25 Jul 2011

The Author

Author of the award-winning book Finding Fernanda. Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Redux Pictures photographer. Read more here.


20+ Ethiopian Orphanages Reportedly Shut Down

One of the Mussie orphanages, from the blog “International Treasure”

Four days ago, the US Department of State issued an adoption alert about the alleged closing of the Mussie Child Care Center (also known as the Mussie Orphanage) in Hosana, Ethiopia. The State Department said they were simply relating info from adoption agencies, expressing that there hadn’t been any kind of confirmation yet. US adoption agencies like Holt International have been telling their Ethiopia clients that Mussie’s operating license was revoked by the Ethiopian government, forcing them to close their doors and send children to other care facilities.

The State Department alert seems a bit late. Rumors regarding shuttered Ethiopian orphanages have been swirling around American adoption blogs and listservs all month, encompassing more than just the three Mussia facilities in question.

Since early July, one anonymous blogger calling herself “Cindy” has been tracking alleged closures at a new blog, “Ethiopia Orphanage Closures.” The very first post, made more than a week before the State Department announcement, concerned Mussie orphanages in Hosana, Wolayita, and Durame. The Mussie organization worked with three large US adoption agencies, Children’s Home Society and Family Services, Holt International, and Bethany Christian Services, as well as smaller ones, including Better Futures Adoption Services (BFAS), whose operating license was revoked earlier this year by the Ethiopian government.

On her new blog, Cindy wrote of Mussie, “The orphanage director and another staff member of the Hosanna center were arrested. Last news was that the director is still under arrest.” The agency Holt International says this is untrue, telling clients “An investigation is underway and Mussie staff has been interviewed and are fully cooperative.” The “Ethiopia Orphanage Closures” blog has also compiled a list of other shuttered agencies, based on information provided by adoptive families currently in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. Cindy has been posting leaked letters from US adoption agencies to their Ethiopia clients about orphanage closings. Here’s her latest list:

  • The Special Mission Development Association (SMDA) in the Hadiya zone has been closed. ” The SMDA orphanage director informed our staff that their license was revoked due to their focus on serving children to be adopted without having sponsorship programs or other community or humanitarian aid services.” (source: US adoption agency WACAP/ World Association for Children and Parents)
  • Initiative Ethiopia in Awasa has been closed, possibly because ” the orphanage has shown a lack of responsiveness to the regional government regarding record keeping and improving the orphanage’s standards of care.” (source: Gladney Center for Adoption)
  • The US agency International Adoption Net (IAN) publicly stated that 18-20 orphanages in the southern region of Ethiopia have been closed by the government, resulting from investigations that began six months ago
  • EnatAlem and EVADO orphanages in Awassa have been closed, says the agency Adoption Associates, also noting that “over the last 6 months or so, our trust level with the director has deteriorated significantly and we did not plan to continue working with this orphanage anyway.”

Over at the REFORM Talk blog, a new post on Friday discussed the orphanage closures in Ethiopia, and tackled the issue of adoption agency responsibility. ”Some blogs put the Mussie shutdown as early as May 2011,” said the post. “So, we found it interesting that in June 2011, an effort funded by a group of US agencies (Bethany, Gladney, AGCI. American World Adoption, in conjunction with Christian Alliance of Orphans) were in Awassa and supposedly starting a new domestic adoption effort along with Kingdom Vision International.”

The new collaborative project, “Seed Adoption,” focuses on “imparting a robust theology of adoption to churches and organizations” and “promoting and encouraging the adoption of orphaned children into Christ-loving families,” according to the Seed website.

UPDATE: 8/3/2011: The Department of State has sent out a bulletin today officially announcing the closure of some orphanages. According to the DOS, each orphanage has had their operating license revoked by Ethiopian authorities. They include:

  • SOS Infants Ethiopia (Arbaminch, Dilla, and Awassa branches)
  • Gelgella Integrated Orphans (Tercha and Durame branches)
  • Bethzatha Children’s Home Association (Sodo, Hosaena, Dilla, and Awassa branches)
  • Ethio Vision Development and Charities (Dilla branch)
  • Special Mission for Community Based Development (Hosaena branch)
  • Enat Alem Orphanage (Awassa branch)
  • Initiative Ethiopia Child and Family Support (Awassa branch)
  • Resurrection Orphanage (Hosaena branch)
The bulletin went on to say:
“Ethiopian officials indicate that cases involving orphaned children from these facilities that are already pending with the Federal First Instance court will continue to move forward.  The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is working closely with Ethiopian officials to determine if children from these facilities who were previously referred for adoption or matched with prospective adoptive parents will be allowed to continue in the adoption process.  MOWCYA officials have confirmed that the affected children’s case files are currently being reviewed, a process that is expected to last at least one month.”

You can read the full notice here: http://adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_alerts_notices.php?alert_notice_type=notices&alert_notice_file=ethiopia_10


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