Integrity in Ethiopia
February 4, 2009

I wrote recently in the blog about agencies working with integrity.  One of the issues we’re seeing come up is that in Ethiopia, the court process has slowed down for many families because the Ethiopian government ensures that the proper documentation is in place for every child being placed for adoption.  Although it’s never good to know an adoption process is being prolonged for any family, it’s good to see that the Ethiopian government is concerned about the way agencies and orphanages are processing children’s paperwork.  All adoptive parents want the assurance that the child or children they’re adopting are true orphans – and the Ethiopian court spending more time verifying documents is part of that process. 

None of us want Ethiopia to be shut down like Guatemala was; Guatemala was shut down because they didn’t have a tamper-proof system in place to conduct international adoption.  With our work in Ethiopia, our agency has affirmed a set of ethical principles by which we choose to operate.  We distinguish between a country which has a central authority overseeing the placement of children and a country with no such central authority, where the agency plays a role in matching a child with a family.

When no central authority bearing the responsibility to refer children exists:

•America World will not engage in any practice that could be perceived as self-serving, but will always operate in the best interest of the orphaned child even to the detriment of our own organization.

•The referral of orphans to families will NOT come from an organization or individual that has a fee-per-child arrangement and is involved with the birth mother or family in any way.

•America World will only work with licensed organizations that are approved to provide social services to the birth mother, the birth family and abandoned orphans. These organizations will NOT receive compensation from us on a per-child basis but based on the needs of their ministry as a whole.  A guarantee concerning the number of referrals of children in exchange for donations made will NEVER be attached to agreements with these organizations.

• The referral of orphans to families will NOT come from an affiliated organization or individual who is controlled through a board, agreement, compensation or some other arrangement.  Referrals will ONLY be accepted from separate licensed organizations whose mission it is to serve birth mothers, the birth family and the orphaned child, and which is in no way involved with adoptive families.   We will uphold the standards of the IRS 501(c)3 code which limits self-dealing through our affiliated non-profit foundations and fee-for-service non-profits. 

When a central authority exists:

•Adoption agencies will employ staff on a salaried or hourly basis and will NOT pay staff on a per-child basis. 

•Adoption agencies will only work with the central authority, even if direct placements from birth families are possible.

My prayer this week is that Ethiopia will have a system that provides the assurance that children placed for adoption are true orphans – and that this would not cause waiting families to wait even longer than they already are.  We see operating with integrity as a Christian agency not as a burden or a high calling but as our minimum standard and we thank you for standing with us as an America World family.  For with your support we are changing the way international adoptions are conducted by how we stand for God’s principles…“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)

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