July 16, 2008
During the week of July 7, 2008, * Joint Council led a delegation of child welfare organizations to Addis Ababa and presented its Standards of Practice for Adoption Service Providers with Respect to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (SOP). Audiences included the Ethiopian Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Women’s Affairs, and the First Instance Court. Joint Council has been invited to partner with various ministries and departments in an ongoing effort to ensure that children’s services continue in Ethiopia. This partnership will also strengthen the ability of the government and NGO community to provide superior child protections.
During nine meetings with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and First Instance Court, common concerns related to “legalized child trafficking”, cultural insensitivity, regulatory capacity and poor practice were expressed. Joint Council has agreed to continue to dialogue with various governmental offices and service providers in an ongoing effort to address each specific issue and general areas of concern.
NGO partnering and investment in the social infrastructure of Ethiopia is of high value to society. Most officials also express a very strong focus on the broad range of child welfare services and community development–not on intercountry adoption as a standalone service–provided by child welfare NGOs. The current plan now calls for an immediate review of the quality and range of programs and services of all licensed service providers.
An additional response to issues of concern will be the strengthening of the role of child care centers and orphanages. Recognizing the critically important function that orphanages and child care centers execute, especially the intake procedures for orphaned or relinquished children, the government will focus much of its effort on regulating these institutions.
* As part of Joint Council’s International Relations Initiative, Joint Council President Tom DiFilipo, Scott Brown and Frank Garrott, respectively Vice-President and President of Joint Council Member OrganizationThe Gladney Center, Eric Munyemana, of Friends of Rwanda and in collaboration with Saddleback Church, also conducted an advocacy trip to Rwanda on June 30 through July 4, 2008.
The delegation met with numerous government officials including Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Family and Gender Promotion along with a variety of church and civil leaders. Through the week long visit, the delegation learned of the many accomplishments of the Rwanda government on behalf of its people and the over 1 million orphans in Rwanda. The delegation also presented considerable information on international children’s services and significant role ethical intercountry adoption has as a key element in finding loving families for children in need.
In meetings with various Rwandan ministries it can be reported that the Rwandan government is in favor of ethical intercountry adoption as an appropriate option for its many orphans. The government is currently seeking to secure adequate laws and regulations which will provide needed protections for children, regulate a very small number of child welfare organizations engaged in intercountry adoption (perhaps only two or three organizations) and increase its capacity to facilitate children’s services including ethical intercountry adoption.
Joint Council honored the sensitivities of the Rwandan government and chose a small delegation given the government’s ongoing concerns related to intercountry adoption and their desire to currently limit the number of service providers seeking to partner with Rwanda in serving children. We urge all child welfare organizations seeking new adoption programs and potential adoptive parents seeking to adopt, to similarly honor the Rwandan government’s efforts. We strongly request that you provide Rwanda the needed time to properly expand its child welfare system before seeking to establish a program in Rwanda. Please know that as Joint Council continues its partnership with the Rwandan government, we will advise you accordingly.