News / Africa

    Ethiopian Adoptee Wins Legal Case to Revoke Adoption

    In this photo made available by Loes Zuidervaart, Betty Lub's current foster parent, the 14-year-old Ethiopian girl shares her court victory against her adoptive Dutch parents with her current foster mother in Addis Ababa, February 9, 2012.
    In this photo made available by Loes Zuidervaart, Betty Lub's current foster parent, the 14-year-old Ethiopian girl shares her court victory against her adoptive Dutch parents with her current foster mother in Addis Ababa, February 9, 2012.
    An Ethiopian court has revoked the adoption of a girl by a family in the Netherlands. This is the first time a foreign adoption has been revoked in Ethiopia’s long history of overseas adoption.
     
    Betty Lub is a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl that was adopted at the age of seven by a Dutch family that abused her. She stayed with them for two years, but still carries their last name because of legal procedures.
     
    Betty got the adoption revoked through an Ethiopian court. Her lawyer, Mulemebet Tilahua, said Betty now wants to change her name to Betty Demoze, her Ethiopian last name.

    “Revocation of the adoption contract will have an effect on Betty and in a way she will be reinstated to her family of origins. And the other thing is, she will not be forced to be called after the adoptive parents who abused her in their home for a long time,” said Tilahua.

    Falsified documents

    The documents in Betty’s adoption file were falsified and were full of errors. They gave the wrong age, and wrongly stated that Betty’s parents had died. After a failed criminal case two years ago against those involved with providing the papers, the 14-year-old started a civil case.
     
    Betty said that getting her adoption revoked in Ethiopia is only the first step of her journey.
     
    “I want to try in Holland to also revoke my adoption and then we will see,” she said.
     
    Almost 4,500 children were adopted from Ethiopia in 2010, with about half of them going to American families. Because a growing number of adoption cases from Ethiopia appear to have irregularities, the legal process has been under investigation in Ethiopia and other countries.

    Child trafficking

    Arun Dohle investigated the files of Ethiopian children going to the Netherlands for the Against Child Trafficking NGO. He said Betty’s case is just the tip of the iceberg.
     
    “We found that the adoption process is riddled by fraud and other clear-cut criminal activities. But most important, the demand-driven inter-country adoption process is breaking up families who could be helped in building up their lives with a fraction of the money involved in inter-country adoption,” said Dohle.

    Adoptions are big business in development countries, with Western parents usually paying more than $20,000 for a child. Ethiopia’s adoption business grew rapidly after several countries in the world, such as Romania and Vietnam, stopped allowing overseas adoptions because of legal irregularities and corruption.
     
    Dohle believes that the inter-country adoption process is systematically misleading parents.
     
    “Most of the Ethiopian and African parents in general, do not understand the Western concept of adoption, which completely severs all ties with the child. The child gets a new birth certificate a new identity, and all ties are completely severed, there is no such thing as international foster care,” said Dohle.

    Preying on parents

    Many parents are not told they are losing their child, they are promised financial support and are made to believe their child will receive a better education somewhere else and will return home soon.
     
    Lawyer Mulemebet said parents in developing countries are an easy target for adoption agencies.
     
    “Most of the time they are not aware of their legal rights and they are not in a position, especially in a financial position, to claim their rights and to ensure the best interests of their children,” said Mulemebet.
     
    Betty was adopted through the Dutch adoption agency Wereldkinderen. It is accused of fraud and criminal activities in research done by the Against Child Trafficking group.  Wereldkinderen chose not to comment on the first revoked adoption case.

    Betty Lub is pictured with her biological father and cousin in this photo taken by Loes Zuidervaart, her current foster parent, Feb. 8, 2013.Betty Lub is pictured with her biological father and cousin in this photo taken by Loes Zuidervaart, her current foster parent, Feb. 8, 2013.
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    Betty Lub is pictured with her biological father and cousin in this photo taken by Loes Zuidervaart, her current foster parent, Feb. 8, 2013.
    Betty Lub is pictured with her biological father and cousin in this photo taken by Loes Zuidervaart, her current foster parent, Feb. 8, 2013.
    Betty hopes her actions will inspire other adoptees.

    “I hope that it will have impact on other children to do the same thing that I have done,” she said.

    The Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs decided in 2011 to cut adoptions by 90 percent because of fraud during the adoption processes.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Adoptive Father from: Pacific Nortjwest, USA
    February 28, 2013 12:33 AM
    We have had our child home from Ethiopia for almost two years - it has been the most enriching part of my life and I love my child and I would do it again. Cost is high, but you cannot put a price on the love you have for your family. Over the last several years we have seen even more changes to international adoption with some countries expiring their participation in the process, leaving many families with lost hope of finding their little loved ones. Even Ethiopia has changed their guidelines, making it more difficult to bring children out of the country and into loving homes. What I witnessed during our process is an interruption in the process due to money and politics that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Our story is a success and I hope all adoptive families are as lucky as we were.

    As for those families that have been abusive with their children, they should be punished to the full extent of the law.

    For those families in process - do not give up. We lost our first child and were blessed with another that puts a smile on my face every day.

    Adoptive Loving Father!

    by: Alyssa from: idaho
    February 25, 2013 10:22 PM
    My husband and I live in Ethiopia for 2 years. While there we completed an adoption of 5 children. Having lived in Ethiopia for an extended amount of time, we were able to see the adoption world from many angles. You can learn more about our experience here http://goo.gl/dmPLi
    In Response

    by: Hassen from: Tipton, ok
    October 04, 2013 7:47 AM
    Thank you for loving Ethiopia and her people by living and doing the right thing! I was adopted when I was 14 by wonderful mom and dad here in the Usa. I love adoption but lately I have been so depressed to see many of my friends who were adopted decided to take wrong way of life and I have one friend who has been homeless for last 3 years:( and don't know what to do!
    Of- course there are many sucessful stories, thank God but please pray for those are not.

    by: Valerie Bolduc from: Toronto
    February 11, 2013 9:22 PM
    Excuse me, western parents don't pay up to 20k for a child, the bulk of the money a western parent pays to adopt a child is airfare and hotel costs. Yes, it can add up to up to 20k. Don't spread lies. Yes there is corruption, yes there are problems, but don't insinuate that we buy our kids.
    In Response

    by: Karen from: New York
    February 12, 2013 11:55 AM
    Ghost responder: If paying fees to agencies to facilitate the adoption process (and to shelter and feed your child until the adoption process is complete), paying travel costs, and paying fees to government agencies to process necessary paperwork = buying a child, then what is it when birth parents pay doctors for pre-natal care and delivery expenses? They are paying funds for a service that provides them with a child -- particularly if they have had to undergo any type of infertility treatments. So they are then buying their children too? They are exchanging currency for a service resulting in the "desired goods" (what a nice way you have with words), so using your flawed logic, they are paying for their children. This is inflammatory and demeaning language, and is not at all helpful. Corruption exists, sadly, and needs to be stamped out, but to paint all adoptions with the broad brush of "paying for children" insinuates that all adoptions involve child trafficking, which is wrong.
    In Response

    by: Tuna Ghost from: Osaka
    February 12, 2013 8:57 AM
    Exactly! Except, no. That is PRECISELY what you are doing. You are providing funds for a service that provides you with a child. You may have altruistic intentions, but you are very literally exchanging money for a child. How you are not understanding this is a complete mystery to me and anyone else that understands the exchange of currency for a service resulting in desired goods.

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