Brothers Zach, right and Philip were born in poverty in Uganda but are now living with their adopted family in the U.S.
International adoptions from Uganda are rising
Uganda is one of the poorest countries on earth with an economy based on agriculture but there is one industry that's booming -- international child adoptions.
Extreme poverty combined with one of the world's highest birth rates is creating a pressure cooker where many children are abandoned or put up for adoption.
And there are also fears that as the adoption numbers grow more needs to be done to prevent children being exploited.
Children -- sometimes orphans, sometimes just with parents unable to care for them -- find themselves taken into Uganda's child welfare system.
For some this can mean foster care or a temporary home. For others it is the first step on a road that will lead to adoption and a new life.
While traditional adoption hotspots are becoming less attractive -- Russia has banned Americans from adopting children, and it can take years to navigate China's adoption bureaucracy -- Uganda is seen as a quick and easy alternative for prospective parents.
In Uganda, the adoption process can take just a few months to complete. The country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, a treaty which provides a blueprint for safe international adoptions.
Many of the children adopted from Uganda are given a better shot at life overseas - certainly in material terms -- but the speed and ease of the process has many observers worried.
Freda Luzinda worked at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, for two years processing adoption visas. She is now the Uganda national director of the A Child's Voice, an NGO promoting child rights and welfare.
She says that many birth parents in Uganda don't fully understand what adoption actually means and that there is no word for 'adoption' in the local Luganda language.
"I can say that about 60% of the birth parents that I spoke to didn't understand adoption," said Luzinda.
Many birth parents do not understand that adoption is permanent. They believe they may get their children back later. These misconceptions are part of the problem, but not the only problem.
The rise in Ugandan adoptions over the past few years has created a growing number of orphanages and adoption agencies to meet the demand.
"When I first started processing visas at the embassy... there were probably between seven and 10 orphanages that were putting children up for adoption. And the numbers grew, and they grew, and they grew. By the time I finished, and this was two years later, we had a count, and we were dealing with about 100 orphanages." said Luzinda.
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