Australian Government, Attorney-General's Office
Future of the Ethiopia–Australian Intercountry Adoption Program
The Attorney-General, the Hon Robert McClelland MP, has decided to lift the suspension of the Ethiopia–Australia intercountry adoption program. The program will recommence accepting new referrals of children in need of intercountry adoption and matching these children with prospective adoptive parents as at 6 April 2010.
The Ethiopia–Australia program was suspended in November 2009 due to concerns that Australia could no longer conduct intercountry adoptions in Ethiopia in a manner consistent with its obligations under the /Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption. /
In January 2010 an Australian delegation travelled to Ethiopia to discuss the current suspension with the Ethiopian Government and to investigate options for the future of the program. The delegation obtained additional information about the requirement for Australia to
provide development assistance and how this might be done in a manner consistent with the Hague Convention. The visit also provided the Department with an enhanced understanding of the practical challenges facing the program.
Information gathered during the delegation visit was incorporated into the Department’s formal review of the program, which has been underway since June 2009. The Department received over 400 submissions about the program, which were also considered in the review process.
The Attorney-General has decided to lift the interim suspension on 6 April 2010, subject to progressing appropriate safeguards which will ensure the program’s Hague compliance and ongoing integrity. These changes include:
* undertaking additional background checks of children referred to
* establishing relationships with a limited number of specific
orphanages in which the Department has trust and confidence
* commencing the process of entering into formal,
government-regulated agreements to provide broad development
assistance and community sponsorship programs, for projects
unrelated to intercountry adoption (similar development assistance
funds form part of the fees paid for other programs in a Hague
compliant manner), and
* setting a formal, fixed, transparent child maintenance fee for
payment to orphanages for the reasonable costs of caring for a
child (similar fees are charged in a Hague-compliant manner in
some of Australia’s other intercountry adoption programs).
In addition, the Department will be working to finalise a new memorandum of understanding with the Ethiopian Government and a new Service Agreement with an Australian representative.
These changes, which have been identified as necessary for the program’s continuation, will also require a restructuring of fees to reflect actual costs and the need to provide development assistance.
The continuation of the program’s suspension until 6 April 2010 will be necessary to ensure adequate safeguards are put in place.The executive summary of the review is available from the link below. The full document is classified and will not be made public.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.