On March 2, 2010, an article by ABC News Australia contained allegations that Joint Council refused to release information related to its review of Ethiopian intercountry adoption practices in an attempt to suppress the findings. This allegation is untrue, unfounded, and misleading. The Joint Council review to which the article refers is still in process and has not been completed. Upon the conclusion of the review and determination in accordance with applicable procedures, information will be released according to Joint Council’s policy for public disclosure.
ABC News Australia had requested a taped interview of Joint Council leadership, which was scheduled, rescheduled, but unfortunately cancelled due both to Joint Council’s emergency response efforts and travel to Haiti resulting from the earthquake and the subsequent unavailability of the ABC News Australia film crew. While Joint Council cannot discuss the particulars of any ongoing review, Joint Council leadership remains available to discuss the serious issues related to Ethiopian adoption with any interested party.
As is widely known, Joint Council is a membership-based child advocacy organization with a primary mission of protecting and advocating for every child’s right to a permanent, safe and loving family. Joint Council is not a regulatory body, watchdog or lobbyist for adoption service providers. Joint Council has a long, substantive and successful history of advocating for legal and ethical services to children and families. One element of this advocacy is the development of publicly available standards of practice for universal application and standards specific to individual country programs.
Joint Council takes allegations of misconduct very seriously. Due to concerns related to intercountry adoption in Ethiopia, Joint Council initiated a review of practices in that country, which included a trip to Ethiopia by Joint Council President Tom DiFilipo and Director of Programs and Services Rebecca Harris. Joint Council efforts in this regard continue today, including ongoing dialogue with the Department of State, Consular Section in Addis Ababa, and the Ethiopian Minster of Foreign Affairs.
In an effort to promote high standards, Joint Council established a policy regarding review and handling of alleged breaches of stated standards and general ethics. As noted earlier, Joint Council is conducting an ongoing review and assessment of intercountry adoption practices in Ethiopia, which has yet to be concluded. As articulated in Joint Council policy, information may not be released until the process is concluded.
Joint Council stands confident in its role as an advocate for every child’s right to live in a permanent family and efforts to promote ethical, legal and standards-based adoptions practices. Joint Council leadership extends its appreciation to all for their continued interest in the rights of children and continued support of Joint Council.