Ethiopia Update 3/10/11

10 03 2011

Processing Limit
It has been confirmed that the new policy of limiting the number of adoption cases processed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Women’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs went into effect today, March 10, 2011 with 5 cases being completed.   While a staffing change at the Ministry was confirmed as having occurred earlier in the week, this did not affect the implementation of the new processing limit.

Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children
To date, over 29,000 concerned individuals have signed the petition requesting a reconsideration of the new policy.   We continue our daily dialogue and will respectfully present the signatures, petition and letter to the Government of Ethiopia early next week.

Briefing by the Department of State Office of Children’s Issues
We, along with other key stakeholders and adoption service providers licensed by the Ethiopian government to provide intercountry adoption services, will participate in a briefing by the Department of State Office of Children’s Issues, on Friday, March 11, 2011.  An update will be published sometime after the meeting.

Ongoing Discussion
It is our understanding that discussions regarding the new policy and its impact on children living without permanent parental care continues within the Ethiopian government and amongst all stakeholders.

We remain hopeful and continue to support the Ethiopian government’s efforts to increase the capacity for oversight of adoption cases, regulation of service providers and provision of social services to vulnerable families and children.





Ethiopia: AP Article by David Crary

10 03 2011

Associated Press National Writer David Crary published Ethiopia Moves to Sharply Reduce Foreign Adoptions in various media outlets earlier today.  Click here for the full text of the article.





Ethiopia: Campaign Update

9 03 2011

In only 24-hours, over 11,000 concerned individuals have joined our Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children by signing our petition. We extend our thanks to all who have supported this initiative by signing the petition, distributing the campaign information and expressing your support of child protections and ethical adoption.

Today, we have continued our communication with the Ethiopian government and respectfully brought the outpouring of concern to them. We believe that there may have been positive developments and will provide further updates as information is confirmed.

 

 





Statement on Children and Family Services in Ethiopia

9 03 2011

March 9, 2011

Statement on Children and Family Services in Ethiopia

The work of Joint Council on International Children’s Services includes the development and implementation of the highest standards and ethical practices, the support of children living outside of family care and advocacy for permanency.  As a leader in the international child welfare community, we are deeply concerned about the well-being of Ethiopian children and the integrity of the intercountry Read the rest of this entry »





Emergency Campaign for Ethiopia

8 03 2011

Five Things You Can do to Help!

1)      Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi – and pass it on!

2)     Have you adopted from Ethiopia? Please send us up to 3 photos and 50 words or less with what you would like the Ministry to know about your child – we’ll compile the information and send a book to the Ministry of Woman’s, Children’s and Youth Affairs.  Send your photos and stories by Sunday, March 12, 2011 to be included.  Please note that sending photos and stories gives Joint Council unrestricted right to use the information you provide. UPDATE: we’ve received so many emails in support that our email server has crashed!  We’ve set up an alternative email account – please start emailing your photos/stories to emergency4ethiopia@gmail.com.  Thanks for your amazing support!

3)      Share…Please send this Call to Action to family members, other adoptive parents, and everyone you know!  Post, forward and share your adoption stories via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.  Make sure you include us in your posts so we can all hear your stories!  Here’s links to our pages: Facebook, Twitter and our blog.

4)      Stay informed: Get up-to-date information regarding the situation in Ethiopia by signing up to receive information from us:  click here to do so, make sure you choose “country and issues specific information” and “Ethiopia.”  And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog!

5)      Help ensure our advocacy can continue: Joint Council is a non-profit and receives no government funding.  Please join us in ensuring more children live in safe, permanent and loving families.  Donate today!





Statement on the Pending Reduction of Intercountry Adoption in Ethiopia

7 03 2011

Statement on the Pending Reduction of Intercountry Adoption in Ethiopia

Last week the Ethiopian Ministry of Women, Children 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.  Without further announcements by the Government of Ethiopia, it is our understanding that the Ministry’s plan will be initiated this week.

The Ministry’s plan is a tragic, unnecessary and disproportionate reaction to concerns of isolated abuses in the adoption process and fails to reflect the overwhelmingly positive, ethical and legal services provided to children and families through intercountry adoption.  Rather than eliminate the right of Ethiopian children to a permanent family, we encourage the Ministry to accept the partnerships offered by governments, NGOs, and foundations.  Such partnerships could increase the Ministry’s capacity to regulate service providers and further ensure ethical adoptions.

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.

Joint Council respectfully urges the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs to reconsider their plan and to partner with governments, NGOs and foundations to achieve their goals and avoid the coming tragedy for children and families.

____________________________________________

In addition to this formal statement,we are also preparing a large scale advocacy, education and awareness campaign, which will launch later this week.  We will post details here, so please check back for the launch of this urgent and important campaign.

We hope you will join us in advocating for the continuation of intercountry adoption in Ethiopia.





Ethiopia Update

9 02 2011

It is Joint Council’s understanding that the Ethiopian Government has revoked Better Futures Adoption Services’ registration to operate in Ethiopia, including its ability to perform intercountry adoptions.  A notice from the U.S. Dept of State, Office of Children’s Issues regarding the revocation of Better Futures Adoption Services registration can be found by clicking here.  Please note that Better Futures Adoption Services is not a Joint Council member.

Joint Council applauds the Ethiopian government in its efforts to increase child protection through its laws and regulations.

Finally, a reminder that Joint Council has released a report regarding the range of services provided to children and families in Ethiopia.  The full report can be viewed by clicking here.





Adoption Alert: Ukraine

12 01 2011

Adoption Notice: Ukraine


January 12, 2011


U.S. Embassy Kyiv has learned the proposed bill to place a moratorium on intercountry adoptions in the Ukrainian parliament has once again been postponed. There has been no announcement of a rescheduled date.

In order to best prepare for all possibilities in Ukraine, Embassy Kyiv encourages any prospective adoptive parents with cases currently open in Ukraine to contact the U.S. Embassy Kyiv Adoption Unit with their case status and contact informa­tion.  The Embassy maintains a listserv to communicate with U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents and will use this to send updates as information is available.

The U.S. Embassy Kyiv and the Department of State will continue to post updates on their websites as new information is available.





South Africa: City of Gold

27 12 2010

The City of Gold at sunset

In one of the African dialects (which I can’t remember, please forgive me!), the city of Johannesburg is literally translated into “city of gold.” This comes from the gold rush which launched the city into the most industrialized city in Africa. The name has stuck and thousands of people from all over Africa – Zimbabwe, Mozambique and others – travel great distances to come to this “city of gold.” However, what they find here isn’t often a city of gold. South Africa has an unemployment rate of over 30% – three times the US rate. Instead of finding the gold they had expected many find the same tin shacks and lack of jobs they had left in their motherland.

Across the street from the guest house we are staying at 12,000 people, who came to Johannesburg to find their city of gold, live in tin shacks. This squatter camp is the basis of Zoe’s work. Today as we drive through the camp everyone – from the town alcoholics to the lively children wave with a welcoming smile saying, “Hello sister Zoe!” It seems that the whole camp knows her name.

Today we visited with three women. The first, who in some ways reminds me of Zemzem, seems to have her hands in just about every money making venture possible – she sells the clothes she buys from Zoe, runs a small crèche for the children in the camp whose parents are sick, sells wigs, and has about five other schemes. The second has come across marital trouble (her husband is abusive and appeared on her doorstep with a second wife) and Zoe has recently helped her build a new shack as she was kicked out of her abusive husband’s. And the third runs a day care for 28 children.

Family and friends at TLC

The last stop was probably my favorite of the day. While Zoe chatted with the woman my mom and I played tag and tickle with the seven children who were at her place at the time. It always amazes me the universality of a good tickle – every child understands it no matter what country they are from! The other universal, “naaa-na-na-naa-na!” always means, “please try to catch me, I am teasing you saying that you can’t catch me but I really want you to please catch me!” It’s so lovely to know that in every country, every child will love this affection! Our game became so ruckus that the children from the neighboring homes came to see what all the commotion was about! Sorry, no pictures of this, for safety reasons we traveled into the camp without any valuables (no money, cell phone, camera, nothing).

The last stop in the camp was to bring a totally blind man to his home. He is cared for by the community of the camp. He was having lunch at one woman’s place and his next door neighbor will cook him dinner. Zoe brought her some food to help care for him – with the money Zoe makes from selling the clothes to the local woman (which they then sell as a means of income) she buys food for the individuals in the camp who aren’t able to care for themselves, it’s really an impressive system she’s developed!

Upon our arrival back at TLC we discovered a large food donation being delivered, all of the older kids were carrying in loads of sugar, salt, juice, etc. This donation will help ensure that the children and the family have a wonderful Christmas. Our afternoon was spent sorting this donation and doing one of my favorite things, taking a small group of kids out for a special treat, ice cream. The five kids we took out we’re just little babies when I was here last. It was so amazing to sit down and have a proper chat with them! Again, sorry no pictures – two white women with five black children outside of Soweto brings enough attention without out a camera but I’ll try to get pictures of the kids tomorrow.

All in all, today was a wonderful day – exactly what I wanted to do with my Holiday Season – help others and make life a little more enjoyable for a few very special people.

Rebecca

P.S. We’ve finished – sorting clothes that is! My mother and I spent the better part of 14 hours over the last three days sorting clothing for the local woman to sell (see previous post with more details by clicking here). It was a tiring feat but well worth it. While we sorted the clothes Zoe was able to help many in the community, including the starving women who come to the gate at TLC begging for food for themselves and their children. She remarked to me that it felt like she was accomplishing two tasks at once – she was able to help others throughout the day knowing that one of her major tasks was still being accomplished. I’m so grateful to help her be able to help more families in the community.





Ethiopia: Lessons Learned

13 12 2010

As I continue my time here in Ethiopia, I’d like to share with you the continuation of a story we shared with you last Holiday Season, as part of our Hope for the Holiday’s Program.

Last year on our trip to Ethiopia we had the joy of meeting one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met – Zemzem.  A few years ago she was the enrolled in a family empowerment program with one of our member organizations.  The program gave her the skills she needed to start a small retail store in her area.  Although I will not have the opportunity to visit Zemzem on this trip, I did have the opportunity to meet with a friend who just visited Zemzem in her village a few days ago.  And I’m pleased to let you know that Zemzem and her family are doing fantastic!

Zemzem went from extreme poverty to a prospering business owner in less than 2 years.

A few years ago before the family empowerment program was available, Zemzem relinquished one of her children due to her extreme poverty.  But now her three children have been enrolled in school and she has expanded her business extensively.  She built an addition to the front of her store to give her more space to sell her goods.  She has started to wholesale corn and other grains from the back of the store.  She has even started to import/export goods from her village, which brings in 20 birr/day alone.  My friend informed me that she is now the richest person in the village!  We joked that she now owns and runs the local 7-11!  All of this with a small investment of funds and resources a few years ago by one of our member organizations!  Zemzem and her three children represents just one the 1.2 million families served by Joint Council and our member organizations in Ethiopia.

It is great to know that Zemzem and her children have been transformed from poverty and relinquishment to relative prosperity and a secure family.  She has taught us all a lesson on the importance of empowering women.  Another lesson on how to transform lives may sound a little odd, but it is one that this trip has reconfirmed – go with the flow and accept that things are going to change.

Despite my excitement to travel to Hosanna on Saturday to see the work of our member organizations and orphanages in Hosanna I was Read the rest of this entry »








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