There's been a lot of chatter about the (not so) recent change to adoption processes in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, which have resulted in relinquished children being unavailable for adoption. We also know that certain orphanages in that region have been required to close. I've seen speculation that the relinquishment ban relates to concerns over whether kids were relinquished in an ethical manner. I've read rumours that the closures resulted from findings of unethical behaviour, or were politically motivated, or were due to lack of humanitarian efforts by those that were closed. I've seen hopes expressed that after the election this May 23rd, the relinquishment ban may be lifted.
As a concerned adoptive and prospective adoptive parent, the substance of many of these allegations concerned me. So, I used what few contacts I had within the country to gain a better understanding of what was going on, and some clarity as to whether the relinquishment ban is to be lifted in the near future, or at all. The individual I heard back from is well connected, but is not with MOWA. I don't profess his views on the matter to be definitive. He/she had no comments or insights on whether or when the relinquishment ban might be lifted. However, the comments in general were insightful, so I thought I would share some of them.
Apparently, some 12 orphanages in the Oromia region have been closed, and the closures are not politically motivated. These orphanages were closed as a matter of efficiency or because they were operating below the standards set for them by the government. Other orphanages in that region who continue to meet the standards as set, are being allowed to continue their work in the usual manner. Almaz orphanage, which used to be used by Imagine Adoption, is one of the ones that was closed, and the children from that orphanage are to be transferred to Selam orphanage, which is one of the orphanages currently used by Imagine. Assuming it is correct that the closures were not politically motivated, I don't think we can assume with any confidence that the relinquishment ban will be lifted after the upcoming election.
Apparently the orphanages ordered to be closed were not advised of what legal or other requirements they have not been meeting, that would warrant the closure. At this time, it appears that despite instructions to do so, the children in the closed orphanages have not been transferred. The situation remains inconclusive. There is an appeal process for the closed orphanages, which I understand are being utilized. I don't know the standards for winning an appeal, or the timing, at this point.
I also found out something interesting as it relates to the new requirement to travel for Court. As we have been told, the reason for the requirement for families to attend Court is so that they can see their referred child in person, prior to the adoption being finalized. However, I've never known the real reason why this was implemented, other than a general allegation that one or more families had refused to take custody of their adopted child, upon arrival in Ethiopia. What I have been told today is that this change was implemented due to one adoption agency's mistake in Ethiopia (the agency is not mentioned ) whereby a family (not Canadian) came to pick-up their child but found that the child was not the child they had been referred. As a result, the family refused to accept the child. It is apparently this incident that caused the Courts to issue the requirement that families must travel twice.
Now, I do not profess any of this to be the absolute final matter on any of the issues raised. But I do not believe these are simply unsubstantiated rumours, either. Put whatever weight on them that you choose.