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.

Call For Submissions: Anthology By Ethiopian Adoptees


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

Tentative Title:


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


© national


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.


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.


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 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.

The Inspiring Power of the Adoptee Diaspora

I wrote a few days ago about the Wrenching Complexity of Money in Ethiopian Adoptions, barely scratching the surface of the issues. I mentioned adoptive parents’ charitable projects and programs in Ethiopia, projects that likely wouldn’t have been established were it not for adoption.

As I was working on Part 2 of the Wrenching Complexity, my Facebook feed delivered a gift to me:  the powerful story of Noah, an 11-year-old Ethiopian adoptee who has found a purpose in and to his life, and is giving back not only to Ethiopia, but to other countries as well. Like many adoptees, Noah has endured challenges of grief, loss, and survivors’ guilt. Like my daughters, he arrived in the US at the age of 6, with memories and life experiences.

By chance (maybe) a few years ago, an older (17) Ethiopian adoptee crossed paths with Noah. Solomon had returned to his village in Ethiopia, and witnessed the struggles to obtain clean drinking water. Solomon created a fundraising campaign to build a well, and that work is what drew Noah in. Noah has since done his own creative fundraising, and successfully engaged others to join him.

Here’s an excerpt from his adoptive mother’s blog:

“For me, his mom, well, I tear up because after weeks and months of my heart aching for his grief it is so very clear he has found  his purpose. I have said time and time again he is on loan to us from Ethiopia. He’s going to go back. He’s going to dig wells, find medication, and save lives because that is his purpose. He has told me as much. Finding a purpose. Sharing his heart. His compassion. That is the way he has conquered the demons that tried so very hard to conquer him.

Charity:water saves lives. This is proven. I don’t think, however, charity:water knows the impact they have had on Noah. I don’t think they truly understand that they saved my little boy’s life as well.”

While I believe international adoption is in great need of reform, I also believe very much in the power of individuals to change the world. My heart embraces Noah and Solomon, adoptees in the diaspora who are creating huge, life-saving, positive change.

Please read the entire, wonderful post “Purpose” by clicking here.

You can learn more about Charity:water here.