Adoptions of children represent one posible solution and sometimes a way to salvation as circumstances arise which are insufficient to meet the basic needs of the children or cannot even guarantee the preservation of their own lives.

The exceptional conditions in which the tough decision to give a child in foster care is to be taken are so multiple, delicate and surely difficult, that make it very difficult to describe fairly and objectively the generality of them. Certainly, at the base of the motivations for adopting parents to start a long process, difficult, risky and not wear-free there is love and regard for the welfare of the child.

Since April we know about the cases of Spanish families who traveled to Ethiopia to pick up their children and whose happiness was cut short when, unexpectedly, the initial judgment in principle favourable to the adoption was reversed. But there they stood, committed to life and human rights that should be guaranteed in all areas and in all processes without exception. And yet, in late August, the Ethiopian justice again overturned the adoption. The families have appealed the decision and will continue to pursue the rights of the children which is what parents do. For these children were already their children before the judgment was favorable, still are after it was revoked and will remain so no matter what the authorities decide. The heart knows no signatures.

There were so many requests for adoption in that country that they had to resort to protocols. These are necessary but often, especially in cases where problems arise, they just serve to make the children invisible along with their emotional rights, the protection of their lives and their right to grow up in a safe environment where they are allowed to exercise their rights as children. Politically correct expressions cannot alleviate the big emotional tear that separation from a child implies. The attitude of these parents are proof anywhere in the world of their suitability as adoptive parents. Despite their more than obvious pain and the certainly hard and stressful struggle to regain their children, they maintain at all times the respect for the country of origin, for their roots.

“Adoption” is a term needed to describe a process that has brought a son or daughter to the lives of parents. But it should not be used to make distinctions about the quality of affection that is placed in them, much less decide when to start giving and  receiving it. No parent requires a signature to do so.

It is true, nevertheless,  that the adoption process implicitly carries certain psychological and emotional connotations with which both parents and children will have to live, so as to find the best way to preserve all the rights that the child brings along just for the fact of coming from another culture and another life style having other type of bondings.

I meet with Ricard Domingo, President of the AFNE Association (Association of Families of Children from Ethiopia), and with his first sentence he lets me know that these rights are recognised as fundamental to the relationship of respect and love between them: “The only justification for adoption is the benefit of the child, not that of the adoptive family. ”

AFNE was created, among other things, with the goal to preserve the child’s Ethiopian origins, take care of the post-adoption stage, maintain the child’s  links with Ethiopia, share learning  activities among families, set up collaborative projects with their country of origin, and help the children to safeguard their traditions, including their language.

It is important to know the relevance that the families from this association give the child as an entity. Not as a possession to be given new features far away from those of their ancestors. The Spanish parents of these children  know they always will be Ethiopian. Therefore, they engage in cooperation projects necessary for sustainable development in Ethiopia. I listen in awe how simple things for us result in a significant positive change in the lives of the families of some Ethiopian villages. AFNE is also involved in the drilling of wells to bring up water and make it useful and profitable. As the water became available, they were able to irrigate their home gardens, they sowed apple trees as they discovered these trees thrived and easily nurtured an important part of the family members. Things that are simple and rudimentary in developed countries can be vital to underdeveloped areas, where people give value to matters that advanced countries have long forgotten. But there is another added factor in these gardens: the fact that the Ethiopians of these areas realized it was not the “advanced world” that produced the miracles  but they themselves with the adequate resources could do the same. The  training opportunities are one of the valuable cooperative  aims of these Spanish families. Along the same lines, they also started to organize other activities such as solidarity racing. With the proceeds, they bought sewing machines, with which, again, people who learned to use them realized that with the right tools they could also supply themselves with clothing and household goods  necessary for everyday life. Concepts which we here associate with boredom, for some people they encompass and mean the totality of life.

Undoubtedly, the adoptive parents of Ethiopian children understand the responsibility they take by adopting children. From the very first moment of their life-sharing in Spain, they profess serious respect for their ancestral roots and help the children maintain a positive pride in them. It is considered a fundamental right of the children and, as such, they build their mutual relationship on it. They try to collaborate in all honesty, with respect, love and a huge dose of support for the children, attending to and understanding their need to keep in touch with their ancestors. Further targets are to give them the chance to know, promote and constructively use the independence that they are committed to preserve for the children, so as to never invade or destroy their cultural space but, on the contrary, to work together as a perfect and harmonious  team based on the respect needed to build an enriching cultural exchange for everyone.

When we talk about the fundamental rights of children, sheer justice, and of families  that want to, can and know how to be a good family, statistics are not necessary. Only sanity, morality and empathy are necessary in a world as large and diverse as it is complex. In its absence, everything will unfortunately remain far from the view of those who claim to work for a better world.

The two adoptive families have begun a campaign at to return to Spain with their children.

Translated by Arturo Guillén