Today’s New York Times reports on the growing number of Ethiopian children being adopted by American families. The story points to a few reasons for the recent increase in international adoptions there: less corruption, lower fees, shorter waiting times, and a unique foster system that experts and adoptive parents say helps with attachment issues.
It is no wonder, given these advantages, that Ethiopia, a country more often associated by Americans with drought, famine and conflict, has become a hot spot for international adoption. Even before the actress Angelina Jolie put adoption in Ethiopia on the cover of People magazine in 2005, the number of adoptions there by Americans was growing. The total is still small – 732 children in 2006, out of a total of 20,632 foreign adoptions, but it is a steep increase, up from 82 children adopted in 1997.
Ethiopia now ranks 5th among countries for adoption by Americans, up from 16th in 2000. In the same period, the number of American agencies licensed to operate there has skyrocketed from one to 22."
Be sure to view the accompanying multimedia component with slideshow and audio.
While the article gives a decent overview of Ethiopian adoptions, it doesn’t mention race at all. And the adoptive parents featured in the slideshow only talk about how easy it has been adopting from Ethiopia. "The adoption stuff has been really easy," says the adoptive mother of three children from Ethiopia. "As a culture, they’re so affectionate toward children…[The Children] inherently trust that they’ll be looked after." The feel-good tone raises the question of whether parents adopting from Ethiopia are preparing themselves for the racial and identity issues their children may have.
Also, experts quoted in the article say there’s less corruption in Ethiopian adoptions than in other parts of the world like China and Guatemala. Will Ethiopia be able to handle the increased interest in adoption without the system becoming corrupt?