The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) Tuesday voted on a draft bill that would ban adoption of Ethiopian children by foreigners.
The draft bill, first presented last October, was aimed at amending Articles 193 and 194 of the amended Family Proclamation No. 213/2000 before it was referred to the Legal and Justice Administration Affairs, Women’s and Children’s Affairs as well as the Social Affairs Standing Committees for further review. Provisions in the new bill are hailed as being instrumental in ensuring the well-being and safety of children.
When the draft bill was first tabled, it was noted that the newly amended Family Law Proclamation would enable children to grow up in Ethiopia nurtured by their birth-country’s cultural values, social norms and traditions.
The previous proclamation provided for foreigners to adopt orphaned or needy Ethiopian children. Critics, however, took issue with the practice, arguing that the adoption law exposed Ethiopian children to various forms of abuse in the countries they were sent to grow up.
It has also been blamed for bringing about identity crisis, psychological problems, and the violation of adopted children’s rights.
The draft bill was presented before the house having been scrutinized by the standing committees for three months. However, in an unusual move, the latest bill was not backed by the entire membership of the standing committees.
Explaining the major tasks in revising the draft bill, Petros Woldesenbet, chair of the Legal and Justice Administrative Affairs Standing Committee, told MPs that the resolution was endorsed with a majority vote but some members withheld their votes expressing reservations that voting for the bill would be tantamount to denying children better opportunities abroad.
“Yet the existing family proclamation has nothing contradictory to the National Child Welfare Policy; there is no convincing reason to amend the proclamation. Just under the pretext of preventing illegal child trafficking, banning foreign adoption cannot be viewed appropriate except that it denies vulnerable children better opportunities abroad,” Petros said, echoing the reservation aired by some members during the revision period.
Similarly, following presentation of the committees’ resolution, MPs at the regular session also received it with mixed reaction before voting on it.
Some MPs questioned the wisdom of legislating banning without putting in place similar arrangements at home, while others lauded the move in view of the depth of the problem and the potential psychological consequences that children endure abroad.
Presenting the resolution, Petros said that banning foreign adoption would address issues of identity crisis as well as psychological problems Ethiopian children face abroad.
After debating for a while, MPs approved the bill with a majority vote, with three against and three abstentions.
At the same session, MPs also unanimously approved other draft bills, including a proclamation providing for electronic signatures and one on establishing a justice, legal research and training institute.