The Legacy of Exploitation in Intercountry Adoptions from Ethiopia: “We Are All One Family Now”

Shelley A. Steenrod - Adoption Quarterly


In 2018, the Ethiopian Parliament closed its intercountry adoption program. Momentum to end the program followed reports of adoption-related exploitation including the abduction and sale of children, falsification of documentation, bribing of officials, inaccurate testimonies, and false promises to birth families. The Ethiopian Parliament also cited concerns over the identity and psychological problems of adoptees as contributing factors to the ban. This paper explores how adoptive parents, with knowledge of exploitation in their own adoptions, are responding emotionally and pragmatically. Qualitative analysis of interview data provides insight into how adoptive parents communicate about and integrate referral and emergent adoption narratives in the service of healthy identity development in adopted children.

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