Zoom Meeting with Mike Davis, Deported Ethiopian Adoptee: Rescheduling

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.

POSTPONED:

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.

Mike Davis, in Addis, 2021 via Also-Known-As interview

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)

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpfuuupj8qGtdnFk7HXtVEdFL7KIZ20X48

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.

Please join us.

A “Lions Roaring” Update: Zoom with Mike Davis, A Deported Ethiopian Adoptee

We will soon announce the pre-order and publication date of “Lions Roaring far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees,” and we will soon be hosting a Zoom for a deported Ethiopian adoptee, now almost 60 years old.

“Lions Roaring” is the first anthology entirely by Ethiopian adoptees. The funds from the sales of the book will be used for Ethiopian adoptees. We are creating an account for the revenue and will distribute it to Ethiopian adoptees for DNA tests, travel costs to and from Ethiopia, translation services, and more.

One of our writers is Mike Davis, whose adoptive father was a U.S. Army officer. Mike grew up on Army bases with his dad. Mike went on to get married, have children, and build several small businesses. He got in some trouble, and completed the sentence he was given—he got in no further trouble after that. However, years after, he was deported, as a result of not being able to prove citizenship. Inept lawyers and a difficult legal system added to the adversity. In 2005, at the age of 43, Mike was deported to Ethiopia, where he had no family, no job, no connections.

He is now almost 60. It is time for him to come back to his family in the United States.

Mike Davis, deported Ethiopian adoptee. Let’s work to bring him home.

Many folks, including Mike’s wife and children, have been working hard to bring him back home to the United States. He was not able to attend his beloved father’s funeral, and he has yet to see his grandchildren in person. It is past time to bring Mike, and all deported international adoptees, back home. They came to the U.S. with the legal sanction of both the U.S. and the country of origin, and with the understanding that the U.S. was a safe and permanent home for them. Our government has failed to honor that understanding of adoption, and that is a shameful reality.

We will soon be hosting a Zoom talk with Mike and his wife, so that more folks can learn about his situation, and also to raise funds for his legal costs and other expenses. More details will be available soon. We hope that you will join us.

For updates on the anthology (including publication date) and Zooms, please visit and “Like” the Lions Roaring Far From Home Anthology Facebook page.

Postscript: I’ve written numerous times over the years about the need for Citizenship for All Adoptees. You can get more information at Adoptee Rights Law, Adoptees For Justice, and Alliance for Adoptee Citizenship. If anyone wants to donate directly to Mike, please email me at Maureen@LightofDayStories.com.

Remembering Hanna Williams, on the Eleventh Anniversary of Her Death

It’s a chilly, drizzly day here in Seattle, close to 50 degrees F (10 C). That’s what the weather was like 11 years ago today, when Ethiopian adoptee Hanna Williams died outdoors, in her adoptive family’s backyard. The cause of her death was hypothermia and malnutrition, the tragic culmination of the abuse she endured before she died in 2011 at the age of 13.

Her adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, remain in jail after being found guilty, in 2013, for Hanna”s death. I’ve often wondered how Hanna’s siblings are doing, having witnessed the abuse and death of Hanna at the hands of their parents. I wish them well, along with the other Ethiopian adoptee, Immanuel. What scars they all carry.

Hanna would be 24 years old now, had she not died.

We are dedicating our upcoming book, Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees, to Hanna, and to Ethiopian adoptees who have died by suicide. We will use the proceeds from the sale of the book to support adoptees, perhaps to offer DNA testing, or to supplement airfare to Ethiopia, or some other ways to center their needs.

A photo of Ethiopian adoptee Hanna Williams at the orphanage. Hanna is wearing a blue and white striped shirt and has a slight, shy smile.
Hana in Ethiopia, prior to adoption. May she Rest in Peace and in power.

You’re in our hearts, Hanna. We won’t forget you.

Update on “Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees”

We are getting closer to announcing pre-order and publication dates of our book Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees.

Today I did a big final editing run-through with our formatter, checking our commas, and em dashes, and ellipses, and more.

Here’s pic from the first page of the Table of Contents:

The book is in rough chronological order by author age, so these selections are from our younger writers (or were written when the author was a child).

Here’s the last page in the Table of Contents:

These essays and poems listed on the last Table of Contents page are from our “older” writers, those in their 30’s through 50’s. One of the best parts of the anthology is how the writers’ own voices and lived experiences reveal the range of insights from childhood through adulthood.

I am in awe of every single writer, for their willingness to share their stories. Each one is an amazing person. Deep gratitude to you.

More details coming soon!

Please visit and “like” our Facebook page, Lions Roaring Far from Home Anthology. Thanks!

When Adoptees’ Birth Countries Are Torn By War

When an international adoptee’s country of origin (birth country, homeland, Motherland) is torn by war or other horrific tragedies, the impact on the adoptee is, I’d think, powerful and complicated.

Here is a thoughtful, poignant essay by Katya Reach, a Russian-Ukrainian adoptee. The essay is called “Caught in the Middle.”

An excerpt:

“I look to my left and mourn the suffering of the displaced Ukrainian people who I hav personal connections with…I look to my right and see my very own birth family also suffering and hiding for dear life in bomb shelters and basements…”

Katy’s essay was posted on Facebook on Inter Country Adoption News, a valuable resource for anyone interested in international adoption news, especially from the perspective of adoptees.

I am grateful that Katya decided to write and publish her essay, because it is so critical to hear from adoptees on such an important subject.

The National Council for Adoption on March 16 held a free webinar “Supporting people in the adoption community with roots in Russia and Ukraine.” Their website notes that “As the crisis has unfolded in Ukraine, NCFA is aware that adopted individuals with roots in Ukraine and Russia are grieving and grappling with how to process these events.” They also posted a list of resources for the adoptees and their families; this link will direct you to the resources and to the taped webinar.

All of that is beneficial. My heart is with these adoptees and their families, here and in Ukraine and Russia.

Why, though, has NCFA done nothing like this for Ethiopian adoptees, whose country has been engaged in a devastating civil war since November 2020?

No webinar. No list of resources. No panel of experts “to provide guidance and clinical expertise for navigating this challenging time.”

Why is that?

I wrote about this puzzling discrepancy here. I have also heard that the Washington Post is writing an article about how the war has affected Russian and Ukrainian adoptees, and again I say: that is great, valuable, and needed.

I wish that Ethiopian adoptees, and their families in Ethiopia and around the world, also were considered worthy of coverage.

And of course I wish, first and foremost, that there will be peace.

An Ethiopian Adoptee Death: Heartache

Because his adoptive parents spoke publicly about his death, I am sharing the news of the March 6 passing of Mekbul Timmer, an Ethiopian adoptee. I cannot imagine the heartbreak the family is enduring, and I send the deepest of condolences.

He was adopted by Jeff and Mattie Timmer of Michigan. Jeff Timmer is a political and media consultant who works with the Lincoln Project; both Jeff and Mattie have a substantial social media presence. Jeff posted on his Twitter feed various photos and information about Mekbul, including this obituary.

The family makes no mention of suicide as a cause of death—but neither do they give any other cause. Mekbul was 18 years old, adopted from Ethiopia (per the obituary posted by Jeff Timmer) when he was 11, as best I can tell from the obituary.

Mekbul Timmer

Because the family has been so public, we will include Mekbul Timmer’s name in the Dedication of our upcoming anthology of essays by Ethiopian adoptees, “Lions Roaring Far From Home.” We are dedicating the book to all Ethiopian adoptees who have died too soon, whether by suicide or other causes. We grieve as a community.

We know also how painful and searing a death by suicide of a young person can be not only to immediate family, but also to friends. Yes, the death is painful for those left behind at any age, but teens and young adults can often struggle a great deal with confusion, grief, and even suicidal ideation themselves.

I’ve written several times about adoption and suicide. I know it is a difficult topic at best. As a society, we are not good at talking about it. The popular narrative of adoption does not allow much room for adoptees who love their adoptive families and still struggle with depression or trauma. It doesn’t allow much room for adoptees who were failed or abused by their adoptive families either, and who deal with suicidal ideation.

Last October, I facilitated a webinar via United Suicide Survivors International called “Adoption and Suicide Prevention: Adult Adoptees Speak Out.” The powerful speakers were Jessenia Parmer, Amanda Transue-Woolston, Kevin Barhydt, and Lynelle Long. You can find the video of the webinar here.

United Suicide Survivors International has many excellent webinars and resources. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, available 24/7. The K-12 School Suicide Prevention info from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention may be useful also. Check out “How to Talk About Suicide” from Indian Health Services, There are “Resources for Youth and Suicide Prevention” on the page as well.

Jeff Timmer posted a thank you to the thousands of people across social media who expressed condolences. He included, “Please just love your kids and those close to you.” Absolutely.

I will add this, and I know it’s painful to even think about: Please learn and talk about suicide prevention with those you love.

May Mekbul rest in power and in peace. May his memory be a blessing.

NCFA on Wars and Webinars: Ethiopian, Russian, and Ukrainian Adoptees

Why is the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) holding a webinar for families with Russian and Ukrainian adoptions, yet has not held anything for families with Ethiopian adoptions?

The NCFA Facebook page says: “As the crisis has unfolded in Ukraine, NCFA is aware that adopted individuals with roots in Ukraine and Russia, and their families, are grieving and grappling with how to process these events.” NCFA is hosting a free webinar next week, “Supporting People in the Adoption Community with Roots in Ukraine and Russia,” with a panel of adoption agency professionals to provide guidance and expertise. This could be valuable and important for these families; I respect, applaud, and support that.

I am curious though.

Ethiopia has been experiencing a horrific civil war since November 2020. NCFA has held no webinars offering guidance and resources for Ethiopian adoptive families. Why is that?

From the BBC:

“In Ethiopia, the last 16 months have been hell.

In the north of the country, as a result of a conflict in Tigray, more than two million people have been forced from their homes.

In addition hundreds of thousands face starvation, and the government has been accused of blocking deliveries of aid and essential medicines – something it denies.

There is mounting evidence that war crimes may have been committed by both sides, include mass killings and widespread use of rape as a weapon of war.

On the scale of human suffering it is surely on a par with anything else that is grabbing the world’s attention.”

Why has NCFA, by their own description the “leading expert on adoption issues, providing resources and education for all people and organizations in the adoption world,” been totally silent on Ethiopia? There are some 15,000 Ethiopian adoptees in the United States, and thousands more around the globe.

Yet NCFA has offered nothing for them or their families.

Many Ethiopian adoptees are deeply worried about their Ethiopian families. Many have family members who have been killed, maimed, and starved. Many adoptive parents struggle to explain the complexity and devastation of the war to their adopted children. Ethiopian adopted individuals and their families, like the families with children from Russia and Ukraine, “are grieving and grappling with how to process these events.” NCFA’s webinar will host adoption agency representatives (not, as best I can tell, adopted adults from or citizens of those countries) to provide the insights and leadership.

Adoptions from Ethiopia ended in 2018. Adoptions from Russia ended in 2013. Adoptions from Ukraine are still happening, though the numbers have been increasingly low and obviously the situation is very complicated now.

NCFA will, in this upcoming webinar, “provide guidance and clinical expertise for navigating this challenging time” for the Russian and Ukrainian families.

But not, apparently, for families with Ethiopian adoptions.

Why is that?

You can ask NCFA directly here:

Phone: (703) 299-6633
Media Line: (703) 718-5375
Emailncfa@adoptioncouncil.org

“Lions Roaring Far From Home” Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees: Cover Reveal

We are delighted to share the cover of our upcoming anthology, “Lions Roaring Far From Home.” The artist is Nahosenay Negussie.

© Lions Roaring Artwork by Nahosenay Negussie

Nahosenay Negussie is an astonishingly talented artist based in Addis Ababa. Nahosenay has had many well-received international shows, and his work has been commissioned globally. His paintings are full of rich colors and textual details; the style has been compared to Gustav Klimt in its energy.

I met Nahosenay in 2016 when a group of artists and writers traveled together with authors Jane Kurtz and Caroline Kurtz, American sisters who grew up in Maji, Ethiopia. Jane has written several books with Ethiopia themes, and she developed the Ready Set Go books for Ethiopian children via Ethiopia Reads and Open Hearts Big Dreams. During that 2016 trip, Nahosenay was a stellar role model for children, teaching them art and encouraging their skills. One example is the illustrations for Talk Talk Turtle, the first Ready Set Go book, which has been published in English as well as Afaan Oromo, Tigrinya, and Amharic.

We feel incredibly honored to have Nahosenay’s talent and incredible imagery on the cover of our book.

“Lions Roaring Far From Home” is not yet available, and we will soon be announcing the publication date. It is a collection of essays and poems by 33 Ethiopian adoptees who live in seven countries: the US, Canada, Belgium, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Australia. The writers range in age from 8 years old to over 50. Each one shared their truth with insight and candor. They bring a variety of perspectives and experiences to their writing. There are themes of identity, grief, loss, joy, faith, and resilience; there are also themes of racism, suicide, anger, and hope.

We hope you enjoy this beautiful cover. Thank you, Nahosenay!

Stay tuned for more book details soon. Thank you to my wonderful co-editors, Aselefech Evans and Kassaye Berhanu-MacDonald, who also contributed powerful essays. I am so grateful to each of the writers in the anthology. Your voices—the voices of adoptees—are valuable and deeply appreciated.

New Novel by David Guterson about the Hana Williams’ Case

David Guterson is the prize-winning author of Snow Falling on Cedars and other books, and is also an adoptive parent of an Ethiopian child. I met him while attending the Hanna Williams’ trial here in Washington state in the summer of 2013.

Guterson has recently published a novel, The Final Case, based on Hanna’s death and the trial. I have placed a hold on it at my local library, and will post my comments here after I have read the novel.

Having attended almost every day of the trial, I have vivid memories of the people involved: the defendants Larry and Carri Williams, their children (some of whom testified at the trial), the prosecuting and the defense lawyers, the many witnesses. I have written about the trial extensively here on my blog. It will be interesting to see how much adoption as such (trauma, fraud, oversight, etc) is a part of the novel.

It is also interesting to consider the decision to write a novel as opposed to a nonfiction book about Hanna’s story. I am guessing that could be to avoid potential litigation. Beyond that, perhaps a work of fiction will bring more readers? I don’t know. The fictionalization of Hanna’s life and death gives me pause, and I am not sure just why. I look forward to reading the book. I hope Hanna is never forgotten. Maybe that is part of the book as well. May she rest in peace and in power.

Hana Alemu (Williams)

Remembering Hanna Williams, Ten Years After Her Death

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.

A photo of Ethiopian adoptee Hanna Williams at the orphanage. Hanna is wearing a blue and white striped shirt and has a slight, shy smile.
Hana in Ethiopia, prior to adoption. May she Rest in Peace.