By: Dorrit Saietz
28 January 2014
A lawsuit brought by Amy’s Ethiopian mother to lift the adoption is used as justification that the 14-year-old girl will not be allowed to visit her homeland after four and a half years in Denmark.
The plane tickets have long been ordered, and Amy spoke about it for days. Yesterday only 16 days were left until 14 February when her biggest dream in four and a half years would become true: a one-week family visit to Ethiopia, where her mother, older sister and all the rest of the family has been waiting to welcome her.
But now Næstvej municipality at the last minute canceled the trip, said center manager for Children and Youth Thomas Carlsen. The reason is that during the visit Amy is called to testify in court in Addis Ababa in a case where her mother wants to get back custody.
“If the trial will be in the plaintiff’s favor, the custody of Amy passes from us to Amy’s biological mother . According to Danish law, we will still be responsible for Amy while we by Ethiopian law may risk being stripped of authority in the middle of the trip and then we cannot live up to our commitment to handle in Amy’s best interests.” he says.
Before the matter is resolved, the travel plans are not put in place, said Thomas Carlsen. Amy has a hard time understanding she still cannot go.
“I’m super sad and disappointed that it does not happen. I do not understand what they are afraid of, for I know that my mother will not hold me back in Ethiopia. I’ve even said that I would return to Denmark, where I have friends, school and football. So I do see not how it can damage the chance,”she says.
Næsteved municipality planned to closely monitor Amy on the trip. In addition to her foster mother Hanne Keller, 2 civil servants were to come on the trip . There was no question of an ordinary vacation visiting family, says Thomas Carlsen .
“The purpose of the trip is to strengthen Amy’s recollection of her first years, so she then can get a clearer picture of who she is and a clearer identity,” he says. Here, a trial in Addis Ababa interferes according to the municipality’s assessment. “The trial will take the focus away from the trip’s purpose. Also, the media attention from both Danish and Ethiopian press that a lawsuit can bring, will take away focus,” says Thomas Carlsen.
Amy’s mother accuses the Danish adoptive parents of psychological abuse of her daughter and wants the adoption cancelled.
Amy is called as a witness in court, to tell how she feels, how she was treated by her adoptive parents, who after a year asked the municipality to place her. Since they repented Amy was throwing ball between several warring factions.
What are the rules?
Counsel for the Danish branch of Amnesty Claus Juul considers that it bears witness to the many paradoxes of international adoption.
” Adoption is a two sided case , where there is a judgment both down there and up here in Denmark . What takes precedence? Which rules are applicable? It should be clarified in general, if we want intercountry adoption,” he said.
Amy’s mother is represented by activist Arun Dohle from the European NGO Against Child Trafficking which fights unethical adoptions.
“I’m shocked. My understanding is that if Amy’s mother had not raised the issue, she could see her daughter. This is a terrible blackmail of her and Amy, who are the weaker party in all this,” he says.
The Court where the case should be handled, is the same which once approved the adoption of the two sisters to Denmark.
” Now we see that a witness, Amy, is hindered by the municipality to appear at court. It is a great disrespect for the same Ethiopian court which grants children to Danish adoptive parents,” he says.
Amy’s mother has not yet been informed that the trip is canceled, and thus has not taken a position on whether she would give up the court case.
Amy Danish adoptive parents do not want to comment.