Ethiopia to Cut Foreign Adoptions by Up to 90 Percent
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By Peter Heinlein
March 4, 2011 / voanews.com
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.
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To prevent having to deal with so-called pipeline cases, the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs apparently made the decision to fast track 800 pending cases.
It's absurd, a country that is capable of handling only 5 cases per day is now going to process 800 files in ten to fifteen days. The decision will certainly appease some prospective adopters, but this decision is completely antithetical to Article 21.a of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which states:
How can Ethiopian authorities process all pertinent and reliable information in less than 10 minutes?
We learned about this latest development through an email sent out by Dove Adoptions.
Fast Track... not just for highways and fast food anymore!
"How can Ethiopian authorities process all pertinent and reliable information in less than 10 minutes?"
They can't. We all know they can't. These kids are getting rushed through so folks don't bitch and moan. Those with the most cash WIN the babies.
The answer as to why, is here:
"Abigail Rupp, head of the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa says..... "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."
In other words, to hell with these "irregularities", allegations of baby buying, fraud and kidnapping, we're gonna "fast track 'em" to get the senators and crabby PAPs off our backs. Better have a kid illegally processed (or stolen and adopted) then have them (gasp!) wait.
Who's got more power at the end of the day? US PAPs or the mother in Ethiopia wanting her child back?
It's the power of the US PAPs who lobby their senators, JCICS who lobby the senators, the US agencies who lobby their senators, all of which could produce some mighty nasty press about "turning their backs on the needy orphans".
...not for profit ..... ?!?!
So many people have recently been complaining about "anti-adoption-campaigns" - because of statements like this one:
"In other words, to hell with these "irregularities", allegations of baby buying, fraud and kidnapping, we're gonna "fast track 'em" to get the senators and crabby PAPs off our backs. Better have a kid illegally processed (or stolen and adopted) then have them (gasp!) wait."
These are harsh words. But undoubtedly not entirely wrong. In one of the ET forums, a PAP recently asked - pretty concerned - about irregularities in the documents of her child referal (infant of course). About 25 listmates came to her rescue: Nothing to worry about, the calenders there are different ... well, they mess up papers, poor African people it is too much for them to keep all their papers sorted ... never mind if the blood was tested before the kid was even born . .. things like that happen all the time ... T.I.A.
Just to say that even in those days of almost-shut-down people refuse to acknowledge corruption issues.
Well. At the same time the "turning their backs on needy orphan" people have their own setbacks to cope with. Some Americans with religious zeal enough to save the neediest of the needy orphans in Africa (MINGI children from southern tribes) just experienced the end of their work. They (DRAWN FROM WATER - ORG)had collected donations in the US and noticed their Ethiopian partners used the budget for self service. On being confronted - they decided to find a different sponsor with less ambitions in supervising.I bet it is an other Adoption Agency. They probably pay higher salaries than the missionaries. Would you believe what happens next? No investigation about fraud and theft. Instead, the Americans have started looking for other ways to rescue orphans.
(pst....) it's NOT just Americans...
While I have my reasons to keep my eyes on America's involvement in any and all dark adoption practices, let us not presume for one micro-second other countries are immune to the tricks played on those seeking a fast-tracked "adoptable" child.
Imagine my sick dismay and amusement when I read about the horrors an AP, (from Canada, my mother-land - as my kept papers prove), uncovered when she went to Kazakhstan to collect "her" daughter. (You know, the one chosen for her).
That's Kazakhstan. PPL has quite a bit written about Kazakhstan. Read what was written, in 2002:
The money-trail and corruption goes much deeper, in ways most will not want to dive-into -- it's that sordid and complex.
But let's make it easy, for now. In just one article, like "Babies-for-sale trade faces a global crackdown", (written in 2004), we are able to see sparks of dark-truth written about foreign adopters and adoptions from Cambodia, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan:
Hmmm.... big sending countries.... big money. Now, if I recall, not that many impoverished countries (with poor care systems) can afford to host Olympic Game events.
And yet, some very popular Olympic Hosts have been known to cut-corners on child welfare programs.
Russia has hosted the Olympics, haven't they? <re-focusing my wandering self this early dawn>
How are adoptions from Russia and from Ukraine looking these days? What about the condition of those kids AP's are receiving? Any complaints? How are the "orphans" responding to the many changes they have to face post-placement? Have they been adjusting well after all the excitement, hype, fanfare, and care given to "saved" and "rescued orphans" found languishng in those horrible over-crowded orphanages? Sadly, many of those much wanted children have been sent away because the new "forever" APs could not deal with the new problems they had to face.
Imagine... rejecting others, and showing displaced rage on smaller "lesser" creatures (that seem to get more love and attention than the child standing in the shadow of adults with all sorts of complaints). Why I can't imagine what a child must be saying to others when he/she is seen playing with feces, or picking apart a dead animal, or setting fires with "new-daddy's" matches. Nor can I imagine life as the child who feels as though a total re-creation or transformation must take place before any stranger offers kindness that feels something like love and care (for a little while, at least). Nope, can't imagine one bit what happens to the poor useless orphaned bastards put in equally bad-care.
Do we see where the sarcasm is going? Putting MORE children in poor-care is not helping anyone but those who proft from an adoption. Fast-tracking international adoptions, and repairing the damage AFTER a foreign adoption-plan will only make this on-going problem worse, not better.
I don't know what it takes -- what it will take for pained PAP's to recognize the madness for what it really is: corrupt child-trade.
Meanwhile, places like Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan have been trying to fix internal problems related to the broken-family, poverty, and the new-age of "social orphans" -- children who have "parents de jure". The following was published in 2009.
If it's up to the misguided foreign adopter, these efforts will be aborted, so foreign adoptions can resume.
Here's the insanity: Adopters will complain (and send away) the less than desirable/wanted child. [I call the displaced adoptee the living abortions, no mom would ever want, (unless of course, the abandoned adoptee was alone, and didn't have to compete with other kids or people, or problems that plague most adults).]
Too many adopters want healthy children, like the kind you get if the mom received decent prenatal care, didn't drink or do drugs, didn't take any medication that would pass the blood-brain barrier, did not ingest anything toxic like mercury or lead, did not have any exposure to any radiation, or teretogenic agents during a pregnancy.... (I can go on, if necessary). Adoption facilitators KNOW this!
<shaking head... looking for some damn coffee to drink>
I don't know where adopters expect these healthy young babies to be. Still in the bellies? Still in the IVF cryobanks? Being birthed in private state-of-the-art Maternity
homesHealth Centers? Places where strict inspections are made to ensure quality and care are given to all sorts of seemingly insignificant details? Funny thing about inspections.... a lot of people seem to have serious problems with too many inspections.
<taking a cleansing breathe.... because the ignorance gets to me>
Today's PAP has sooooo many advantages adopters in the 80's and 90's and early 2000's did not have: internet resources that expose the truth about the adoption industry.
And still, look what's happening because ignorant PAP's are making their demand made known:
Romania closed their foreign child-trade doors, (but the international adoption lobby had something to say about that), Cambodia closed their foreign child-trade agreement, (but the US is trying to do something about that...)
<putting on thinking-cap>
<think, think, foreign parents, wanting to adopt, adoption agencies, adoption programs, Hague treaty.....>
Ever think WHY hard-core foreign adoption advocates want these improved care-systems to re-open for foreign business purposes?
Is it because foreign adopters really want (and demand to have) the left-overs even a local (domestic adopter) won't touch?
I dunno... maybe the smart folks at Amici dei Bambini know a lot more about this foreign adoption stuff than I do.
(Not bad leg-work, for a former Newfie, forced into a bad care-system, eh?)
Somone's been complaining?
About statements like mine, above? You don't say! (kidding)
The truth will always be interpreted as "harsh" if it strikes a nerve. What we need to ask, is why that nerve is there, and why so many fly off the handle about these kinds of statements. I think it's because most AP/PAPs (or agencies and individuals that support, profit or prop-up the adoption system) know deep down there are grains of truth to statements like these. Otherwise, if it was crazy or ill-founded, it would be easy to write-off and cause virtually no reaction.
Letter from MOWA
We just received the original letter written by State Minister, Frenesh Mekuria to President of the Federal First Instance Court, Desalegn Berhe, making the official announcement that a maximum of five adoption files can be processed, effective March 10, 2011.
Ethiopian adoption corruption..
I was surprised when searching the internet tonight to find my name in the headline... Jayne Gallagher works for Main Street Adoption. That is not true nor has it ever been. I have been living and working with displaced and deported (from Eritrea) children in Ethiopia for the better part of the last decade. For that entire time I have also been fighting corruption in the Ethiopian adoption system including testifying in their Parliament in October 2003 with detailed examples of corruption and false documentation. The following is a letter I wrote to the US State Dept Office of Children's Affairs last month.
To whom it may concern,
Just in case anyone cares...
I lived and worked in Ethiopia for the majority of the last decade with deported and displaced orphans from the recent border wars. I was married to an Ethiopia the last 2 years I lived there so had lots of first hand information through his family.
I was in one way or another responsible for the adoption of close to 400, mostly school age, Ethiopian orphans into American homes.
On my first fact finding trip in May 1999 when I traveled to Ethiopia to locate an orphanage located on the Eritrea Ethiopian border that I had been asked to help I was approached by a man named Samson who came to my hotel room to tell me he was the country rep for an agency called Adoption Advocates International and that he would be happy to work with my group as well. I was being assisted by Adoption Advocates of VT (I was never nor am I now an employee of any adoption agency)and he came because he had heard that we would be trying to help orphans find permanent homes from the orphanage I had been asked to help. Simon told me that I would have to play the game if I wanted to work in Ethiopia. I asked him what that meant and he said you know what it means. If we do not pay the adoption unit we would not work smoothly. I thanked him for his offer but assured him that I was unwilling to bribe anyone to be able to work in Ethiopia.
The next day I went to the adoption unit head at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to discuss our being able to help the children of Ethiopia. He assured me that not only was bribing officials illegal but that honorable people were the sort they welcomed to assist his people in Ethiopia. THis was in 1999 in the middle of the war and the need was endless.
Two months later that official had left his job to work for an Italian NGO and my troubles began.
A man named Tesfay Abraha sat in a position to disrupt the smooth function of our organization. It took 1 year and 5 more trips to process the first adoption of 20 children by 12 families in June 2000. Thankfully someone named Atseda Guta in a position above him was able to allow us to work without paying Tesfay a cent. I had a rule... no receipt, no money.
By 2003 it had become too difficult to smoothly work after Atseda was promoted to a new position that when the Minister of Justice asked me to testify in the Ethiopian Parliament I agreed. The day I, along with several Ethiopians who were orphanage directors and Ethiopian Reps for American NGOs , testified Tesfay and his entire unit was relieved of their duties pending a complete investigation. To my surprise before Tesfay could be charged he was given an Immigration Visa by the US embassy for him and his entire family to immigrate to the US.
I remained in Ethiopia assisting Ethiopian children with up to 33 living in my home in Tigray. As you can imagine I was stymied at every turn because as the Justice minister said, "Those who are not corrupt in my country love you. Those who are corrupt hate you and will do anything in their power to have you removed from the country."
The Ethiopians involved in the corruption did anything they could to discredit me. Their goal was to force me out of the country or at the very least blemish my name.
By 2006 the situation in adoption was totally out of control. Young prostitute girls were coming up to me in the street saying, "Haile say. You make baby. I give you money." Haile was and still is a country rep for an American agency. I was sick. We were hearing from villages that agency country reps were scouring villages offering money for children, esp baby girls. They were lying to the mothers insinuating it was all about education. The Ethiopian families had no idea that adoption was permanent. They looked at this like any other relative getting a DV to go to the US and that someday the children would then sponsor them to come and meet them there.
The Vice Minister of Justice, Ali Soleeman, told me everyone knows what is going on and the shame of our people is no one will talk about it. You do what my people should be doing to stop the selling of Ethiopian children.
I returned to the states and reported what I knew to Tom DiFilipo at the Joint Council thinking he would pass the info on to the Office of Children's Affairs but he chose not to. I had proof and many witnesses. Nothing was done.
The issues I found that I reported to Tom were:
Children being way older than documented
Children having parents who were being documented as orphans
Children being presented to adoptive families as "an older sibling of your infant and you must take the sibling or you can't adopt the infant"
Parents being given money to give up their children
The Vice Minister of Labor and Social Affairs had sent his 10 yo daughter for adoption ... he was eventually fired for it
Tesfay Abraha had been asking $700 per child under the table and that he had an ally in the US embassy
Prostitutes being paid to get pregnant and then the babies were being bought by the agents for the agencies
Sister Lutgarda is charging $800 per child at Kidane Merhet Orphanage. She actually told me I would have to pay like all of the others if I wanted any more children from her orphanage. I said I would be happy to pay as long as she gave me a receipt for a donation but she refused.
Awassa Social Affairs asking money to complete orphan documents. Again no receipt so I did not pay.
Thank you for your comment. You have given us an important confirmation about what is going on in Ethiopian adoptions.
I am not surprised Tom DiFilippo did nothing with the information you gave him. The Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS), as the trade association of adoption service providers, is part of the problem, not part of the solution to the corrupt practices taking place in inter-country adoption.
We have written extensively about JCICS, and even awarded them the Demons of Adoption Award last year. Apparently JCICS lets short-term business interests of adoption service providers prevail over the best interest of children and even over the long term business prospectives of the adoption branch.
There are many details to your story we would like to look deeper into. As you may have seen, we maintain a database of all players in the field of adoption and would like to add the information you have provided in your comment. Would you be willing to share the proof you speak of with us?
As to the issue you started your comment with, your affiliation with Mainstreet Adoption, this was based upon the article Middletown couple seeks Rwandan adoptee, published in the Rutland Herald, December 29, 2007.
The article contains the following statement:
This particular sentence made us believe there was an employment relation between you and Mainstreet Adoption. We updated our database to reflect that you cooperated with that particular adoption agency.
We are looking forward to hearing more from you, and will gladly publish any information you have related to corrupt practices in Ethiopian adoptions.
I never saw this post(answer to my post) until today.. 2 years later. I would be happy to show what proof I have.