PEAR's Remarks for the DOS Conference: Ethiopia a New Adoption Agenda
The following text was intended to be read to the participants of the DOS conference held on Monday, January 24, 2011. PEAR was to particpate in the first panel discussion, but was unable to attend at the last minute. We were invited by DOS to submit the remarks, as follows, which do not appear to have been read. We feel that the remarks are important in explaining our recent position on Ethiopia adoptions and are publishing them here:
PEAR would like to thank the Department of State for hosting today’s meeting on Adoptions from Ethiopia, and regret that we were unable to personally attend the meeting. We are appreciative of Ambassador Jacobs’ invitation to submit a statement today.
Over the past three years, PEAR has received numerous comments and complaints concerning adoptions from Ethiopia. Investigations by governments and the media increased substantially towards the end of 2009. As PEAR began to see a pattern similar to that of Vietnam and Guatemala before their closures to US adoptions, we decided to conduct a survey of Ethiopia adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents. This survey took place from March 16, 2010 to April 16, 2010. The purpose of the survey was to identify possible areas of unethical practice and procedure in Ethiopian adoptions, and report them to adoption stakeholders and appropriate authorities so they could be corrected.
Our survey was based upon PEAR’s Mission and our Prospective Adoptive Parent Bill of Rights, which can be found on our homepage at www.pear-now.org. In addition, for comparative purposes, we incorporated some questions that would correspond to the questions asked of adoption service providers via Ethica’s 2010 Survey for U.S. Adoption Service Providers Placing Children from Ethiopia.
The results of our survey were published on October 15, 2010 and shared with members of the international adoption community, government authorities in the US and Ethiopia, and NGOs working in Ethiopia. We have discovered through Voice of America that the Ethiopian authorities were able to confirm our findings through their own investigations. It is our hope that all adoption service providers, NGOs, and government authorities working on adoptions from Ethiopia will take the time to read our survey and incorporate our recommendations in the creation of adoption laws, procedures and policies. It is our sincere desire that those responsible for creating and enforcing policy and law on adoption will do so in a manner that is child centered and emphasizes quality adoptions over quantity adoptions. PEAR also wishes to emphasize the need for those creating and enforcing adoption policies and laws, as well as organizations and individuals involved in the adoption process, to respect that all individuals have a right to knowledge of and connection to their origins.
Currently, PEAR continues to receive complaints and expressions of concern from families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. We attempt to guide families and provide them with resources to address their concerns, but have been discouraged by a lack of progress and the continued inability of families to have their concerns adequately addressed. In speaking with these families, we have formulated some specific recommendations for improving adoptions from Ethiopia and avoiding the ethical concerns that many families are currently facing. These recommendations will be shared with Ambassador Jacobs and PEAR is open to discussing our ideas with anyone else interested. We regret that we were unable to personally discuss these ideas today.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.