The situation in Ethiopia

Every child has the right to grow up in a family and in its country of origin. If there is no other option to find a family or family like environment for the child, an international adoption is a viable option.

Especially Ethiopia has become a country which increasingly places children internationally and numerous prospective adoptive parents in the USA, Europe and Australia are currently waiting for referrals.

The numbers of orphaned and abandoned children in Ethiopia, whose lives would improve by international adoption, vary. A report by UNICEF in 2006 estimated 4.6 million or 13% of all Ethiopian children. More recent reports put the number at 6 million.

The social situation in Ethiopia is generally seen as highly difficult. In a predominently agrarian economy, which relies to 80% on farming, bad harvests due to ill weather are frequent and lead to dependence on food aid. The combination of poverty, underdevelopment and underemployment have contributed to the fact that life expectancy in Ethiopia is 30 years below the US. Development prospects are bleak. The data of the UN support this view: GDP per head stood at 318,70 Dollar compared to 44.364 US Dollar in Germany.

Therefore extended families can only up to point look after the numerous children who have lost one or both parents. In many cases, health care and food can hardly be ensured for the core family without foreign aid. Children without parents are exposed to exploitation as maids, street vendors or farm helpers. Given an average income of less than one dollar per day which is earned by 82% of the population and an extremely high youth unemployment, their prospects for adulthood is very poor. Only 60% of all children have more than elementary schooling.

Under these conditions, the placement of orphaned children abroad seems to be a beneficial solution for all affected. In the industrialized countries more couples want to have children than there are adoptable children. If the adoption placement adhers to the principle that the task is to find parents for children and not children for childless couples, and it is clear that there is no alternative within their country of origin, international adoption is a viable option.

According to the DHS Yearbook of Immigration 2.221 visa for orphans from Ethiopia were issued in 2009. Of these, 40% (835) were for children of less than one year. Further 850 children were between one and four years. Only 536 children were older than five years. According to UNAIDS and UNICEF it is partuclarly older children who are orphans and looking for a new family. There are no figures available for children coming to Germany.