Academic Research on Birth Mothers and Adoption in Ethiopia

Birth Mother’s Experience After Relinquishment, Kalkidan Alelign (2011)

Abstract: Birth mothers in Ethiopia are too often invisible and their experience is left unexplored which prompted the need to carry out this research. Hence, this study aimed at understanding feelings and experiences of birth mothers who relinquished, in Addis Ababa. It used qualitative research method with case study being the strategy of inquiry to achieve this objective. It employed in-depth interview with five purposely selected participants. The findings of the study indicated that the birth mothers are experiencing regret, anger, fear, grief and intrusive thoughts. The finding also revealed that the pain of relinquishment is evoked in cases of events such as holidays and birthdays, and when birth mothers encounter discrimination from the society. The adjustment to the pain is however determined by birth mothers perceived degree of participation in the decision to relinquish, by the available contact with their children or adoptive parents and the social support they get. Participants used different coping strategies which include acceptance, “talking”, helping others, concealing feelings, withdrawing and spirituality. The finding of this research calls the attention of social workers both in providing birth mothers counseling services and advocating for them. The finding also calls for the attention of policy advocacy and further research in the area. Further research could be conducted on the experience of birth mothers who get married and have subsequent children after they have relinquished and also on the experience of birth fathers who relinquished.

International Adoption looked at from the Circumstances, Perspectives and Experience of Birthmothers in Wonji Shoa and Addis Ababa, Rebecca Demissie (2013)

Abstract: The study aimed to understand and document the circumstances, perspective and experience of birthmothers who have relinquished their children for international adoption in Wonji Shoa and Addis Ababa. Qualitative method was employed for this research. The main participants of the study were five birthmothers who were selected purposively based on their involvement in international adoption, their varied experiences and willingness to participate in the study. Moreover, selected key informants were approached to share their views and experience on international adoptions of children from Ethiopia. These included adoption agency staff, a director of an orphanage, a law practitioner, a counselor and a staff from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA). Addis Ababa and Wonji Shoa were selected as study sites purposively due to the availability of birthmothers willing to take part in the study. The case study method was used in order to gather data. To supplement data from the five study participants key informant interview was conducted with officials and staff of institutions that are involved in the work of international adoptions. The study found out that most of the case informants were raised in a poor family, lived in poverty, had low level education and therefore had limited access to information. Most of the mothers thought the adoption was not permanent and they expected not only regular contacts some even thought of the possibility of reunion with their children. The failed expectation to have regular contacts as well as their improved life later in life has caused the mothers regret their decision to give up their children for adoption. Birthmothers’ source of information on international adoption was through families, friends, adoption agency staff and health assistants. The study suggests understanding the birthmothers experience can help design appropriate response to the new waves of adoption of children from Ethiopia. Local mechanism and alternatives should be given propriety and mothers and birthing relatives in general should be made aware of the alternatives. Adoption should follow the principles of informed consent; mal-practices that can be considered as recruitment by agencies should be regulated. Above all economically disadvantaged families should be given attention and support they need to raise a family as the birth family is the best environment for the children’s wellbeing.

Depression Problems And Coping Mechanisms: The case of Ethiopian birth parents who relinquished their children for inter-country adoptionWondwossen Teshome Mekuria (2013)

Imagine the strong bond between a child and a mother— but why do parents relinquish their children for inter- country adoption? The book reveals the major reasons, and how Ethiopian birth parents who relinquished their children for inter-country adoption suffer from severe and moderate depression problem. It also indicates coping strategies applied by birth parents to overcome their problems. The author has recommended different alternatives to overcome the depression and related problems birth parents have faced, and strategies for adoption interventions.

Birth Families and Intercountry Adoption in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sarah Brittingham (2010)

Excerpt: The aim of this study is to establish the circumstances in which birth families relinquish their children for intercountry adoption in Ethiopia. While adoption is often colloquially understood as the arrangements for the parenting and up-bringing of an orphan who has lost both parents, seventy percent of children adopted by US citizens from Ethiopia have a surviving guardian from the birth family who has relinquished the child for the purpose of intercountry adop-tion1. Parents’ and relatives’ placement of children for intercountry adoption (ICA) will be situated within the context of HIV/AIDS, urban poverty, inter-nal migration, and inadequate social protection, all of which contribute to the weakening of traditional social systems that previously provided care to or-phans, most commonly within the extended family. At the same time, partici-pants’ perceptions of local options are undermined by the existence of institu-tional care and ICA placement, options for care that were idealized by participants with often-tragic consequences.

The Legacy of Exploitation in Intercountry Adoptions from Ethiopia: “We Were under the Impression That Her Birth Parents Had Died,” Shelley A. Steenrod (2021)

Ethiopia legally banned intercountry adoption in 2018 following reports of corruption, illegal practices, and child trafficking. While the intercountry adoption program is now closed, the enduring legacy of exploitation continues. Through interviews with adoptive parents, this study explores what and how adoption-related exploitation occurred. It also describes a cyclical and iterative process that adoptive parents, impacted by adoption-related exploitation, undertook to understand whether and how referral, concerning, and emergent adoption narratives fit together.

This is the first paper of a group of papers. The second will be published in Adoption Quarterly in early 2021.