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Adoptions of Ethiopian Children Are Often a Cruel Money-Making Scam

Tarikuwa Lemma

‘I Had Ethiopia Stolen from Me’—Adoptions of African Children Are Often a Cruel Money-Making Scam

By Christina Montford,

Adoption agencies paint international adoptions through rose-colored glasses: A child from an impoverished home in a Third World country gets the opportunity to become a part of a more well-off family and all is well.

At least that’s what’s on the brochure.

For Tarikuwa Lemma, like so many other African children, the story is drastically different. Lemma grew up in Ethiopia and was 13 when she was, as she puts it, “sold.” Her adoptive parents had been told that Lemma’s parents died of AIDS.

“The truth was that our mother had died as a result of complications during childbirth, and our father was alive and well,” said Lemma in an interview with

Lemma’s father was tricked into believing that his daughters were being sent to the United States on a study program. Shortly after they arrived, the girls realized they had been deceived.

“I wanted to escape from the people I felt had kidnapped us from our homeland, our culture and our family,” said Lemma. “My sisters and I had a father, a brother and older sisters, plus a large extended family that cared for us and loved us. We were middle class by Ethiopian standards, not poor.”

In many cases, the poor, foreign child that parents think they are getting is not poor or orphaned at all, just a child who fell victim to a scam.

To combat this, huge organizations like UNICEF and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption are saying that people should adopt children from abroad as a last option and try to focus on keeping children in their home countries with domestic adoptions.

In an effort to completely stop the abuse of its children, Guatemala shut down its US adoption programs in 2007. This may have been good for the Guatemalan children but as fewer adoptions were possible from Guatemala, adoptions of Ethiopian children to American families exploded. The number of Ethiopian adoptions went from less than 900 in 2003 to 4,564 in 2009, according to CNN.

“Adoption is a business, there is no question, sadly,” Susan Soonkeum Cox, vice president of policy and external affairs at Holt International, a nonprofit Christian adoption agency based in the US, told CNN. “Many people got into this because it’s an opportunity to help (orphans), but for other people it was a lucrative business opportunity. You could see this in the explosion of adoption agencies and practitioners.”
And it seems that African children are on the losing end of this business.

“Adoption didn’t help me; it helped the adoption business,” Lemma said. “Adoption didn’t ‘save’ me; it served the American view of adoption. Adoption didn’t find families for me; it found me for families that wanted to look like heroes in their community and their churches. I wasn’t saved from Ethiopia; I had Ethiopia stolen from me.”
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Adoptions of Ethiopian Children Are Often a Cruel Money-Making Scam Reviewed by Admin on 11:59 AM Rating: 5


  1. Under Woyane's deceitful admin, as long as there is money in it, everything is for sale.


    Dear White People (Senator Mary Landrieu Edition)

    Dear White People,

    Adoption is an extension of colonialism, and some of you have become the new colonizers as you travel around the world to “third world” countries on taxpayers’ dimes to promote US international adoption. It’s disgusting that you turn away from the plight of children who suffer here in the US while focusing your attention on taking other nations’ greatest assets – their children – and placing them into the homes of White American families who participate in the multimillion dollar adoption industry. If you lose your precious elections, you had it coming to you. And, oh BTW, where are your White American adoptive family supporters and the adoption lobby as you fight for your status among the privileged?

  3. You can blame the middle men and the corrupted authorities in those third world countries who don't not have best interest of these children. Their only interest is a financial gain from this... But please do not blame the poor adoption parents who are trying to do some good.

  4. I agree. Woyane would sell their grandmother to an adaption agency for $0.25

  5. ሓቂ ንፍቶ!!ethiopians do not hesitate to sell their children with/out woyane's intervention,mind u this has been going on for centuries .most black ppl in Asia are Ethiopian salves sold by their rulers. No body did that in East Africa other than ethiopians.

  6. Why is there a lot of articles about Ethiopia in an Eritrean website

  7. What do you expect from komalat agame, they are even selling Ethiopia. agame they don't work they scavenge like animals. they are scavengers. without America they would be in beles meray. but this time they will be destroyed. 2015 will be the dawn fall of komalat agame and weyane.

  8. እግዚአብሔር(አላሕ)፡ካብዚስ፡ክደነና!!!!

  9. B/C they (Eritreans) have a big inferiority that is why they talk much about Ethiopia


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