A few years ago, after much research, discussion, and prayer, my husband and I sent in the preliminary applications for adopting from Ethiopia. The staff at the agency, Better Future Adoption Services (BFAS) in Minnesota, was courteous, and the fact that it was founded and directed by an Ethiopian Christian woman, Agitu Wodajo, seemed encouraging. We were nervous filling out the financial paperwork—we certainly weren't going to be any orphan's Daddy Warbucks—but we felt that material wealth was a less-important factor in deciding who will and will not parent well. (Recently, in researching for other writing, I discovered that less-affluent parents are actually more likely to spend more time sharing meals with their children than are wealthier parents.)

But BFAS didn't feel the same way. We had been students the year before we applied, so our tax returns showed us to be below poverty level, and that was apparently grounds enough for delaying our application another year at least. Add to that our upcoming inter-country move (from Germany back to the United States), and BFAS decided that we'd better not start our dossier with them just yet. Too bad, because adoptive parents can wait up to two years after completing their dossier to welcome their adopted child home.

Yet getting rejected turned out to be a very good thing. It wasn't too long before the Department of State warned that Ethiopia's Charities and Services Agency had revoked BFAS's license to operate in Ethiopia due to alleged "license misuse." That's the nice way of putting it. The less-sanitized words used in the letter from the Charities and Services agency were "child trafficking"—including falsifying documents to make children look like they were abandoned who, ...

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