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Ethiopia adoption ban lifted


By Cassie White 

The Federal Government has announced Australians will again be allowed to adopt children from Ethiopia.

The Australia-Ethiopia intercountry adoption program was suspended last year over fears Australia could not continue the practice in a manner consistent with its obligations under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.

At the time, the Attorney-General's Office said that under the Hague Convention, it was unable to allow children into Australia from Ethiopia because it was not convinced proper checks were being carried out to prevent parents selling their children.

Ethiopian children make up 13 per cent of the average 300 international adoptions a year by Australian families, but strict screening methods mean people can wait for as many as five years for a child.

The Attorney-General's Office said the program would resume on April 6, 2010.

Anne from Newcastle, who has been on the adoption waiting list for three years, says many people have been waiting a long time and just want some answers.

"I'm on the wrong side of this at the moment," she said.

"I'm still in the waiting list, so I'm just sitting here thinking 'this isn't going to happen for me'.

"Most us us have been sitting around for years just waiting to move up a very, very slow queue and some of us need to get on with our lives."

Last year, the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program exposed a dysfunctional, largely unregulated adoption industry in Ethiopia, where children were being harvested from families, and mothers claimed they were tricked into surrendering their children.

And this week more disturbing developments emerged of children wrongly portrayed as orphans and children pitched to adoptive families as being as younger than their actual age.

2010 Mar 5