Unicef has highlighted growing concerns about adoption practices in Ethiopia, a country with which Ireland is considering an agreement to adopt children.
Irish people adopted 201 children from Ethiopia up until 2010, making it the fifth most popular country for Irish adoptive parents after Russia, Romania, Vietnam, and China.
There has been growing pressure in recent months for Ireland to agree a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia in order to begin adopting from the country, with a large number of TDs questioning Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald on the subject. A delegation from the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee to the country has also raised the issue.
Adoption Authority Ireland sent a group to Ethiopia this summer to examine Ethiopian adoption on the ground.
The AAI has reported to Ms Fitzgerald on the visit, and is seeking further legal advice in Ethiopia concerning its adoption process.
However, allegations of corruption, fraud, and the recruitment of children from birth parents by Ethiopian adoption service providers have been raised in the past year, most notably by the US state department.
Unicef has also reported concerns about adoption practices in Ethiopia, which saw the numbers adopted internationally from it between 2006 and 2009.
This spike has led to a massive increase in the number of childcare institutions in the country.
An Ethiopian government study into these institutions, in response to adoption concerns, found 45% of them to have been operating without a licence.
Ashenefech Admassu, a government official charged with promoting child rights in Ethiopia, told Unicef that the increased demand for Ethiopian children by Western couples had led to concerns around the institutions and adoption agencies operating in the country.
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