Friday, May 29, 2009

The US Department of State has issued their update:

Adoptions of Abandoned Children Halted by Ethiopian Court

On May 4, 2009 the Ethiopian First Instance Court temporarily stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children referred by orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing a substantial increase in the number of children being brought for adoption. The number of abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa has grown dramatically in recent months and Ethiopian authorities have become aware of possible cases of unethical practices associated with some of them.

Neither the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) nor the First Instance Court had been accepting abandonment cases from any orphanage in Addis Ababa pending an inquiry. However, on May 23 the Court confirmed that while the investigation into cases of abandoned children continues, it has begun accepting cases of abandoned children referred from Addis Ababa government orphanages. These include the following orphanages:

  • Kebebe Tsehay Orphanage
  • Ketchene Orphanage
  • Kolfe Youth Center

Please continue to monitor for updated information on Ethiopia.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An email:

Just wanted to let you know that I have heard from two reputable sources that the investigation is narrowing to the orphanages in which the scandal took place. Additional pending cases will not be investigated. There is no clue as to when impacted cases will begin to be heard though. This is good progress.
Provided by PEAR-
From the Australian Central Authority to an Australian adoptive parent's organization., emailed by the Australian Attorney General's Office:

Ethiopia – temporary suspension of court cases involving abandoned children – Updated 28 May 2009

The Department has obtained additional information about the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court’s decision to suspend cases involving abandoned children in Addis Ababa orphanages. The Court has confirmed that the suspension applies to all existing and new cases. The Court has also advised that the suspension now only applies to children from private (non-governmental organizations) orphanages in Addis Ababa. Please note, the considerable majority of orphanages are privately run.

The Court is unable to provide an indication on how long the suspension will remain in place, given the nature of the investigations required. The Court hopes that the investigation will be progressed as soon as possible. At this time, the Department understands that the concerns are of a general nature and do not specifically relate to any Australian cases.

The Department supports actions taken by the Court to protect Ethiopian children. We recognise and respect the roles and responsibilities of Ethiopian judiciary and Government authorities in these matters and welcome actions taken to ensure appropriate practices and safeguards are in place.

If you have any queries regarding your adoption application, please contact your State or Territory Central Authority. Further updates will be provided when possible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waiting to hear back on which agency this is from:

Our agency in-country representative said that part of the issue with the suspicious cases is that the police were giving out abandonment clearances before the proper wait period, as defined by MOWA, had ended. I believe they’re investigating this as well as the overall increased number of abandonment cases, and we were told it could take awhile due to staff size.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From CHI:

I received the message below just this morning form the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. None of the orphanages listed are orphanages that we work with. It has also been brought to our attention that the abandonment issue has extended to other parts of Ethiopia as well, for example in some of the western cities and towns, none of which we work in however. It’s good to see that there has been some movement with some Addis orphanages. We’ll continue to keep you posted.

Dear All:

We contacted the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court today. Court President Ato Dessalegn told us that the investigation into cases of abandoned children is still pending. But, the Court has begun accepting cases of abandoned children referred from Addis Ababa government orphanages. These include the following orphanages:

· Kebebe Tsehay Orphanage
· Ketchene Orphanage
· Kolfe Youth Center

I hope this information is helpful.

Consular Section Chief, U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa]

Note: Gladney works with these 3 orphanages, I'm not sure if any other agencies do.

edited: apparently this information has now been forwarded from the original source to most US adoption agencies.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Info coming from AC (a Denmark adoption agency):

They say that the suspiscious cases especially are concerning some of the children found in the following subcities: Lidetta, Kirkos and Addis Ketema.

(...the children "especially came from" these subcities, so it does not rule out all other cases.)

Note: According to the Addis Ababa City Government, there are 10 sub-cities in Addis Ababa: Arada, Kirkos, Gullele, Kolfe Keranyo, Akaki-Kality, Nefas Silk-Lafto, Lideta, Bole, Addis Ketema, and Yeka. If you look at a map of Addis , you’ll see that the 3 sub-cities mentioned above are right next to each other.

People from AC have also heard that the court is considering canceling their two month summer closure for the rainy season. They believe it isn't to do with the investigation, but rather a general restructuring of their operations. This is very unofficial information, so please do not take it as fact, and if anyone can verify, please contact me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Support Board

A break from ban info for a moment…

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails telling their story. I'm continually surprised at how many people this is effecting. It’s heart-breaking to be faced with this just when we thought the long wait for our children was almost over. We know this investigation is necessary to keep Ethiopian adoptions ethical, but this is such a hard time for so many families as we wait for an outcome.

In addition to this information blog, I’ve gotten several suggestions for a forum where people can talk (complain!) about the situation and talk with other families going through the same thing. In response to this, we went ahead a created a message board (the link is on the right-hand side of the blog), if anyone’s interested in talking about it. Hang in there, everybody.

(you can continue to email me, or you can post questions there for me or for the group. I certainly don’t know all the answers, so maybe somebody else on the board will!)

Also, as the new week begins, please continue to send me any updates or info from your agency!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

An email:

Thursday our case went to court. The judge decided to classify it as an abandonment. Our son is around 9 years old and has been at the orphanage for about a year. He was not actually abandoned. He ran away from an abusive home. But of course, without the relinquishment signature, the case was thrown into the abandonment category. This delay is particularly frustrating to me because of his age and his background. I don't think there's much demand among adoption traffickers for 9 year old boys...Have you heard of other cases involving older children? We're the only one with our agency.
I added a back post here. It's old news, but it comes from one of the first agencies to know about the hold, and talks about their thoughts on how the investigation will go and the reasoning for it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From the Australian Government:

The Department has been advised that the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting intercountry adoption cases involving abandoned children from orphanages. This suspension is to allow for additional investigations. It is reported that the suspension is a result of concerns about recent increases in the numbers of intercountry adoption cases brought before the court concerning abandoned children.

The Department is seeking further information from Ethiopian authorities. At this point there is no suggestion the Federal First Instance Court’s concerns relate to Australian cases or orphanages that have referred children to the Australian program.

At this time, it is not possible to provide an indication on how long the suspension will remain in place.

If you have any queries regarding your adoption application, please contact your State or Territory Central Authority. Further updates will be notified on this website as soon as possible.
An email from someone with Adoption Ark:

I received a call from my agency this morning to provide an update on things. Our agency had families with court dates today and next week on 5/27 (that was mine). Our in country rep attempted to go to court today and had a prepared statement explaining that none of our children are from the 5 orphanages under investigation and requested that the cases be heard. His request was denied. The judge said that all cases of abandonment in Addis are "on hold" until the completion of the investigation, and that the cases today would not be heard NOR would my case be heard next week.

Our in country rep attempted to ask the proverbial million dollar question as to WHEN this would likely be resolved, and he did not receive an answer as to any potential timeline.

Our agency has reinforced that there is NOTHING any of us can do but wait. I offered to fly to Addis to appear at my scheduled court hearing next week in an effort to act as my own child's advocate. I was reminded, however, that this is NOT a personal thing------the courts are not saying that we are in some way less than ideal parents--------that this is PURELY about the need to ensure that there is no child trafficking happening. I COMPLETELY understand that, and certainly have the utmost respect for those critical efforts to protect children everywhere. That, however, is a 100% OBJECTIVE perspective, and there is a part of me at this point that is clearly struggling with maintaining objectivity. It feels like I just KNOW that the best place for my daughter right now would be here in the nursery we built for her. I keep thinking about how critical the first year of life is-------and that hers is being spent just waiting for this to be resolved before she can meet her family who loves her already. And what if it is never resolved? What would become of her precious life? For something that is "not a personal thing", it sure feels awfully personal........

Wish I had something more encouraging to report.

Hugs and prayers to everyone this holiday weekend.
From someone with Gladney:

I saw your comment and hope I can clear this up. There are a few goverment-run orphanages in Addis. The court is now allowing abandonment cases to go through from these orphanages ONLY. For all other non-governmental orphanages, the ban is still in place. Since one of the orphanages we use is government-run, some Gladney people will now get new court dates to have their cases heard. Hope this helps.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A comment:
Gladney has not stated there is a lift on this investigation. Per the most recent agency wide email... the investigation is still in progress.

NOTE: I do know, however, that a couple Gladney clients were told that the ban was lifted for their case. My guess is that these cases are at the one orphanage mentioned in CHI's email as possibly being exempt from the ban, and perhaps the same orphanage (Toukal?) used by AAA. I have no verification of this; so if anyone would like to correct me, please do. Also, if anyone has a child at Toukal and was told their case is still on hold, please contact me!
From CHI:

Dear Families,

Regarding the child abandonment cases in Addis Ababa, as we mentioned on yesterday on the conference call, we will be sending out a daily email to the families affected by this issue to let your know if we have found out anything new, or not.

An email from our representative today noted that the court ban on hearing these cases is still in place. It has apparently been lifted for one orphanage in Addis, however, but that is not 100% evident at this point, and the orphanage is not one of the orphanages that we work with. As mentioned on yesterday you may hear many things concerning this issue, as there are a lot of rumors going around. We’ll send out another update on tomorrow regarding any information that we might hear – or not hear.

Toni Lynch
From the source at AAA, the one whose director provided the information that the ban had been lifted:

I trust his [the director's] information implicetly, because he was in multiple meetings all last week with Court, MOWA, and Embassy officials regarding all these issues and standardization of the entire process."

I am not trying to give false hope to anyone, just passing on any information I hear for you to make your own judgment. Perhaps it's possible that the ban has been scheduled to be lifted, but not actually lifted yet. I guess we'll see. If anyone would like to share what your agency is saying, I know we'd all love to hear it!
From someone with IAI:

We had several abandonment cases not pass court this morning [May 21], and one relinquishment that did pass. Our rep was not told that the ban had been lifted, but rather that the cases were closed until the investigation had ended.
From Adoption Ark:

Dear Clients in the Ethiopia Program,

I received several emails this morning asking for verification of the rumor about the ban being lifted on the abandonment cases in Addis Ababa.

Of course I immediately called our in country rep and luckily I got through after only 5 attempts!

He said that he went to the court this morning and spoke with the judge’s secretary about this rumor.

There is NO official lift on the ban of abandonment cases. The investigation is still in process.

Regarding our cases to be heard on May 22 and May 27:

Our in country rep has prepared a written statement for the judge.

He will go tomorrow with his written statement and present our situation to the judge.

He will explain that the investigation has to do with 5 orphanages and that our children are not from those orphanages.

He hopes that the judge will consider this and either hear the cases scheduled for tomorrow or least assign a new date a few weeks out.

We plan to speak on the phone again tomorrow and of course I will provide an update at the earliest possible moment.
Wide Horizons is saying the ban has not been lifted:

Just wanted to let you know that our agency (wide horizons) and state deparment said the info is false- the ban has not been lifted.
An email/comment I received:

While I hope and pray that the news is legit- I have just contacted the US Embassy in Addas and they had no clue of the update.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hopefully the end of it all

To clarify, the rumors I'd been hearing all day that the ban had been lifted were said to come from Gladney. I didn't want to post until I had received confirmation from at least one other agency. A person from AAA (I linked to her blog below) wrote to her agency director (I believe he's still in Ethiopia) and asked him if the rumors were true. He said they were, as posted below.

I've asked my agency for further information, as each of you should. Just as agencies received information at different times that the ban had been put in place, so will they receive info that it's been lifted at different times. If anyone would like to pass on what their in-country reps have to say on the matter tomorrow, please comment or email me!

Take the information with a grain of salt until more agencies confirm, but I believe it to be true and I know we are all very hopeful that it is...

The Ban Has Been Lifted!!

I've been hearing rumors today that the ban has been lifted, but wanted to find confirmation before posting, so as to not get anyone's hopes up if false. I was just given this information, found here:

I am so pleased to be able to post that I just heard from our agency director, and THE COURT BAN ON ADOPTION HEARINGS FOR ORPHANS ABANDONED IN ADDIS HAS BEEN LIFTED! It’s over! All those affected families can expect to get new court dates assigned within the next few weeks, and they should not be long dates at all.
Thank you so much for passing this valuable information on. Many of you may have read this already since it was originally posted several days ago. This is from someone at AAA who has had direct contact with their agency's director, who has been in Ethiopia during this mess. The direct link is here:

I am co-moderator for my adoption agency’s yahoo group online. This is a group of potential and current AP’s using Adoption Avenues Agency and Toukoul orphanage (in ETH.) No one affiliated or employed by AAA or Toukoul is allowed on the board, rather, it’s an informational and emotional resource for parents.

As co-moderator I feel it is my duty to give parents the FACTS regarding any and all situations/questions/queries/fears that come up. Obviously, the recent High Court’s decision to postpone, indefinitely, the adoption hearings for children declared “abandoned” in the city of Addis, has been at the forefront of many parents minds. As such, I have sought out factual information to pass along. Our agency director, Radu, is in ETH this week, and this morning, sent me a PM with more information to send out on the board.

Radu has been investigating the situation and has been informed, directly by the High Court, the following information:

The “questionable” cases involved just ONE POLICEMAN AND ONE SOCIAL WORKER IN THE CITY OF ADDIS. There were 17 cases over the last year (2009) in which they “found” children, and then filled out paperwork indicating they had been abandoned. Those children were then sent to an orphanage (NOT TOUKOUL) and were referred to parents via an agency (NOT AAA.) The name of the orphanage and agency have not been released publicly, but individual agencies have been reassured they are not affected.

Because the High Court has the best interest of all Ethiopian orphans at mind, they have postponed the adoption hearings of ALL children listed as “abandoned” in Addis, pending further investigation. This is to ensure that Addis adoptions, and in fact, all Ethiopian adoptions are completed with the utmost ethical standards.

I KNEW our agency had nothing to do with this, but was so thrilled our director found out information first hand so very quickly, and reported the same.

My heart is aching for the children and families affected. The families who received referrals for the “found” children did no wrong. The children did no wrong. And, of course, the plethora of children and families whose adoption hearings are postponed because of these 17 cases, did nothing wrong. We can only keep these families and children in our hearts, minds, and prayers and be thankful the High Court wants all adoptions to be “above board” and ethical.

In addition, she said:
Per Radu, there was ONE US agency involved, and that agency lost it's license. That agency was required to tell all it's clients immediately; however the name of that agency has not been publically released.

And here is more, about the embassy appointments, found

I talked with our agency director, Radu, several times today. YEAH! I am blown over each time I communicate with this wonderful man, who is fast becoming a friend, in addition to our adoption agency director. He is so kind, loving, and knowledgeable. All he wants to do in life is unite children with families. How great is that??!!!

Anyway, Radu had meetings with Court representatives, US Consulate, and MOWA representatives yesterday. In addition to the court investigating any “questionable” cases of abandoned children in Addis, the representatives are working on ways to standardize Embassy procedures for all children/families. The following changes are being made/implemented:

GOOD NEWS: Families will now know, in advance, their precise Embassy date.

GOOD NEWS: the courts, MOWA, and the US Embassyare crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” twice and three times to ensure the most ethical adoptions possible.

BAD NEWS: this means that court passage to Embassy will take 6 weeks, instead of 3-4 weeks.

The breakdown is as follows AFTER you pass COURT

Week 1: Court documentation to be copied, signed and forwarded to the various offices.

Weeks 2-3: Birth Certificate to be issued (this used to be issued same day as court, now take 14 days)

Weeks 4-5: 3 days for MOWA letter, 2 days for Medical exam/clearance, 3 days for 2nd MOWA letter.

Week 5: US Embassy to receive/review file 1 week PRIOR to Embassy appt.

Week 6: Embassy appointment.

Also, each agency is now being given just 2 days/month for Embassy dates.
From someone with Adoption Associates:

We were originally told that the hold would only affect 4 orphanages, one of which is one our agency works with. We were told that no referrals would be given out from these orphanages and no court cases would be heard. Of course, we've now been told this extends to all orphanages within Addis.

I thought this might be helpful since it may help to confirm that the suspect cases are contained to 4-5 orphanages, as mentioned in IAN's notes from the JCICS conference.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I added a back post here. Probably old news to many of you, but I'm mentioning it in case some of you are like me and hadn't heard that the hold on abandonment cases started back on May 4th. This means that we are now 2 weeks into the investigation. In case it's of interest, I've been told the last big MOWA investigation and halting of court cases (which resulted in extra paperwork and court steps for relinquishment cases) lasted about 6 weeks.
This is a tip I received; we're not sure of the agency, but we think it's Adoption Avenues:

The children with the suspicious cases were all from the same part of Addis, according to our agency director. He says the courts are talking about hearing abandoned child cases from other parts of the city. Hopefully they'll start doing this soon!

I apologize profusely for any misunderstanding...I meant we think this tidbit of info came from someone at Adoption Avenues, NOT that Adoption Avenues is in any way involved!! I'm so sorry for the confusion.
From CHI (Children's Hope):

The Ethiopia caucus of Joint Council conducted a conference call where the topic of discussion centered on ethical practices in Ethiopia. There was really no additional information given regarding the abandonment child issue in Ethiopia, as the investigation still continues. No time frame has been given regarding how long it will take before a decision regarding abandoned children in Addis is made. Actually no additional information outside of what you already have been made aware of was given or known at this time.

The emphasis was actually on what each agency can do to ensure the highest level of ethics in adoption and incorporating adoption into a broader range of services where communities in Ethiopia are impacted, families are serviced, better health care is available, education for all concerned, which is a large part of the focus of Children’s Hope in all of the countries that we work in. Development Aid must increase just as the number of adoption increases. Because everyone involved in international adoption is not pro adoption, in order to ensure a long future in international adoption, agencies and everyone involved must be vigilant in ensuring that ALL of the work meets the government’s regulations, even if the process takes a little longer.

Remember that all information we can get on this is important, especially to those of us who have agencies that don't give as frequent updates (like mine!) If you'd like to share with other parents what your agency is saying, please email me at

Monday, May 18, 2009

JCICS Conference Call

Today, May 18th, the Joint Council of International Children's Services had a meeting discussing the investigation in Addis Ababa.

They've not updated their website as of now, but this is from IAN:
All of IAN’s Ethiopian Program Coordinators took part in a conference call today with the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and approximately 15 other agencies working in Ethiopia.

The main focus of the conference call was to clarify the current status of adoption in Ethiopia particularly as it pertains to the cases of abandonment in Addis. At this time Ethiopia is suspending abandonment cases in Addis only and not cases for children who have been abandoned in other areas of Ethiopia. The court in Ethiopia recently discovered the abandonment of 16 children to one 1 police officer all at the same time; these children were then placed with 4-5 orphanages. None of these children were placed at Sele Enat, the orphanage where IAN’s children are placed. Because of the fear of possible unethical conduct and illegal practices, IAN strongly supports the Ethiopian governments investigation of these cases.

Other news from the conference call is that the Ethiopian government is expecting at least a 20% increase in international adoptions over the next year and that Ethiopia’s focus will be on maintaining it’s current level of adoptions instead of increasing adoptions over the next year; that there is a strong need for more adoptions of older children (over 4) and children with special needs; and that U.S. agencies are contributing to services for children in Ethiopia through not only international adoption, but also through health, education and other human service needs.

Note: Sele Enat is mentioned above as not having any of the 15-17 suspicious cases. There has been talk of Enat Alem, which was involved in an investigation last summer, being one where at least some of these suspect cases are from. If anyone has any other information on orphanages that may or may not be involved in the investigation, please comment or email me at This does NOT mean that any agency who uses Enat Alem (or any other suspected orphanage) has done anything unethical. The hope is that they will soon start allowing adoptions of non-suspect abandonment cases to go through, so any collective info we can gather is helpful. Thanks!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Dear Family,

Yesterday, May 13, the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children's Issues* posted an alert on their website regarding adoptions from Ethiopia. The alert notifies prospective adoptive parents that the Ethiopian First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting adoption cases involving abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing concern over a recent increase in the number of abandonment cases being presented from those orphanages.

CHSFS would like to reassure you that we do not anticipate this decision to directly impact families adopting through the CHSFS Ethiopia Program.

Currently, children being placed through the Ethiopia Program at CHSFS are being cared for at orphanages in the Southern Region and Oromiya Region. Additionally, most of the children being placed through CHSFS have been found to be legally free for adoption through relinquishment by a sole-surviving parent.

CHSFS strongly believes that every concern regarding the ethics of adoption practices must be taken seriously, and we respect the Ethiopian First Instance Court for swiftly taking steps to look into this situation. We are confident that the Ethiopian First Instance Court will take whatever steps it feels are necessary to ensure that children, birth families, and adoptive families are protected from suspicious practices. CHSFS-ET staff are monitoring the situation, and we will notify families of pertainent developments.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this alert, we encourage you to contact your case specialist.

The Ethiopia Team

*The Office of Children's Issues is the office within the Department of State which serves as the U.S. central authority for international adoptions.

May 14, 2008 - It is Joint Council's understanding that Ethiopian authorities are investigating alleged actions of five children's homes in or around Addis Ababa. It is our understanding that this is affecting abandonment cases processed through the courts in Addis. It is unknown at this time if it is affecting just the abandonment cases of those children's homes under investigation or all abandonment cases in Addis. Joint Council is working to confirm the extent of the alleged illegal activities and investigations, the children's homes involved, and effects on the processing of abandonment cases in Addis. As information is confirmed and more information becomes available Joint Council will continue to update our website.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today this was posted on

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

May 13, 2009

Adoptions of Abandoned Children Halted by Ethiopian Court:
The Ethiopian First Instance Court has temporarily stopped accepting cases involving abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa, citing concern over a recent increase in the number of abandoned children being brought for adoption. The number of abandoned children from orphanages in Addis Ababa has grown dramatically in recent months and Ethiopian authorities have become aware of possible cases of unethical practices associated with some of them.

Currently neither MOWA nor the First Instance Court are accepting any abandonment case from any orphanages in Addis Ababa pending an inquiry.

Please continue to monitor for updated information on Ethiopia.
From CHI:

Dear Families,

I know that many of you have concerns and anxiety regarding the information given in the update on last week concerning abandoned children in Addis Ababa. If you have any questions or just want to talk please contact your adoption consultant. We will be happy to walk you through what we know regarding this situation that you still may be concerned about. One question that I would like to address further is the concern that this issue will affect ALL abandoned children in Ethiopia. This is NOT the case. This will only concern children abandoned in Addis Ababa, until further notice.

We work with orphanages in the SE, Northern Ethiopia, and also in the surrounding counties of Addis Ababa.

That is how some families who had court dates on last week, and are adopting abandoned children, were approved, while others with court dates that same day adopting abandoned children were not. This situation only affects those abandoned children in Addis Ababa.

The earliest that I thought we would hear anything regarding this issue would be yesterday(Tuesday), however after multiple phone calls to the country, and the power outage, I was not able to make contact by phone or email. I did speak to our in country representative this morning however, and though it is still not known how the judge is going to process these cases of abandoned children, or what new procedures will be put in place, if any; our rep did mention that the abandonment cases that caused the stoppage of hearing abandonment cases is being investigated by the police and a decision will be made on how the court will process future cases once they receive the results of the investigation. Our representative is hopeful that we could hear something some time next week.

The judge did mention that depending on the decision that would be made, the agencies could appeal any decision and ask the MOWA (Ministry of Woman’s Affairs) to give their opinion for the children who already have families and court dates. Because we have so many families who have had court dates long before this situation actually came up in country, our rep is very hopeful that the MOWA and the court will recognize that for the sake of the children, and give a positive opinion regarding these cases and allow them to be heard.

We won’t know of course until after the investigation is complete.

Though this situation is very stressful for some families and causes some uncertainly and anxiety, we truly want to uphold the highest standards of ethics as it relates to this work, and whenever there are unethical acts taking place in a country (any country), at some point, some one is going to notice that and take action to correct it, and this is what is happening here. That’s how different rules and regulations come into place in international adoption. We certainly want to place as many children that need a home as we can, however, we want to ensure that everything is in order for all children that we place, and I’m sure you do as well.. I would think/hope that the judge’s decision would not take too terribly long. We’ll certainly keep you informed on anything additional that we find out. Again please let us know if you have any additional questions and know that our prayers are with those families who are waiting in limbo at this time for the judge’s decision. I encourage you to remain positive, as we are, and stay strong.

Blessings, Ethiopia Staff

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From BFAS:

We have received confirmation from BFAS-Ethiopia that the Ethiopian Court have been working to safe guard the Ethiopian Adoption Process. As of last week, a large group of children being processed in the courts for adoption finalization were listed as "abandoned". This prompted the courts to cease hearing cases involving children listed as "abandoned in Addis Ababa". The court is not failing these cases necessarily, it is simply investigating this issue right now. The court has so far not given any information as to how long this process will take. There is a possibility for some court dates to be delayed. Children abandoned in other areas of Ethiopia are still having their cases heard, as are children relinquished by family members and children orphaned for other reasons such as deaths of the mother and father.

This has affected some of our clients, as well as many clients with all other agencies that are processing Ethiopian Adoptions. Please understand that this is one of the “unknowns” we speak about throughout the FAQ’s and during your application process. BFAS is doing all that we can to remedy this situation for our clients that have children under this category. We have spoken to all families that have received referrals to this point, and updated them as to rather or not this will affect their particular adoption case. We ask that you pray for these families during this difficult time until a solution can be found. We will keep you as up to date as possible as this issue continues to develop.
From AAI WA:

A "hold" has been placed on abandonment cases from Addis Ababa while an investigation is conducted. It seems that one agency submitted 15 abandonment cases in one day, all signed by the same police officer.
The following is a tip I received from someone who found this on a blog. They aren't sure which agency this info comes from, but since the director of this agency is/was in Addis, my best guess is Adoption Avenues. If anyone would like to correct me on this, please comment or email me at

Via the information I received today, from my agency director, who is currently in Addis, a preliminary investigation by the High Court has been completed. This preliminary investigation found that 1 police officer and 1 SW from Addis were involved in the cases of 17 children, which were "found" by the police officer and labeled "abandoned" by the SW.

Evidently, the children were not actually abandonded and do have birth parents. A more extensive investigation is currently underway, so they can, as soon as possible, get new court dates for the Addis children, labeled as abandonded, whose court dates have been postponed. It is believed that children other than the core (17) have NO connection to this single police officer and SW.

That is the extent of the information I received, and my agency director received it today from our in-country attorney (who's sister is the chief investigator for MOWA.) Tomorrow, my agency's director is having meetings with the US Consulate, MOWA, and court officials.If I recieve any more information, I will report it to this board.

UPDATE: There was an update to this info, posted on May 13th:
Families -- As promised, I want to pass along any information I receive from my agency director this week, while he is in Addis. Today we exchanged several emails (the internet is up and running today!). He did not have any new news about the families who have seen post-poned Court dates, but did say the Courts are "working diligently" to resolve the matter. He held meetings yesterday with Court representatives and MOWA. He seemed very happy about these meetings.

Monday, May 11, 2009

From IAI:

The court has stopped entertaining police abandonment cases until an explanation is provided by the Addis Ababa Police Commission on the reason for the increased number of abandoned cases in particular areas within the city. It is reported that some 300 abandonment cases were reported to the police and their respective letters issued from them with in just eight days. Now the court is wondering what is going on.

To this effect, the court has asked the Addis Ababa Police Commission to provide an explanation on this. Until such explanation is provided and the court is satisfied with the answer, all police abandonment cases have been banned from being processed by MOWA upon the court’s order.

The investigation has been started and there have been several meetings held with orphanages and police forces here in Addis. But no one knows what the outcome of this investigation will be and how it will affect these cases.

Friday, May 8, 2009

From CHI:

Abandoned Child Issue

It has come to our attention that the Ethiopia Federal Court, as of this week, will not been hearing adoption cases of children who were abandoned in Addis Ababa, until futher notice. We had several families who had court dates scheduled for today who are being affected by this. Please know that this is not only affecting families with our agency,but for all agencies placing abandoned children from Addis Ababa, until further notice.

There was a case brought before the judge where a large number of children were presented as abandoned; there were many circumstances surrounding the children's paper work that made the judge suspicious,thus it was determined that the children were not in fact abandoned children at all. As a result, these adoptions were not allowed to go through. This was NOT Children's Hope families, and actually the name of the agency and those involved have not been released by the judge.

In our updates, we continually speak about ensuring ethical practices in adoption, for everyone involved in adoption. When something goes wrong in a country (in any country), it not only affects that agency, oroprhange, but many, and sometimes everyone involved in adoption in that country. That is the situation with the abandoned child issue that you may have heard families speaking about today. Everyone is not following the guideline of the Ethiopian Government and individuals are being made accountable.

We really do not have any information at this point regarding how long this decision will be in effect. The Judge in the Ethiopia Federal Court is making a decision regarding how the court will handle such cases. We will certainly keep you abreast of any information that we find of.

The Ethiopia team had a conference call with all of the families affected by this decision who had court dates scheduled for today. We elected to do that as there were 14 families with court dates today, our largest group at one time to date. We felt that it would be more effective and we could get information to each family in a more timely manner, and everyone would be hearing the same thing, if we had the mall on a call together. We certainly were hoping to give all the families the news that their adoption had been approved today and to discuss the process from here; however, unfortunately it turned out to be a call discussing why their adoption was not heard today.

We called families individually first to give them the news, as we didn't want them to here for the first time about their court date on the conference call, and asked families if they would not post any news about their court date until after our call with all of them. We certainly wanted them to hear the information from us first before they would post the information without really having details. We feel that that was in the best interest of the family regarding their personal adoption. We wanted to ensure that they had the information that WE would be presenting to them and that they would hear the news from us first and no one else, especially not from reading it on a blog . After the families received the information they were free to post as they'dl ike. The families also knew that this information would be in this weeks update for all families to be made aware of.

A few families did have their adoptions approved in the court today.These children were also abandoned; however, the children were not abandoned in Addis Ababa. Again the decision to not hear abandonment cases at this time only relates to children abandoned in Addis Ababa,not any of the surrounding areas.

The Judge in the Federal Court will determine what the next step will before all abandoned cases. We are hopeful that we will know something soon, however, no time frame has been given.

There are so many entities involved in presenting paperwork on the child that an agency would ultimately refer, that it is imperative that agencies, orphanages, facilitators, government offices, police officers,everyone involved in adoptions truly take a strong ethical stance for the sake of the children and international adoption.
I know that many of you will have additional questions. Please feel feel to contact your adoption consultant, or myself, and we'll be happy to
answer your questions.

We are believing for a favorable resolution, and our Ethiopia representative is very hopeful as well and he will be following this and of course going to the court to process other adoptions as well.
On Friday, May 8th:

-9 abandonment cases from Adoption Avenues weren't heard
-13 abandonment cases from CHI weren't heard

(if you have any other information of cases that weren't heard this day, please comment or email me at
From AGCI:

Abandonment Hold and Investigation

Earlier this week it was brought to the attention of our staff in Ethiopia that the Federal Courts of Addis Ababa have put a hold on approving any case where the child has been abandoned. This will be the case until an investigation is done in Ethiopia. Most likely this investigation is a direct result of the increased number of abandonment cases in Addis Ababa after the implementation of the Central Authority (CA) this past fall. When the CA was implemented the office started to look more closely at the way relinquishments were happening in Ethiopia. Of course, this is a good thing but as a result more families decided to illegally abandon their children.
At this time, we do not have concrete information as to what the investigations will look like, however, our staff is quite sure they know what will be looked at:

1) Need to ensure that all police documents are official and have not been forged. This can be seen by making sure that copies are on file at the police department.

2) Review the different government orphanages to see if the number of abandonment cases far outweighs the relinquishment cases and if there are irregularities with these numbers.

This change may realistically impact all adoptions in Ethiopia to some degree, but will specifically impact the cases of any children that were abandoned. The direct impact right now is for families who are waiting on a court appointment to be scheduled or waiting to see if their court appointment will go through successfully.
Our staff is trying to sort through this information as best we can, but please realize that it is not our office conducting these investigations and it will take time to get through all cases, both American and European. AGCI currently has 11 families in process that this will directly impact although this will impact referrals in the short term as well. Until we have further clarity as to what they are looking for we will unfortunately need to place a hold on all abandoned referrals.

This information will be very difficult news for some of our families to process as we wait for clarity over the coming weeks and months. However there are a few positives to this information to also keep in mind. First, this is an indication that the Ethiopia government does care about the ethics of each case being processed through the court system. Also, there have been significant changes in the program's past that have proved to be relatively smooth and successful, specifically the positive result of implementing the Central Authority in the adoption process last Fall. Despite the concern we had over this past change, that it would severely impact adoption timelines in Ethiopia, the program in reality experienced minimal delays due to the Central Authority's implementation. We are hopeful this will also be the case with this investigation.

Again, this is not easy information to process, especially for the children and families directly impacted, but we are praying for this obstacle to be resolved quickly and the program to become stronger because of this. We will continue to be in touch with families as we gain clarity on this issue, but ask for your prayers and patience as you we journey through this change.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

AGCI told their clients this week that some abandonment cases may not be heard.

(If you know of any other agencies who were told prior to May 7th, please comment or email me at

Monday, May 4, 2009

The following was translated from the Ethiopian Courts:

"The number of abandoned children for adoption is highly exceeding from time to time. Hence, the court ordered the police to investigate the issue. The court wants to inform you that Starting from May 4, 2009, until the police submitted the report to the court, the abandoned children case for adoption will not be seen at the court"