Inter-Country Adoption of Ethiopian Children by Foreigners of Ethiopian Origin: Best Interests of the Child at Crossroads
Keywords:adoption, best interests of the child, child right, Gudiffacha, Ethiopia
Adoption is an age-old customary practice in Ethiopia. Parallel to the customary practice, the 1960 Civil Code and then the Revised Federal Family Code gave legal recognition to both domestic and inter-country adoption. However, in 2018, the House of Peoples’ Representatives issued Proclamation No. 1070/2018 amending the Revised Federal Family Code, which banned inter-country adoption. In 2020, the Federal Supreme Court Cassation Division Bench gave an interpretation to the ban as not applicable to foreigners of Ethiopian origin. Further, in another recent decision, the Court extended the interpretation as not applicable to foreigners who are adopting their Ethiopian spouse’s child(ren), introducing a new approach of relative inter-country adoption. Following, this article examines the policy choice that resulted in the ban of inter-country adoption and the raison d’etre of the Cassation bench’s landmark decisions in light of the best interest of the child and Ethiopia’s international human rights commitments. In doing so, it employs a doctrinal analytical approach focusing on case analysis. The article ends with a conclusion that, the current legal stance of the legislature and the judiciary need redirection towards a stringent assessment for permission than a blanket ban, which needs investment in institutional infrastructure and the socioeconomic aspect of domestic alternative care but is definitely respectful of children’s best interests and compliant with Ethiopia’s international human rights commitments.