As the adoptive mother of an Ethiopian-born son, I have to interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to spread the news about a new development in international adoptions out of Ethiopia. According to the Joint Council Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian children:
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Last week the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s, and Youth Affairs announced their intention to reduce intercountry adoptions by 90% beginning March 10, 2011.
The Ministry’s plan for a dramatic reduction is apparently based on two primary issues;
1) the assumption that corruption in intercountry adoption is systemic and rampant and;
2) the Ministry’s resources should be focused on the children for whom intercountry adoption is not an option.
The Ministry’s plan to reduce intercountry adoption by 90% is a tragic, unnecessary and a disproportionate reaction to concerns of isolated abuses in the intercountry adoption process. The Ministry’s plan which calls for the processing of only five adoption cases per work day, will result not only in systemic and lasting damage to a large sector of social services, but will have an immediate impact on the lives and futures of children. Moving from over 4,000 adoptions per year to less than 500 will result in thousands of children languishing in under-regulated and poorly resourced institutions for years. For those children who are currently institutionalized and legally available for adoption, the Ministry’s plan will increase their time languishing in institutions for up to 7-years.
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Wow. Believe me, I know that international adoption is a potentially controversial topic, and I know that the system can be abused. But I also know that when we picked up our sweet son from our agency-run foster home, the babies were sleeping three to a crib with 16 infants in one room and two harried nannies. And those were the kids who were waiting for their forever families. We never got a chance to see the government orphanages.
This decision breaks my heart. I’m all for stricter regulations that will work harder to weed out those who would abuse the system, but I can’t help thinking there has to be a better way to deal with this. If you think so, too, please take a moment to sign this petition. And if you are the adoptive parent of an Ethiopian born child, consider sending 3 photos and 50 words or less that communicate what you would like the Ministry to know about your child and your adoption. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like the email address and more information.
50 words or less to try and capture what my son means to me? Impossible. But here’s my stab at it:
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
As the adoptive mother of an Ethiopian-born son, I plead with you to reconsider your stance on reducing the number of adoptions. I can’t tell you how deeply we love our son, and how empty our lives would be without him.
Mrs. Nicole Baart
I would have added a PS if I could…
PS – See that photo above? That’s our little boy playing football with his daddy. After that picture was taken, our sweet son was tackled on the ten yard line, kissed and cuddled, tickled and hugged until he giggled so hard we feared he’d forget all his potty training. When his big brother and mommy joined the pile, things only got better. See that little boy? He’s the one who prayed last night, “Thank you God, for our special family,” right before he squeezed me tight and said, “I love you to the sun and back, Mommy.” Please don’t rob a child like that of the chance to know what it means to a part of a family. And please don’t rob a family like ours of the chance to know what it means to love such a precious, one in a million child.