The Voice of America Web site is reporting that Ethiopia is planning to cut adoptions by 90 percent, processing only 5 children per day instead of 50. According to the report, this is based on a directive from the Ethiopian government, and an “alert” will be posted to the State Department’s inter-country adoption Web site. (Note, other than the VOA report, I have not been able to verify the directive or the alert from the State Department. I am re-posting this solely on the credibility of Voice of America, an established news source.)

Here is the story in it’s entirety.

Ethiopia is cutting back by as much as 90 percent the number of
inter-country adoptions it will allow, as part of an effort to clean up a
system rife with fraud and corruption. Adoption agencies and children’s
advocates are concerned the cutbacks will leave many Ethiopian orphans
without the last-resort option of an adoptive home abroad.

Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs has issued a
directive saying it will process a maximum of five inter-country
adoptions a day, effective March 10. Currently, the ministry is
processing up to 50 cases a day, about half of them to the United

A copy of the directive provided to VOA says the
reduction of up to 90 percent in cases will allow closer scrutiny of
documents used to verify a child’s orphan status.

Ministry spokesman Abiy Ephrem says the action was taken in response to indications of widespread fraud in the adoption process.

we have seen so far has been some illegal practices. There is an abuse.
There are some cases that are illegal. So these directives will pave
the way to come up with [safeguards],” said Abiy Ephrem.

have turned up evidence of unscrupulous operators in some cases
tricking Ethiopian parents to give up their children, then falsifying
documents in order claim a part of the large fees involved in inter
country adoptions.

American couples often pay more than $20,000
to adopt an Ethiopian child. Such amounts are an enormous temptation in a
country where the average family earns a few hundred dollars a month.

State Department statistics show more than 2,500 Ethiopian orphans went
to the United States last year. That is more than a ten fold increase
over the past few years, making Ethiopia the second most popular
destination for Americans seeking to adopt overseas, after China.

Child protection professionals generally welcomed efforts to clean up the system.

however, questioned the motive behind the cutback. One adoption agency
representative who asked not to be identified called the policy
“ridiculous”, and said it appears to be in retaliation for recent
criticism of the government’s lax oversight of the process.

Rupp, head of the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa
says the cutback is likely to result in a drop in adoptions to the
United States from last year’s 2,500 to fewer than 500. She says the
biggest concern is for the estimated 1,000 children currently in the
adoptions pipeline, who may be forced to wait more than a year for their
cases to be considered.

“We share the government’s concerns
about the vulnerabilities in the process. But certainly we have concerns
about children who would be waiting longer for their adoptions to be
final. That would mean they would be in an orphanage or transition home
for a longer period of time,” she said.

Rupp said adoption
agencies in Ethiopia should take the directive as a cue to be
accountable for each case they bring forward, including knowing exactly
how children in orphanages came to be there. She said government
officials have indicated they may close as many as 45 orphanages as part
of the effort to clean up what critics have labeled a “baby business”.

Chaiban, head of the Addis Ababa office of the U.N. children’s agency
UNICEF, called the new rules “an important step” in rooting out
irregularities in the system and finding family-based local solutions
for what the government estimates are 5 million Ethiopian orphans.

is important is that any child deemed to require care be looked at in
terms of a range of options starting from family reunification all the
way through inter country adoption. In that respect the work being done
by the ministry needs to be strengthened and supported,” he said.

Embassy officials late Friday indicated they are posting an adoption
alert on the State Department’s website addressing the concerns of
Americans who will be affected by the Ethiopian government directive.
The alert can be seen at

If true, this is difficult news for many children and families–particularly those who are already somewhere along the process (which include many good and close friends of mine).

First, please PRAY for the children. They are at the center of this decision and the ones impacted most dearly. There are too many orphans waiting for families. While I heartily support alternatives to adoption, simply cutting back by 90 percent will not will these into existence.

Second, reach out to a family that YOU know that is adopting from Ethiopia.
This news will hit them like a sucker punch. Be a comfort for them. Many of them will walk an even more uncertain road, and will need someone to listen. They’ll need to vent.

If anyone has any relevant updates, please post in the comments section.

Click here to subscribe to Red Letters. Click here to follow Tom Davis on Twitter.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad