Ethiopia has banned foreign adoptions in what the government says is an effort to “prevent crimes against children.”
Solomon Asfaw, Spokesman at the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, said on Wednesday that the ban was aimed at protecting Ethiopian children and avoid mistreatment in the future.
“We also want to avoid cases wherein some children are stolen and then are sold before taken abroad,” he said.
Lawmakers approved the bill to prohibit foreign nationals from adopting Ethiopian children on Tuesday.
Some had raised concerns that the ban comes amid a shortage of local orphanages and care centres.
Ethiopia’s new National Child Policy states that orphans should be raised in their homeland, with their culture and tradition.
“They should either be adopted locally, or supported by a guardian family, tutor or help them to reunite with biological parents or relatives,” the policy reads.
Petros Woldesenbet, a legal affairs official for the parliament, said that the ban would “help alleviate the identity and psychological problems of children” in Ethiopia.
One of the most famous people to adopt a child from the poor East African nation was U.S. actress Angelina Jolie, who adopted her daughter Zahara in 2005.
Ethiopia had already greatly reduced its number of foreign adoptions allowed after the shocking abuse and death of an adopted Ethiopian girl, Hanna Williams, in the U.S. in 2011.