Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Ethiopia: Federal Family Code Amended, Ending Intercountry Adoption

(Mar. 26, 2018) The Ethiopian House of Representatives voted on January 9, 2018, to adopt legislation amending the Federal Revised Family Code of 2000 to ban intercountry adoption.  (Amy Held, Ethiopian Lawmakers Vote To Ban Foreign Adoptions, NPR (Jan. 10, 2018); REVISED FAMILY CODE, No. 213, FEDERAL NEGARIT GAZETTA, Extra Ordinary (Issue No. 1, 2000), University of Minnesota Human Rights Library website.)  Ethiopia had imposed a moratorium on such adoptions on November 8, 2017, and the move by the country’s Parliament makes the suspension permanent.  (Ethiopia Adoption Notice: Latest Information Regarding Adoptions, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS (Nov. 8, 2017).)  Once a proposal is adopted by the House of Representatives, its enactment into law is all but guaranteed. The Constitution states as follows:

Laws deliberated upon and passed by the House shall be submitted to the Nation’s President for signature. The President shall sign a law submitted to him within fifteen days. If the President does not sign the law within fifteen days it shall take effect without his signature. (CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA, 1995, art. 57, Ethiopian government portal.)

The Revised Family Code Proclamation of 2000 contained two special provisions, articles 193 and 194(3)(d) & (4), that were applicable in cases where the adopter(s) was a foreigner, in addition to provisions that apply regardless of the identity of the adopter.  The amendment repealed these special provisions applicable to foreign adopters.  (Revised Family Code (Amendment) Proclamation, 2017, § 2, Ethiopian Legal Brief website.)

The debate on whether to end intercountry adoption has reportedly been going on since 2013, and appears to have been spurred by an outcry following the death of an adopted Ethiopian child at the hands of her adoptive parents in the United States in 2011.  (Lydia Smith, Ethiopia Bans Adoption of Children by Foreigners, INDEPENDENT  (Jan. 10, 2018); Ethiopia’s Lawmakers Approve Ban on Foreign Adoptions, LOS ANGELES TIMES (Jan. 10, 2018).)  Ethiopia is said to have accounted for 20% of the total number of foreign adoptions procured by US citizens, with over 15,000 Ethiopian children reportedly having been adopted by US families since 1999.  (Ethiopia Bans Foreign Adoptions, BBC NEWS (Jan. 10, 2018).)