Ethiopia Population

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Adoption from Ethiopia

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At Orphanage in Addis Ababa, thousand of newborn babies – some of them only days old – are cared for until people are ready to adopt them.

Adopted orphan abroad

Ethiopia has some 5m orphans – half of them because of HIV

Most of the parents are from abroad. The adoption of Ethiopian children by foreigners has increased sharply in the past few years, with thousands of parents from various parts of the Western world adopting children from this impoverished nation.

It is illegal to mention money where a baby is involved

Hadush Halifom

Of the estimated five million orphans in Ethiopia today, nearly half are orphaned by HIV.

Today there are nearly 40 agencies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia handling adoptions.

These are licensed by the Ethiopian state, who say Ethiopian orphans have a right to be adopted, but that sending them abroad is a last resort because it is preferable for children to be brought up in their own culture.

In one of the most well-publicized adoptions, movie star Angelina Jolie adopted an Ethiopian girl with the help of an agency.

Trafficking?

That agency’s representative in Ethiopia, Dr Tsegaye Berhe, says the process of adopting children from Ethiopia is much simpler than the process in countries like China and Guatemala, which have also provided children for foreign adoption.

Angleina with Maddox

Film star Angelina Jolie has also adopted a child from Cambodia

Dr Tsegaye says the agency prefers the adoptive parents to come personally and collect the child.

It is also compulsory, he says, for the parents to stay at least two weeks to learn something about Ethiopia.

Nevertheless, adoption in Ethiopia has not been without debate. Opponents have sometimes described it as child trafficking.

Strict watch

But Hadush Halifom of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs says that though adopting from Ethiopia may be easy, the government keeps a strict watch on orphanages that keep children for adoption.

Ethiopia’s adopted children rarely have the chance to return to their birthplace.

Racism

In a country where she looked different from most other people, Addis says that it became too common for her to answer all kinds of questions about her looks – such as how she washes her hair.

She adds it was not always easy to tell her adoptive parents about the trouble she was getting.

“Somehow white people have a mentality of black people that they are poor, can’t think and that the only thing they know is dancing and singing,” says Addis.

And how does Addis view adoption in general?

“I am not saying adoption is bad or should be stopped, but it should not be as easy as it is today,” she says

Identity

Addis’s biggest concern is that there are no guidelines for black children being adopted by white families.

She says that it is a psychological disaster for the child if the family doesn’t talk about the color of their adopted child’s skin.

“There are foster parents who say they don’t care about the color of the child and I always tell them that they must be color-blind.

“For the child it is not enough to say that the child is getting good food and education – who he is and where he comes from matter a great deal to the child.

“It is because of the neglect of the issue of identity that you see many adopted children going down the drain despite getting the best food in the world,” she concludes.

It is no wonder therefore that adoption agencies and orphanages in Addis Ababa prefer black to white foster parents for the children in their custody.

Yet Ethiopian orphans are in dire need of parents and a place to call home.

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