Monday, July 6, 2015

Ethiopian Adoption Connection Launches New Blog Series

Ethiopian Adoption Connection is a wonderful grassroots organization working to reunite adoptees with their Ethiopian families. Recently they have begun publishing blog posts listing entries in their database y region or date or age, etc. Check out the first post! በ ኢትዮጵያ የሚገኙ ወላጆቻቸዉን የሚፈልጉ የጉድፈቻ (ማደጎ) ልጆች ዉጪ ሀገር ለጉዲፈቻ (ማደጎ)የተሰጠ ልጅዎትን ከፈለጉ በእኛ ድህረገጽ ይመልከቱ Some of the adopted children adopted before 2005 from Addis Ababa looking for their Ethiopian families. Search our website if you are looking for your child adopted abroad. Please share and help reunite families!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Searching Resource For Connecting Families

There is a new searching resource for adoptees, APs, and natural families in Ethiopia. Please check this site out. Ethiopian Adoption Connection "Our Purpose Ethiopian Adoption Connection was created with the goal of matching Ethiopian birth families with their children adopted abroad. Our priority is helping those who cannot search or who have searched and been unsuccessful."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Media Stories About Corruption in Ethiopian Adoption

A few stories in the media about corruption in Ethiopian adoption. How Ethiopia's Adoption Industry Dupes Families and Bullies Activists By Kathryn Joyce Stories of under-aging, lies to families, and other corruption. Inside Ethiopia's Adoption Boom Article showing some of the complexities of Ethiopian adoption including birthfamily not understanding adoption, poverty driven adoption vs. true lost of family, and use of middleman to harvest children.

New Way to Submit Stories

In an attempt to allow contributors as much privacy as possible when submitting stories (a concern that was raised by some), comments by anonymous commenters will now be allowed on this blog. All comments are on moderation. If you comment anonymously vs via email to submit your story this will be noted when the story is published on the blog proper. All regular comments (i.e. not stories) must still has an ID with them to be published. So if you want to post negative comments about a story or situation, you'll have to do it with a google ID or your (hidden) email. I will NOT be publishing negative comments from "anonymous". Thank you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Falsified Record: Child placed by Grandfather without mother consent

Imagine a young girl, unwed, just giving birth. The father is ashamed of his daughter and worried about what other villagers think of his family. So ashamed and worried that he takes his daughter’s 2 month old baby girl one morning and returns home later in the day alone. He confesses to the young mother that he brought her innocent newborn to an orphanage to be adopted.

That baby is my daughter.

I am the one who adopted her.

On referral, we were told that baby M’s parents (aged in the 30’s) had passed away from unknown illnesses. That she had been taken care of by her grandfather and he just couldn’t care for her anymore while taking care of 5 other children. Supposedly, these 5 other children were the baby’s older siblings.

As sad as this story is, it was one we could understand. One that we could see happening in a third world country like Ethiopia. We didn’t question it. We moved on. We flew to Addis to pick up our new daughter.

My husband and I visited and spoke with M’s grandfather in the Sidama region. We asked him questions about the daughter he lost too soon. After trying to find the right words, so as not to sadden or insult him, we even asked him how her mother and father died. He was a quiet, reserved man and even though he didn’t give us the best answers, we believed him. We had no reason not to.

Upon returning from Ethiopia, we made a book for M explaining all that we knew about her short little life in words that a toddler might understand. We prayed for her grandfather and her siblings every night. We grieved over the loss of her parents on special occasions such as Mother’s and Father’s Day. We sent letters, as well as pictures, to M’s grandfather and siblings often.

We were comfortable in explaining this story to her, because as sucky as it is to lose your parents, at least we could tell her, without any doubt, that her parents loved her.

Fast forward to more recently, 1 ½ years after M is home with us. We had heard from other Ethiopian adoptive families that they were sending someone to find the birth families again (or for the first time in some cases). They received videos and pictures back for their children to cherish as they get older. My husband and I decided to try this. We wanted to see if we could get a few more simple questions answered and more pictures of her grandfather as well as her brothers and sisters.

Our searcher went to Sidama and returned after 1 week. He said he was going to translate some things for us and send us a DVD of pictures and videos soon after. But first, he said, he would send us a teaser. A picture or two.

It was tease, alright.

One picture was labeled “M’s birthmother and grandfather”

Wait, what?

Scrambling a coherent email back, we asked him to confirm this. Or to, pretty please, tell us that was a mistake.

He wrote back saying that it was no mistake. The young girl, a teenager, in the picture was her mother. He said that telling the orphanage that she had died was the only way they thought they could have M adopted. He stated that M’s mother was not married and it is very shameful to have a baby out of wedlock.

Sitting tight, we waited for the DVD to make sense of this all. Because, of course, now we have so many more questions we want answers to. Like: How old is this girl? Our daughter’s mother. Was it her decision to bring M to the orphanage? And, where is her father? Is he still alive? If so, were they in love? Or was it a violent relationship?

We received the DVD about 1 month later. Scared out of our minds, we popped it in to our computer. The pictures are priceless. The videos are priceless (in Sidamic and Amharic, no less. We are going to have someone else translate for us). In particular, there is a video of M’s mother speaking. In our searcher’s explanation it says that M’s mom (who has a completely different name than we were told and that is on her birth certificate) had no idea that her father was taking M to an orphanage. She said that she cried and cried and cried when he told her. And when the searcher tried to ask any questions about M’s father, the grandfather kept on telling her to be quiet. The grandfather also asked us not to tell the agency any of this new information. Oh and just to add another gem of a fact, M’s “siblings” are not true siblings at all. They are her aunts and uncles.

Of course, the agency didn’t know the truth. They couldn’t have. This protective and strict father provided a good story. A different name. Different age even.

Just because the agency does not know the truth, doesn’t make this situation right. It doesn’t make our adoption any less unethical. They were lied to. We were lied to. Her mother was lied to. And in the end, our daughter has been lied to.

How could this situation have been different? If the grandfather AND her mother wanted her to be adopted, would that have been allowed? On the other hand, could the agency or the government have done anything differently to find out the facts before allowing M to be adopted? DNA tests? Hire an investigator? Interview more villagers?

I just keep thinking about that poor young girl. Having a beautiful baby girl on one day. And then losing her the next without even knowing it was coming. I am so sad for M. Disgusted at the father. And just heartbroken for the one person that probably loves my daughter more than I do. Her birth mom.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Falsified Record: "abandoned" but mother easily found

Our child was listed, adopted and granted a visa as an abandoned child. We were told by the adoption agency there was no way to find out anything about his history.  A couple of years after he was adopted, we tried searching.  Our searcher went to the large, Catholic orphanage in Addis from which our child was referred.  Within minutes he was given the address of the woman who brought the baby to the orphanage.  Soon after the searcher went to the address and talked to people, we had contact with our child’s Mother. She told us that she gave her baby to a friend, who, with a known baby broker who had spent time in prison, took the child to the orphanage to be adopted. We now have ongoing contact with the formerly non-existent Mother.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Trafficking: Child adopted without mother's consent

We researched for months before choosing a placement agency. I asked the "tough" questions. We decided to go with them based on others' reports that they were ethical. They provided Lifebooks for the children. They facilitated birth family meetings. They had all the right answers. We met with our social worker and decided "what we could handle." We convinced ourselves that we would only be suitable parents for a healthy infant. 

Shortly after signing on with our placement agency, the wait time increased from 6-9 months to 12 months. Then months later it was extended to 12-18 months. Then, again to 18-24 months. Each time the estimated wait increased, my husband and I talked about whether or not we should stay with the agency or look elsewhere. Each time we convinced ourselves that it would be better to wait longer and be with a "good" agency. Why take chances switching to a smaller, faster (in our minds, therefore shadier) agency? We will have to answer to this child one day. So we waited. 

Along the way I became an advocate for PAPs to demand that audio recording of the birth family meetings should take place. One more way to keep things transparent. They eventually agreed, and I took that as reinforcement that they were doing this the "right" way.

When we finally got the call, we were overwhelmed. The 20 month wait was worth it! We had a detailed history for our son, and we would be meeting his mother when we traveled in order to verify it. We passed court (before the two trip rule) and got set up for travel.

Once we arrived, we were told that we wouldn't be receiving our son's lifebook until after we got back home. The rain had made the roads impossible, and they were unable to make it out to where his mother lived. But they would do it, we would just have to wait until the weather was better.

A few days later we took the long ride to a "neutral" place to meet with our group's children's birthfamilies. Hours later we arrived and our name was called first. The social worker pulled us aside and said that our son's mother could not be found. We would not be meeting with her. We were devastated. We had our tape recorder. We had our list of things to talk about. Pictures of our son to give her. A map to show where we live. We didn't even know what she looked like. 

At our Embassy appointment a few days later, we were asked several questions, one of which was "Did his mother appear at court?" I had always heard that if the family members didn't show, the court date was rescheduled. So I was shocked to hear the social worker with us answer, "No, she did not." I felt like I had been punched. I also felt I could say nothing. We had been warned that one wrong word at the window and we wouldn't be bringing home our son. As soon as we were done I cornered the woman and demanded to know how we had passed court if his mother was not there. She said she only knew what was in the file and she couldn't help me.

I was eventually told by another social worker that his mother had not been seen since she relinquished him, and they did not know where she was. I asked how they could promise me that a lifebook was coming if they didn't know where she was. They said they would find her and take care of it. They promised to look through our son's file and try to find at least a picture of his mother.

On our last evening in country, we met with the head of the the Ethiopia staff for what was obviously supposed to be a pat on his back. He asked the group about our experiences, and we were supposed to say how wonderful it was. I broke down and said that we were very upset that we didn't even know what our son's mother looked like. He seemed put off that I was upset, and answered that if people disappear, there is nothing that can be done. Someone gave us a picture of our son with his mother, obviously taken at the time of relinquishment. So now at least we knew what she looked like. 

When we got home, I called the agency repeatedly demanding they try to find his mother, as the Ethiopian staff had promised. I was told they do not go searching for families. That would be inappropriate. I told them I was infuriated that one of the main reasons we chose them was because of the birth family meetings and the lifebooks. No one ever said there was a chance you would get neither. Six months after we came home we were sent a lifebook full of people who knew our son's mother. If I had not thrown a tantrum, I am sure we would have never heard from them again.

We have felt wrong about things since we left Ethiopia. A few months ago we started researching searchers. We finally decided on one and hired him. In two days he was able to locate my son's mother and father. 

Some of her story matched what the referral information said, mostly identifying information. But all of the important information was fabricated. Someone she didn't know met her and found out she was struggling and told her about an orphanage miles away that would "educate and take care of" her son. She took him there right away. They paid her a small amount of money and put her up with a job in the same town. She was told she could go to visit him and breast feed him, but when she tried to do just that, the orphanage staff told her she was coming too frequently. A few times when she went she was told he was in Addis having specialists take care of him. The last time she saw him she felt pressured to stop coming, so she said she wanted to take him back. They convinced her to leave him since he was asleep. She saw him sleeping that one last time, and the next time she went to visit she was told that he was adopted to America.

Our son's father never knew she was pregnant. She did not want him to be involved in our son's life. She wishes that we not stay in contact with him. She has since married wishes that her new husband not know about all of this. Some other major things have changed since her son was taken from her, all of which add up to: he cannot be returned to her. 

I have since examined our son's court paperwork, and it appears his case was processed as though he was abandoned, even though the agency knew his mother.

We are sick and still processing what all of this means to our family. There are not words to describe the hell that we are in. I am sure that is also true for his mother. We hope to one day find some kind of peace. I guess I felt the need to share our story (even anonymously) so that people will know there is no "right" way to do this. Even the "good" agencies aren't good. The ET staff is a completely separate entity than the US staff you are talking to.