Ethiopia-Yes Unethical Behavior Begins at the Orphanage Level
So the Mussie Orphanage aka Bethzatha (and multiple other spellings) has had its license revoked. CHSFS clients are the ones reporting this publicly. We have seen many private reports as well. As we mentioned in our March analysis of the Dutch on-the-ground Ethiopia investigative report , CHSFS admits that agencies are required to work with multiple orphanages. Multiple agencies work with EACH orphanage. At MINIMUM, we have found in our analysis through agency admissions in their own publishings that the following agencies work with Mussie aka Bethzatha.
Yep, even the ORIGINAL international adoption agency, Holt, used this orphanage. Do you still believe that the issues are not widespread or are you still looking at the tip of the Ethiopia iceberg?
We still see the people with their heads in the sand trying to rebuff what is going on by trying to deflect the issue at hand-orphanage corruption- to recent articles about “old news” CWA and the Australian report (here and here). Those articles are one important facet to the Ethiopian issues but we will continue to hammer home that it ALL BEGINS AT THE ORPHANAGE LEVEL. ( By the way, check out the photo in the second article captured by Kathryn Joyce, the articles’ author, of the BFAS property seizure notice.)
Fixing Things–What Each Player Can and Cannot Do
Local people, local officials, US agency personnel, JCICS, politicians at several levels involved in adoption causes, law making or processes….they all feed off of and/or make money and/or use as political clout what stems from the orphanage. “Following the money trail” is a common phrase. We will offer you a new one—“Dip your head into the money primordial soup.” Everyone who has been involved in the adoption industry has evolved from the money primordial soup. Other agencies and departments that seemingly are involved with international adoption really are not-they are just bureaucrats who do not want to touch INTERNATIONAL issues at all.
Ponder for a moment how widespread the cover-up must have to be (We are sure some day that a FOIA request will reveal interesting communications as it did in Vietnam situation) if all of these players are involved or just keep believing your agency…the ones making $ upfront from you without needing to deliver a result because you signed a contract that says so. Think about it: Every adoption contract says that they can’t guarantee an outcome–the only service that I can think of where you sign a contract without a guarantee of ANY outcome except handing your money over.
We know who the PAPs will blame for this closing and the delays-those of us speaking out about corruption, Ethiopian and US government…but never the beloved, placed-on-a pedestal, “God-loving” agencies who are just “in it for the children”. So in it for the children that they do not even know what goes on in the orphanage or with their employees. Oh, but they are JUST CONTRACT employees you may say. Ah yes, that makes it so much better. You pay tens of thousands of dollars for services of people who couldn’t find their behinds with two hands. Or they are purposefully obfuscating to make money. I know that some of you think there are so many more options than that. But, but ,but…they don’t understand how to do paperwork there, it’s not their culture to do things this way, or our favorite “The birthmothers in these countries have the right to place their children and their big bad government just won’t let them do it properly” as if women have any kind of parity to men in any sending country—stop applying US equality and decision-making to ANY sending country. It is an utterly FALSE comparison.
Well the agencies say that the locals have been trained AND the agencies have been paid tens of thousands of dollars by YOU, the client (what number are you on your agency’s “list” of clients again?), so WHY don’t they have a process and paperwork?
Think about all the $ that these large agencies rack in year to year from the huge number of Ethiopia clients. Our comments from the USCIS teleconference slides show that “Seventeen agencies placed more than 100 kids apiece.” That doesn’t even account for the clients-in-progress. Those seventeen agencies are the big ones, the “good ones” too. Let’s see 100 x $20,000 = whew, that should be a lot of training for the locals, huh?
COA is the agency that makes an adoption agency “Hague-approved.” Do you know that the president of the adoption agency organization JCICS, Tom DiFilipo, is on the Board of Directors of COA? Oh but that conflict of interest couldn’t possibly have anything to do with ethics in adoption. No, no, no. Everyone is in it “for the children.” It is all about “the children.” La la la la la la la la la la la la.
Did you know that any past complaint about an adoption agency that occurred prior to 2008 Hague approval has NO bearing on revocation of a current Hague approval? Yessiree, anything from the past has been swept under the rug. Their slates are clean. That is why reports like Fruits report do not make the agencies shake in their boots. The process is ALWAYS in their favor. It’s just the PAPs and APs that get
Well, also the children, too.
So how about the US Department of State? Can’t they investigate and make things clean? No, they only investigate when papers are presented to them….that is AFTER Ethiopia has made your adoption FINAL. So that places all due diligence of ethics on the adoption agency…the ones making money from you…the ones who don’t have consequences because no one actually has any power to do anything about them…well except for PAPs who give them money. This is a case where “voting with your wallet” is the ONLY way things can get cleaned up.
But can’t the State Department shut down an agency? Sorry, but no. They only issue visas after investigating the paperwork that the agencies hand the client to hand to them…the papers that you the client is on the hook for. Wait, they do something else too…the opposite of shutting down agencies. They assist wherever possible in expanding US business opportunities throughout the world. Keep that in mind as you read about how they helped adoption agencies expand Ethiopia operations in 2007 (JCICS section below). Yep, adoptions doubled in the next 3 years after that. DOUBLED. As an aside, you can also foretell the future of International Adoption by what trips the DOS takes with JCICS (hint: Uganda.)
How about the state adoption licensing agencies? Surely THEY can do SOMETHING! . They run for the hills when presented with INTERNATIONAL issues. They cannot investigate ANYTHING internationally and that is where the issues lie, so agencies keep staying in business. Some who have the heat on them just move to another state. That is why we are thrilled when we get to report that agencies are under investigation by state licensing agencies because it is VERY RARE.
How about getting the FCC to prosecute them for false advertising? That would be great, but how do you prove these international issues to them?
Well the FBI must help, right? No, they get involved when $50,000 or more has been defrauded from you or if a pool of people can show $50,000 has been defrauded. That dollar figure is ALWAYS more than an individual agency will take from you. It is also why agencies have a tendency to punt “problem” clients from their private forums because they don’t want the “problem” clients banding together and going to the FBI.
What about our local politicians? Can’t they assist with the ethical issues in Ethiopia? The ones that deal with international adoption are part of the CCAI which assist adoption agencies in getting the needed legislations to continue their business operations. They CAN use their influence to force things to happen, but hopefully noone is under the illusion that scenario has anything to do with ethics or assuring paperwork is legitimate. For the sake of my stomach, I cannot use politicians and ethics in the same context again.
What about that organization that allegedly is there to help adoptive parents, the JCICS? Can’t they help with the ethics? Um, they are an AGENCY and service provider advocacy and lobbying organization who are CREATING the issues. Additionally, they have the CCAI and individual politicians on speed-dial (see number 4 below). The US Department of State even helped JCICS businesses expand (see number 2 below.)
Let’s revisit Ethiopia activities of JCICS and others from JCICS’ own meeting minutes because ALL of this happened under their CLOSE WATCH.
(1) CCAI (aka politicians from both Republican and Democratic parties…isn’t it nice how bipartisan this all is?), JCICS and Ethiopian Embassy December 2006
“A few days later CCAI hosted eight members of the Guatemalan Congress for a series of approximately eleven meetings with various Senators and Congressmen. Together they represent a voting majority that committed to passing Hague legislation in Guatemala as soon as possible. The visit ended with a reception held at the Ethiopian Embassy and dinner with various JCICS members.”
This indicated that the Department of State assisted in reducing barriers to open or expand new programs in Africa. From 2007 to 2010, Ethiopia adoptions doubled. Uganda seemed to be the next frontier as troubles continue to plague the Ethiopia program.
DOS is working with JCICS to assist with arranging potential trips to Ethiopia, Uganda and possibly South Africa.”
Member agency trips were revealed. Bethany and Gladney go to Colombia. Unidentified agencies go to Ethiopia”
(4) First half of 2008 : Bonus insight into how many times JCICS meets with politicians. Also how US adoption agencies via JCICS actually DESIGNED the child welfare processes in Ethiopia. Before we get to the JCICS meeting note quotes, an article published in the Christian magazine, World, just a few days ago even mentions how JCICS assisted in the “Ethiopian Model.” An excerpt: “”The swelling adoption program brought serious concerns: How could Ethiopia avoid the pitfalls that ensnared other countries? Tom DeFilipo of the D.C.-based Joint Council on International Adoptions [sic]says the scandals pushed Ethiopia to develop a better system.
The Ethiopia model—developed in conjunction with adoption agencies and advocates like DeFilipo—includes government audits of orphanages and adoption agencies, and a demanding process with layers of protections.”
So, if they DESIGNED the process and the process has been found to be unethical, then…oh no, silly me, they couldn’t be at fault. They are in it “for the children.” Hey, this indicates that they developed the Nepal and Rwanda processes too and we all know how wonderfully those worked out…oh wait…
“The Ethiopian government was extremely receptive to the JCICS delegation. JCICS met with various government agencies and local service providers.”
“Activity in the Last 30 Days
– Meetings on the Hill with Landrieu, Clinton & Casey’s office
– JCICS working with Casa Quivera families stuck in Guatemala
– Ethiopia SOP
– Met with National Benefit Center in KS on 4/1
– Met with Vietnam officials
– Met with Department of Migration
– Met with CCAI 2x
– Met with USCIS 3x
– Met with DOS 5x
– Meet monthly with Center for Adoption Policy
– Participating in DOS study on disruptions”
So how did that DOS study on disruptions go, anyway? RALLY is wondering because we have never seen any results from that effort.”
“In the first week of July, Tom will travel to Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nepal. Joint Council has been asked to assist in the development of a child protection system in Ethiopia, and Nepal has signed off on the terms and conditions that will allow adoptions to resume.
Joint Council is working with the Carter Foundation, UNICEF and Holt to assist with the development of child protection regulations in Liberia, but we will not be traveling there.”
In 2011, Ethiopia is in turmoil. Rwanda, Nepal and Liberia (except for a pilot program) are shut down. Yet supposedly the JCICS was helping with child protection regulations 3 years before. It is a pathetic truth that JCICS member organizations have been deeply involved in the countries that have had huge child protection issues since this time”
(5) July 2008-shutting down the competition. This leaves the remaining agencies to be mostly JCICS and Hague approved ones. This is the timeframe when agencies leveraged birthfamily meeting control. And another JCICS trip to Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia was considering a suspension of adoptions. The meetings held seemed to have deterred the government from a closure to a reduction of adoption service providers from 70 to 40. At least a dozen will be delisted as they do not offer a broad range of child welfare services there. The issue of whether or not agencies need to be Hague Accredited was also raised by some officials.
The standards of practice developed by JCICS were well received; two of the ministries (MOJ & MFA) communicated their desire to continue and strengthen their relationship with JCICS. To that end they have strongly encouraged JCICS to have an official representative on the ground to be present in Addis.”
At this point in Ethiopia, the corruption was so great that almost half of the agencies were shut down. It is important to note that the JCICS standards contain blockades between the original family and adoptive family that are supposedly for transparency. In actuality, it allows the adoption agency to maintain complete control over the situation and this can in fact hide irregularities in relinquishment and unethical agency practices .
“9.1.5.. There should not be any exchange of contact information (addresses, e-mail,
telephone numbers), nor direct contact between birth families and APs. All
correspondence should go through the ASP. Only letters, redacted post-placement
reports and photos shall be exchanged after the adoption; and
9.1.6.. Visits will take place in a controlled, quiet, neutral environment rather than in a
public setting. The visit should not take place at the birth family’s home or at the
adoptive family’s hotel/guesthouse.
9.1.7.. ASPs will facilitate, train and support local staff and ET-NGO staff to ensure
ethical and appropriate interaction between APs and birth family.
9.1.8.. Meetings between APs and birth family must be regularly monitored by a
representative or staffperson from the ASP’s office in Ethiopia.”
Combined with this part “4.1.3.. Documenting that information about a child’s initial social history and family history is preserved and kept confidential between interested adoption parties”, section 9 actually makes the JCICS member agency an “interested party” since they are doing all of the translating and overseeing the interaction.
“Tom just returned from another trip. JCICS is well positioned there and our presence continues to grow.”
The JCICS is increasing their trips and influence. More and more documentation of corruption is also occurring in this timeframe.
See http://www.jcics.org/IRI%202007.htm for the description of this International Relations Initiative.
The $4500 donation they received for this “will be put towards an advocacy trip to Ethiopia in late April as JCICS has been asked by the consulate there to come for a visit.”
Yet Another Ethiopia Visit
“Ethiopia – just back from visit and 22 member agencies showed up at meeting; met President; event hosted by CHS[FS] was succsssful”
Since the information on the closure is coming publicly from CHSFS, let’s examine what they say that they do. CHSFS website July 12, 2011 Ethics in practice actually discusses how they train the workers :
CHSFS works only with orphanages that provide counseling on more than one occasion for birth parents who are considering relinquishing their child
CHSFS monitors local orphanages and works only with orphanages that are licensed
CHSFS provides local orphanages and nongovernmental organizations with on-going staff training on best practices in childcare and child development
CHSFS researches and verifies each child’s background information
CHSFS does not compensate local orphanages on a per-child basis”
The last compensation point may be technically correct. Keep in mind that Bethzatha (multiple spellings and has been re-named Mussie) employees were found to have harvested. In our analysis of the Fruits of Ethiopia report , our first crucial point is
“Case 10 Gelgela 2008 the birthmother’s cousin “worked at that time for Gelgela and now works for Bethezata… She told us that Bethezatha employs for a monthly salary (around 400 Birr) people in the villages to find children for adoption.”
So the employees of the orphanage HARVEST, according to the on-the-ground report.
CHSFS claims that they verify background and give training. If local employees are paying the villagers off, their “verification” is meaningless. Obviously training does not overcome the locals who are making money on the side from gaining kids into the orphanage. This is STILL not an ethical process. At least the Ethiopian government is cracking down on one orphanage, but this token crackdown is not enough.
We have added excerpts from the summary of the listen-in-only CHSFS conference call to their clients circulated here to our analysis of their gameplan:
1. Shift Blame to UNICEF
“A while back, MOWA and CSA started partnering with UNICEF to develop long-term strategies for kids in institutional care—foster care, domestic care, etc. CSA has always said they were ranking orphanages and ASPs to revoke some licenses, but this rarely seemed to actually happen so there was no indication it was going to happen soon.”
2. Downplay Arrest
“Arrest: “a cursory examination of human rights indicates that detention of individuals is not uncommon.” Two Mussie staff were detained for questioning; one is released and one is still in custody. We hope that ET will disclose more information. This is not a presumption of guilt. We have no information about malfeasance related to adoption processing, and we don’t think these actions affect families.
Mussie is actively appealing revocation of their license.
CHSFS has been assured that they have done nothing wrong, that this just involves Mussie licensing.
They are concerned about how this was done –it hasn’t happened before in Ethiopia. It’s an emerging situation we’re taking seriously. Think it’s premature to presume guilt or jump to conclusions…. When asked for name of person who remains detained: It’s the director of the orphanage (did not give his name).”
3. Tell clients that even though kids are in a different orphanage, there may NOT be delays
“Kids from Mussie in Wolayita and Hossana were taken to Kingdom Vision Intl in Wolayita. It’s not known how long they’ll stay there –the govt is tentative with information. No idea what the kids were told. Some Mussie staff were at least able to visit, but doesn’t seem like they have any ongoing involvement. Kids are really in the hands of Kingdom Vision Intl. CHSFS can’t confirm how the kids will be prepared for further transitions….Kids who had passed courts and have MOWA letter and passport are in Addis at Ebenezer or Hope for the Needy; kids who passed court but do NOT have MOWA letter are in Wolayita. (This prior part is not entirely clear to me)… We don’t know how many kids were in Mussie when this happened, or how many they are licensed for…Adoptions of the Mussie kids is not necessarily on hold – it remains to be seen how this gets sorted out for each kid and each case. Theoretically possible that there may be complexities with MOWA, or the court may need new documentation.”
4. Pat themselves on the back
“USCIS has told CHSFS that Mussie has the kind of profile that the govt prefers to see, that is, it seems like a good orphanage.”
A Snapshot of What Agencies Do to PAPs
We are going to apply what we told you in our Fruits of Ethiopia analysis to a real-life family who is currently going through the process with one of the orphanages cited in the Fruits report. PAPs, please heed these warnings as what occurs below is PREDICTABLE based on what the investigation by the ACT NGO did in Ethiopia. Though the Fruits report is about Dutch cases, the Dutch use the EXACT SAME orphanages as the US agencies use and the issues BEGIN at the ORPHANAGE LEVEL.
Again we want to reiterate what has been stated in many private forums and publicly in blogs that Mussie has had its licensed revoked-this blog reports that it was prior to May 21, 2011.
From a CHSFS client May 21-while IN Ethiopia . Clients pay tens of thousands of dollars for SERVICES and THIS is the obfuscation that they get. It is vitally important to understand the EXTENT of the information kept from clients about anything-from orphanage license revocation to NEW orphanage arrangements to important procedures surrounding proof of abandonment. To NOT share this important information with a client PRIOR to travel is DESPICABLE!
“Afternoon back to CHS[FS] office for meeting w Israel’s soical worker to discuss his development in more detail. Later a meeting with Maarta, who is adoption division-the process person. We all met around a big conference table on the 4th floor. Marble floors! Nice table with leather chair and an old sharp television sitting at the end.
Could see a schoolyard with boys in blue sweaters playing hoops and soccer. Saw a kid doing an inverson crossover move!
Meeting with Maarta is fantastic, more concrete information than we have had cumulative in three years. We learned about MOWA and why they don’t like adoption, about how court dates are assigned, that Mussie lost its license, that the “care center” is help for the needy orphanage, that they have added Ebeneezer orphanage and that Ebeneezer is where our kids will be going. It’s a one month old relationship which makes all of us nervous.”
“We learned that if a birth parent’s whereabouts are unknwn then the court will want to see a Police Report. Ours have been requested but not delivered whch is concerning. We learned the order of the process, MOWA letter, court date, birth certificate, then passport, then immigration, then embassy date. We never knew ANY of this. Furthermore this informattion, and specifics , are being communicated to Jan Simon.”
On their court day
“The MOWA letter says we are not approved until wthe judge sees more info on the whereabouts and status of Israel’s father. Evidently if the father has been gone for less than two years, they require a Police Report from the district in which he used to live with the mother. The judge has postponed a ruling on our case until May 30th in order to wait for this report.
Unfortunately Wundwassa mixes or cases up, and doesn’t seem to know very basic elements of our cases. He told us that the issue was stemming from Israel,s fathers death, his father is living. he makes similar incorrect statements to Apu and Carol. This has been a consistent issue, there seems to be very little attention paid to the details.
Anyway Wundwassa did the best he could explaining the situtation, but it just led to more questions. We asked to be driven to the office to talk w Maarta again.
We arrived and were invited to sit in her office which she shares with two orthree others, who gave up their chairs for us all to sit. Maarta explained the police report issue– turns out that Bereket and Ereftu’s report came in yesterday and they sould be approved on Monday May 30. Sadly, Israel’s report is not in yet. Maarta called in the man who would be going back down to Hosanna to try to get it from the Police Department before Friday”
PAPs see these inconsistencies as local employees of the agency not understanding details. This “mix-up” of death of a birthparent is COMMON in the investigations of the cases in the Fruits report. Again this orphanage HARVESTS so falsification of documents along the way HAS TO accompany the harvesting in order for the embassy to approve the visa. Whether or not the agency knows this is IRRELEVANT to what is ACTUALLY HAPPENING. This is EXACTLY what has occurred in Nepal and Vietnam and Guatemala. Same playbook, different characters.
Falsification of papers along with agency control of birthfamily meetings is what the setup is. How good will agency-led investigations be? This is not a simple fix. The Ethiopian government will need to kick out the bad agencies—remember that 17 agencies each process 100 clients per year– as there is no mechanism on the US side. Why would they kick out all the agencies when agencies have funded local orphanages and have a major trickle-down effect on local economies? Do you really think they are going to stop the money train? This is why it is a conflict of interest to have ADOPTION AGENCIES fund orphanages. That should occur by separate development groups or charities NOT involved in adoption. The Ethiopia government set things up in this manner. It is no wonder that we are at this tipping point.
The one thing that can be controlled is for PAPs to not sign up for Ethiopia programs until real fixes occur. And yes, children will suffer. You can thank the adoption agencies for that as they have been integral in the policy-making and operation of this, directly and indirectly. They have been driving this money train. PAPs are the passengers that need to disembark now. You control things with your wallet and your wallet alone.
It’s time to SPEAK UP and CLEAN UP international adoption. If you don’t, you are PART OF THE PROBLEM too.
Over the past few days, rumors are circulating that more orphanages have closed. We will update our post as more information becomes available.
REFORM Puzzle Piece