Upcoming and Ongoing

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

Submissions were due by July 15, 2015. More information is available here.

We were 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.

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 have selected 28 entries for publication in the anthology. Writers range in age from 8 to 47, and are from the US, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, and Australia.

We are thrilled at the response to our anthology. It has been a labor of love. We plan to have it available in both electronic and print form. Many thanks for all the support, patience, and encouragement!

Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network–KAAN Conference

June 2016  (kaanet.org) 

I am honored to be presenting a workshop titled “Artfully Creating Personal Histories in Adoption” at the annual conference of KAAN, the Korean American Adoptive Family Network, June 24-26, in Pittsburgh. My hands-on, interactive session will use art to examine the intersection of personal histories and adoption. Personal histories are our own stories of the past, put down on paper or otherwise preserved. We will review the history of adoption (US and international), and the role of privacy, secrecy, and control. We will use art to talk about that we are really looking for in searches, and what to do when  information is painful, missing, or inaccurate. Important components will be normalizing a difficult past, and honoring (maybe even celebrating) a complex history through art.

My workshop will be Friday, June 24. There is an incredible line-up of speakers and workshops at the conference. More information is available here.

On YouTube–

Annette Kasseye and Aselefech Evans–Canadian and US Ethiopian Adoptees

Watch Perspectives on Ethiopian Adoptions on YouTube.

In February 2014, we held 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?

Ethiopian adoptees Annette Kassaye MacDonald, in Montreal, and Aselefech Evans, in Cheverly, Maryland, were 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.

Jenni Fang Lee and Aselefech Evans:
An Adoptee Conversation

Many thanks to Cindy Rasicot, MFT,  of the wonderful blog Talking Heart to Heart, for co-hosting this powerful conversation on December 9, 2013, between Jenni Fang Lee and Aselefech Evans.

You can watch now on YouTube by clicking here.

Jenni Fang Lee was adopted from China when she was 5 years old, and raised in Berkeley, California. She is one of the young women featured in the acclaimed documentary Somewhere Between, and is now studying sociology and economics at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She returns to China each summer to volunteer at an orphanage, and has created a start-up designed to teach Mandarin and Chinese culture to Chinese adoptees and their families. According to her blog fangtopia.wordpress.com, Jenni’s passions lie in both entrepreneurship and non-profit work, specifically directed towards women and children.

Aselefech Evans was adopted from Ethiopia, along with her twin sister Adanech, when she was 6 years old. Like Jenni, she is a columnist for Gazillion Voices. Aselefech has presented numerous workshops and webinars about transracial adoption, racial identity,  hair care for adopted African-American children, her search for and reunion with her Ethiopian family, and more. She is a candidate for a BSW at Bowie State University in Maryland, and plans to go on for her master’s in social work, potentially working in post-adoption services.

Aselefech and Jenni met in person at the adoptee-led, adoptee-centric conference “Reframing the Adoption Discourse” held in Minnesota in November 2013. Both young women share much in common, and also have had distinct differences growing up as transracial adoptees in the US. This was a fascinating discussion, about transracial adoption issues, “angry adoptees,” about the future of international adoption, and more. Many thanks to Aselefech and Jenni.

Adopted and Estranged Families:
Rebuilding a Personal History

That’s the title of a workshop I presented November 11, 2013, at the annual conference of the Association of Personal Historians.

Here’s the workshop description:

Many people don’t have the luxury of knowing their family. Those who are separated by adoption or just estranged from their birth family still need to know where they came from and how to embrace their cultural origins. In this workshop, Maureen will discuss methods to find information, help normalize difficult pasts, and celebrate complex histories, even if birth records are not available. You will learn about innovative approaches using mementoes, DNA services, adoption records, new technologies, and more. And you will learn that even if conventional methods and research materials aren’t available, you still can have powerful personal history stories.

Presenter: Maureen McCauley has served as executive director of adoption-related organizations, and presented dozens of workshops on adoption-related issues in the U.S. and Canada. A strong advocate of personal histories for anyone involved in adoption, she has been interviewed about the subject on NPR, Voice of America, and MSNBC, and has had articles published in the Washington Post and Minneapolis Star Tribune. She believes that stories and pasts can be complicated, and that innovative approaches to telling those stories can be healing and powerful.

You can read more about the workshop in my post Rebuilding Personal Histories: The Art of the Journey.

Reframing The Adoption Discourse

An Adoptee-Led Groundbreaking Conference

Saturday, November 16, 2013, St. Paul, Minnesota

This was indeed an amazing conference, first of its kind. Presented by the Adoption Policy and Reform Collaborative, the conference included panels on activism, performance, research, policy, mental health–and an after-party. My post about the Performance Panel is here: “Telling Genuine Adoption Stories.”  Among the speakers/performers were JaeRan Kim, Michelle Johnson, Katie Hae Leo, Marissa Lichwick-Glesne, Lisa Marie Rollins, SooJin Pate, Robert O’Connor, Jane Jeong Trenka, Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, and many more.

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