Great news: a website is up and running that allows Ethiopian birth families and the adoptive families of Ethiopian children, and the adoptees themselves, to connect with each other. It is called Ethiopian Adoption Connection; click here to access it.
This exciting new resource was developed by Andrea, a US adoptive mom of Ethiopian children, and US birth/first mother Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, who writes the highly regarded blog, Musings of the Lame.
Andrea and Claudia have combined their considerable skills, time, and energy to create this wonderful site that allows both Ethiopian birth families and adoptive families to enter data and connect with each other. The site also has information about searchers, about online groups, and about other resources. It is in English and Amharic, and they hope to have other Ethiopian languages as well.
This project is a courageous, powerful labor of love. It meets a desperate need. Please use and share this site; please contribute to its support, if you can.
This site is a sign of positive possibilities in the adoption community, which is complex and tangled in many ways now.
Is there more to do in terms to share information between Ethiopian families and adoptive families? Sure. Ethiopian Adoption Connection has begun blazing a vital path.
In a December 2013 post, I discussed two goals of a First Families Project, designed to connect Ethiopian first families and US (or other) adoptive families of Ethiopian children:
(1) To create an infrastructure to deliver information from adoptive families to Ethiopian first families. This one is very complicated and potentially fraught with all sorts of problems, involving laws, money, emotions, unintended consequences, and more. Lots of gray areas. I’m looking forward to seeing what the possibilities are, and then bringing about positive changes.
(2) To record, honor, and preserve the stories of Ethiopian first mothers. This one has its own complexities, and will be easier to implement.
As a community, we have to keep thinking, talking, and connecting. Like many others, I am continuing to look at ways to improve the delivery of information between families, hoping to better meet that first goal.
About the second goal: In December, I wrote about The Stories of Ethiopian First Mothers, and of Their Children. All too often in the adoption process, first/original/birth mothers are deeply marginalized. This is true especially in international adoption, where first mothers are often much poorer, less educated, and less empowered than us adoptive mothers in the US or other receiving countries. Adoption agencies rarely provide any level of post-placement services to the first mothers. There is no reason to think that those mothers don’t deeply grieve the loss of their children, nor that they don’t deserve some measure of services in the days, weeks, and years after making a plan for (losing their child to) adoption.
Let me stress that while I cite first mothers here, I am well aware that first fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and others also may be grieving and wounded, even in cases where they believe adoption is best for the child.
In the short-term, I continue to advocate for services to international first parents, before and after placement. The services should be equitable to what adoptive parents receive. I’d argue that those services need expansion as well, of course. Still, international first parents are at a huge disadvantage in terms of support and services.
In the long-term, I am working on several partnerships to record and preserve the stories of first mothers. Yes, there could be a Kickstarter project in the summer. Yes, there are travel plans afoot. It’s good stuff. I am grateful to be doing this work.