Statement from Hana’s Adoption Agency

AAI, Hana’s Adoption Agency, has sent the following Letter to its adoptive families:

Dear Adoptive Family,

Everyone at AAI is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Hana, a 13 year old from Ethiopia who had been with her adoptive family for three years. She passed away in May and, after several months of investigation, the adoptive parents have been charged with homicide by abuse and assault of a child. The coroner determined the cause of death to be hypothermia. She died in the family’s yard. It is hard to imagine a more horrible end to the dream of a new life in America for this girl.

AAI learned of Hana’s death in August, seeing it in the press, as did everyone else. AAI quickly informed the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs in Ethiopia. The Minister asked AAI to arrange to have a representative from the Ministry travel to the U.S. to write a report. Adoption programs such as AAI working in Ethiopia are typically asked to host foreign delegations every few years and it had been six years since AAI had done this. Last week the Vice Minister came to Washington State, accompanied by AAI’s legal representative in Ethiopia, Temesgen. Meetings were arranged with the prosecuting attorney, lead detective, and child protective services involved with Hana’s case. The Vice Minister met with adoptive families in their homes and in groups, having the opportunity to converse with many Ethiopian children. He visited a school, a court room to attend a re-adoption, and met with AAI staff at th e office. He then visited another agency in Washington and one in Minnesota. He concluded, as we had, that given the circumstances it was not possible for AAI to have known or predicted the outcome of this adoption. It was his first visit to the U.S. He loved the beauty of the countryside, enjoyed seeing the children, and had his questions about Hana’s tragic death answered to the extent possible. Temesgen reports that it was a successful visit, given the sobering circumstances.

But, we ask ourselves, what can be done to prevent such a tragedy in the future? We have developed a new form that each adoptive family will be required to sign, that lists very clearly the types of discipline that are not allowed to be used in AAI’s adoptive families. Homestudy workers will be asked to speak with applicants in much more detail about discipline. Our goals are to eliminate applicants with harsh discipline plans and to promote training methods which are more humane, effective, and neurobiologically based. There will also be a change in the post placement schedule for agency visits. For families whose child arrives after November 1, 2011, reports will be required at 1, 6, 12 months intervals after placement. For families applying after this date, a fourth agency post placement report will be required at the 24 month mark. We are hoping that this elongated schedule will give us all a better idea of h ow placements are progressing while keeping families connected with their agencies and social workers for a longer period of time, allowing for more personalized support and guidance, if necessary.

Because of concerns raised by this tragic death, AAI has been given approval to request the assistance of law enforcement to make safety checks on any families who are behind on post placement reports. Several countries require that families submit reports annually until the child turns 18 years of age. In the past we have sent multiple reminders to some families asking for reports, in the future AAI will contact law enforcement for assistance if the reports are not forthcoming, to assure the well being of the children.

We are also pleased to know that the EMCA (Ethiopian Community Mutual Association) has responded by establishing a “HANA FUND” with the purpose of preventing cases of abuse and assault in adoptive families. This fund will promote a program of outreach and crisis intervention, focusing on cultural awareness, education, and counseling. For more information or to make a donation see Though EMCA is a Seattle organization they hope the effort will expand across the country.

Nothing will soften the impact of this sad death, but AAI will strive to learn, grow and improve as we reflect on the tragedy.


  1. […] death and on significant revisions to its policies in a letter to adoptive families, according to this website, in October […]

  2. SD on October 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This is NOT about dicipline of a child. This story is about the murder homicide of a 13 year old child by bunt trauma to the head, starvation, and hypothermia from being left outside a shelter in the cold overnight. These factors resulted in the death of Hana Alemu “Williams”. The media’s focus on the fact that these diciplinary books found in the house is diverting the attention of the public from the fact that there is an epidemic of horrors resulting in the death of a child all accross the United States. Look it up.

    • Hermana Linda on October 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      You make a good point. However, this website is not about abuse and murder, it is about the abuse being taught by many Christian teachers. If that book had not been influencing the Williams, I never would have posted one word about Hana. The Pearls’ teachings have already influenced 3 murderers. The teachings are abusive and have been known to lead to death. That is my focus. I have been fighting these teachings since 2004 and will continue. People must be warned about these dangerous teachings.

  3. Christie on October 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I am really pleased to see some of the changes this agency is speaking of. The only thing I would change, is that common use of the word discipline. Discipline is not = to consequences or punishment. They said, “these kinds of discipline that are not allowed to be used”….. What they MEAN, is “punishment” or “consequences”…..

    Adoption EDUCATION is KEY for understanding the child that arrives in the home. I am shocked they did not interview the children and ask if they were being spanked and how often. Our youngest son was still at home when we adopted our daughter. After interviewing us, and asking about our parenting style. She privately interviewed our 20 year old son and asked him the same things. She was thorough as she SHOULD have been!

    It is SAD, but homeschooling is becoming a RED FLAG, not because of home schooling, but because some fanatics of corporal punishment and control are also homeschoolers.

    Education into HOW to discipline our children is essential. When I say discipline, I am not talking about punishment, but discipling them. Coming along side them and teaching them about life and choices and love. THAT is discipline.
    It has NOTHING to do with punishment.

  4. Elly on October 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I’m also an adoptive mom (though through domestic infant adoption). I’m also really pleased to see this agency making changes to address the issue of discipline with prospective adoptive families. Interestingly, when we were talking to agencies here in CA, one mentioned that one of the few families they had ever turned down had told them that they were ‘required’ to beat their child with an implement for misbehavior. Of course, the problem is always whether the prospective parents actually tell (honestly) the social worker what they intend to do.

    • Hermana Linda on October 21, 2011 at 8:46 am

      Exactly. And since Pearl does not define Training as Discipline nor Punishment, they use Doublespeak to lie while convincing themselves that they speak the truth.

  5. Nancy on October 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for posting this. As an adoptive parent myself, I was horrified to hear that anyone would use the Pearls’ methods on an older adopted child (or any child). These kids have been through so much, losing entire families and spending time in institutions — I am heartbroken that Hana escaped one kind of lonely, painful life only to land in an abusive home. I have wondered what went wrong with her parents’ adoption agency and social workers, and I’m glad to see that they are changing their oversight for future children.

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