Ethiopian Adoptee to be Featured on Al Jazeera

Tomorrow the Al Jazeera show The Stream will feature a story about adoptees who return to their motherland to live for a short period or even for the rest of their lives. Al Jazeera reached out to Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora, a global Facebook community, and connected with Heran Tadesse. Heran will be on the show tomorrow, September 29. It airs live on Al Jazeera at 3:30 p.m. EST/ 22:30 in Addis Ababa/ 20:30 in London/ 21:30 in Amsterdam.

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Heran is one of the writers included in our soon-to-be published anthology by Ethiopian adoptees, Lions Roaring, Far From Home. Born in Ethiopia, she was adopted to the Netherlands, and returned to live in Ethiopia several years ago. She has re-connected with her Ethiopian family. Heran is married to the artist Mulugeta Gebrekidan, and they are raising their three children in Ethiopia. Heran is on the Adoptee Advisory Board of Ethiopian Adoption Connection, a free, grassroots resource to reconnect families separated by adoption. She holds a degree in forestry, is a yoga instructor, and is currently the general manager of a wonderful child care facility in Addis, Regina Family Center.

I last visited with Heran and her family in Addis this past February. Heran is a person of depth, warmth, and strength. Hers has not always been an easy journey, and she handles challenges with grace and openness. I know you will be moved by her essay in the Lions Roaring anthology, and I have no doubts her perspective on the Al Jazeera show will be compelling. I am thrilled that her voice will be heard.

As to how to tune in to the show: I have not always been successful in viewing Al Jazeera here in the U.S. Depending where you are in the world, you may be able to watch live.  Ethiopian Adoption Connection tells me that the show will be archived and can be viewed at this link after tomorrow’s airing of the show. My guess is that could mean September 30, but could be sooner. Thank you!

 

Sentencing Hearings on IAG’s Fraud, Bribery (Finally) Held Today

Update: On October 20, 2016, I spoke with a clerk in Judge David Norton’s office who said that sentencing would not occur for at least another month. The clerk said that was because a different judge had originally heard the case. That judge has passed away, and Judge Norton “inherited” the case and apparently needs more time to decide on sentencing. The three defendants pled guilty about two years ago. The sentencing hearing was held August 29. The clerk said it is unusual for sentencing to take so long, but it was due to the previous judge’s death and a new judge in charge of the case. I am so sorry for all the families caught up in this. No such thing as closure.

 

More than two years after the staff of International Adoption Group (IAG) were indicted for fraud and bribery by the U.S.Justice Department, the three defendants finally faced a judge today for their sentencing hearing. Mary Mooney, James Harding, and Alisa Bivens, all of whom had pled guilty, appeared in court today before District Court Judge David Norton in Charleston, South Carolina. Judge Norton could make a decision on sentencing within the week, though the exact time frame is unclear.

Camille Smicz and her family are among the victims of IAG. Camille was present in the courtroom today, and provided a victim impact statement. Camille’s voice spoke for the many families, in the U.S. and in Ethiopia, harmed by the criminal actions of IAG.

Today, according to Camille, the judge mentioned his concerns with the delays in this case, including Mary Mooney’s effort to change her plea from guilty to not guilty, (That attempt was denied.) Minimum sentencing could be probation. Maximum sentencing would be five years in a federal prison. Once sentenced, the defendants have 14 days to appeal the decision.

The prosecution in this case called a forensic financial analyst as a witness, who spoke about the finances of the victims due to IAG’s actions. The prosecution is asking for restitution for some of the families. It is unclear how or whether that will happen.

Camille noted that Alisa Bivens had been a youth pastor at a church up until last month,  and recruited 26 people from her church who wrote letters on her behalf. There was at least one person from the church who plans to report back to the congregation regarding the sentencing hearing.

While it has taken an inordinately long time to reach this point, the case seems to finally be moving toward a sort of closure. I know families are exhausted from the emotional toll this has taken. The extent of the corruption, fraud, and bribery done in the name of helping children is unconscionable.

My thanks to Camille Smicz for sharing this information, and for speaking out for the victims. I urge you to read Camille’s victim impact statement.

As soon as I hear the judge’s decision, I will post again.

Lions Roaring: Learning From the Stories of Ethiopian Adoptees

Our upcoming anthology “Lions Roaring Far From Home,” with more than 25 essays by Ethiopian adoptees from 7 countries, is on the final stretch to publication, and will be published this fall. It’s been a longer road than we anticipated. I am aware now of how much I did not know about the process. Had I known, would I have embarked on this adventure? Yes. It’s been wonderful to learn so much about working with diverse authors, editing across languages and cultures, engaging with translators, and grinding through the details involved in putting a book together.

Beyond learning about publishing, though, I have learned much more from the stories these amazing writers have shared.

The essays reflect a range of Ethiopian adoptee experiences. Some are happy, some are tragic. Some adoptees were deeply loved, some were cruelly abused. Yes, those are realities for non-adoptees as well. Add on the layer of adoption, though–the removal of a child from his/her mother, family, country, and culture–and both the love and the cruelty take on different poignancy.

Racism and being “other” is a constant, around the globe, sometimes low-key and polite, sometimes harsh and shocking.

Many Ethiopian adult adoptees are involved in amazing, impressive programs to give back to Ethiopia.

Some adoptees have struggled with significant depression along the way, even while in loving families, sometimes to the point of considering suicide.

Many were older at adoption, and remember well their parents and siblings. Some have searing, wrenching memories of being separated from their mothers.

Some have stayed in contact with their Ethiopian families, or have reconnected with them. Some continue to wonder why they were adopted, and have not been able to learn their truth.

For some, being adopted has had a profound impact on their becoming parents, and the way they have chosen to raise their children.

Some have returned to Ethiopia to live and raise their families.

Some adoptees have very happy memories of being in orphanages, often with their siblings.

Some adoptees, even as adults into their 30’s and 40’s, hesitate to tell their adoptive parents about wanting to learn about their birth families, or .

All these snippets give you a flavor of the book, perhaps. It’s the stories, though, that have such power.

Here are brief excerpts from 3 essays:

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Mani, Ethiopia. Photo © Maureen McCauley Evans

My grandpa was paying for my older sister and brother to go to school already, and when five more of us came to live with him and my grandma, he did not know what to do with us. It was a constant battle with my grandma as to what she should feed us. I don’t think he had any option but to put us in an orphanage. He never would have sent us back to the village because he knew if we went back, we never would have gotten to see the doorway of a school. Education to my grandpa was, and still is, the most important thing in life, after his faith.

 

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Woman walking in Addis Ababa. Photo © Maureen McCauley Evans

 

My mother’s brother wanted to murder my mother because she, as a young schoolgirl, without being married, became pregnant. My mother came from a Muslim family. A girl who is pregnant and unmarried shames the whole family. My mother fled to her older sister’s home in Addis Ababa, and there I was born. My mother would take me sometimes to visit my father, who comes from a wealthy Christian family, but he would not acknowledge me, given the disgrace.

 

 

 

Original art © Maureen McCauley Evans

Which family, in my heart, do I belong to more? Which parent do I love more? Where should I live once I grow up, in Ethiopia or the U.S.? Which parent do I listen to more? Which one do I call Mom? Why did I get adopted if my one parent is alive? What is my purpose in life in America? Why me?

I feel I am living a double life. I am Ethiopian, but I am also American. I have family in Ethiopia, and I have family in America. I lived my first 8 years in Ethiopia and have lived the rest in America. This has been a blessing as well as hardship for me. I feel blessed that I have my American citizenship and I got that very easily, by being adopted. I know of other Ethiopians that have immigrated to America and had much more difficulty and fewer opportunities than I have had.

On the other hand, I feel like there is a hole in my heart, because when I go back to Ethiopia, I don’t feel 100% Ethiopian. I look Ethiopian, but I can no longer speak Amharic. There are many cultural differences. When I am in America, I speak the language, but I do not look like others in my community. So, being an Ethiopian adoptee in America is both a blessing and a curse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Screening of “Difret”

UPDATE: Tickets are sold out. Many thanks to everyone who bought a ticket.

 

I am delighted to say that there will be a screening of the award-winning movie “Difret” here in Seattle on December 2, 7pm, at Central Cinema. Please buy your tickets now by clicking here.

The film was produced by Angelina Jolie Pitts, and is based on the true story of a young Ethiopian girl accused of killing the man who had kidnapped her, and whom she was supposed to marry. The writer/director is Ethiopian-born and -raised Zersenay Berhane Mehari; an executive producer is Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu.

Child marriage, or early/forced marriage, has devastating lifelong consequences, according to the film’s writers. Education and empowerment of girls is one solution to eliminating child marriage. The nonprofit She Reads Ethiopia is working to help Ethiopian girls go to school and grow stronger; you can help support their work when you purchase a ticket to the screening.

We will have a panel of Ethiopian speakers after the screening to discuss the film and the impact of child marriage in Ethiopia.

We must sell 78 tickets by November 24 to have the screening. It’s an amazing, important film. Please share this info. Please join us, and buy your tickets today! Amaseganallo. Thank you!

 

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Appeals Court Info on Williamses’ Case

There will be an appeals court hearing for Larry and Carri Williams on Monday, November 16, at 9:30am.The address is One Union Square, 600 University Street, Seattle.  I wrote about the hearing here, and I want to share some additional thoughts, especially if you were interested in attending.

It is a public hearing; all are welcome. There will be 20 minutes of oral arguments for each case, so the hearing itself will last about 40 minutes. There will be no decision made that day by the judge. It is not a huge room, and attorneys for other cases get preference in seats, but there is certainly room for the public. You may want to allow time to get through the security and get a seat.

I know there is great interest in the case, and enormous support for Hana. It will be great to have a strong showing of folks in court for Hana. I want to be sure everyone understands that this is a brief event, a legal process, lawyers talking to the judge. I will be there, and I know several others in the Seattle area who are planning to attend. If you can easily attend, wonderful. If you are unable to be there. we know you are joining us in spirit, and we will update you as soon as possible after the hearing.

Many thanks for all those who have kept Hana in their hearts.

 

 

“What Do You See?” Music Video: Family, Struggle, Resilience, Awe

“What Do You See?” is a lovely song by the talented musician-singers Mr and Mrs. Something.

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Today, they released the song, as well as a music video that has a story line about family, parenting, struggles, and resilience. When you watch the video, you will see and hear Mr. and Mrs. Something, and you will see my daughter, my granddaughter, and me. The video is available here.

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Bryan Tucker and Brian Lee, filming Mr. and Mrs. Something, August 2015.

The director of the video is Bryan Tucker, who directed and produced the prize-winning documentary Closure (the story of Angela Tucker‘s search and reunion), among other works. Bryan came up with the story line concept, a merging of the lyrics and a story of a family, and approached us about being in the video.  It was a brand new experience for us, and was a lot of fun. I have a whole new appreciation for the art of making top-notch videos–so much time and so many details.

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Bryan Tucker and Brian Lee, filming the video for “What Do You See?” August 2015

The lyrics and the music are strong and challenging:

What do you see…the dream that has died, or the hopes yet to be?

Someone who’s loved and lost, or someone who’s learned patiently?

The song and the video are about everyone: the struggles, the failings, the fallings, the willingness to get back up. They are about mothers and daughters, parenting, interracial families, raising children, loving each other, being angry or hurt, laughing, cheering each other on, hanging in, showing up.

We’ve heard today from dear friends who saw the video and know us (including in our unpleasant, imperfect, not in the video moments), and from strangers who saw themselves in the lyrics or story: adoptees, Ethiopians, single moms, women of color, grandmothers, dancers, aspiring ballerinas, adoptive parents, step parents, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons.

Wherever we are, we can choose to see the best in each other and ourselves, even in the midst of all our imperfections.

‘Cuz I see a will to rise again from every fall.

I see a soul that’s filled with awe at the wonder of it all.

What do you see? 

You can (and should!) download the song for free, for the next 2 weeks. Mr and Mrs. Something’s album Setting Sail will be released on November 17, 2015. We are honored to have been a part of it.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Hana: May 12, 2011

Hana Alemu (Williams)

Hana Alemu (Williams)

Rest in Peace. Rest in Power. Rest in Paradise. Hana Alemu, we are thinking of you today and honoring the life that ended much too soon.

It was four years ago today that she died outside her adoptive family home, from malnutrition and hypothermia, having suffered through so much.

Many people have kept her memory alive, and remember Hana as a source of inspiration to fight for the safety and well-being of all children.

Her cousin Haimanot helped raise Hana in Ethiopia before Hana came to the US. Haimanot has a potentially life-threatening medical condition for which she has received surgery, but will need more. You can read about her here, and you help by donating to or sharing the fundraising site here. Haimanot is working hard to survive and thrive. Any help you can give her would be wonderful.

Hana’s adoptive parents, Larry and Carri, remain in jail in Washington State, having been convicted in September 2013. Both filed appeals in fall 2013 to their murder convictions, and the process is moving slowly through the appellate courts.

Today, let’s think of Hana. May all children be loved and safe.

 

 

Orphan Hosting Programs: Giving Hope or Creating Trauma?

Programs which host orphans for a brief, fun visit to the US have been around for at least 15 years. They are one of those efforts that often seem wonderful, but are in fact much more complicated than they might appear initially. Among adoptive parents and adoptees, they evoke a volatile range of emotions. We all agree that children deserve safe, loving families. How we get them to (or keep them in) those families is full of controversy.

What are “Hosting Programs for Orphans”?

There are many of them. I think the earliest program to bring children from orphanages (in Kazakstan, I believe) to visit the US was Kidsave, started by two adoptive mothers in the late 90’s. Project 143 started in 2010, and has a format similar to other hosting programs. They have worked in China and Latvia, and have a new Ethiopia program this year. Children are selected on the basis of age and ability to benefit from the program. Age is a factor because the focus is often on children who are older, who have been in the orphanage a long time, and who are likely to age out of the orphanage without being adopted. Some of the children have special medical or other needs. Good behavior and academic success are listed as criteria in some programs. Host families in the US agree to have a child or children live with their family for four or six weeks (the length of time varies in different programs), and show the orphanage children what life is like in a family in the US. The host family also agrees to get medical and dental care for the children; the insurance is usually covered by the hosting program, not the family. The children must return to their country at the end of the hosting period.

The cost to the host family is in the range of $2.000 to $3,000.

The children may or may not be legally available for adoption. And here is where things are murky. While some host programs are seen as “cultural experiences” and some are to share Christian faith, their underlying purpose usually is to get the children adopted. Some hosting programs are run either directly or indirectly by adoption agencies. The host families are not supposed to talk about adoption with the children. The children are not supposed to know that they are being considered for adoption. The host families may pursue adoption after the hosting program, but are under no obligation to do so. Adoption costs are generally in the range of $25,000 to $40,000, and must be completed by an accredited adoption agency.

The main countries from which children visit are (or were) Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, China, Colombia, and Philippines. Other countries, such as Nicaragua and Ethiopia, have hosting programs as well.

Arguments For the Summer Hosting Programs

The hosting programs may be the children’s best (last) chance to be adopted and to have a permanent family. The adoptions that occur as a result of the hosting programs probably never would have otherwise occurred. According to Kidsave, for example, “We have found that during the summer, miracles happen, and many children are adopted by American families they meet during the Summer Miracles program. Since 1999, more than 1,700 children have participated in the program and over 80% of them have found permanent families as a result.”

The children who are adopted through hosting programs often advocate for the children left behind in the orphanages.

The host families who don’t adopt often become informal sponsors of the children they hosted, keeping in contact, providing financial assistance, and in other ways mentoring and helping the child (teen, young adult).

The strategy is similar to approaches used in the US foster care community to find families for children who are older and in danger of aging out of the system, often to very difficult situations. Getting the kids in front of families is a powerful way to promote the orphans as individuals deserving a family.

Regardless of whether they are adopted, the children learn some English, and they receive medical and dental care here in the US, some of which may have been unavailable in their country.

The hosting programs raise awareness of the needs of children in orphanages, and this can mean increased assistance and donations to the orphanages.

Hosting programs offer children the experience of being in a family, role models for healthy parenting, and hope. From a Christian perspective, via New Horizons for Children (the largest faith-based program, facilitating orphan hosting nationwide), “Receiving unconditional love and nurturing and being treated as a member of their host family who will usually maintain contact even after the child returns home to their orphanage. This gives them hope. Learning that they do have a Father, the same Father in Heaven that we all have…who loves us dearly and is always with us and lets them know they are never alone.”

Arguments Against the Summer Hosting Programs

The hosting programs increase the layers of trauma for children who visit and are then not chosen for adoption.

The children may bond with the family during the visit, and then never hear from them again, another trauma in a life of many traumas.

There is controversy about mission trips and orphanage tourism. The hosting programs are a “reverse mission trip,” where the children are brought here instead of the family going there. Some argue that orphanage tourism does more harm than good. Can we learn from that?

It is unclear how a brief, “summer camp” experience in the US is inherently better than no experience at all for an orphanage child. It is unethical, perhaps even cruel, to show a child a “Disneyland” view of life, and then send him back to poverty and hardship.

There is little or no research on outcomes for these children, either those who are adopted or those who are not. We need to know outcomes for children adopted after being hosted, especially given concerns about adoption disruptions and re-homing. We also need to know the impact of the programs on those who are not chosen for adoption: what are the ethical responsibilities to those children?

The hosting programs focus on bringing the children to the United States, rather than seeking out local families (in Ethiopia or other country of origin) to host the orphans. Why not work with families in-country who could show examples of strong parenting and economic security, instead of bringing the children around the globe?

The majority of the hosting programs are started and run by adoptive parents, with little or no involvement by adult adoptees. Some see this as an ongoing marginalization of adult adoptees, and the continuing use of white privilege.

There may be unintentional and unavoidable pressure on host families to adopt the orphans who visit. (Some of the programs take place at Christmas time, which for Christian families could be especially emotional.) The decision to adopt should not be impulsive or without significant preparation. Knowing what the child will return to in the home country may impel a decision that is not best for anyone.

It’s unlikely (though possible) that the children do not know they are being considered for adoption. This gives the prospective parents an ability to screen or “test drive” children, which has an uncomfortable ethical element in terms of international adoption practice.

If the program goes on for more than one season from an orphanage, and some children are adopted as a result, surely the next wave of children will be aware of the possibilities of the hosting program as an audition for adoption to the US.

The amount of money involved (about $3,000 for the hosting, potentially $25,000-$35,000 for adoption) could be better used for family preservation programs or other investments that either keep families together or prevent children from ending up in orphanages. That money would help many more children than the few who end up being adopted from these programs.

The children are not necessarily orphans at all. They may not even be eligible for adoption, something that might not be known until a family looks into adopting the child. Children who were thought to be orphans have later been found to have living family members, or to have been adopted under fraudulent circumstances. This has been true in recent years in many countries, and it is one of the reasons that international adoption has declined.

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Plane at LAX. © Maureen McCauley Evans

 

What’s the bottom line here? The argument that “Imperfect as it may be, this is at least one way that orphans find families” is the perhaps the strongest motivation for the hosting programs. But at what cost, and to whom?

I am going to continue thinking this through, and I hope you will also. So much is at stake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call For Submissions: Anthology By Ethiopian Adoptees

 

Announcing a new and much-needed book for the adoption community.

Tentative Title:

LIONS ROARING, FAR FROM HOME: AN ANTHOLOGY BY ETHIOPIAN ADOPTEES

 Editors: Aselefech Evans, Annette-Kassaye Berhanu, and Maureen McCauley Evans

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© national parks-worldwide.info

 

We are delighted to invite Ethiopian adoptees from around the world to submit essays about what Ethiopia means to you, and how being adopted has affected you. Your voice deserves to be heard. The book’s tentative title–Lions Roaring, Far From Home–is related to Ethiopian history and culture.

Here are some ideas for an essay: Recollections of early childhood in Ethiopia, and what you remember of life in Ethiopia prior to adoption. What life has been like for you in your adoptive country, and might have been like for you had you been raised in Ethiopia. Reflections on family in the country where you were raised, and family in Ethiopia, known or unknown.

You can write about race and racism. What does it mean to you to be Ethiopian, and African, as well as a citizen of the country to which you were adopted? Perhaps you hope to return some day to Ethiopia: what are your dreams?

You can write about the image of Ethiopia provided by your family or the media or others when you were growing up. The churches, the architecture, the poverty, the history, and the economy might inspire you. Have you searched for your Ethiopian family, or reunited with them? You can write about that.

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Cattle in Ethiopia, August 2014. © Maureen McCauley Evans

 

You are not limited in what you can write about, as long as it is in some way about the connection to Ethiopia from the perspective of an Ethiopian adoptee.

Who are the intended readers of Lions Roaring, Far From Home? We envision that adoptees (Ethiopian and other), prospective adoptive parents, current adoptive parents, first parents, grandparents, adoption agency staff, social workers, policy makers, teachers and other child welfare professionals will want to read and learn from this book. We believe that Ethiopians in Ethiopia and around the world will want to read it, as well as the global family connected with adoption. Lions Roaring will be a book for anyone interested in the essential stories of love, loss, journeys, and family.

We will select up to 15-20 entries for publication in the anthology, due out in Spring 2016. Selected writers will receive at least one copy of the book, the knowledge that they have contributed to greater understanding of Ethiopian adoptees’ experiences, and the possibility of media coverage and other opportunities.

Your essay should be between 750 and 2,500 words (in any case, no more than 6 pages double-spaced). We will certainly look at essays that are fewer than 750 words. We are open to thoughtful overviews about your Ethiopian adoption experience, as well as focused narratives about a specific event or topic.

We can accept submissions in English and in French. The book will likely be published initially in English, though we are looking into Amharic and other translations.

Please include a brief bio statement of no more than 100 words.

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Sunset over Lake Langano. © Maureen McCauley Evans

 

Fine Print

Please be sure you have read through the information above.

This call is directed primarily toward adult adoptees, over 18 years of age. We are open to submissions from younger adoptees: please email for further information.

All submissions are due to maureen@lightofdaystories.com by July 15, 2015.

Let us know up front if and where your essay has been published in part or in full previously. We are willing to look at previously published pieces, though we’d prefer original work.

By submitting your essay to us, you acknowledge that you have read and accepted the terms of this Call for Submissions, that you are at least 18 years of age, and that you have the right to submit your essay for this project. We will notify you by July 15, 2015, if your submission has been accepted.

We are looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

From Aselefech and Annette: This book is rooted in our organization, Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora. We are publishing the book in part to honor adoptees like Hana Williams and others whose lives ended too soon or whose voices have been silenced. The book is also part of a larger project to open a guest house in Ethiopia for visiting/returning adoptees, a way of building a global community of support for Ethiopian adoptees.

French (And Other) Ethiopian Adoption Connections

Great partnerships are developing among adult Ethiopian adoptees, and between them and their allies. This one is about efforts to help adult adoptees travel back to Ethiopia.

If you are not following Les Adoptes D’Ethopie, a public Facebook group for Ethiopian adoptees raised in France, you might have missed this bit of news, posted by Annette-Kassaye. Annette is an Ethiopian adoptee, raised in Montreal, Canada. She learned to speak both English and French, and now participates in Les Adoptes D’Ethiopie. Annette is a good friend of my daughter Aselefech Evans, whose blog EthioAmerican Daughter recently featured (in English and French) the story of Yared, a French adoptee. Annette and Aselefech are co-founders of Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora (EAD), a global group for adult Ethiopian adoptees only. There is also a public EAD page open to anyone here.

D’accord. Here is Annette’s recent post on Les Adoptes Ethiopie:

“Bonjour tout le monde,
Moi, Aselefech Evans, Maureen McCauley Evans allons travailler sur un projet qui faciliterait le retour en Éthiopie pour les adoptés.

Chaque semaine (ou plusieurs fois par semaine), je suis étonnée de voir autant d’adoptés exprimer leurs désire de retourner et aussi leurs craintes et réticence d’y aller seule, avec leurs parents adoptifs ou avec leurs assos. C’est fou que nous travaillons tous dans nos petits coins quand qu’on pourrait faire quelque chose de grand qui faciliterait la vie de tout le monde, autant nous, nos parents et les jeunes adoptes et les futurs adoptés qui désiront retourner un jour pour connaitre leurs origine. Bref…. je vous tiendrai au courant de ce projet, je pense qu’il y a un grand besoin. <3”

And now, an automatically generated translation in English:

Re – hello everyone,

“Aselefech Evans, Maureen McCauley Evans, and I are working on a project that would facilitate the return to Ethiopia for adoptees.

Each week (or several times per week ), I am surprised to see so many adoptees express their desire to return and also their fears and reluctance to go alone, or with their adoptive parents or with their associates. It’s crazy that we are all working in our small corners when we could do something big that would facilitate the life of everyone, just as we, our parents and young people adopted. And the future adoptees that would like to return one day to know their origins. In short…. I will keep you informed of this project. I think there is a great need. ≺3”

Aselefech, Annette, and I have been talking about this for a while. The project is in very early stages, and the focus is this:

Many Ethiopian adult adoptees would like to return to Ethiopia but struggle with the expense. Some may not have been back since they left Ethiopia as small children.

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Photo taken by Maureen Evans August 2014 Ethiopia

Some adult adoptees do not want to travel with their adoptive parents. Some adoptive parents do not want to travel to Ethiopia, and will not or cannot assist their children in traveling. Some adult adoptees would like to travel back alone, some with other adoptees, some with their partners, spouses, or friends.

Some would like assistance and support (not necessarily financial) in the arrangements for travel in Ethiopia. This would mean the usual items such as hotel/guest houses, meals, translators, tour guides, drivers, etc., but also resources in Ethiopia that are specific to adopted persons, such as adoption-competent social workers and translators with fluency in multiple languages. Connecting with other adoptees who have traveled and searched for birth family would also be important.

Some adoptees are interested in searching and spending time with their birth families. Some have not been able to locate birth family members. Some would like to participate in projects to help Ethiopia (literacy, clean water, health care, etc.) while they are visiting.

Models for this undertaking exist in Korea, where adult adoptees have been very active. KoRoot and GOA’L provide wonderful, established models of adoptee-led organizations designed to support adoptees traveling to their country of birth.

We hope, of course, to see the services envisioned in Ethiopia extended to Ethiopian birth/first families, such as translators and adoption-competent social workers.

One effort already up and successfully running is Ethiopian Adoption Connection (EAC), a database in which Ethiopian families can enter information about children they have placed for adoption, in an effort to locate them. Adoptive families and adopted individuals can enter their information as well, and already there have been several matches. The site is in English and Amharic.

Currently, an Ethiopian first/birth family is looking for news about a boy adopted at age 7 in 2007 from the Kembata Tembaro area, possibly to the US or Italy. Information is available here. Please share this with others, and take a look at all the entries on the EAC page.

EAC has a lot of helpful information, including online groups for adoptive families and adoptees, as well as this master’s thesis on Ethiopian birth/first mothers’ experiences.

Some 13,000 Ethiopian children have been adopted to the United States. Thousands more have been adopted to Canada, western Europe, and Australia. While most are still minors, many are adults. Some are turning their hearts, eyes, and feet toward their country of birth. Let’s join them on the journey.