Pending Reductions in Adoptions from Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs last week announced their intention to reduce intercountry adoptions from Ethiopia by 90 percent, effective immediately.  Volumes could be written about this tragic and counter-productive decision.

Our friends at the Joint Council for International Children’s Services (JCICS) consistently take a measured and thoughtful approach to complex matters related to adoption and orphan care, and their statement (below) succinctly explains and addresses the key issues involved.  The President of JCICS, Tom Difilipo, will also be speaking at Summit on the luncheon panel, International Adoption 2011:  Challenges, Changes and Difficult Questions.  Tom will be joined on the panel by the President of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), Chuck Johnson, and the Director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), Kathleen Strottman.  No doubt, Ethiopian adoption will be one important facet of this panel’s discussion.

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JCICS Statement on the Pending Reduction of Intercountry Adoption in Ethiopia

Last week the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs announced their intention to reduce intercountry adoptions by 90% beginning March 10, 2011.

The Ministry’s plan for a dramatic reduction is apparently based on two primary issues; 1) the assumption that corruption in intercountry adoption is systemic and rampant and 2) the Ministry’s resources should be focused on the children for whom intercountry adoption is not an option. Without further announcements by the Government of Ethiopia, it is our understanding that the Ministry’s plan will be initiated this week.

The Ministry’s plan is a tragic, unnecessary and disproportionate reaction to concerns of isolated abuses in the adoption process and fails to reflect the overwhelmingly positive, ethical and legal services provided to children and families through intercountry adoption. Rather than eliminate the right of Ethiopian children to a permanent family, we encourage the Ministry to accept the partnerships offered by governments, NGOs, and foundations. Such partnerships could increase the Ministry’s capacity to regulate service providers and further ensure ethical adoptions.

The Ministry’s plan which calls for the processing of only five adoption cases per work day, will result not only in systemic and lasting damage to a large sector of social services, but will have an immediate impact on the lives and futures of children. Moving from over 4,000 adoptions per year to less than 500 will result in thousands of children languishing in under-regulated and poorly resourced institutions for years. For those children who are currently institutionalized and legally available for adoption, the Ministry’s plan will increase their time languishing in institutions for up to 7-years.

Joint Council respectfully urges the Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs to reconsider their plan and to partner with governments, NGOs and foundations to achieve their goals and avoid the coming tragedy for children and families.

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The Joint Council has also launched an  Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children as an excellent way for those who love Ethiopian children to get involved.  The details of the Campaign can be found on the JCICS blog.