Why do we need an association of Ethiopian Adoptive Families?
Because only adoptive families can express and relate about adoption, not a nonprofit, not an orphanage and not even an adoption agency. Here is why:
As many of you know, as country director for a large adoption agency, I moved back to Ethiopia to do the work that I was certain was my calling, place children with no parental care into loving permanent homes, with parents who will love them. While this work had many rewards (I can go on about the rewards) it also had many challenges, challenges that threaten children’s placement and the right of a child to be adopted. I hate to think of myself as someone who believes that only adoption is the answer. I want to ensure that every child in Ethiopia is given the chance to live in his or her birth country with parents (birth parents or adoptive). However, I also want to ensure that in the event that this is not possible, a child is given the opportunity to have a family elsewhere. And keeping this right of the child is tougher than I ever imagined it to be. As an Ethiopian myself, I left the US excited to do the work I was called to do, certain that it was a worthy and commendable work. What I found was that, adoption simply was not a word I was allowed to be proud of. The word had so much stigma associated with it. And over the years I have come to realize, how much such stigma and the lack of awareness about family based care, can influence policies about adoption.
I was able to see a trend, whenever there was news about adoption from Ethiopia, it is usually bad. Or atleast only the bad ones reach Ethiopia. And to a general public, that already feels adoption is bad it affirms their fear. Here are some things I have been asked:
1. - Why do these people adopt children all the way from our country? I am sure they have ulterior motives. I just heard this man in France was molesting a child he adopted from here. That child was better of here poor and parentless.
2. - I saw on TV how the mothers are cheated into thinking they will see their children. The children are in turn sold for thousands of dollars and these poor mothers never see their children. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-09-15/heartbreak-in-ethiopia/1428934 (I can still remember the effects this news had on adoption. The process significantly changed both at the US embassy and court in reaction to this news)
3. - I read on the internet that these children’s organs are sold once they get overseas.
These are just few of the things that have been said to me. Now I am sure most of your are saying, “Surely Duni, you defended us? Surely you told the truth?”
Yes, I did, not just me but other reps of adoption agencies’, orphanages. At the end of the day I am not an adoptive parent. And at the end of the day, the bad stories got to the public, first. Here is a the latest bad news http://nazret.com/blog/index.php/2011/08/02/coroner-adopted-teen-from-ethiopia-died-of-hypothermia-in-backyard
This is an Ethiopian blog, please see the comments by Ethiopian readers. It is sad that one murder of a child can negate the 9,000 adoptions from Ethiopia in the past five years. Not to say that this doesn’t deserve attention but it shouldn’t be the only thing the public hears about so that they don’t react negatively to adoption in general. The good ones, the baby who was abandoned, the malnourished child, the HIV positive, who found homes never made it to the news. Even though the government knows the bad cases are 1 in thousands, it has to react to the public and come up with regulations that restrict adoption. It is true what they say, first impressions stick. And unfortunately most Ethiopians get their first impression of adoption by hearing about the bad news before they ever hear about all the children’s lives saved through adoption.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
It was not long before I moved back to the States that I started to think about what would help in relaying stories to the general public and I realized that no one could do it better than adoptive families. And no one can advocate for adoption more than adoptive families themselves. Other entities are always regarded as having ulterior motives (after all adoption is an agency’s source of income). What if adoptive families had an association that represented adoptive families in Ethiopia? One that could create dialogue with the government both in the US and in Ethiopia about adoption issues. One that would create awareness campaigns in Ethiopia about family based care and domestic adoption. And more than anything showed the Ethiopian people that children who are adopted are not forever disconnected from their birth country and that their families give back to the nation. I know for a fact that most families are involved in works such as sponsorships and other orphan care programs in Ethiopia, except it is not in a mobilized manner and one that will give credit to adoption and adoptive families.
The association will serve families and more than anything ensure adoption remains to be available for those who need it and provide long-term solutions for those children who are not adoptable. To learn more about our purpose, plans and services, please visit the Membership page of our website.
Thank you for considering membership in the association and giving back, this was created for you and your family to have a voice. Together, we can make a difference! Join today.