Sunday, November 7, 2010
From the Associated Press:
It's a remarkable, little-publicized trend, unfolding in an impoverished African country with an estimated 5 million orphans and homeless children, on a continent that has been wary of international adoption.
Just six years ago, at the peak of international adoption, there were 284 Ethiopian children among the 22,990 foreign kids adopted by Americans. For the 2010 fiscal year, the State Department projects there will be about 2,500 adoptions from Ethiopia out of fewer than 11,000 overall — and Ethiopia is on the verge of overtaking China as the top source country.
The needs are enormous; many of Ethiopia's orphans live on the streets or in crowded institutions. There's constant wariness, as in many developing countries, that unscrupulous baby-sellers will infiltrate the adoption process.
The global adoption landscape has changed dramatically since 2004. China, Russia and South Korea have reduced the once large numbers of children made available to foreigners while trying to encourage domestic alternatives. There have been suspensions of adoptions from Guatemala, Vietnam and Nepal due to fraud and corruption.
In contrast, Ethiopia has emerged as a land of opportunity for U.S. adoption agencies and faith-based groups. Several have been very active there in the past few years, arranging adoptions for U.S. families while helping Ethiopian authorities and charitable groups find ways to place more orphans with local families.
In Kyrgyzstan, the government suspended adoptions in 2008 because of suspected corruption, leaving more than 60 U.S. families with pending adoptions in limbo. Plans to resume the process have been disrupted by recent political upheaval, though Jacobs said she remains hopeful that a new adoption law could be passed whenever a newly elected parliament is able to convene.
Adoptions of abandoned children from Nepal have been suspended by the U.S. government until Nepalese authorities implement procedures to curtail corruption and mismanagement. Jacobs said 80 pending U.S. adoptions are under review by the State Department.
The suspension has been criticized by some U.S. adoption advocates.
"When you close a country, you end up causing more problems than you prevented," said Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption. "What happens to the kids who aren't adopted in Nepal? Some will end up as prostitutes and slaves."
Read the full story here.