- Australia has closed its intercountry adoption program with Ethiopia,
following several years of issues with the Program, a suspension of all
adoptions between 2009 and early 2010, as well as long waits and uncertainty for
Australian prospective adoptive parents.
- The Australian Government has taken this difficult decision, in
consultation with State and Territory Central Authorities.
- The best interests and rights of children are the most important
consideration for intercountry adoption programs.
- The adoption environment in Ethiopia has become increasingly
unpredictable, complex and uncertain, leaving many prospective Australian
parents in limbo for years.
- The Government has concluded that this uncertainty, combined with
obstacles to operating the Program in a sustainable and ethical way into the
future, means the Program needs to be closed.
- The Australian Government has decided to close the Program at this time
because it will not impact on any individual Ethiopian children as there are
none currently referred to the Program.
- The Australian Government will continue to support Ethiopia in ensuring
that the rights of Ethiopian children are protected.
- The Australian Government will also continue to support children adopted
from Ethiopia and their families in maintaining their cultural links with
- Prospective adoptive parents who have paid fees to the Program will have
their fees refunded in full. State and Territory Central Authorities will
provide advice in relation to whether fees paid to them can be refunded.
The Ethiopia Program has consistently been Australia’s most complex and challenging program. Information gathered during the April/May 2012 delegation visit confirmed the significant challenges facing the Program.
Growing use of alternative forms of care for children in Ethiopia
Ethiopian children in need increasingly have alternative long-term care options made available to them in Ethiopia.
The Australian Government supports the Ethiopian Government’s efforts to pursue the best interests of their children by facilitating domestic adoptions, long-term foster care arrangements and assisting families in crisis.
Unfortunately for prospective adoptive parents outside Ethiopia, this means that it is likely that there will be fewer children referred for intercountry adoption. This makes the adoption environment challenging and unpredictable, resulting in lengthening waiting times and uncertainty in the adoption process.
Changes regarding children in need of adoption and increasing costs
Growing numbers of non-government adoption agencies operating in Ethiopia, and the closure of orphanages due to greater government scrutiny, has led to increased competition for referrals of Ethiopian children to intercountry adoption programs.
This environment makes it difficult for Australia’s Program to continue to operate in a sustainable and ethical manner.
Despite the best endeavours of the Program to manage its community development projects so that they meet both Ethiopian Government requirements and Australian Government standards, the changing environment will make this increasingly problematic in the future, placing additional strain on Program and Government resources.
The Australian Government is confident that, to date, the Program has operated in an ethical manner and it has no concerns in relation to children referred to the Program and adopted by Australian adoptive parents.
Rising costs for adoption program essentials (such as food and accommodation) mean that, if the program was to continue, prospective parents would also face increasing costs.
Arrangements with Service Provider
Wide Horizons for Children has also advised that, in light of these changing circumstances, it has decided to partially reallocate its resources and shift more focus from adoptions to its humanitarian activities in Ethiopia.
As a result, the Program and Wide Horizons for Children have agreed to end their arrangement. Given the other issues confronting the Program, Australia will not replace the role of Wide Horizons for Children within the Program.