June 10, 2007

Post-Zaharan Ethiopian Adoption: Fast, Cheap, And Somewhat Under Control

I've had the NY Times article on the increase in adoptions from Ethiopia all week. Apparently, the process is so much easier, and the country has an existing infrastructure of internationally supported orphanages [or transitional homes, as the article calls them] which provide relatively comfortable, nurturing care.

According to the Times, 732 Ethiopian children were adopted by American parents in 2006; that's almost half of all the adoptions in the country [the Globe & Mail reported last year 1500 kids were adopted out of Ethiopia.]

Still, that's an almost infinitesimal number compared to the estimated 5 million kids with no parents--or parents who can't care for them--still in the country.

One couple from Iowa was adopting a brother and sister, and had met the childrens' birth mother:

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her.

“It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”

A friend and his wife who recently adopted their second child from Ethiopia have essentially re-oriented their lives towards the country and to improving conditions for children there. Rather than just teach their kids about their home culture [they live in Copenhagen], they are seeking to establish connections for them to their home country as well. One aspect of this involved setting up a home in Addis Ababa and creating a foundation, 121Ethiopia, which undertakes aid projects on a modest, direct scale that focuses the impact of the money raised.

The first series of projects was rebuilding a municipal orphanage in Addis Ababa. The next involves staff education and infrastructure; they're also building a school for the 200+ kids at the orphanage and its neighbors.

It's impossible for me as a non-adoptive parent to fully understand the experience. Does international adoption feel more like a sense of rescue or deliverance, or does it involve a sense of stewardship toward the countries and cultures where kids come from? A phrase from 121E's website sticks with me: "These children are the seeds of Africa's future." I wonder to what extent adopting parents feel or foster not just a connection, but involvement with their kids' cultures, especially when the needs are so great.

Surge in Adoptions Raises Concern in Ethiopia [nyt]
Out of Africa, a trickle of orphans [globe&mail via canadaadopts.com]
121Ethiopia [121ethiopia.org]

3 Comments

As a person who became a parent through adoption (international) it is only about becomeing a parent. first and formost and period, any other reason - you shouldn't adopt. Adoption is not about saving a child, it is about becoming a parent, a family.

Then as a family you determine how to integrate your childs heritage or birth family based on THE CHILDS needs and desires.

Yes, most parents who adopted from other countries become connected with their child or childrens birth country, because we have seen first hand the social injustice and how fortunate and supportive our social system is to unwed and young mothers - a luxury most countries do not have. However, it is ultimately the responsibilities of the countries citizens to care for their needy rather than bash a system that is in the end attempting to solve a small portion of a an hugh social problem.

[thanks for the insight, Ruffo. I hope I didn't sound like I was bashing anything. just because the scale of the problems in these countries dwarfs the good that comes from adoptions doesn't make the adoption system somehow bad or wrong. -ed.]

I agree that if you are adopting to save children you are adopting for the wrong reason.

I am an adoptive father as well and we adopted our son to complete our family.

I can't save all of the needy children myself, so that's why I volunteer for a charity that can do the heavy lifting for me.

I indirectly build orphanages, drill drinking water wells, and provide medical care for needy children across the world through my contributions and donated time.

This is the best way you can save a child who needs to be saved. Everyone has something to offer, whether it is time, effort or money.

I want to adopt from eithipia ,but want to know the best route ,least expensive best agency

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