By ELIAS MESERET, Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have approved a ban on foreign adoptions amid concerns about mistreatment of children overseas.
The approval came after rare heated debate as some lawmakers worried that the East African nation does not have enough child care centers to handle the effects of the ban.
Ethiopia had been among the top 10 countries for adoptions in the United States, according to State Department figures released last year. Actress Angelina Jolie is among the people who have adopted a child from the country.
But the death in the U.S. in 2011 of an Ethiopia-born girl, with her adoptive mother convicted of homicide by abuse, led to an outcry back home, with Ethiopia that year reducing foreign adoptions by 90 percent.
The U.S. in November warned that Ethiopian authorities continued to tighten restrictions on adoptions and that the State Department would continue to engage Ethiopia's government "to address its concerns."
Ethiopia's new National Child Policy says orphans should grow up only in their homeland while honoring their culture and traditions. "They should either be adopted locally or supported by a guardian family, tutor or help them to reunite with biological parents or relatives," it says.
The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate quoted a legal affairs official at the legislative body, Petros Woldesenbet, as saying the ban on foreign adoptions will "help alleviate the identity and psychological problems of children."
The law will come into effect once it is published in the government legal gazette, which is expected in the coming weeks.
The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. parents dropped almost 5 percent in 2016 to 5,372, continuing a steady decline over more than a decade, according to State Department figures. Department officials have suggested the numbers could rise if the U.S. adoption community helped to address some countries' concerns about ethics and oversight.
Adoption advocates — and the State Department — have cited Africa as an area where adoptions may increase.