Frew Tibebu, who arrived in the US from Ethiopia as a refugee from the Derg via Djibouti in 1980, is now a successful realtor and social entrepreneur in California. Here’s what Frew had to say about our book:
“As someone who was a frequent attendee of Ethiopian Adoption Camp at Scotts Valley. California, in the mid 2000’s, I thought I knew enough about Ethiopian adoptive families and Ethiopian adoptees.
After reading Lions Roaring Far From Home, I realized how little I knew about the diverse experiences of the Ethiopian adoptees.
I consider this anthology by Ethiopian adoptees to be an enlightening, ambitious undertaking, a missing voice to the Ethiopian transnational adoption and to the Ethiopian diaspora experience in general.”
In addition to getting the book to Ethiopian adoptees and the greater Ethiopian community, we also want to get Lions Roaring to other adoptees. Our writers were raised in six different countries: Ethiopian adoption is global. There are some unique differences for Ethiopian adoptees, and some overlap with the experiences of other adopted people.
We also want adoptive parents to read the book. For those folks who live in isolation from Ethiopian adoptees, the book is an opportunity to hear from 32 Ethiopian adoptee writers, with a variety of perspectives.
We have heard about adoptive parents reading the essays along with their children, then talking about them together. There are some great conversation-starters in the book.
We love to see the book being read by folks with no connection to Ethiopia or adoption: everyone can learn a lot from the amazing writers, who range in age from young children to adults in their 50’s and older.
In less than two weeks, we will be presenting at two Ethiopian heritage camps, one in Oregon and one in the Washington, DC, area. We are working on additional outreach in a variety of places and groups. Thank you for purchasing and reading the book, and for sharing info about the book.
Equally important are the reactions and reviews of the writers themselves as they have read the whole book. We recently heard from Kiya Herron-Sabi Goura; she is Kiya Herron in the book.
It’s comforting to know that there are others out there who understand what it’s like to be adopted and the unique challenges that come with it. Reading these stories has helped me feel less alone and more connected to a community of people who share similar experiences. I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability of the writers and the effort put into creating this book. It’s an important contribution to the adoption conversation and I hope it reaches many others who can benefit from it. Thank you again for giving adoptees a platform to share their stories and be heard.
That is an absolutely beautiful comment, Kiya—thank you so much.
We also want to note that Kiya has started a business: Gelane Hair Oil, specializing in Ethiopian hair oil and butter. You can learn more about it on Etsy, and also on Facebook. We love the fact that Kiya is an entrepreneur, and that she is connecting with the beauty of Ethiopian culture.
We are, of course, proud of all our writers, and there is a special joy in sharing their accomplishments outside of our book.
There is a remarkable community of international Ethiopian adoptees who have returned to Ethiopia. Some have married and are raising children there. Some have set up businesses. Some are living with or near their original Ethiopian family. They were raised the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United States, and elsewhere. Many adoptees visit, and that is important. These folks, though, have returned to their homeland and immersed themselves in Ethiopia.
All the photos and captions here are courtesy of Heran. Thank you.
At the gathering, the conversation was around “Lions Roaring,” as well as about each adoptee’s individual stories: how they grew up, where they lived, why they returned to Ethiopia.
One American adoptee, Mike Davis, was adopted at 8 years old by a U.S. Army officer. He grew up with his dad on American Army bases, ran several small businesses, and has a wife, children, and grandchildren in the US. Because of a shameful US immigration policy that deports adoptees who are unable to prove citizenship, Mike was deported to Ethiopia in 2005. He is now 60 years old, and hopes to return to his family in the United States. Mike is one of our writers in “Lions Roaring.” We are grateful to the Ethiopian adoptee community in Addis that has supported him, giving him respect and companionship, and we are working on ways to bring him back to the US.
We also love the fact he is wearing his “Lions Roaring” tee shirt, along with holding the book. That Ethiopian coffee cup is also beautiful.
“Lions Roaring Far From Home” includes essays and poems by adoptees raised in six countries (the US, Canada, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Australia), and ranging in age from 8 years old to over 50. They also have a range of perspectives on adoption. The writers and the co-editors have been working to promote the book, and especially to get it in the hands of Ethiopian adoptees. If you are an adoptee who cannot order the book from Amazon where you live, or if the cost is prohibitive for you, please email us at email@example.com, and we will find a way to get the book to you. We invite everyone to follow us on our Facebook page and on the Lions Roaring website.
Thank you to Heran, Mike, and all the adoptees who took the time to talk about our book and to share their stories. Amaseganello.
The themes of the BGHRA conference is “Art as Resistance,” and I encourage you to attend as many workshops and keynotes as you can. Kassaye and I are thrilled to have been asked to talk about the book, its origins, its intent, and its powerful stories.
Several of our writers, all Ethiopian adoptees, are also Europeans, raised and/or living in Sweden, France, and the Netherlands. There are, of course, many Ethiopian adoptees in Germany, Norway, Italy, Spain, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe.
Our writers also were raised and/or now live in the US, Australia, Canada, and Ethiopia.
We appreciate BGHRA inviting us to talk about the book, about the lived experiences of Ethiopian adoptees raised around the globe, and about how the anthology itself is an act of resistance.
And we look forward to a lively conversation tomorrow. Join us!
We have been thrilled and honored by the response to our new book, “Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees.” It has been selling well, and is at the top of Amazon Hot New Releases in Adoption.
Our hope is that the primary readers will be Ethiopian and other adoptees, especially international and transracial adoptees. From the book’s Introduction: “We want to draw attention to the particularities of being a Black adoptee from Africa, placed with white families.”
We also are hopeful that adoptive parents will read the book, especially parents of Ethiopian adoptees, and also of other international, transracial adoptees.
Of course, we are hopeful that the Ethiopian community, including the diaspora, will read the book, as well as family members of adoptees, along with therapists, adoption agency staff, adoption-related organizations, social workers, undergrad and graduate students, book clubs, anyone interested in reading a great collection of powerful essays. If you know Oprah, Angelina, or Marcus, feel free to share the book with them, and please connect the editors with them also. You can reach the editors and writers at the book’s website: lionsroaringbook.com.
Here are a few questions that adoptive parents have asked me about the book.
Is it a positive or negative view of adoption?
It is a “real” view of adoption. Each of the 33 writers has a different perspective as they speak their truths. The book shows the range of attitudes and experiences. It also shows a range of views based on ages, since the writers are 8 to over 50 years old. Some essays note the adoptees’ Christian faith, and call adoption a blessing. There is discussion in the book of suicide and abuse. Some essays recall experiences in Ethiopia prior to being adopted. Some writers talk about painful childhood events in Ethiopia and in their adoptive country. Some talk about ways they are giving back to Ethiopia. There is mention of optimism, love of family, and resilience. Some essays are matter of fact; some are deeply emotional.
I urge adoptive parents of children of all ages to read the book. You can then talk with your children about it, in an age-appropriate way, whether they are 6 or 38 years old. It could open up a lot of new conversations.
Is the book child-friendly?
It is not meant for young children. The book reflects a wide range of lived experiences: good, bad, sad, encouraging, hopeful, angry, grief-filled, all of it. Whatever your child’s age, they might have had or will have some of the feelings in the book.
Are there essays by adoptees adopted as infants, or who have very little information about their families of origin?
Yes. The writers were adopted at a variety of ages, some with and some without their siblings. One co-editor was adopted as an infant to Canada, and the other was adopted at 6 years old with her twin sister to the US. A Swedish adoptee, adopted at one year old and now in his 50’s, wrote an essay about his DNA search and some unexpected connections. Most of the writers have little information about their Ethiopian families regardless of age at adoption; some have strong memories. Some have searched, some have reunited. Many have not done either, for a variety of reasons.
Here are some questions I haven’t been asked by adoptive parents.
Will I be uncomfortable or unsettled if I read this book?
At times, probably. If you are not an adopted person, you may well be startled or saddened by some of the insights that the writers offer. Some of the essays may affirm your views on adoption. Some may rattle them. That’s a good thing.
Can I just give the book to my teenage or adult son/daughter/child, without actually reading it myself?
Yes. And don’t do that. We adoptive parents must keep doing our work to understand what our kids are going through, to do so with open hearts and open eyes, and to learn how ideas and attitudes can change over time.
Can I give this book to friends, my non-adopted children, other adoptive parents, my Ethiopian friends, my adoption agency, my therapist, my children’s therapist, my parents, my siblings?What about folks with no close connection to adoption?
Yes! Please share the book and information about it with those who are tightly connected to adoption, those who have the rainbows-and-unicorns view, those who might be able to bring about changes in adoption policy: everyone. Thank you for doing this.
And again, thank you to every one of our writers, and to all those who have supported the book.
I could not be more thrilled to announce that “Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees” has been published. You can purchase it (Kindle or paperback) on Amazon.
It is the first ever anthology by Ethiopian adoptees. The 33 writers hail from six countries, and they range in age from 8 to over 50. The essays and poems present a range of views on adoption, and each one is insightful.
All of the writers are Ethiopian adoptees. They were raised in the U.S., Canada, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Australia. Two currently live in Ethiopia.
The co-editors are Aselefech Evans, an American Ethiopian adoptee, Kassaye Berhanu-MacDonald, a Canadian Ethiopian adoptee; I am also a co-editor, and am the adoptive mother of Ethiopian twin daughters as well as two sons born in the U.S.
Deep gratitude to each of the amazing writers for this groundbreaking book.
UPDATE: Unfortunately we need to reschedule this Zoom meeting. probably until September. We really appreciate the concern and support for Mike and his family. Please feel free to send me a message (via the Contact page) if you have any questions. Thank you.
Please register for this Zoom (info is below) and share widely! Thank you.
Join us Sunday July 31 at 9am pdt for a Zoom with Mike Davis, an Ethiopian adoptee who was deported to Ethiopia in 2005. Mike’s wife Laura, who lives in the U.S., and perhaps one of their sons, will also be with us.
Mike is almost 60 years old. Born in Addis Ababa in 1962, he was adopted when he was around 8 years old by a U.S. Army officer who was stationed in Ethiopia. In 1976, when Mike was 14, he and his dad returned to the U.S., with the legal approval of both Ethiopia and the United States. Mike grew up on military bases, and believed that America was his forever home. He had several small businesses, such as pizza place and a gas station. He married and had children. About 30 years ago, he got in some legal trouble, and accepted the consequences. He has had no trouble with the law since. Nonetheless, because he had less than excellent legal representation and could not prove citizenship, he was deported.
Yes: the U.S. government deports people who were legally brought as children to the United States for the purpose of adoption. The U.S. deports people who had no choice or agency in their immigration, and who arrived here with the legal sanction of both the United States and their country of origin. The U.S. deports people who were adopted to so-called “forever families,” people who had no means of responsibility for the processing of their citizenship, and then returns them to countries where they have no family, friends, language, or other connections.
Mike’s beloved dad passed away in 2012, and he could not, to his great sorrow, attend the funeral. His sons have grown up without him, and his wife has worked hard to support the family and to encourage Mike. He has grandchildren he has never met.
Mike is one of the writers whose essay is included in our book, Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees.The Ethiopian adoption community, and many other folks, want to help Mike. The co-editors of Lions Roaring, Aselefech Evans and Kassaye Berhanu MacDonald, Ethiopian adoptees themselves, are a pivotal part of this effort.
Our Zoom conversation with Mike and his family will take place on Sunday July 31 at 9am pacific time. (Please double check your time zone!)
Here is the link to sign up for the Zoom conversation:
Sunday, July 31, 2022 09:00 Pacific Time (US and Canada)
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
We hope to raise awareness about adoptee deportation, and its unfair, devastating effect on adopted people and on their families. We will also be fundraising for Mike’s legal, medical, and living expenses.
This has been a heartbreaking day: the horrific shooting in Texas, and now news of the death of Jordan Shelley, a 22-year-old Ethiopian adoptee, here in Seattle.
Jordan’s car had broken down on the Ship Canal Bridge in Seattle’s University District around 4:30am. His car was hit by another car, and Jordan was flung off the bridge, 182 feet above the water. Jordan’s body was found around 9am this morning.
The driver of the car that hit Jordan was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. He is also 22 years old.
Jordan, along with two younger siblings, was adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 by Teresa and Lanny Shelley, and raised on Whidbey Island, near Seattle. According to this 2018 article, Jordan received a two year full scholarship to the University of Washington, where he was studying to be an anesthesiologist.
According to KIRO-News, Jordan’s mother Teresa Shelley said that “her son lived with purpose and always gave ‘150 percent’ to whatever he was doing. She said his Ethiopian name was Meloawl, which means, ‘What may I do for you?’ “
According to the Whidbey News-Times, Jordan completed his last two years of high school while simultaneously completing his associate’s degree. He wanted to be a doctor so that he could help people like his Ethiopian father, who had died when Jordan was 7 years old.
Deep condolences to all of Jordan’s family and friends. A terrible loss.
Rest in Peace and in power. እግዚያብሔር ይባርክ God bless you.
I am happy to invite you to “Like” and follow the new Facebook page for our soon-to-be published anthology, “Lions Roaring Far From Home.” The link is here. Thank you!
The anthology, the first of its kind, has essays and poems from 32 Ethiopian adoptees who are of different ages and who were raised in different countries. The cover art (shared below; reveal here) is by Ethiopian artist Nahosenay Negussie.
On the Facebook page, we will provide info about pre-order and publication as soon as it is available. We will also be posting excerpts from the book, pre-publication reviews by some amazing folks, and info about upcoming “Meet the Writers” Zooms and other events.
Thanks so much for visiting and Liking the Facebook page! Please share with others. We really appreciate the support.
Ten years! A decade to the day that Hanna Williams/Hana Alemu died as a result of her adoptive parents’ cruelty. She would have been almost 23 years old now, had Larry and Carri Williams not starved and abused her until she died.
So let us today remember Hana, as we keep her in our hearts always. I always think also of he Williams’ children, including Emmanuel, and all that they witnessed and experienced. Devastating trauma all around, the kind that lingers in the body and soul. May Hanna rest in power and in peace.
Adoptions from Ethiopia ended in 2018, for many reasons, Hanna’s death among them. There are still vulnerable children there. While international adoption is no longer an option, there are many excellent organizations that support family preservation—please donate to them and promote them. I’ve listed several here. Always look for organizations that promote the community, that engage local leaders, and that empower rather than rescue.
A couple of personal notes: We hope the book “Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology By Ethiopian Adoptees” will soon be available. It is dedicated to Hanna, and to Ethiopian adoptees who have died by suicide. The profits from the sales of “Lions Roaring” will be used to establish a guest house in Addis Ababa for returning adoptees.
I am considering closing the door on my Light of Day Stories blog. I’ve been posting far less often for many reasons, I am proud of what I’ve written these last eight years. Recently, in the past few years, the number of adoptee blogs has increased dramatically, which is wonderful. Adult adoptees are occupying the space once used up too much by adoptive parents, including myself. It’s time to give more room to the voices of adoptees. And wouldn’t it be great if Ethiopian first/birth parents had equitable space in the decisions and policies and perspectives on adoption? Let’s keep fighting for that.
And today, let’s think of Hanna, with love and hope.