The Danish adoptee, 16-year-old Amy Steen who originally is from Ethiopia, fled this January to Ethiopia because she missed her biological family and felt betrayed by the Danish authorities. Now her situation is so critical that she sends a heartbreaking message for help – she tells BT in her first interview in a long time.
“The authorities have failed me since I moved to Denmark, and it is nothing new. But that does not mean it does not hurt me or surprises me when it happens again and again, after all I am a human being. Of course, I am” she says.
It was terrible scenes, which rolled across the screen when the whole of Denmark witnessed that Amy Steen screaming was forced out of the arms from her foster home and dragged into a car by social workers from Næstved Kommune. Here she had been placed after being removed from her Danish adoptive parents, where she did not felt she belonged, when she was adopted in 2012.
It became the story of a nine-year-old girl whose adoption went very wrong and who has fought with the Danish authorities ever since. Today she is 16 years old. She was given up for adoption by her Ethiopian mother age of nine, because her mother was too sick and too poor to take care of her.
But in some cases it can be very difficult to adjust to a new country when you have grown up with a different language and your biological family.
“I feel I belong here in Ethiopia. I missed my family very much.” Amy says, in a telephone connection from Ethiopia.
This January Amy then fled to Ethiopia in the middle of the night, because she missed her family there, but the Danish authorities did not approve of it. She also went there to testify in a case where an Ethiopian court ended up with canceling her Danish adoption – the same thing happened to another girl – Masho, who also had been placed in a residential institution because her adoption went wrong. This were also televised for the whole of Denmark to see in the documentary ‘Adoptionens pris/Mercy Mercy.’
Denmark, however, does not recognize the Ethiopian judgment and the authorities have banned Amy to visit her Ethiopian family. This was emphasized to her again when she came back to Denmark in the spring for once again trying to talk to the authorities to stay in Denmark, but to be allowed to visit her family once in a while. But that they opposed.
She fled back to Ethiopia, where she now resides, but when she came back, she had to come face to face with another loss. For the city that her birth mother had rented a house, had been subjected to a flood.
“There were 40 people who died, and the only reason that I and my family survived was because we were not at home. But the house was washed away, so now we have no place to stay. The Danish embassy paid for a hotel for one night, but otherwise they do nothing. I just want to have a place to live,” she says.
She was in contact with the Danish Embassy after the flood, and they paid for a single night in a hotel, more will they not do as long as she stays in Ethiopia against the will of the Danish authorities. So now she lives as homeless and staying with random friends or relatives haphazardly.
“When I again was in Denmark, I had a conversation with my caseworker, and it was not very pleasant. They never are. They want to decide for me to return to Denmark, but I want to decide for myself. They want me in a youth house That’s what they say. Imagine that, it would be better for me to stay alone in a youth home than to stay with my mother and my sister down here.”
BT has listened to a conversation that Amy’s legal representative from the organization Against Child Trafficking, Arun Dohle have had with an employee from Næstved Kommune, explaining that they will not do anything as long as Amy is staying in Ethiopia. And this screams to heaven that the authorities will not help Amy after the flood, says Arun Dohle.
“You cannot just put a 16-year-old on the street. They know that she wants to be in Ethiopia, something they have known for many years. They cannot just give up their responsibility. It is life-threatening for a 16-year-old living on the street. It is not a responsible way to behave from the Danish authorities,” he says.
BT has followed the case for several years and have tried several times to get a comment from Næstved Kommune and the State Administration, but each time with the message that they do not comment on specific cases.
Not even her glasses does Amy has anymore ever since she forgot them at her adoptive parents in Denmark, who still has have not sent them to her in Ethiopia, so she cannot read books or write on a computer.
Now Amy just wish to get shelter together with her family and start an education. She does not go to school at the moment because of the difficult circumstances.
“The only thing I want is to get a new house for my mother and start school. I am very confused, and I feel betrayed.”
Amy has therefore now started a collection to raise funds for a house for her mother. Here she writes:
“I’m Amy Rebecca Steen and I was adopted from Ethiopia to Denmark, when my mother was poor and seriously ill. My adoptive family treated me bad and I ended up in custody. The Danish government forbade me to travel to Ethiopia and visit my family,” the heartbreaking post starts.
She tells how the authorities again and again forbade her to travel, but that she twice anyway has traveled to Ethiopia with the help of Against Child Trafficking. But then she had enough.
“I miss them so much. In the end I could just not take it anymore and went to Ethiopia. My mother rented a small house, but now it is washed away by the floods. We need a house in our hometown. But my mother is ill and cannot maintain a normal income.”
She therefore now asks people to help with the collection with the poignant message.
“I need to get peace of mind, and my mother and sister get well so I can concentrate on my education. Please help us.”