Whereabouts of over 2,000 adopted children unknown
In a shocking revelation, the Minister of Women and Children Affairs told members of the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) on Thursday that the where about of 2,273 children, adopted before 2014/15, is yet to be identified as the Ministry is digging deep to improve data on the thousands of Ethiopian children adopted by westerners over the years.
The Ministry’s efforts to improve its information on adoption started after a previous discussion in the House regarding the wellbeing of children who are adopted from Ethiopia every year. The discussion includes quality of information about the adopted children particularly their whereabouts.
Demitu Hambissa, minister of Women and Children Affairs, was question by MPs on Thursday regarding the improvement her ministry has made concerning the data of adopted children from Ethiopia.
In her report, the minster explained that in the past six months over 5,062 adoption files were recovered but indicated that still serious work remains to be done to recover the remaining thousands of files and essential data of children adopted mostly by westerners.
Nevertheless, Demitu’s six-month performance report incorporated a wide-range of activities carried out by her ministry in the timeframe. Among other things women empowerment, education, violence against women, gender parity, abuse of children, vulnerable children such as street children were among the issues covered by Demitu’s report.
In the question and answer session, MPs were more focused on the issue of Ethiopian children who have been adopted by foreigners and the recently endorsed legislation that banned adoptions of Ethiopian children by foreigners.
The minister and her colleagues were questioned strongly, especially, on improvements made on data and information regarding the children that have been adopted over the years including their destination and current status. According to MPs there is a lot to worry about with regards to the follow-up of adopted Ethiopian children especially in some western countries. And they ascertained that the trend that the whereabouts of these children is well-known and is something quite worrying.
In response, Demitu and her colleague revealed that a lot has been done in past six-month but still conditions of over 2,000 adopted children is not known. Out of this stated number, the parents’ of some 175 have actually appealed to the ministry for information, Demitu said.
Furthermore, Demitu also reported to the House that since the adoption of proclamation that prohibited foreign adoption in Ethiopia a total of 1,500 children have been placed under the custody of local institutions and individuals which raise orphans. Meanwhile, the Ministry also told MPs that some 500 children have also found homes in Ethiopia.
Five years ago, the adoption debate kicked into high gear when a couple was jailed in the United States after an Ethiopian girl, 13, they adopted died under unclear circumstances.
Top US celebrities are known to have adopted Ethiopian children, amongst others: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But, even celebrities like Jolie were not immune from controversy regarding adoption. Jolie adopted a six-month old girl Zahra back in 2005. Zahra’s mother in 2007 dispelled news reports that she wanted her daughter back. Mentwabe Dawit, resident in of Hawassa, Southern Regional State, denied that she had ever challenged the adoption and said she was happy her daughter had found a home with the Hollywood star.