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Ethiopia, riddled with fraud, surging towards #1 destination for US adopters to collect kids

At a time when overall inter-country adoptions here in the US have been declining, cheaper adoptions from Ethiopia have become an exploding new center of the market.

Just six years ago, at the peak of international adoption, there were 284 Ethiopian children among the 22,990 foreign kids adopted by Americans. For the 2010 fiscal year, the State Department projects there will be about 2,500 adoptions from Ethiopia out of fewer than 11,000 overall — and Ethiopia is on the verge of overtaking China as the top source country.

This despite the ongoing evidence of fraud and corruption in the Ethiopian adoption system.

The number of inter-country adoptions of kids bound for the US has decreased by more than half, but the Ethiopian adoption market has exploded for Americans alone more than 8-fold.

See my earlier posts:

My post about the Australian Broadcasting Corporations’ Ethiopian adoption exposes are particularly pertinent in that they highlight the role of Australia’s representative in Ethiopia:

Instead of providing any form of a ’safeguard’, the ABC has obtained a document in which:

A parent of an adopted child implicates Australia’s representative in Ethiopia in the child trafficking racket.

As well as also highlighting  the role of Joint Council of International Children’s Services (or JCICS,  here in the US) former president Tomilee Harding with Christian World Adoption Agency which lies at the core of many of the ABC reports.

I also make mention of JCICS’s decision to not release it’s own report pertaining to fraud in Ethiopia. As I wrote at the time:

Those of you who have been following along on my twitter, have likely seen a number of articles I’ve been pulling relating to the Ethiopian mess, such as this misnamed piece, Adoption watchdog suppresses Ethiopia findings.  Horribly misnamed, in that the Joint Council of International Children’s Services, or JCICS is anything but a “watchdog” group, it is an adoption industry trade lobby.

Core to it’s very function is to fight off industry regulation by falsely positioning itself as an advocate working on behalf of children. The industry cannot, by definition, “watchdog” itself.

As I mentioned on my Twitter, how bad has it gotten? Apparently bad enough for the industry trade lobby to suppress its own report on how bad its gotten.

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University has been doing ongoing work on child trafficking and corruption in inter-country adoptions.

Their global map profiling various countries roles in the adoption trade page on Ethiopia brings together quite the profile, with important details such as the realignment towards collecting younger healthy kids to meet growing adopter demand that we’ve seen in country after country as they become more popular adoption destinations:

Change in demographic profile of the children being adopted:

  • from the older children orphaned by their parents’ AIDS, TB, malaria, or other illnesses (the profile of the orphaned children already in the Ethiopian child welfare system); and
  • to healthy young children (who often turn out to have been solicited for the birth families specifically for the adoption trade).
    • In 2009, according to the DHS Yearbook of Immigration Statistics Table 12 [], of the 2,221 orphan visas from Ethiopia issued by the US, nearly two-fifths—835—were for infants under one year of age, who are statistically less likely to be orphaned. Another two-fifths, or 850, were between the ages of one and four years. Only 536 were five or older, the ages of children most likely to be in need of new families, according to UNAIDS and UNICEF statistics.

Their full Ethiopia profile page forms a critically important background to the kind of climate Ethiopian adoptions are taking place within, as well as a centralized resource listing a number of recent articles discussing “irregularities” in Ethiopian adoptions.

Maybe American would-be-adopters simply need a refresher course in the orphan manufacturing chain (link opens a PDF.)

Or then again, maybe they’re just fine with buying fraudulently obtained children.

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