Important New Academic Research About Ethiopian Adoptees

Hewan Girma, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the African American and African Disaporic Studies Department at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She is also a brilliant, thoughtful, kind person, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for several years.

I am delighted to share two recent articles by Dr. Girma.

One is Respecting Names: Ethiopian transnational adoptee name changes, retention, and reclamation.

From the Abstract: “…this paper examines how the personal names of transnational adoptees can be used to displace from and alternatively reconnect with home cultures. More specifically, transnational adoptees discuss the loss, retention, and reclamation of original ethnic names through the lens of ethno-racial respect and culture keeping. Moreover, studying Ethiopian adoptees, who typically differ from their adoptive parents in ethnicity, birth nationality and/or racialized identity, will elucidate how an immigrant background and a Black racial identity plays a factor in adoptee naming experiences.”

There are so many intersections here for Ethiopian adoptees, and names play so many roles. This is an important article for Ethiopian adoptees, adoptive parents, researchers, other adoptee communities, the Ethiopian community, and more.

An Ethiopian little girl in a white dress walks along a road near green trees.

The other article is Outsiders within: examining Ethiopian adoptee experiences through a diasporic lens. Dr. Girma co-authored this article with Alpha Abebe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Communication Studies & Media Arts, McMaster University.

From the Abstract: “Based on 20 in-depth interviews with adult Ethiopian adoptees residing in the US, this paper discusses the points of dis/connection between Ethiopian adoptees and the larger Ethiopian diaspora. We focus on how Ethiopian adoptees navigate their inclusion/exclusion as peripheral actors across social groups, as well as the active work they engage in to negotiate their diasporic identities, belongings and personal politic.”

You may recognize the allusion in the article’s title to Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, the seminal, valuable book edited by Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah, and Sun Yung Shin. The book is discussed in the article, as is Marcus Samuelsson, the global history of Ethiopian adoptions, and the lived experiences of adoptees.

One phrase from the article was particularly powerful to me, that the narratives of the adoptees reflect “a journey of sensemaking.”

For information on how to obtain a PDF of the articles, please leave a comment here or email me, 

Thank you, Drs. Girma and Abebe, for this significant and much-needed research.

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