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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Birthdays and Adoptees: Finding Power in Both

My sons were adopted as babies; my twin daughters at six years old. When they were little, we had the mad abundance of birthday parties, at the pool, the soccer field, the grandparents’ front yard. The parties were full of presents, friends, family, ice cream, and cake.

Who was missing at these birthday celebrations? The women who gave birth to the children. The people (fathers, siblings, grandparents) who are biologically related to them.

I can’t help but wonder what those birth days were like for those family members.

Birthday parties evolve over time. Some adoptees have a rough time on their birthdays. In our family, we have all grown in our understanding of how a child’s beginnings can affect the child, and how powerful memories can be. We have seen how longing for what is not conscious can be quite deep. We have lived watching the ways that trust can be broken and losses felt, and how hard it is to heal that broken trust. My children’s birthdays are still celebrated, of course: they can count on receiving socks every year. And other stuff too. But they are in their late 20’s now. Still very young, but hardly children–except in the sense that they are always my children.

They are also the children–always–of their first families. Each child has had a different approach to connecting with their family of birth, and those stories are theirs alone to tell.

Today is the 27th birthday of my twin daughters, Adanech and Aselefech, adopted from Ethiopia in 1994. Aselefech has been actively involved with the adoptee community. She wrote a wonderful post today at Lost Daughters, a writing collective of women adopted in the US or internationally as children. In it, she celebrates her connections with other Ethiopian adoptees whose hearts are in the country of their birth, their mother land, their home country. These young people, part of the diaspora, are actively working to help their younger selves in Ethiopia: children who witness their mothers die, children who are deeply loved but whose families are horrifically impoverished, children who beg on the streets, children who are unable to walk or to see, children who never go to school.

Happy Birth Day. May all children know safety, love, education, and hope. May these adoptees bring light and healing to each other and to the children. May all the voices be heard.

My daughters, my granddaughter, and me. © Maureen McCauley Evans

Update on Hana Williams: Larry and Carri Williams Have Filed an Appeal to Their Murder Convictions

Hana Alemu (Williams)

Hana Alemu (Williams) Photo from Facebook page: Remembrance of Hanna Williams

In late October 2013, Larry and Carri Williams, the adoptive parents of Ethiopian adoptee Hana Williams/Hana Alemu, were convicted and sentenced to jail for Hana’s murder and associated torture. You can read about their sentencing here.

Larry and Carri have filed appeals of the conviction, and the Seattle Appeals Court has scheduled oral arguments for the appeals on Monday, November 16, at 9:30am. I will be there, and I hope many other folks in the Seattle area will be there also. A good showing by the public on Hana’s behalf could be a powerful statement to the judges. Many thanks to all who have kept Hana in their hearts.

I feel certain that many folks in Washington State, in the US, in Ethiopia, and around the globe will be watching this case closely.

We haven’t forgotten you, Hana.

Adoptee Anthology “Lions Roaring” Featured in Ethiopian Diaspora Newspaper

We are so pleased that our anthology Lions, Roaring, Far From Home was featured in Gizeyat, the first weekly for the Ethiopian Diaspora.

The article, “Ethiopian adoptees to author book for the adoption community,” quotes the co-founders of Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora. Kassaye MacDonald says “we are creating this book because the voices of Ethiopian adoptees deserve to be heard.” And according to Aselefech Evans, “Many Ethiopian adoptees, wherever they have been raised, feel a connection to Ethiopia and want to give back in some way.”

Kassaye and Aselefech are co-editors of the upcoming anthology, due out in 2016. One of the main goals of the publication is not only to share the voices of Ethiopian adoptees, but also to fund a guest house in Addis for returning adoptees from around the world.

We are beginning the editing process now of the essays selected to appear in the anthology, and are honored by the stories that have been shared. We hope to have an Ethiopian adoptee design the cover art for the book.

Thank you to Gizeyat reporter Bereket Dereje and Gizeyat for featuring Lions Roaring!

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Original artwork by Adanech Evans © Maureen McCauley Evans

 

Ethiopian Adoptee Anthology Nearing Deadline

The purpose of the upcoming anthology, “Lions Roaring, Far From Home,” is to share the voices of Ethiopian adoptees. It is also in honor of Hana Williams, the young adoptee who died far too soon, voiceless and alone. Finally, the anthology will support our work to create a guesthouse in Addis Ababa for returning adoptees from around the world.

July 15 is our deadline for accepting submissions: please consider writing. Let us know if you’d like to write something, even if you think you can’t make the deadline. Please pass this on to potential writers.

We are thrilled with the submissions so far for the anthology. We have received wonderful essays from France, Holland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the US, and Ethiopia. We are reaching out to famous adoptees whose writing may be included, and we are seeking a solid range of perspectives about Ethiopian adoption.

Writer’s Guidelines:

Here are some possible questions for you to answer. These are ideas, or prompts, to help you get started. Use them if you want. If you want to write about something else, no problem.

What did it mean for you to be an Ethiopian adoptee when you were growing up? How did your family explain things? How did other children respond to your being adopted and Ethiopian?

What does it mean to you to be Ethiopian, and African, as well as a citizen of the country to which you were adopted?

How have you been affected by racism? In your family, school, work?

Have you visited or lived in Ethiopia? What was that like for you?

If you haven’t been back to Ethiopia, would you like to return someday? Why? What would you like to do there? If you don’t want to go back, why not?

What was your image of Ethiopia when you were growing up? Has your view of Ethiopia changed over the years? Why?

Have you searched for your Ethiopian family, or reunited with them? If yes, how has that process been? If not, why not?

What advice would you give to young Ethiopian adoptees, or to adoptive parents?

What have been the easiest and hardest parts of being an Ethiopian adoptee?

If you are a parent, how have you explained being an Ethiopian adoptee to your children?

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.

Length: Between one and six double spaced pages, or between 750 and 2500 words. Those are rough estimates. We want to read what you write, so don’t worry too much about the length. We will certainly look at essays that are fewer than 750 words.

Don’t worry about perfect grammar and spelling. This isn’t a test; you’re not going to be graded. We can work with you to polish the writing.

 We want to hear what you have to say.

Please send your submission (and any questions) to Maureen@LightOfDayStories.com.      Thanks!

Original artwork by Yadesa Bojia

Original artwork by Yadesa Bojia

 

 

A Global Facebook Group for Ethiopian Adoptees

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Please join me in promoting a brand new Facebook site for “Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora.” The two young people who created the site, Aselefech Negesso and Kassaye Magnime, are very special to me. Both are Ethiopian adoptees, one in the US and one in Canada. Annette speaks English and French, so has been able to reach out to a number of folks in Europe and Africa. Together the two young women form a powerful team that hopes to build a strong Ethiopian adoptee community, one that talks together comfortably and advocates effectively for the needs and interests of Ethiopian adoptees all around the globe.

As an adoptive parent (including being Aselefech’s mom), I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ethiopian adoptees who were raised in the US, Germany, Holland, Canada, England, Belgium, Australia, France, Italy, and elsewhere. This Facebook group will enable adopted Ethiopians to share their stories and perspectives, to help each other learn about options for searching and reuniting with their Ethiopian families, and to collaborate on potential projects. It is closed to all except Ethiopian adoptees, and is geared to adults, over 18, not younger adoptees right now. It wouldn’t surprise me if at some point the older adoptees pulled mentoring programs together for their younger fellow adoptees, offering support and information for them as well.

There is an increasingly strong global community of Ethiopian adoptees whose individual experiences may have been markedly different but who are open to learning from each other. Strong interest exists in Ethiopia for members of the adoption diaspora to return and bring their experiences and education to help strengthen the country. Ethiopian adoptees are sharing information such as the Ethiopian Adoption Connection and other resources around the globe. Already there has been enthusiasm in creating programs and in funding the costs for adult adoptees to visit Ethiopia, outside of agencies or tour trips. Adult adoptees have begun developing partnerships with each other and with existing organizations to help children and families in Ethiopia. Exciting possibilities.

So please, spread the word about this new Facebook resource for and by Ethiopian adoptees. Thank you! Merci! Gracias! Danke! Dank u! Grazie! Amasegenallo!

U.S., Canadian, Ethiopian Adoptees: Now on YouTube

It was a wonderful conversation among two Canadians and two Americans, Ethiopian adoptees and white adoptive parents.  Where and how do Ethiopian adoptees “fit in” with immigrants, Africans, and their adoptive families? What does “being adopted” mean at different ages? How does being raised in a rural, French-speaking area compare with being raised in the most affluent black county in the US? Can you have a happy childhood, and still be angry or sad about adoption?

My goal was to let Ethiopian adoptees Annette Kassaye MacDonald, in Montreal, and Aselefech Evans, in Cheverly, Maryland, be the primary speakers, and they were powerful and candid, speaking from their hearts.

Hosting the conversation with me was Chris Ardern, a Canadian adoptive mom of two young Ethiopian children, now living in Toronto, Ontario.

My thanks to Chris, Annette, and Aselefech. Amaseganallo. You were all thoughtful and insightful, and it was a great conversation.

I hope it is just the beginning of our talking together. We could have talked much more. We hope to add more and diverse voices (including men, for example). Two future topics may be “Unpacking Anger in Adoption” and “Helping Ethiopian Families (Especially Birth/First Families) Financially and Otherwise.” There is so much to talk about.

Please stay tuned for more upcoming conversations!

You can watch the conversation on YouTube by clicking here.

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