The Heartache of Another Adoptee Suicide: Rest in Peace, Kaleab Schmidt

On April 30, just three days ago, Kaleab Schmidt ended his life. He was 13. He was an Ethiopian adoptee. May he rest in peace and in power. May his family, his adoptive parents and his sisters, also adopted from Ethiopia, find healing and consolation.

Before I go on, I need to say that most adoptees do well. I do not want to pathologize adoptees in any way. I share this news with, I hope, respect for the family, for Kaleab, and for all those who struggle. We have to be able to acknowledge suicide, even as we long to prevent it.

Kaleab lived in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, in the city of Regina. According to his obituary, he loved his family, played lots of sports, was on the honor roll at school, was great with pets. He looks, from his photo, like a beautiful young man who should have had a long and wonderful life.

My understanding from folks who know is that there may have been bullying involved. It was probably bullying based on race.

My heart aches so.

What can we in the adoption community do?

We can contribute to the GoFundMe for the funeral and other expenses.

We can offer prayers for the family, if that’s our faith tradition.

We can learn about suicide prevention; that’s a U.S. based resource. A Canada-based resource for suicide prevention is here. We can learn about suicide and adoption.

We can acknowledge the reality and extent of bullying.

We can learn about and believe the realities of race-based bullying.

We can acknowledge the need for racial mirrors and mentors for adoptees.

We can hold our children close, and try to give them both room to talk as well as tools for dealing with their struggles.

We white adoptive parents can recognize and endorse the importance of race and the reality of systemic racism in our global society. We can support other families and adoptees, offering help and resources.

This is the third time I’ve written about an Ethiopian adoptee who died by suicide. Each was deeply loved by their families. Each left behind parents and siblings and others who had to recover from the loss. I am so terribly sorry for each young person and their families.

Again, I acknowledge that there are thousands of adoptees who do not die by suicide. There may well be some additional risk for adoptees nonetheless, and we would be naïve not to consider that. More research is needed.

I’m so damn sad.

May Kaleab be remembered for his life. May his family, in Ethiopia and Canada, find peace.

7 thoughts on “The Heartache of Another Adoptee Suicide: Rest in Peace, Kaleab Schmidt

  1. He did not live in Regina, he lived outside the town of Balgonie. Perhaps he may have benefitted from being involved with the Ethiopian community in the nearby city and seeing a therapist. International adoptions are not easy and interracial relationships are still not supported in many areas. It is so sad that these parents were not supported more right from the time they started thinking about the adoption, through the international adoption community and the Ethiopian community. So very sad.

  2. Thank you for making the world understand what an Ethiopian adoptees go through. It is hear braking. Please add PM abiy Ahmed to your social media to make him aware of this events of what an Ethiopian adoptees go through. I am one of them but I was adopted by my older half sister and she provided for me well but I was very depressed and the cultural shock was hard to go through. Until this day, I wonder what my life would have been like have I not being adopted by my sister and if my dad kept me like he did to my other siblings. Often I wonder why my faith ended this way and my whole life had to change and I have very bad identity crisis. I was in Ethiopia until the age of 15 so I know almost all my extended families but it’s still hard to come from huge family and be at home by my self in America. I always ate in my school cafeteria to substitute for the big family I no longer have. I physically couldn’t swallow the food I cooked in an apt where there is no other human being. After all, I grew up eating in a table full of people and it was very challenging for me to eat solo. I can go on and on. So, my advise to other adoptees going through so much is it will get better. Hang tight please. My prayers with this family. May your sufferings end here in earth RIP Kaleb.

  3. Reblogged this on Betyie and commented:

    Meine Gedanken sind bei der Familie, die ihr Kind verloren hat, und bei all denen, die um den Jungen trauern,

  4. Thank you for writing about him. May he rest in peace and may we all do what we can to help children like him.

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