2009 - A year of scandals

On December 29, 2009 the American parents campaign group Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) warned prospective adoptive parents not to adopt in Ethiopia. Too many scandals had been discovered for believing in an orderly adoption process. Prospective parents should consider alternatives. The evidence was overwhelming:

In January 2009, adoptive parents in Austria went to the press about their adoption experience in Ethiopia. They had adopted two children who were placed as orphaned siblings. In fact, the children were not related and the allegedly 8 year old girl was 14 years old. The mothers of the children had been paid by the Ethiopian representative of the adoption agency. The girl was subsequently placed in an institution. The adoption agency went bankrupt. There are no adoptions from Ethiopia to Austria any more.

In March 2009 the Canadian TV station CBC reported about several Canadian families who had adopted alleged orphans. As the children began to speak English they talked about their families. The adoptive parents searched and found the mothers of the children. They had agreed to the adoption of their children. The adoptive parents felt betrayed. One mother described her view: I think that international adoption should be the last option for a child. If there are other means to give a child a home and leave it in its country, one should use these."

In September 2009 the Australian TV station ABC broadcasts the film „Fly away children“. The film accuses the US American adoption agency CWA of encouraging families in Ethiopian villages to give up their children. In the film, American adoptive parents report about children with severe illnesses which were not made known before the placement. In one moving case, the adoptive mother talks about the problems of living with a fatally ill child, after having made a deliberate choice in favour of a healthy child because a previous child had already died in her care.

Also in September 2009, the Dutch adoption agency Wereldkinderen stopped placing children temporarily, because reports about the abuse of the system by the government and agencies accumulated. At the same time, a Spanish initiative of adoptive parents demanded the stop of placments from Ethiopia.

In December Australia stopped placements from Ethiopia. For years there had been complaints in Australia, that the paperwork of adopted children had not been accurate. Parents had insisted on an investigation into the matter, which was published in March 2010. Of the 117 investigated adoptions between 2002 and 2004 44 were seen as not correct. In 10 cases the history of the child had been wrongly described, in 9 cases siblings were found and in 5 cases living relatives were found. In 25 cases the age of the child had not been accurate and in 8 cases the health report was wrong. The families affected questioned the integrity of the programme and the procedures of international adoption.

In Ethiopia, adoptions were stopped on May 26th 2009 due to fast rising numbers of abandoned chilcren in Addis Ababa. In April 2010 the Ethiopian family ministry MOWA decided that in future adoptive parents had to be present at court hearings. It also withdrew the licence of 9 orphanages. Within the Ehtiopian government the view on adoptions is mixed. Not all members of the government agree with the current system. At the same time the ratificiation of the Hague Conventions is stuck in parliament.