Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The state of Intercountry Adoption from Africa & Ethiopia

Recently Australia's involvement in the Ethiopian Adoption program was brought to a sudden hault with the Hon Nicola Roxon announcing the decision to cease all adoptions from Ethiopia as of the end of June 2012, due to the unstable conditions surrounding adoptions from that country.  With little other explaination hundreds of awaiting couples who have spent many years planning to adopt has now been brought to an abrupt ending.  Since that decision I stumbled across an article covering the current general state of adoptions in both Africa and Ethiopia, and in my mind explains some very important points that could have led Australia to withdraw from the Ethiopian program.  Here is an abstract of that article which I hope may help explain the vulnrability that these countries face with the children left within their orphanages.

'There is no word for adoption in most African languages and the concept is greatly misunderstood. Many African family systems have traditionally favoured informal care of children by extended family or community with no legal basis for the arrangement. Adoption agencies are accused of profiting from this misconception as parents are persuaded to sign away their children.
This is exemplified by the situation in Ethiopia. It could soon become the leading sending country in the world as adoption agencies there are accused of soliciting children directly from families. Women are coerced into relinquishing their new-borns and according to Dutch NGO Against Child Trafficking (ACT) the adoption process in Ethiopia “is riddled by fraud and other criminal activities. Parents are stated dead when they are not, dates of birth are falsified, false information is provided to the courts”.

This of course is a very sad state of affairs for all concerned; especially for the women who feel they have no other choice but to give their children over to someone else's care to ensure they can - at least - have something to eat.  My heart truly goes out to all concerned and these governments and adoption agencies who allow this type of activity to continue in this day and age is just outrageous.  Australia, instead of pulling out from these type of programs leaving nothing but the children still facing uncertain futures, should instead be negotiating a better way with these countries to ensure those vulnrable children ABLE to be adopted out with consent are; and those without consent are helped to return to their families, enabling them to lead happy healthy lives as expected.
How can we help this happen?