Red tape keeps son from new parents

Frustrated: Warren and Kerri Johnson Erskine have been waiting seven years to adopt a child from Ethiopia. They now have a son but can’t see him.
Frustrated: Warren and Kerri Johnson Erskine have been waiting seven years to adopt a child from Ethiopia. They now have a son but can’t see him. John Gass

KERRI Johnson-Erskine has a three-year-old son on the other side of the world she has never met, but is desperately hoping to see soon.

She and husband Warren Erskine applied seven years ago to adopt a child from overseas and there is now an orphaned three-year-old boy in Ethiopia who is waiting to meet his new parents.

All the pair wants is to be able to see him for Christmas.

But red tape has blocked the process and the couple is frustrated and heartbroken by what they say is inaction from the Federal government.

The system fell apart late last year after their son and two other Ethiopian orphans had been assigned Australian parents.

The three children are now stuck in limbo in Ethiopia.

Mrs Johnson-Erskine said National Adoption Week was the perfect time for the government to resolve the problem.

“I have no idea how much longer these children will be left to languish in institutional care due to the lack of co-operation between Australian and Ethiopian authorities,” she said.

“I believe this lack of communication is a direct result of the Attorney General's Department suspending the Ethiopia adoption program late last year and to date are yet to re-establish a strong working arrangement.”

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel for us at the moment.”

Mrs Johnson Erskine has serious concerns about the trauma her child is being put through.

“He has already lost his mother, now he is in this child care centre which only has three children there with a nanny. He is going to be creating a close bond with those other children and he will think the nanny is his mother,” she said.

An Attorney General's Department spokesman said the adoption program re-opened on April 6 this year, but children had not been referred to the Ethiopian program because it did not have an operational partner orphanage.

The department claimed it was working to identify a potential new partner orphanage while ensuring the adoption program complied with the Hague Convention and was in the best interests of the children.

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