My dear friend Yadesa Bojia is a talented artist, graphic designer, and singer/songwriter. He’s Ethiopian by birth, grew up in Ambo (a small city near Addis), and moved to the US in 1995. He now lives in Seattle, and is devoted to his family and active in the community. His design was selected in 2010 for the African Union flag. Take a look at his website here.
He contributed this beautiful piece of art for the Ethiopia Reads fundraiser: the painting sold for just over $3000.
All too often in discussions of international adoption, we fail to include so many voices: adoptive parents are dominant. Adoptees and first parents rarely are included.
We adoptive parents must make sure the voices of first parents are always a transparent, ethical part of any discussion about adoption.
The voices of the people in the country of origin (in this case Ethiopia) are often varied, of course, and are also too rarely heard.
We need to listen to them.
The following is taken, with permission, from a Facebook post today by Yadesa. It includes a video link to a news report and a powerful interview with an Ethiopian first mother. The video is in Amharic, without translation. Yadesa has summarized it in this post:
“We heard the move by Ethiopian government to totally shut down international adoption. As a long time observer of adoption from Ethiopia, I know how difficult and heart breaking this can be for families that are invested their heart, time and money (it costs a lot). I met great families and friends who adopted from Ethiopia and adopted the culture and the love for the country. I watched them care for the babies and I love them. I also expected the shut down because of some of the unbelievable and inhumane corruptions by organizations to snatch babies out of poor mothers love so they can make them adoptable. This activity is incredibly cruel to both families in each side of the story.
Meet Ms. Asnaketch Negussie. According to the Ethiopian Television interview, she said ten years ago when her husband passed away, she was approached by these organizations and they urged her to let go of her daughter and her boy. Her daughter, Selamawit, was at the time was 3 and half and her son Abel was twelve. When she refused, the organization told her to ‘let your daughter live a better life than you can provide her.’ Imagine the need to keep her daughter and the guilt of keeping her away from a better life. She finally surrendered and gave Selamawit away but the age of the boy did not make him adoptable (older boys or girls have lesser chance to be adopted). Fast forward to today. Abel stayed in Ethiopia, graduated from high school and went to college and graduated with honor. He is now gainfully employed and helping his mom. They have no idea what happened to Selamawit and the report ends with the mother saying, ‘If I don’t see her, I will die with an emotional scar. My body will never rest.’
Selamawit may be living in a better place, with people that care for her and love her but at the end both families will deal with the emotional scar undoubtably. I am for better life for kids anywhere in the world. If it took adoption to make that happen, let it be. But adoption need to be the last resort, it needs to have stages and it also need to be transparent and voluntarily done.
Judge for yourself. To learn more about this please read “The Child Catchers” by Kathryn Joyce.”
Below is the link to the video Yadesa posted. Although I don’t speak Amharic, listening to this Ethiopian first mother was very powerful.
Thank you very much, Yaddi. We need to hear and listen to your voice, and to those of first families.
At the beginning of his post above, Yadesa alludes to the recent news about Ethiopia possibly closing to adoption. More information is available here.
I am beginning work on a project to preserve and honor the stories of Ethiopian first mothers. Here is a recent post.
My thanks to Asnaketch Negussie for sharing her poignant story in the video. I am keeping Selamawit in my heart as well.