Considering Ethiopian, International or Transracial Adoption?

Buckle up friends. I assume you've come here to educate yourself about Ethiopian adoption. If you are prospective parents, or someone who cares about ethics in international adoption, I hope you find these words sobering and helpful. Your agency, or your social worker might not require you to read these (books, articles, links, scroll down, you're in for a ride), but in my very humble opinion they should. I am going to discuss in detail Ethiopian adoption, important considerations about agencies, ethical concerns, and also touch on Ugandan and DRC adoption, special needs, trauma, attachment, etc. Scroll down if you are looking for something specific.

These lovely people are my children. And every day, our family swims in an undercurrent of pain, grief, fear and loss. Our family was built by other families being torn apart. Children and first families are hurt by adoption. That is the reality underneath the smiles. There is love here, but please read this whole page to get to the message my oldest Ethiopian children want to share with you.

Please know ethics in Ethiopian adoption are terrible.  They are a nightmare. They have always been , but more stories and specific information about fraud in adoption are coming out every month. Even in my family. The reports are numerous though when looking it might be hard to find the kind of proof you want. Here is a reason why. I personally, in real life and through blog friends, know many who's children should not have been adopted. They are not "scare tactics." Please be aware that your agency will likely not tell you that there is at least a 50% chance your child's "story" is not what is written in your referral paperwork.  I know basically zero people who don't have inconsistencies, left out info, blatant lies in their children's referral family information. We, and many of our friends have found out after our children are home that we were told lies about their child's history. Sad, sometimes horrible, lies. (Please, click on all the links to read.)

We find out the truth when we adopt older children who refute the paperwork and point out the mistruths. They remember, they know what happened, once they know enough English and feel safe enough, they reveal the truth. Some kids know they were coerced, and that the adults at play lied on paper about the situation. Others of us find out the truth because we hire investigators to go to towns, villages with info about our kids and what we find opens Pandora's Box. "Abandoned" children have parents who weep at the photos of their taken children. Children who's parents are "deceased" have birth family come forward and admit that is simply not the case, "See here is So and So's mother, right here." Sometimes "Finders" of abandoned children turn out to be brokers, people who aren't "finders" in that they happened upon a baby and called the police, but rather, "finders" who get paid to get babies from families who can then be adopted to families who want a baby as young as possible, not knowing they are feeding a corrupt system. Here is an Ethiopian who admits he was paid as a recruiter for an adoption agency to coerce kids away from families. I would guess a majority,  of orphanages have people who do this. I am guessing all intake orphanages, even before a child gets on an agency radar, puts lies on the paperwork that will make children as profitable as possible. These lies include deaths of parents, parental illness, mental illness, and that they want to relinquish, ages of children, the circumstances of their family, just to name a few.

The lies in paperwork are not always told by the agency, but sometimes they are. Lies are also told by birth families, police, orphanage workers, village officials, neighbors and traffickers and state-run orphanage directors and staff. Not all children adopted from Ethiopia are without parents. Most, in my experience, have at least one parent alive, many both.  Because of this factor, I think it's a great idea for people who want to adopt from Ethiopia to drop the "orphan" word from their blogs and vocabulary, because a great many of the children who need a second adoptive family would probably not enjoy being called orphans since they have parents. I know my kids don't like the word. These children have siblings, grandparents, aunts cousins. Real families who care about their children. Many in the Ethiopian adoption community believe it is our obligation to our children to find out the truth about their past, how they got to the orphanage, how their family is doing, and open up lines of communication with the family. It is incredibly difficult due to language and cultural barriers, and not without cost.

If you want to avoid domestic adoption because you don't want to "deal with birth families" as I heard some say once when we were both looking into adoption; if you want a "cut and dry" adoption experience, Ethiopia is not be the country for you. And perhaps you should reconsider adoption completely since children who are adopted have TWO families, and they are both important to identity and child's well being. But in regards to Ethiopia, a friend of mine explains why this is important to understand.

There are many families in dire need of support in Ethiopia, and instead of getting support they are solicited and encouraged to give up their children to orphanages and care centers some of whom do not tell the parents the children will be adopted outside of Ethiopia, gone forever. Or they are told "Your child will be better off. They will come back and see you after they get out of college, you will be so proud." This is an easy sell to families who are on the brink financially and without social support. The lie "your child is better off without you" is not unique to Ethiopia, it is told to countless women in pregnancy crisis centers who are funded by adoption agencies who make profit from adopting the babies. But it's important to understand, an entity, or person who is paid to facilitate adoptions who convinces a family their child is better off adopted is trafficking children. They are paid to make sure a kid is adopted. This should make you want to throw up.

I am only scratching the surface of why ethics in adoption are important and what it means to have ethical adoptions.

There are many American and European parents wanting to raise healthy babies and Ethiopia and/or American and European agencies working there are manufacturing some of them. Many of you/us think we should because we are "called." Or are doing something to "save" a child. But please understand: There are many many people in Ethiopia and America who profit from adoption, directly and indirectly. There is a lot of money in this business. Your really nice translator and driver from the agency has a job because kids are adopted. He will lose his job if he were reveal any information he hears that indicates a family might not understand adoption or really in fact wants their children. There is basically no one in the chain of command in the Ethiopian adoption process who is a real advocate for first families.

The US Embassy in Ethiopia has confirmed in a statement in May of 2012 that they are finding first families are still being lied to about what adoption means. They are being told their children are going to school and are coming back. They are told they will return. Someone, many someones are lying to families to get them to give up their children for well-meaning Americans and Europeans who want to parent children who "needs" a family. And this hurts children so much.

More thoughts about when I visited the orphanage where my own child started his adoption journey. It was a horrible experience.

And here is more guidance and musings about what it means when an agency is no longer allowed to work in Ethiopia and why we should care.

Ethiopia is estimated to have one of the largest populations of “orphaned” children in the world.  Statistics place that number at approximately five million (Ethiopian Ministry of Health, 2008).  This number is not to be used to pull on your heart strings, and in fact, it bothers me when anyone wears a shirt about how many millions of "orphans" there are waiting to be adopted or even worse, "saved" because  that five million includes both single and double orphans.  This means that a large percentage of  children included in this number actually have one living birth parent as I mentioned before, thus inter-country adoption might not be in their best interest, nor even appropriate to consider. In addition, the vast majority of these children are over the age of five and thus less considered less “adoptable” by those preferring an infant or toddler.
Most children in Ethiopia who would benefit from inter-country adoption are older than five. But by far most the children adopted from Ethiopia are less than 18 months. This is not OK. This is a supply and demand problem.  I personally believe there are those in the Ethiopian government who know this. They know more babies are going out to well-meaning families than should, but this poor country enjoys the massive capital it gets from adoption fees, court fees, job creation, and tourist money spent there in hotels and restaurants, not to mention the swarms of parents who come back and start NGOS and funnel money into schools, infrastructure, wells, pipelines, ya know, do their job for them. Adoption is lucrative for this country. I sometimes wonder why the government doesn't crack down on crummy adoption agencies. There are so many parents who try to file reports about fraud and ethics violations they see from their agencies, and very little seems to happen. Then I remember: it could be something as simple as it's hard to close your doors on all that money when you are a developing nation.

So you want a baby 0-6 months quickly? Wait times in Ethiopia have slowed down for a reason. It is because there are less infants and children that are legally available for adoption. Even more importantly, it means judges and social workers are doing a slightly better job of looking into children's pasts and paperwork and stories, trying to make sure things are accurate, and that the birth families know what is going on and want them to be adopted.  But that doesn't come close solving all the problems. They are trying to stamp out the fraud and the coercion that has been going on for the past nine years or so.  And I gotta say, not enough judges or folks at MOWA really care, but they make a show of trying. This means process takes longer, and it means there are less referrals by agencies.

Long wait times are frustrating.  Ethiopia's wait times have tripled in the last two years. And this is good, for the most part. If you are seeking an agency working in Ethiopia that offers "healthy infants and short wait times" I beg you to revisit your priorities.  If you find an agency that promises healthy infants referrals in 2-6 months you should run screaming. I don't care how many people you find online that say "We used them and they are wonderful." I am sure they are nice. I guarantee it. But I also guarantee the folks they are working with in Ethiopia who are delivering up babies fast, on demand like that, are on illegal and immoral ground. Period. Any family working with an agency like this is blinded and not willing to see the truth. That it is very possible their child should not have ever left his or her family.

When every reputable agency in Ethiopia has  * update, I do not believe there is any such thing as a reputable agency in Ethiopia. The "good ones" used to be considered AAI, Wide Horizons, WACAP. All of those top agencys as far as ethics are concerned have and do faciliate adoptions that are based on fraud, lies, kidnapping and coercion. With families I know, including our family, so since I first wrote this post I am changing the wording. So, no reputable agencies. But when all of them have 1) stopped taking applications for new families all together or 2) has wait times of 24-30 months for young children or 3) has fast referrals only for waiting children who are older (age 2, is not older. Ages 4-14 constitute "older") or have special medical needs, this should tell everyone that an agency with significantly shorter wait times for healthy newborns is a "red flag." They are not special, or have tapped into some new area of Ethiopia that grows babies faster who happen to have no paperwork and all of them are abandoned.  I recently heard an agency who promises infants quickly told a prospective family "It's because we are a small agency, we don't have as many families in line."  This is simply not true. I have heard that before, from our first agency. And I believed that lie at the time, too.

No, an agency who is giving quick baby referrals, even two unrelated babies (another big red flag) this agency is simply working with scary, lying, baby-stealing people in Ethiopia. They may know it and lie, or not know it and be in denial. I don't know how to be more clear about this. Please, do not be duped. Know the truth. And please read this.

Then go straight here, there are some really important points in the comments section as well as the article. A really great post about Christians and adoption.

Let's talk about adopting babies and special needs. Our son was only in an orphanage for six months. He came home when he was very young, seven months old. He is not unscathed from his experiences with trauma and neglect. He is scarred. We see four different therapists a week to help him deal with sensory integration issues, behavioral and attachment issues and PTSD. That's right: at age two our son has needed four visits a week with trained therapists to help him deal with his challenges and to teach us, his parents how to help him better.

Please do not go into adoption thinking "We only want a baby because they haven't experienced any issues yet and thus will be easier." It is foolish to make any kind of assumption about how the stress of their first few weeks and months affected their brains. Whether you plan on adopting a baby or a 12-year-old, please plan on finding a good arsenal of therapists to help you and your child heal from their losses, PTSD, grief, trauma, malnutrition, neglect. Check now if insurance will cover it. ** Fast Forward** Our son is now three. He aged out of Early Intervention and getting insurance to cover mental health and sensory and trauma and attachment related issues has taken so far months we are no where near done fighting. You might get "lucky," but a child from international adoption that does not require or benefit from multiple therapies or interventions is the exception, not the rule and it is very hard to get the right kind of help.

I personally conducted an anonymous, non-scientific study of parents who adopted from Ethiopia. 104 parents participated. 75% said their child was affected negatively (though not insurmountably) by the trauma of their adoption and experiences prior to adoption. That is not a number an agency will tell you. Of those 75%, more than 60% needed professional help for their children. Here is a non-scientific statement: A whole heck a lot of kids need help after joining their new family, some for years and years. And half of those kids with issues that needed professional help had been adopted before they were a year old. None of these parents regretted their adoption or didn't love their children.

In conclusion, it is vital for people looking into adoption to understand that an "on paper"  "healthy" baby or toddler can end up dealing with more challenges than a child who was adopted at an older age. In parenting, there are no guarantees. You just never know.  Here is a post about stuff that post agencies and social workers fail to do when educating parents who want to adopt from Ethiopia. This post got more than 4500 hits in the first thirty hours it was up and was shared quite a bit. I received so much agreement feedback, so I think it's an important one to read in your preparation.

On adoption websites like Rainbow kids, there are hundreds of children listed as "waiting." MANY, I mean, enough to make you really sick, are not in orphanages yet. They have have one or more parent dead, but often these kids are identified as targets for adoption. They are living with grandparents or other extended family, sometimes at boarding schools. They have not been relinquished, the family has no intention whatsoever as seeking adoption. In Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana and DRC, agencies will advertise these children as "waiting" or send out "soft referrals" to families asking them to consider adopting a specific child, and THEN they will work on getting the paperwork ready. This is BAD BAD news. Becuase what "getting paperwork ready" often means is, going to the family, the child's family and trying to convince them to give up the child for adoption. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Here is a family who wrote about when it didn't work and the unethical actions of the agency that came to light when they investigated. I want you to read it because this happens ALL the time. This is not uncommon, or rare. It is pervasive.  PS. Rainbow kids allows agencies to list children who are not legally or morally or ethically available for adoption. Run away people. Run away.

Deciding to adopt a child with medical needs or older than age four does not guarantee an ethical adoption. I wish it were. I know this from firsthand experience. That's right, the Queen of Ethics shouting, Yours Truly did everything humanly possible to ensure an ethical adoption for our second adoption of two older kiddos, including independent contact multiple times before court with birth family to open dialog and make sure the story was straight, and I gotta tell you, the system is BRO-KEN. Despite everything we could have done, the lies and the coercion run deep. Adoption in Ethiopia is about money these days, not about finding families for children. This is true for all agencies. No matter how much the people that work there love Jesus.

Not just us, I have friends who on purpose, to avoid corruption, adopted two older (7+ ) children with special medical needs, both of whom had serious fraud in their paperwork. The agency withheld vital information about their  past to make the children more adoptable on paper. The affects on the family have been extremely difficult.

We adopted a healthy infant on our first adoption.  I love him fiercely and I am so happy he is my son. Soon after he was adopted the lid was opened wider on the corruption in Ethiopian adoption. It was sobering and we had a lot of fear about the accuracy of his paperwork after he came home. Fifteen months after he came to the US my husband went back to Ethiopia on a birth family hunt to try to understand the truth.

It was the best thing we ever did. For our son and for our peace of mind. We found out so much that was not even hinted at in his referral information. We have contact with important people in his life, and even though he doesn't remember what happened to him, now we know and can share with him and honestly, it's going to help in therapy. I share this because I would highly recommend (once again) every one who adopts from Ethiopia to plan on going back several times to search, communicate and open up channels of truth and relationships for your child.

In 2012 we completed our second Ethiopian adoption. It wasn't easy to decide to do so, because many of our friends will not touch Ethiopian adoption with a ten-foot-pole now, due to the ethics violations out of so many of the "reputable" agencies. Just in case you are wondering what those reputable agencies are, they are  American World, and WACAP,  They are the only agencies working in Ethiopia that I have not heard a story of trafficking, fraud or unethical adoption practices.

*update 5/2014 I have been told by adoption friends I trust that a certain man involved in lying during birth family/adoptive family meetings who worked for agencies like CHSFS and Holt, is now working with WACAP. He makes a living lying and mistranslating information to families. WACAP now joins the ranks of Agencies Who Participate in Fraud in adoption. I will update again when (not if) anyone would like to come forward with their experience of lies or fraud while using American World.

It is important to note that all of the "good" agencies have facilitated adoptions for children with lies and corruption and missing information in their paperwork. All of them.  And there are dozens and dozens of smaller agencies; some don't have license to work in Ethiopia.

Here are a list of agencies that I know people who have had major issues with fraud in their adoptions, falsified documents, major lies in paperwork, and attempts to silence families with money for illegal actions. Please do not use these agencies. Ready, here are the agencies- (again, with people I know personally who have proven fraud in their adoptions and unethical practices:

AAI, (our second adoption agency who perpetuated fraud in our adoption and others. They used to be one of the best. Please stay away. *update 3/2014, they are done. Bankrupt from bad financial decisions and stealing from management as well as many lawsuits. They are dissolved completely, the end came quickly but not quickly enough for them.)
West Sands Adoption,
Wide Horizons (Angelina Jolie used them, and yep, big lies, mom of her baby who supposedly died of AIDS, still alive and misses her daughter)
Children's Hope International,
Celebrate Children International,
Dove Adoptions,
Adoption Avenues,
Tree of Life Adoption,
International Family Services,
All God's Children International,
IAG (International Adoption Guides),
Lifeline Adoptions (facilitates unethical adoptions in China and Uganda as well and now umbrella for Dove who almost went out of business last year because they lost their license to work in Ethiopia)
Hopscotch Adoptions,
Illien (who took over for the bankrupt and finally out of business known trafficking agency Christian World Adoptions) these are ALL fraught with issues and have "red flags" you may not find well documented on the internet.

All of the above agencies have red flags, and or I know people who have fraudulent, unethical adoptions from these agencies.

In addition, if your agency is not licensed to work in Ethiopia and umbrellas with another, I would highly recommend not using them. They have no business working in a country that has perilous ethics issues and not even know how to work there and haven't been approved to work there.

I know that at least five of these "Red Flag" agencies listed in the previous paragraph continue to promise young infants, and fast. I know that some have offered gag money to families to not speak the truth about the unethical practices uncovered and experienced by the family with that agency. I know for a fact through stories of my friends (from Ethiopian adoption online support groups both local and online) that they saw such ethics violations as agency personnel in Ethiopia forge fake death certificates for first families. One agency worker admitted to a friend that he bribed a relative with money, dinner, alcohol and grain, someone to sign over a few children from his extended family to go into an orphanage. This is coercion  This trafficking. It is not "sad." It is illegal. And many agencies work with care centers and orphanages who have personnel that do this.

It is rampant and these stories are with "respectable" agencies.That is why working with an agency not licensed in Ethiopia is a problem: There is even more room for deniability: they don't even KNOW how things work on the ground in Ethiopia. Sometimes they have never visited the programs. They have no idea how the babies and children get from their families to the orphanage. They can't. They swallow the story on the paperwork, they don't have the personnel  connections or resources to confirm the information on the paperwork. They are removed. They take your money, tell you what papers you need to sign, and have zero responsibility or accountability to the families of Ethiopia.  Please, don't use umbrella agencies, the ones holding the umbrella for unlicensed agencies, or the agencies holding the umbrella. They are both problematic.


So you want even more proof? Read here.

If a family wants to speak out, spread the word about false paperwork, or finding out their agency did stuff that isn't great, a few things happen.

1) Other people who are in the adoption process get very angry. They don't want to hear it. A family is attacked by the community it is reaching out to.
2) Families who didn't discover fraud or didn't have problems jump to the rescue of the agency, instead of listening to the family who's child has been hurt they are quick to say "Well, the agency was great for us!" not realizing that a "good adoption" doesn't make a "fraudulent adoption" go away. They don't cancel each other out. They have nothing to do with each other. That is like saying "that guy that stabbed you, didn't stab me, so he isn't all bad!" You'd never say that, but adoptive families who speak out are served up this nonsense in spades.
3) In the process of sharing their truth, they "out" their child and take away some privacy. People want the details of a trafficked or lied-about child. They want proof. They say often "If an agency were so bad, why would they still be allowed to work in Ethiopia?" The problem is families are not believed, they are offered money to go away, and many don't speak out because they feel they need to protect their children. They don't feel like they can wage a losing battle against and agency that gets so much support.

In my estimation, that is why "proof" and "stories" are hard to find about all the agencies. People are protecting their kids. But in support circles, the stories are rampant. I wish I could tell you all I've heard you might write this page, too.

For our second adoption we adopted from a list of waiting older children from AAI (Adoption Advocates International). They are not a perfect agency. I believe they were complicit in coersion. I do not speak for any agency and will not recommend any to you saying "you will be fine if you use them." Ever. I have a fried who used AAI in Uganda and the children she almost adopted were very unethically NOT available for adoption. It was a nightmare. But I will say this, one thing we appreciated about AAI was they did not discourage us from contacting and having a relationship with birth family. Agencies that want to control the communication, only use their translators to facilitate meetings are a "no go" in my book. Please remember those who enter international adoption are already spending thousands. Spend a few hundred more, have an investigator not associated with the agency check out the details, talk to the family.

If it is an abandonment case, there will always be the name of a "finder" on the referral paperwork. Or there should be. If there is not, I would find this problematic and scream a red flag. If there is a name of a  "finder", you start with that person. Half the people I know who have spoken to a "finder" discover this is actually a family member. Get the story straight. Make sure this child needs parents and not their first family, before you get sucked in too far and can't imagine walking away, even when it starts looking immoral.

Our girls that we adopted were ages 6 and 12. We did not wait 12-30 months for a referral. We chose them, and after checking out their paperwork, establishing contact with their family, the process to bring them home took several months. All in it was less than a year from accepting referral to having them join our family in the US.  I thought this "fast" was because they were older. Turns out, "fast" for harder to place older sibling groups is still a red flag. Every time. Please, believe me on this one.

If you are considering Ethiopian adoption, please don't give up on me: keep learning. Please read these blog posts. One about kids who really need to be adopted, and another by a family who adopted children older than they thought they would. And here is one family who found their kids' birth mother easier than they thought possible. I know very few people who investigate who find out nothing. Many  people find family within hours.

Would we adopt from Ethiopia again? No. I used to say that we might but before accepting any referral for any child, we would conduct an independent search and make sure the paperwork is correct, that the family does in fact want their child to be adopted and understands what that means. I would want to know, through an investigator's eyes and question, if that family could be reunified. - We did this important step with our second, AAI adoption.  We had multiple visits with an independent translator with first family prior . Devastatingly, despite independent contact and investigation we did not uncover important truth until more than a year later.  The truth we know now hurts my children. Life altering pain. It is enough to make me lose my faith in Ethiopian adoption as an institution. If we cannot get at the truth until a year later, despite a very open dialog and open adoption, and minimal agency involvement in all communication, how is someone who doesn't investigate, or only has one agency-translated meeting, or one private investigated meeting supposed to get to the REAL story? I think it's impossible. My kids have a continuing, happy relationship with their first family including regular phone calls and visits back to Ethiopia. For now, this is a happy medium.

Some may ask, well, how long should a child have to rot in a care center until they don't have to go back to that family that left them there? (I am quoting a question I read on FB from someone arguing about this ethics topic.) This little film will show you why follow up, investigations and attempts to reunify are so important.

What is lovely about this video, this situation is that the little boy being reunited with his father could have had a different story. One where the women in that orphanage said "Ya know what, he is better off with a wealthy, educated family in the west. They can give him more. He is better off..."  I love that they knew he was better off with a father that loved him and wanted him. Not wealthy, not a life you or I know or might feel comfortable jumping into, but loved by his dad.

It is my opinion that these independent investigations perhaps should happen before a referral is accepted. This means not falling in love when you see the picture on the screen from a referral. It means not falling into convulsions saying "That's my baby!" Instead, it could mean, "OK, they say this kiddo needs a Mom and Dad. Let's find out if that is true." Some agencies will tell you this kind of investigation is not allowed. I am here to suggest perhaps you don't need to ask them their permission. Agencies have nothing to lose and everything to gain by telling families they cannot contact birth family through an independent investigation. I do think a discreet private investigation is possible wherein it can be ascertained that the "finder" is who they say they are, or whether or not they actually know the family (many do!) or that the family understands where the child is, and find out of the referral information is true, if they understand what adoption means (more on this confusing point later, as well). But we did this, and we still did not get to the bottom of the truth. So I think these investigations are important, but they may not confirm what we wish they were confirming, sadly.

This is ground breaking stuff, this idea of investigating the ethical nature of the proposed adoption before going down the road of court and Embassy appointments. Yes, agencies should be doing these investigations themselves, but why would they pay staff to stop adoptions of children by finding out if their families can take them back when their only income is from kids being adopted out? There is a huge conflict of interest at all stages of Ethiopian adoption. And in our situation and many others, despite careful investigation kids end up stolen, coerced and separated in the most inhumane, traumatic way from their families.


I know you've likely read this because you want to understand Ethiopian adoption, you want to adopt. I am here to say, there is a good chance "your" child has family that loves them, and maybe they didn't even "need" adoption. I do not believe anyone at the US Embassy in Ethiopia, MOWA, the Ethiopian branch of government overseeing adoptions cares enough about the hundreds and thousands of sold children and broken families to stop the cycle of poor ethical behavior. I am now in the camp that I don't think Ethiopian adoptions should continue as they are. Many people will criticize me for taking stand now that I am on the other side and have "my" kids. I didn't know jack squat our first adoption. I thought the source for information regarding Ethiopian adoption should be our agency, and that was incorrect.

Here are my final thoughts on my hypocrisy in adoption from Ethiopia, the "scarlet letter H" I wear and why I am so outspoken about ethics. Please read, as it sheds more light on the most recent arrests and investigations into corrupt adoption practices in Ethiopia. (Yes people are in jail because they wrote emails talking about how much they buy babies for -quarterly- for the purpose of having them adopted.)

During our second adoption we thought it was possible to "beat" the system by taking every precaution, making perfect choices and doing it "right." I thought by working with what I believed to be a more ethical agency, one who advocated for placement of kids "who really need adoption" like older children, kids with special needs and siblings groups, as well as one who at times has been noted for more transparency with families in process and more hands off about communication with birth families (they don't try to control all interactions or stand in the way of contact the way some agencies do). I thought by doing our home work and going by my rigid book we would adopt kids who needed it. The power of money and adoption agencies overcome the truth. It just does.

My girls know this blog and page exists. They know prospective adoptive parents are reading this. They want me to tell you they shouldn't have had to leave Ethiopia, and even though they love our family, they believe adoption is overused in Ethiopia and that they wish they could have stayed there. Even with their educational opportunities, even with the fun sports, the big house and the stability. They believe firmly they would have been happy back home if their family had had support instead of the adoption industry capitalizing on a very hard situation. They know a vast majority of their friends who were adopted had serious lies about their family situation, ages, pasts and that people make money from adoption. They want you to reconsider adopting from Ethiopia.

Because that is what adoptions do in Ethiopia: instead of supporting families it tears them apart and undermines them in horrific, immoral ways.I know you want to believe the "beauty from ashes" thing. But really, adoption in Ethiopia is creating half the problems. I believe this with all my heart. I have seen it too many times.

I hope this page turns one family away from Ethiopia. I really do. I hope these words turn one person away from African adoption in general (since Ghana, Uganda and Congo and Liberia are also highly corrupt adoption programs that sell children as well.)

Really, I hope some of you reading will reconsider domestic fostering and foster adoption. It is flawed, but the longer I am around international adoption the more problems I see with children needing adoption being lumped together with kids who should not be adopted and it's almost impossible to sort it all out. Kids here in the US need families too, and they are traumatized, but so are two of my three kids from Ethiopia. I wish you blessings and luck in your adoption journey.

If you are considering adopting from the DRC, please read this blog extensively. She outlines in detail the problems with corruption from the Congo and tips on how to avoid them. She is your best friend if you do not want a trafficked child from the Congo.Many many many children from Congo should not be adopted. I would not adopt from here, but if you choose to do so, please go read that blog. She can help you navigate a highly corrupt country and adoption situation.

If you are considering adopting from Uganda, be SO careful. Some of the worst ethics violations I've ever seen documented are happening in the Uganda adoption community. I know they are there because families who are "called to adopt" who write about their personal hand in the corruption on their public blogs. It's astounding what people admit to doing in public. A blog friend of mine outlines here how to keep your process on the ethical line. And here is another important blog post about what is happening that is so very bad in Ugandan adoption to explain where adoptions go south there and how to steer clear of the pitfalls. Here is another family that found hideous fraud in their adoption and had to walk away, this is in August 2014, and highlights the exact steps agencies take in trafficking children. Theses steps are very common. This process the family writes about highlights exactly the things that happened to many of my personal friends in DRC, Ethiopia, Uganda and Ghana, except most of them didn't find out until after the adoption had taken place and children were needlessly taken from their families. It's awful. Please, don't adopt from Uganda.


More important and inspiring reading for adoptive and pre-adoptive parents:

What one adoptive mother wants you to know about what she wished she'd known before she adopted. Go now. Before you start signing your paperwork.

Adult adoptee/fostered children blogs worth reading:

Harlows Monkey (read and read and read. Go back into her archives. Learn from her.)

John Raible Online

National Council for Adoption article about Identity in Transracial parenting

My own humble writings about navigating race as a White mother to a Black child.

47 different adoptive moms write about attachment in adoption, inspired by my friend Claudia. The list of links to all the attachment blog posts. Go read them all.

Friend Claudia's post on being in the White Club

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is my "Best Of" list for adoption literature for parenting kids from "hard places" i.e., loss, grief, malnutrition, neglect, institutional care, foster care, abuse, sickness, and from races and cultures other than yourself, etc. I own many of these and refer to them regularly.*Books are affiliate and goodreads links

The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family by Dr Karyn Purvis

Bryan Post DVD Workshop (the best training we received and we still quote and use these DVDs several years into our parenting. I think this is essential, honestly. If your agency doesn't require this training, at very least, read the following book by Bryan Post)

Beyond Consequences, Logic & Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children with Severe Behaviors Volumes 1 & 2

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents

The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder, Revised Edition

The Adoptive and Foster Parent Guide: How to Heal Your Child's Trauma and Loss

The two following websites have great resources for helping families with kids who've experienced trauma, or are having a hard time attaching, acting out, and the family is struggling. Forever Families  and fantastic series of videos like What Every Adoptive Parent Should Know « Empowered To Connect at Empowered to Connect I personally think everyone should these resources in their back pocket whether they build their family through adoption domestically or internationally or through foster care.

More good reads about race and adoption
My Father's Daughter by Hannah Pool

Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood

"Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity

I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World

Finding Fernanda  (a book about how children were trafficked from Guatemala and why the country eventually shut down to adoptions. Sobering and an fascinating read for anyone looking into Int'l adoption)

And of course, you can contact me scoopingitup at gmail dot com. I am not an expert on anything related to adoption, much of this page is just my opinion, but just maybe if you have a worry or question I can help.