Adopting Children From Ethiopia, The Bitter Truth, And 3 Tips

children from ethiopia

Adopting children from Ethiopia…It was in 2011, a story of Hana Williams, a 13 years old adoptee from Ethiopia died due to constant abuse at the home of adoptive parents in the US.

Can I adopt a child from Ethiopia? Adopting children from Ethiopia has been banned by the parliament in January of 2018. So, the answer is probably no. But I will show you the problem in Ethiopia, the reason adoption was banned and how you can continue with your options.

Children from Ethiopia have been a hot issue especially after movie personalities such as brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie adopted one from Ethiopia. Many people wanted to do that for its ease of access and affordability as well.

However, through time the whole process became a place of misuse and corruption. Many people who were connected to adoption agency said that the corruption in the local agencies creates a complicated situation. Parents pay a lot of money, often bullied by the agency, for their children to get priority for adoption. Poor families have been abused and even children were neglected in the process.

Falsified documents have been the center of the talk as well. Many children were shipped off with forged documents and falsifying about the status of their families, and their own ages to fit certain criteria. Adopting families were told, n some cases, that the children were orphans but later they found out that it was not true. Others were older than the document said they were.

Besides, the foreign adopting parents abusing children from Ethiopia was another issue.

The parliament and local institutions that work on children in related issues have been vigilantly following the complaints against abuse on adopted children from Ethiopia.

What Are the Problems of Children from Ethiopia?

The population of children in Ethiopia, from the age of 0-14 takes almost half of the population. These children have a low-quality of life and a family that could afford to send them to school or to take care of them. Due to the low financial capacity of a family, children usually end up on the streets, and in hard labor work.  

Malnutrition is another big problem in the country. Unbalanced nutrition and lack of food all together puts about 38 % of children in malnutrition. Many aid institutions declare a shortage of food and medical assistance among the children from Ethiopia and among children in other parts of the third world.

Almost  5% of the children die before celebrating their 5th birthday. About 27% of the living children are estimated to be in child labor.

Related: Ethiopia life quality

The girls are taken for granted in most families. These are beings that bring endowments. Most families don’t appreciate having a girl as they would not work and bring back the money. Therefore, they would rather sell them into marriage as early as 15 years old.

Today, almost 17% of girls between the age of 15 and 19 are married. 1 in 15 of these girls who are in early marriage give birth and are forced into the responsibility of raising a child.

This figure is scary when viewed from the general country perspective. More than half of the population is illiterate. That means they can’t read or write being over the age of 15. This is also true for girls under the age of 15. About 60 percent can’t read or write either. Therefore, they have no future hope of getting independent.

The challenge of poverty in the country extends even into a lack of health care and education for the children. Most children have to talk kilometers before getting to school. Some have to take care of the family first before walking for hours to their schools.

Recently, many endeavors have been made by the government to alleviate the school and health problems, but the problem still persists. Even the lucky children who got a place at school will have other related problems such as unable to get food on time. Many students fainting in class has been reported.  

Children From Ethiopia: Challenges Summary

  • The challenges of children from Ethiopia begins with the overall poverty of the country. The country that lives on less than 2 or fewer dollars a day, cannot afford to support the whole family. Children are expected to support the family in any way possible. Poverty forces boys into urban areas into day labor, and girls into domestic work, into urban nations and even into prostitution.
  • The infant mortality rate is also related to poverty as well. More than 10 percent of children die at birth for treatable diseases. 54 % of death among children is due to malnutrition.
  • Thousands of children from Ethiopia live on the streets as well. Recently the mayor of Addis Ababa and known people started a movement to help the street children get back to their family or get help. Many street children have been taken away from the streets into a shelter. Some studies show up to 150,000 street children exist in Ethiopian cities. Most have a dangerous addiction, sniffing petroleum to get them high and physically warm to get through the cold night.
  • Lack of education – Although school attendance of children between 7 and 16 is deemed mandatory since 1997, many families refrain from sending their kids to school. A cheap school payment is still too expensive for many. The necessary requirements such as uniforms and textbooks, that should be bought by the parents.
  • Child trafficking has been an issue for some time in Ethiopia. The country is one of the 10 highest slave-trading countries for African children. Thousands are sold away from their home, usually by their parents, with a hefty amount of money. It is a pity that they are forced into sex slaves, forced labor, or work in dangerous areas.

Child trafficking for marriage has been an accepted part of the culture for some time. This time the law is hard on such practices, and yet many girls are snatched away from the fields and streets into marriage.

  • Child labor- Thousands of children in the country are forced to work in hard labor, trying to support their families. Usually, the boys are sent into the city for day labor, and the girls to work in domestic housework. Children are forced into sex, usually end up with sexually prevalent diseases. Most children, for lack of maturity or for lack of information, don’t have the basic steps to protect their health. Most end up getting STDs.
  • Child malpractices- Genital mutilation in female children has been a widely known practice throughout the country. It has been a favored culture in many places. With countrywide work to educate society, the number dropped throughout the years.
children from Ethiopia flag

Is there a ban against adopting children from Ethiopia?

The US department of state says there were more than 15,000 cases of adoption children from Ethiopia since 1999. The country was one of the largest international adoption places by US families, taking 20% of the total.

In January 2018, Ethiopia banned all foreign adoptions, affecting more than 4.5 million orphans in the country.

Can I adopt children from Ethiopia now?

The simple answer is NO.

It was in 2011, a story of Hana Williams, a 13 years old adoptee from Ethiopia died due to constant abuse at the home of adoptive parents. The news was not only a shock to the community, but it was also a terror wake up call for the Ethiopians. Hana’s stories and other cases of abused children cases caused a big backlash on the adoption trend. Since then the number of adopted children decreases dramatically until 2018 the Ethiopian parliament blocked any was of adoption by foreigners.  

A lot of stories that involved corruption in local adoption agencies and giving off children without proper data were a few of the challenges found. Some families said they gave hundreds of dollars to help their child to get adoptive parents. Others didn’t know where their children went and they have no contact since then.

These types of stories are repelling to the Ethiopian community that lives together like a family.

Those stories may have shown the good deeds of many adoptive parents in America and other countries. Many poor children from Ethiopian had an opportunity for health care and school and a better life than they would not get otherwise.

After the death of the Hana, the families were convicted of manslaughter, homicide by abuse, first-degree assault of a child.  

However, the discussion continued back in Ethiopia as well.

Related: The other face of Ethiopia

Where Else Can I Adopt A Child?

Three are several countries that need adoption, due to a large level of poverty and no immediate care for children.

1-US has poor places that are hidden away from the world and even from America itself. If you see deeper there are many poor or incapable families that need immediate attention from you. Your country is a better alternative to start your adoption process.

2- China- China is another big country that needs immediate adoptive families. A large number of the population is poor yet and need assistance. The country follows the Hague convention on adoption. If you want to adopt children, you need to be between 30-50 years old and must be married for 2 years or 5 years if you are divorced. Only heterosexuals and two times divorcees are allowed.

3-Congo has similar criteria for china.

4-Ukraine has lesser requirement on the adoption, You only need to be 15  years older than the child and be married, you are good to go.

5-Asian countries such as South Korea and India also need your assistance.

See adoption policies around the world.

How can I check if I can adopt children from Ethiopia?

The US, Department of State advises not to begin any adoption process for children from Ethiopia this time. Only those who have been in the process before the enactment of the banning law are permitted to follow up to adopt children from Ethiopia. If you have questions on whether you are allowed to follow up on the process contact the office of children’s issues at [email protected] or the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa at [email protected]

If you have further questions, contact us here.

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