OUR REPORTING ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Corruption in international adoptions

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THE LIE WE LOVE: ORPHANS & INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
LEGISLATION
VIETNAM CASE STUDY: ADOPTION
NEPAL CASE STUDY: ADOPTION
GUATEMALA CASE STUDY: ADOPTION
SIERRA LEONE CASE STUDY: ADOPTION
ETHIOPIA CASE STUDY: ADOPTION
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COUNTRY BY COUNTRY: REPORTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
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Images of Ethiopia  

Adoption: Ethiopia

U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa documents about adoption,
  2000-2013, obtained via Freedom of Information Act

Responses to these FOIA'ed documents and our article "They Steal Babies Don't They?" 



Joint Council
(Formerly Joint Council on
International Children’s Services)

November 28, 2014

Joint Council appreciates the opportunity to provide context for the information provided in the FOIA documents related to intercountry adoptions between the United States and Ethiopia. While expansive, the FOIA documents provide the perspective of specific representatives of the U.S. Department of State and only a snapshot of the work Joint Council has conducted with the Ethiopian government, Joint Council partners, Ethiopian NGOs, and others over the past eight years.

   In this series:

But by 2010, numbers had escalated from 105 adoptions a year to 2,511, an astounding increase in a short period of time. Some adoptive parents in North America and Europe were reporting that when their newly adopted children would learn English, they would explain that everything in their paperwork was a lie: They did indeed have families back in Ethiopia and expected to return there. 

Joint Council also takes this opportunity to highlight that while the FOIA documents provide relative and important information, some key issues related to ensuring children in Ethiopian have permanent safe family care are not addressed. Two primary issues are: 

1)      The need for oversight, regulation and reunification, kinship care, adoption (international and national), foster care, long-term mentoring, and orphan care. Failure to prevent and eliminate abuse, neglect, and corruption within all of these services does not provide children and families with the protection they need and leaves them vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. 

2)      Collecting data on children in adversity is needed if civil society and governments are to appropriately implement preventive measures and provide services that place children into safe, permanent, and nurturing family care or provide options such as long-term mentoring for children aging out of state or other forms of alternative care. Collecting data  includes but is not limited to counting children living outside of family care, identifying their legal status, and assessing their needs. Root causes, prevalence, and programs cannot be properly assessed, monitored, or evaluated without first knowing who, how many, and where these children are living. Joint Council has, and continues to, call on governments and the United Nations to conduct a large-scale census of children in adversity with a special focus on children outside of family care. 

Kelley Bunkers

​Senior Associate, Maestral International and Child Welfare and Protection Systems Technical Director for the Comprehensive Care for Children (C3) Project

December 16, 2014

I was just forwarded your recent article "They Steal Babies, Don't They."  I cannot thank you enough for putting in all the hours of hard work and investigation, and for publishing this. It is so nice to have all of this evidence in one place about how all of what you describe here transpired. In my experience, the collaboration between UNICEF’s child protection team in Ethiopia and the US Embassy in Addis Ababa (especially Embassy officers Abigail Rupp, Jeff Ladenson, and Scott Reidmann) was the best that I have encountered in my many postings in areas rife fraud and corruption in intercountry adoption, which have included such hotbeds as Romania and Guatemala. These three were open to suggestions and constructive criticism, and actively sought the insight of child welfare experts. I am happy that their hard work is being recognized. 

I have been in touch with these three, all of whom have glowing comments about the article.  I think they are so pleased that you really did capture the moment, which is also what I felt. That team, together with a few of us at UNICEF and other European Consuls, really were team players and took the time and effort to understand what was going on-not just at policy level but on the ground.  As I said, it felt like a "once in a lifetime" professional opportunity. We became such a tight group and were proactively sharing information and working towards a common goal. That comes out in your article. Thank you. 

Kelley Bunkers was ​a long-term child protection consultant for UNICEF Ethiopia between 2009-2012. She is currently the Child Welfare and Protection System​s​ ​Technical Director of​r ​C3 based in Nairobi, Kenya.


NOTE: This page from the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism website offers documentation of and background about serious irregularities in international adoption. 


Images in collage: 
Mother & Child and Man Walking © Niall Crotty, SXC.hu
Ethiopian Festival © Carolyne Pehora, Dreamstime.com

© 2008-2014 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454. All rights reserved.

Last page update: December 17, 2014