Ethiopia bans adoption of children by foreigners

Lawmakers said move was to better protect vulnerable children from abuse abroad

Lydia Smith
Wednesday 10 January 2018 13:20
Angelina Jolie adopted her Ethiopian-born daughter Zahara Marley in 2005
Angelina Jolie adopted her Ethiopian-born daughter Zahara Marley in 2005

Ethiopia’s parliament has given the green light to legislation banning the adoption of children by foreigners.

MPs said orphans and other vulnerable children should be cared for and supported by local systems, in order to protect them from abuse abroad.

The vulnerability of children adopted by foreign families has been in debate since 2011, when a 13-year-old girl died in the care of her adoptive parents in the US.

The move has proved largely popular, although some have suggested the services available in Ethiopia do not meet the needs of such children.

In 2016, Denmark banned all adoptions from Ethiopia, stating Ethiopian adoption agencies often gave “inconsistent information” on the origins of children within the system, which could lead to trafficking cases.

Danish social and interior minister at the time, Karen Elleman, said she did not “have the confidence” that adoptions from the country “live up to the requirements we have in regards to the adoption process.”

But the 2011 death of an Ethiopian girl in the US has dominated the recent debate on the subject.

Larry and Carri Williams, of Washington state, starved and beat Hana Williams, who they adopted in 2008, until she died in the backyard of their home.

Ms Williams was convicted of homicide by abuse in connection with the death of the girl.

The girl’s father, Mr Williams, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter.

Celebrity adoptions have also raised awareness of the practice. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are among those who have adopted children from Ethiopia, when in 2005 they adopted their daughter Zahara Marley.

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