Thoughts on “Ending Ethiopian Adoptions?”

As Ethiopia considers revamping (possibly ending) adoptions, it becomes so important to listen to Ethiopians–government officials, adoptees, original family members, Ethiopians in the diaspora, social workers, academics, and on. Listen, discern, and learn.

I wrote recently about the December 26 article on that Ethiopia is considering changing or ending international adoption. The article is titled “Ethiopia: Stakeholders, Public Has to End Foreign Adoption.” Click to read it here. The article quotes House of People’s Representatives Speaker Abadula Gemeda and Zenebu Tadesse, the Minister of Women, Children’s and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA), which handles adoptions from Ethiopia.

(You can follow the Minister on Twitter: @ZenebuTadesse)

The Minister is quoted in the story cited above. Here is an excerpt:

“The Minister Zenebu on her part said the government is working hard to end foreign adoption and facilitate situations to raise the children within their community.

Over 9,000 children were adopted by foreign families during the previous years, in a yearly basis, she said.

Through various activities carried out over the past years, number of children adopted by foreign families reduced to less than 1,000 in 2005EC. (Note from Maureen: 2005 in the Ethiopian Calendar is 2012 in the Gregorian calendar. Information about the Ethiopian versus Gregorian calendar is available here.)

She attributed the success to implementation of various laws and increasing knowledge of the public.”

Note that Minister Zenebu is quoted as saying that the decrease in numbers of children being internationally adopted is success. The international adoption community, adoption agencies, adoptees, first families, Ethiopians, and adoptive parents might all have different definitions of success, some agreeing wholeheartedly with the Minister, some not.

We all agree on the goal of children having safe, loving families. After that, the arguments become increasingly complex, nuanced, and volatile.

I have no particular insider information. I’m aware US adoption agencies are suggesting that families look to other countries to adopt, or are accepting applications only for older, special needs Ethiopian children. Adoptions currently in the pipeline are moving slowly. I have heard that this week there is to be or has been a public meeting, possibly broadcast on radio, and perhaps a TV broadcast as well, in Ethiopia, featuring government officials and agency representatives. This meeting could be a follow-up to the December 26 article cited above. I will post as soon as I have definitive information.

Maybe Ethiopia is considering acting on the Hague Convention on Adoption, to which it is not yet a party. You can read the US State Department’s information on adoption from Ethiopia as a non-Hague country here.

Maybe Ethiopia has heard too many reports about internationally adopted Ethiopian children who have been abused or worse. Obviously they are aware of the role of money in adoption: both the revenue that has been brought into Ethiopia as a result of international adoptions, as well as the possibilities and realities of corruption and corruption. I’ve no doubts they are also aware of the many and wonderful humanitarian projects that adoptive families are committed to, in the areas of health care, infant mortality, clean water, education, literacy, and more. They are also aware of the complexity of adoptees and adoptive families searching for, reuniting with, and providing financial support to original families and/or the community.


A significant report, “Investing in Boys and Girls in Ethiopia: Past, Present, and Future,” came out in 2012. It was prepared by the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the United Nations in Ethiopia. In the Foreward–co-written by Zenebu Tadesse of MOWCYA, the ministry closely involved with adoptions–is this paragraph:

“In the coming months new information on progress for girls and boys over the last five years will become available as the result of a number of nationwide surveys become available. The Government of Ethiopia therefore intends to revisit this important topic in 2013 at the half way point of the GTP implementation giving another opportunity to look at the issues in these pages and others as new information on progress becomes available. We therefore encourage interested parties to read this report carefully, to think about the suggested action points and to propose alternative or new actions to update this analysis together with our ministries in 2013.”

I’d urge all those interested to read this UN-Ethiopia report on Investing in Boys and Girls in Ethiopia. The information is important. It may give some insight into the perspective of the Ethiopian government, and approaches to family preservation and child welfare, all of which intersect with Ethiopian adoptions.

My dream would be to see Ethiopian adult adoptees from around the globe at a common table with Ethiopian government officials, to share their experiences. Alongside them would be Ethiopian first families, and Ethiopian social workers. There is movement toward that dream becoming a reality, and I am heartened by that.

May all voices be generously listened to, and may all children be loved and safe.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on “Ending Ethiopian Adoptions?”

  1. Maureen … How do you keep your heart open and face turned to the sun? The complexity of the situation overwhelms me and tempts me to turn away, and yet that is not an option. I await your insights daily and appreciate the effort that you so generously put forth. Bless you.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.