Ethiopia to Cut Foreign Adoptions by Up to 90 Percent

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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Fast tracking

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:

States Parties which recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration and they shall take all appropriate measures to the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent authorities who determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures and on the basis of all pertinent and reliable information, that the adoption is permissible in view of the child’s status concerning parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary;

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.

"According to information provided to Dove's attorney at the March 16, 2011 Network meeting, the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) plans to process the approximately eight hundred (800) files that they currently have in their offices. All families who were assigned a court date prior to March 10, 2011 are expected to be included in this group.

MOWA anticipates completing the review of the approximately eight hundred (800) files in their offices within ten (10) to fifteen (15) days. Dove cautions families to expect delays and a possible revision to this timeline. While we are all hopeful for a quick resolution, an ethical review may take longer than anticipated. As a reminder, MOWA must complete the review of the file and issue the required letter to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) prior to the courts granting custody of a child. Prospective parents who have been assigned a court date should still plan on traveling to Ethiopia to give their testimony on their assigned date.

After completion of the eight hundred (800) files, Ethiopian officials will determine what course of action to take; this may include increasing the number of files processed on a daily basis. For now, families who are adjourned (assigned a court date) on or after March 10, 2011, will likely be processed according to the new, five (5) file per day rule. As this new regulation may cause delays, we also believe that it could result in an even stronger, more ethical process.

We have also been told that a Code of Ethics is being implemented by the Network and several government agencies. On March 16, 2011 all adoption agencies working in Ethiopia approved this code and submitted their revisions to the Ethiopian government. This code will provide additional support to adoption agencies who are working to provide ethical services in Ethiopia. 

Ethiopia remains open for adoptions. Dove is continuing to receive referrals for children and adoption files are continuing to be processed in Ethiopia. We do not know, nor can we predict the impact this will ultimately have on adoption cases. This requirement could result in a temporary delay for some files, a minimal delay in future adoptions or a more significant delay. As we continue to obtain information and wait for MOWA to processes current files, we ask that you join us in praying for Ethiopia, the adoption process and everyone involved."

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".

Done.

...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.

Jared

(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).

The former Soviet republic is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and Drummond encountered many frustrating delays and moments of despair. After four months and $45,000, she was finally united with a baby girl, but getting her to Canada proved to be another challenge.

"There's absolutely no reason why these fees should be $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 to get this child out of a government-run orphanage," Drummond said.

Her trip was organized by the Winnipeg agency UAS Eastern European Adoptions, whose fees average $30,000 to $35,000. A consular official with the Kazakh embassy in Ottawa told CBC News those fees were, "crazy" and "fantastically high."

But UAS said the money pays for translators in Kazakhstan, medical bills to have the child examined and legal costs, among other things.

"You're pretty safe once you're there," said agency spokesperson Kris Condon. "[You go] from one secured area to another. Our staff meet the families at the airport immediately upon their arrival."

The agency also advises clients to bring part of the fees to Kazakhstan in cash in order to pay the Kazakh co-ordinators arranged through UAS.

Lindsay took $22,000, stuffed into extra pockets she sewed inside her pants. She was required to pay several additional fees for a whole host of reasons, including questionable "gifts" requested by the Kazakh orphanage.

The provincial government regulates Manitoba's international adoptions but has no control over fees paid outside of Canada.

Other adoption agencies told CBC News that Kazakhstan's adoption program is too expensive and unpredictable. China's program, by contrast, is much cheaper — and potential parents get to see the child before they travel to the country.

"The picture of the child and the medical information on the child — [prospective parents] get to see it before they travel," said Sharon Riches of Adoption Options Manitoba Inc., a non-profit organization that provides information, education, counseling and related services on all aspects of adoption to birthmothers, adoptive couples and the public.

Drummond's experience was quite the opposite.

"You show up, maybe you see a child, maybe you see a sick child, maybe you see a healthy child, maybe there are no children at all by the time you get there," she said.

She is now formally complaining to government and hopes her story will make international adoptions better for others.

[From:  Manitoba government looking into adoption concerns (March 2009)]

That's Kazakhstan.  PPL has quite a bit written about Kazakhstan.  Read what was written, in 2002:

it is necessary to adopt new laws so that to register all the Kazakh kids brought to foreign countries through Embassies of Kazakhstan in those states. "We do not have any records giving us exact number of our kids taken to foreign countries by their new parents, and their future destinies are unknown", - said Deputy Aytaly. He also added that Kazakh Parliament and Kazakh government should continue protecting rights of the Kazakh kids even after their move to other countries."Unfortunately, - said Deputy Aytaly, - there are no Kazakh Embassies in some countries, for instance in South African Republic, where our kids live with their new parents as well". The issue has been under discussion in Kazakh Parliament for about a year already.

[From:  ISSUE OF KAZAKH KIDS' ADOPTION BY FOREIGNERS AGAIN RAISED IN KAZAKH ]

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:

Overseas adoption is big business, and growing: last year, more than 2,150 Ukrainian children and almost 8,000 Russian children were adopted to foreign countries. Most of those went to the US, where Russia is second only to China as a provider of adoptees and Ukraine ranks sixth. Italy and Spain adopt hundreds of children each year, as do Canadians. British parents applied to adopt 26 Russian children last year - none from Ukraine, where adoption is on hold over a disagreement over regulations.

China is still a reliable source of girls but eastern European countries are also popular. A child who looks like his or her parents leads to fewer embarrassing questions in the playground or supermarket. It is often faster to get a baby or toddler from abroad and adopting from another culture, particularly a country where adoption records are sealed and poverty is rampant, takes away some of the fear of a birth mother coming knocking.

In an industry fuelled by money and the desperation of would-be parents, and complicated by haphazard or non-existent regulations, private agencies and corruption among poorly paid officials, there are countless tales of fraud - babies sold twice to different families, adoption facilitators who have made off with thousands, mothers who were duped into giving up their newborns.

Some families spend thousands only to go home empty-handed, after finding the child referred to them is ill, or not the right age, or gender, or that the official required to approve an adoption is ill or has been fired. Even in above-board adoption cases, large donations to orphanages are considered mandatory, whether as money or in clothing, food or medical supplies and adoptive parents are counselled to bring gifts for a long list of government officials to help things go smoothly.

'I have to be careful what I say, but an awful lot of $100 bills were floating across tables in Kiev and Odessa. It did appear to open things up and get things moving,' said Brad Parr, a 47-year-old Texan who adopted a two-year-old Ukrainian girl two years ago, after weeks of arguing with officials, weeding through listings and travelling from orphanage to orphanage. 'It worked out we got a great kid but we had to put a lot of pressure on them - you're not going there to be a tourist. You're going to conduct business.'

And the business is lucrative. A decade ago, several doctors and nurses in Lviv were charged with accepting bribes and forging documents, even coercing mothers into giving up their newborns or telling them their babies had died, to allow them to be adopted abroad.

Today, Ukrainian adoption officials won't talk about that case, except to say it was the catalyst for sweeping changes to foreign adoption laws. Families from abroad who could once take babies straight from maternity homes, must now wait for older children who have spent a year listed with the National Adoption Centre's registry, and may not look at any child other than the given referral. Private agencies, which flourish in other countries, are now illegal in Ukraine, though a number operate outside Ukraine to co-ordinate documents and arrange translators.

But baby-selling accusations have popped up in almost every country that permits foreign adoptions. In June, British Children's Minister Margaret Hodge suspended all adoptions from Cambodia over charges of falsified documents, illegal adoption facilitators and the coercion of mothers to hand over their children.

For many young Cambodian orphans, adoption means a much sought-after ticket to prosperity and security but the darker side is widespread reports of unscrupulous brokers buying infants from poverty-stricken parents and selling them, at a huge profit, to Western couples.

More than 2,300 children have been adopted by foreigners in Cambodia in the last six years. The Prime Minister, Hun Sen, suspended all foreign adoptions for a short period four years ago but then lifted the ban, pending legislation regulating the industry.

'It's the worst form of exploitation. The parents are often desperate and will turn a blind eye or simply do not want to know,' said one charity worker in the capital, Phnom Penh. 'This country is without a proper system of law and pretty much everything can be bought: officials, permits, people. The problem is the demand not supply. If we stamp it out here it will go elsewhere.'

Middlemen persuade women in dirt-poor villages to give up their babies for between $20 and $50 or babies are bought directly from orphanages in Cambodia, which has a long tradition of children being sold into prostitution or slavery.

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.

NEAR BEIJING – In a Beijing suburb far from the sizzle of the Olympic Games, Bonney Lake weightlifter Melanie Roach takes us to visit some new friends.
It's a group foster home for special needs children, as well as for kids waiting for and recovering from surgery.
Melody Zhang of Children's Hope International runs the home.
"They are orphans. They were either abandoned or found in local areas where there are orphanages," said Melody. 
Most were given away by parents who were overwhelmed by the challenges and the medical costs.
"Some of the parents will put a little note in their clothes saying 'my child got sick. We cannot afford the surgery," said Melody.
Roach learned of this place by chance, visited once and had to come back.
"I have my hands full, I think, right now with my three little ones, but I guarantee that if I didn't have children, I would definitely be going home with a few of these little guys," said Melanie.
It is the government that handles adoption procedures here. The foster home houses kids on hold, waiting for some love, often from overseas.
One little boy proudly shows a book with photos of what will be his family in America.
But these children know the score. The fuss over the book draws immediate attention. While it makes one child happy, it makes another child who has been here for four years sad.
"It makes my heart warm when I get to snuggle, give a piggy back ride, but when I leave and see the looks on their faces, you know they want to leave. They want a home. They don't want to stay here," said Melanie.
The clinic has a staff of seven and many volunteers. It operates on a budget of about $50,000 a year, entirely on private donations. They don't seek or receive government help.

[From: Olympian Roach visits Chinese orphanage, (2008) 

HMMMMMM.... 

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.

They began arriving in the early 1990s.Then, in 1993, a York, Pa., agency that specializes in finding homes for difficult children began getting phone calls from their adoptive parents. The couples had traveled to remote cities and, in some cases, exhausted their savings to build their families. But now they had made the agonizing decision to give their children away.

"It was frantic. We had calls coming in from all over the country," said Barbara Holtan of Tressler Lutheran Services. "We started getting calls from families we did not know asking us to replace their children."

Their parents had found them too much to handle.

The children who were supposed to be their joy had become their torment. Some would go into rages that lasted for hours, leaving their parents exhausted as they tried mightily to control the violence. Others attacked pets or other members of the family. Some rejected the love of family but lavished affection on strangers.

[From:  Agony, Not Joy; Greatly torn, some give up adoptees they can't handle (1997) ]

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.

Steven Allen, UNICEF regional director for central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said that in times of economic crisis many parents were simply unable to provide for their children, which meant there was a greater risk more children would end up in care homes.

He said many families were handing over their children to care homes in order to survive.

“For governments in Central Asia - and for Kyrgyzstan in particular - measures aimed at preventing children from becoming separated from their biological families must be the priority,” he said.

Kyrgyzstan should try and turn big state care institutions into smaller ones and/or gradually phase them out. Other options such as children’s family houses, foster families, rehabilitation centres and day-care centres should be pursued, he said.

[From: CENTRAL ASIA: In search of new child protection strategies ]

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 homes Health 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.  

Private agencies that provide foster care and other youth services want to exempt themselves from state inspections, saying they already must abide by rigorous accreditation standards.

But the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, along with some child care facilities, are opposing the move.

The dispute is over House Bill 2356, which would exempt maternity centers and child care facilities from being inspected by KDHE if the center or facility is accredited by The Joint Commission; the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services Inc.; or the Commission of Rehabilitation Services.

A second hearing day on the measure is scheduled for Wednesday before the House Health and Human Services Committee.

In earlier testimony, a number of private organizations that contract with the state for family preservation, foster care and adoption services supported the bill.

The private sector accreditation agencies have stringent requirements and review processes that ensure the safety and quality of care, they argued. Relying on accreditation would remove costly regulatory duplication, they said.

“We believe the changes in House Bill 2356 maintain high safety standards to ensure safety for children through accreditation and contract, but without unnecessary duplication that may deter families from volunteering,” said Robin Clements, who represents The Child Welfare Companies, a consortium of companies with state contracts for foster care and other youth services.

But KDHE argued against the bill.

Richard Morrissey, interim director of the Division of Health for KDHE, said the legislation needed more research and vetting.

“A blanket removal of the department’s authority to inspect would significantly reduce existing safeguards and consumer protection for Kansas children and families. Research clearly associates frequency of inspection with increased compliance,” Morrissey said.

[From:  Inspections of child care centers in dispute (2009) ]  HB 2356 Passed on March 30, 2009 

<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...)

The United States is the world's largest source of adoptive parents. Other countries have also been moving to restart adoptions in South-east Asia, with Cambodia drafting regulations for children to be adopted by French parents

<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.

Neglect was reported for 54% of all children entering foster care by their parent or primary caregiver.  Parental substance abuse was a circumstance present for 28% of the children entering care.

States spent a mere 1.2-1.3% of available federal funds on parent recruitment and training services even though 22% of children in foster care had adoption as their goal. Over 3 years is the average length of time a child waits to be adopted in foster care.  Roughly 55% of these children have had 3 or more placements.  An earlier study found that 33% of children had changed elementary schools 5 or more times, losing relationships and falling behind educationally.

[From:  Where will adoptable American children go? (Amici dei Bambini wants to know.) 2011 ]  

(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.

Important insights

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:

Now, she [Jayne Gallagher] is working with Mainstreet Adoption, an agency in Lancaster, Pa., which works with U.S. families to find children for adoption overseas.

 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.

proof

I never saw this post(answer to my post) until today.. 2 years later. I would be happy to show what proof I have.

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