A couple of weeks ago we were able to send a package with a family traveling to Ethiopia. We bought the girls each a Christmas outfit and made them a family photo album. We waited with great anticipation to see their sweet little faces but nothing came. Instead, what we received from online resources was that Ethiopia is possibly closing its doors to adoption which sent a viral gasp to many in the process. The rumors continued for 2 days with speculation of what might or might not happen to the future of Ethiopia adoption.
Our adoption agency asked many families to take a deep breathe and wait until Monday (Ethiopia time) to get more information. Of course, I wanted to stand in firm faith that this could not be the case. But as we gear up for a trip to see the girls, my tired mind wonders and I catch myself in what if’s. What if Ethiopia adoption suddenly stops? What will happen to the girls? What if we can’t be grandfathered in to this new system? What if God places us on a different path? Finally, Monday came and this is the message that we received in response to the rumors.
Dear Adoptive Families,
As some of you are aware of there have been some rumors about the current state of Ethiopian adoptions. I would like to take the time to clear up these rumors and get you all some answers. I was able to communicate with our agency director several times sense Friday about everything. Time and time again he stated that the rumors were not true but he needed some time to find out where they were coming from.
To refresh everyone’s memories and because not everyone knows what has been going on I will recap the events that started on Friday and went through this morning. An internet media sources posted on Friday that the head of MOWA (this is the organization in Ethiopia that oversees adoptions) made statements calling for Ethiopia to close to adoption. This person is known for being opposed to international adoption so it was not a surprise that she made these comments. It did not take long for people with blogs to pick up this article and give their opinion on the situation. (I would caution anyone about using blogs as a source for information on subjects like this). Things seem to quiet down until Saturday evening when an unreliable source publicly stated that head of MOWA was calling for adoption to close within 10 days. As I heard from many families, this was upsetting and frustrating, for all of you. Everyone one of you have invested so much heart, time and money in this process and to hear that this could even be a possibility was devastating. I spent a lot of time trying to find some legitimate information but I was unable to find anything on it. With all of that being said Radu was able to respond with information about what has been going on along with a better insight on laws in Ethiopia surrounding adoption. I have posted this information below for you to read.
After talking to several families, I think it is important to address the slowing of MOWA letters in our two biggest regions. I want you all to know that these are two separate issues. The timing of these issues is difficult but MOWA is not signing the regional MOWA letters because they are going to close Ethiopia to adoption but because, in these two regions, they are working on changing the documents at the grassroots level (the beginning of the process). There are other regions (some of which we work in) that are still signing MOWA letters.
I would like to take just a moment to say that I appreciate all of you and thank you for feeling comfortable enough to contact us with your concerns. Please do not ever hesitate to call or email with anything you may need.
Information received from the director
As you know, the international adoption process is a process to assist orphans. The Ethiopian parliament voted the right to have an orphan adopted to international families into a law when they originally opened the country for international adoptions. As with any laws it cannot be stopped in “ten days” like some very irresponsible sites implied.
Let’s take a few moments to think about this: if they stop the international adoption process in ten days, as rumors have said, what will happen with all the orphans? Who will take care of them? Where are they going to go?
What will happen to all the orphanages and with the orphanage employees? Some of you may not know but the law states orphanages cannot be supported by anybody but by the adoption agencies, so if adoptions stop the children will not have anywhere to go and the orphanage employees will lose their jobs. Stopping international adoptions will create a mess nobody is willing to handle.
I have said this many times: creating rumors is not helping the orphans! Creating rumors is dangerous and not constructive…. but nothing else can be expected from organizations that release information without checking their sources. We are here to help the orphans, and with your support we will do it. We have to show the Ethiopian government and all other governments, for that matter, that families are adopting orphans in order to give them a home forever. We have to show them that we are doing our best to help the governments make the international adoption process as transparent and ethical as possible. One of the ways to do this is that we have to make sure ALL the orphans match the definition of an “orphan” and nothing is slipping between the cracks. We here at Adoption Avenues have programs which support the biological parents to raise their children because we believe it is very important that the children to stay with their biological family, when possible. We believe international adoption should be the last resort. We know and support the facts that the officials are trying to keep the children in homes in Ethiopia first, and this is how the process should be. But we also know the orphans have the rights to be adopted, so in cases where all efforts to find a home for the orphans in Ethiopia are not successful the orphans will be placed for adoption internationally.
So how did these rumors start?
The Ethiopian officials are trying to raise awareness, with the general public, about the orphans and they are trying to be more transparent about what inter-country adoptions means. In Ethiopia last week and over the weekend more than two hundreds politicians, including the President of Ethiopia, participated in a series of conferences. These conferences covered several subjects such as (and in this order): the increasing and ever disturbing drug related problems among the students, the protection against sexual harassment of the women in working places, the humanitarian problems created by the over 50,000 Ethiopians which are returning from South Sudan (which is devastated by the civil war at this time) and the orphan issues.
When it came time to discuss international adoptions, like in every country, some voices were against international adoptions, but there were many other voices who are for international adoptions. During the hearings, at these conferences, the politicians presented their points. Here are a few things that they spoke about related to adoption: increasing domestic adoptions and having the international adoption as the last resort. Also they would like to set a clear age difference between the child and the parents. An example is a person which is 65 years old, can adopt under the present law, should they be allowed to adopt? And if they are allowed to adopt what is the youngest age of a child that they can adopt? Another example is a 25 years old woman can adopt a 17 years old boy, again under the current law, should this be allowed? Also they talked about single women adopting, which we have known for years is a very sensitive subject for the politicians in Ethiopia.
Also at the end of several conferences committees were established which will check and analyze all of these issues (the drug issues, the working place protection, the refugee issue and the international adoption concerns. The committees have 10 working days to come up with proposals which will be presented to the parliament. (It was stated as rumor that Ethiopia will close adoption in 10 days - this is where the 10 days comes from)
Bottom line it was agreed that stopping the international process is not the solution. The improving of the economic conditions should be addressed, and that will bring down the number of orphans.
I hope this gives you a clear and real picture of the events. As things develop we will keep you informed.
Thank you for your time and again we are here to answer any questions
Two countries have recently made big changes to their international adoption programs. Russia has shut down international adoption to the US completely for political reasons. The Dominican Republic of Congo has stopped giving exit permits to children. So basically, the children are stuck in the DRC though they have legal adoptive parents elsewhere. Some parents have been in country to bring their children home and have had to leave without him/her until exit interviews begin again. We ride the wave of international adoption and pray for a solution for so many children in need.
I exhale and breathe thanks for so many who advocate for the needs of children without families in Ethiopia. I’m relieved to hear that better standards of care will be made to help families stay together whenever possible. My heart rejoices that international adoption will be a last resort and that Ethiopia will work hard to improve supportive family dynamics. There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia in need of a home. Children are worth every moment of wait. Every second of paper work. Every emotional twist and turn.