Ethiopia: International Adoptions

25/06/2012 – African countries are increasingly popular among prospective adoptive parents, as restrictions are tightened in previously popular ones. Ethiopia is the world’s second-most popular choice.

They may be celebrities, family members or even next-door-neighbours. Many families around the world fulfill their dreams of becoming parents and doing their part to help those less fortunate by adopting a child from a developing country.

But, critics of the process worry about what’s actually best for the child and his or her community, including such dangers as human trafficking, unsuitable adoptive parents, corruption and profiteering from adoptions.

In fact, several countries have begun to put restrictions on overseas adoptions. Among African countries, however, international adoptions are on the rise said the Ethiopia-based African Child Policy Forum in its May report, Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption. Some 41,000 children were adopted overseas between 2003 and 2011, it notes.

After China, Ethiopia is the most sought-after country for international adoptions. Some other popular African countries of origin were Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali.

At last month’s International Policy Conference on the African Child, the policy group urged countries of the continent to seek family-based care at a national level in order to care for Africa’s estimated 58 million orphans.

Delegates at the conference proposed prioritizing keeping African children with their families and communities. Children should only be adopted abroad as a last resort when no family-based home can be found for them within their country of origin.

Another consideration is financial. According to a recent BBC Focus on Africa article, it can cost as much as $25,000 to complete an international adoption. In-country adoptions in Ethiopia, on the other hand, may cost only $300.

Ethiopian children make up about a fifth of all children adopted into the United States, where international adoption can be high, but variable. Last year, for instance, 9,319 children were adopted from abroad—down from 23,000 in 2004, says the US State Department.

There are many would-be parents who are looking to find their future children among Ethiopia’s five million orphans. As many as five thousand Ethiopian children leave their motherland each year, bound for adoptive families around the world. Other common destinations are Spain, France and Italy.