past few years, making Ethiopia the second most popular destination for Americans seeking to adopt overseas, after China.

Child protection professionals generally welcomed efforts to clean up the system.

Some, however, questioned the motive behind the cutback. One adoption agency representative who asked not to be identified called the policy "ridiculous", and said it appears to be in retaliation for recent criticism of the government’s lax oversight of the process.

Abigail Rupp, head of the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa says the cutback is likely to result in a drop in adoptions to the United States from last year’s 2,500 to fewer than 500. She says the biggest concern is for the estimated 1,000 children currently in the adoptions pipeline, who may be forced to wait more than a year for their cases to be considered.

"We share the government’s concerns about the vulnerabilities in the process. But certainly we have concerns about children who would be waiting longer for their adoptions to be final. That would mean they would be in an orphanage or transition home for a longer period of time," she said.

Rupp said adoption agencies in Ethiopia should take the directive as a cue to be accountable for each case they bring forward, including knowing exactly how children in orphanages came to be there. She said government officials have indicated they may close as many as 45 orphanages as part of the effort to clean up what critics have labeled a “baby business”.

Ted Chaiban, head of the Addis Ababa office of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, called the new rules “an important step” in rooting out irregularities in the system and finding family-based local solutions for what the government estimates are 5 million Ethiopian orphans.

"What is important is that any child deemed to require care be looked at in terms of a range of options starting from family reunification all the way through inter country adoption. In that respect the work being done by the ministry needs to be strengthened and supported," he said.

U.S. Embassy officials late Friday indicated they are posting an adoption alert on the State Department’s website addressing the concerns of Americans who will be affected by the Ethiopian government directive. The alert can be seen at www.adoptions.state.gov.


You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs