Ethiopia Adoption Program

Current Status as of December 2014
Over the past several months there has been a slowdown in Ethiopia in the processing of all adoption cases for all international adoption agencies. As with all international adoption in all of the countries, there is a political basis for this slowdown. Although there are more and more children all over the world who need permanent families, there are more and more government restrictions against international adoption.

llien has been finding families for children for thirty three years and we have watched these children grow and thrive in their permanent families. We have been working in Ethiopia almost ten years and we are committed to the vulnerable children of Ethiopia and to the work that we are doing there with the orphanages and communities.

If you are interested in adopting a child from Ethiopia and if you are fully aware of the delays and difficulties that you will encounter, we will gladly accept to work with you. From what we can see, know and hear, Ethiopia is not closing its adoption program; they are just slowing it down. The end results will be to reduce the number of children adopted internationally. It will work. However, those families who are committed to these orphans will be able eventually to become their family, but only with patience and perseverance.

Illien Adoptions is accepting applications at this time for Ethiopia from Prospective Adoptive Parents who understand and acknowledge the delays and wish to proceed anyway.


Illien Adoptions International, Inc. has been licensed by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of the Government of Ethiopia since the beginning of 2006 to find permanent families for abandoned children. Since beginning its work in Ethiopia, Illien Adoptions has partnered with the Illien Foundation for Children, Inc. to assist with humanitarian projects to benefit many poor and destitute children and help address the causes of abandonment. If you or your family or friends want to donate to any projects during the course of your adoption, you may make donations through Illien Foundation for Children, Inc..

Illien Adoptions International, Inc. maintains an in-country office and staff. These people's experience, energy, passion, and commitment to the children of Ethiopia are the heart and soul of Illien’s Ethiopia program. The Agency works in cooperation with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) licensed by the Ethiopian government to give orphanage care to children.

Children Eligible for Adoption in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a wonderful program for families who wish to adopt a child of any age, ranging from babies to sibling groups and children with special needs. Families may state their preference for the gender and age range for the child at time of referral (with certain restrictions). Currently, our families are experiencing a longer wait time for a referral of a baby girl than for a baby boy. When our agency makes a referral to a Prospective Adoptive Parent(s), we send a complete Child Profile Report (CPR), which includes all available information on the child’s family history, as well as medical information including lab workups, which detail HIV, Hepatitis and venereal disease status. The child(ren) are referred to the orphanages by the Ethiopian government officials. In Ethiopia, it is not the custom to register a child at the time of birth. Therefore, the age of the child is estimated according to the information available. When the child comes to the orphanage, the age of the child is already established by the official documentation. Our Agency’s staff in Addis has the child examined by a panel physician of the US Embassy before we give the referral to a family. Therefore, an official / legal age, as well as a medically estimated age are both provided to families.

Sibling Groups 

Ethiopia is a great program for those interested in adopting a group of siblings. To learn more about one family's journey check out the story of a recent Illien Adoptions Ethiopia Program family currently featured on our Family Stories page:

Requirements for Prospective Adoptive Parents

Single women and married couples are eligible to adopt. The government of Ethiopia prefers to place children with couples who have been married for five years, but couples married for at least one year are also acceptable. In general, the upper age limit for Prospective Adoptive Parents is 60. However, if the Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) are open to considering children age 10 and older, then these parent(s) may, on a case by case basis, be accepted to adopt. Prospective adoptive families are not limited by the amount of children currently residing in the home. 

Travel Requirement

As of May 9, 2010, Prospective Adoptive Parent(s) are required to travel to Ethiopia for the Court Hearing for the adoption. The purpose of this requirement is for the Prospective Parent(s) to see the child, spend time with the child, and appear before the judge to affirm in person their decision to adopt this child(ren). The Ethiopian authorities hope that this will prevent disruptions and ensure a safe and permanent relationship between the parents and the child(ren). If a married couple is adopting, both parents are required to attend the court hearing. Adoptive Parent(s) are not required to attend the US Embassy appointment in Ethiopia. However, if no parent is able to attend, then the child may be escorted. Choosing to have an escort can add several months to the adoption process. If escort services are needed, this can be arranged through the Agency.

Why Ethiopian Children Are in Need of Adoptive Placement

Ethiopian children have become orphaned, relinquished, or are abandoned for a number of reasons stemming from the country’s overwhelming social issues of widespread poverty and disease. Many of the children are orphaned because their parents did not have access to adequate nutrition or medical care. Many children have minor special needs which are operable, treatable, manageable, or considered high-risk. There are some children who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS, and they are considered special needs children. Because HIV/AIDS is affecting more and more children in Ethiopia, our agency has increased its efforts to help these children find loving homes.

How To Learn More About or Begin the Adoption Process for Ethiopia

First, if you are interested in learning more about our Ethiopia Program and our agency, go to our website's "How To Get Started" inquiry page. This is a form that helps us respond to your questions more efficiently, and there is no cost or obligation. Please fill it out completely, click on SUBMIT, and our staff will respond soon after (please be sure to include your email address, so that we may send out our informational documents to you).

Second, for more details about the Ethiopia program, feel free to email and request the extended edition of our Ethiopia Program Description and other information. For a breakdown of actual and estimated fees, see also left sidebar of this Ethiopia Program page; this "Program Details" PDF is a 1-page downloadable fee worksheet.

It is very important with any international adoption program that we make sure that you qualify for this program and that you understand how the country’s adoption process works. We always enjoy speaking with our prospective adoptive parents. We also encourage you to follow up your inquiry by calling Debbie Thornton at (941) 729-0325 or (404) 815-1599, ext.107, or by calling the Ethiopia Program Director, Sarah White (ext.105), or our Ethiopia department-wide number: (404) 815-1599, ext. 11. We also welcome you to fill out our online inquiry form to request information about our Ethiopia Program or any of our programs.

For more information about Albania Adoption please go to the following link: More Information on Adopting from Ethiopia

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