Throwing Babies Out With The Bath Water

Imagining anyone throwing out a baby with the bath water is sure to bring a smile to your face.  Why?  Because the idea is silly and absurd.  Certainly you wouldn’t toss a precious baby out with dirty bath water.  Unfortunately, a recent international news story provides a real life example of such a ridiculous situation.

Throwing a baby out with the bath water is a well known idiom conveying the idea of losing something important while trying to get rid of something unwanted.  Bath water is dirty and unwanted and should be tossed.  The baby, clean or dirty, is a family member who needs to be kept around,  To get rid of the baby with the bath water indicates that whoever was doing the tossing was not paying attention to what he was doing and did not think his plan of action through.

While no news stories about bath water have made the headlines, one story affecting lots of babies has.  Earlier this month the Ethiopian parliament approved a proclamation banning foreign adoptions.  In advocating this move, the minister of women and children reported that well over 25,000 Ethiopian children had been adopted by foreigners in the past 12 years.   But almost one-fourth of the adopting parents were not reporting to Ethiopia on their children as required and could not be located.  The concern was that child abuse and child trafficking was occurring.  So, of course, the logical thing to do is to throw out foreign adoptions, right?  WRONG!

This knee jerk reaction is erroneous for various reasons.  First, it is using a nuclear bomb to act when a hand grenade might do.  If a problem exists with reporting, why not tweak the foreign adoption process rather than doing away with it entirely?  Impose penalties for non-reporting.  Require adoptive parents to provide more information/ways for them to be contacted.  It is extremely hard to believe that these adoptive parents could not be located based on the plethora of information about them in the in-depth home studies required in order to be approved to adopt.

Second, this action is being taken by leaping to unverified conclusions.  Because a couple has failed to report as required does not ipso facto mean that they are not doing so because they are abusing their adopted child.  Maybe, being wrapped up in raising a child from another country, they simply forgot to check in.  Perhaps they misplaced the form they were supposed to use or could not locate the proper address to which to send the form.

Yes, an Ethiopian child, Hana Williams, was abused (starved and beaten) and murdered by her U.S. parents back in 2011.  That sad situation doesn’t mean that ALL foreign parents are child abusers.  Why Angelina Jolie adopted her daughter Zahara from Ethiopia.  Does that mean that Angelina, a foreigner, could be a child abuser merely because she adopted a child from that country?

Third, bad apples can be found in ANY system.  The fact that some abuse might occur is not a compelling reason to chuck the entire system.  The Ethiopian government’s response is basically that if we can’t have a perfect system, we just are going to have any system at all.

Fourth, doing away with foreign adoptions is a disservice to the children the Ethiopian government is trying to protect.  So there’s no adoption.  Then what?  How are these poor children to be cared for?  If there’s no viable alternative in place, Ethiopian kids have been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire.

According to statistics compiled by William Robert Johnston, 15,319 children were adopted from Ethiopia by U.S. citizens between 1999 and 2016.  These figures establish that there is a large number of Ethiopian kids who have a chance to be raised in a stable and loving home that could provide for their basic needs who are now left to scrape by in their home country.  Ethiopia’s population suffers from poverty and poor sanitation with more than half the population lacking access to clean water.  The country has a shortage of health care workers and health care facilities.   But hey, if there are no foreign adoptions Ethiopian kids have been saved from possible abuse by foreigners.  Hallelujah!

The bottom line is that Ethiopian children have been tossed out with the bathwater of a flawed foreign adoption program.  Closing down foreign adoptions from that country allows us to say good riddance to unethical child harvesting.  But what good will come of this change for orphaned children who have no viable alternatives?

The plight of the Ethiopian children emphasizes just how broken our world is.  Unethical people have preyed upon and abused some Ethiopian children; now ALL Ethiopian orphans will have to pay the price.  No, we aren’t in Ethiopia, but this is OUR problem because all children, “red and yellow, black and white,” are precious in His sight.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this–to look after orphans in their distress. James 1:27.  Don’t look the other way when someone is trying to throw the babies out with the bath water.

Just WONDER-ing:  Do you feel that something that happens in another part of the world is not your concern?  If it is your concern, what could you do about the situation?







3 thoughts on “Throwing Babies Out With The Bath Water

  1. Thank you for bringing up Ethiopia. We are one of the couples who have waited for years for a child from Ethiopia through our adoption agency when the program closed, and while I do have empathy for why they are wanting to lessen the amount of adoptions to ensure child safety, they did not handle it right, and they were perfectly happy to take the money from prospective parents which we now can never get back (I’m talking five figures$$). Many like us have nearly bankrupted ourselves with fertility treatments and then put every cent we had into adopting from there, and the more ethical thing they could have done was to simply stop NEW applications, rather then cutting off adoptive parents whose paperwork has been sitting on their desk while they sat around and did nothing. DHS is a mess here in the United States and we’re always hearing nightmare stories, but you don’t see them stopping foster care or adoption through that system, and in neither case do they talk about all the positive stories of adoption. Thanks for writing about this.


  2. Being one that was placed in a foreign orphanage, I’m blessed that I was “rescued”. Who knows what would have become of me? Street orchin or begger? Or worse criminal or dead. Yes, Thank God for adoptions foreign or domestic.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a friend who’s daughter adopted 2 children from Ethiopia and the way that I helped was to donate money to help them through the LONG process and money it took to achieve this. There are small ways that we can help others that may be called to this ministry.

    Liked by 1 person

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