Monday, June 04, 2007


Today NYTimes posted an interesting article on adoption in Ethiopia, and how the surging numbers are finally raising eybrows.

On my flight back from Ethiopia there were no less than 5 families who had obviously adopted Ethiopian babies. Mother and father with all their toys and gadgets, and little habesha kids tucked somewhere there. There was an obvious camaraderie amongst adopting parents who'd occasionally stop to chat with other adoptive parents. The Ethiopian passengers were simply spectators. They (eh, we?) stared and stared away. If the parents noticed, it didn't bother them the tinest bit. I guess it's the end of their trip ... they must have had a lot of it already, enough to be desensitized.

At some point an Ethiopian woman in her 40s or 50s, beTam finTir finTir yalu setiyeo, approached myself and a girl behind me and said, 'deresku!' I figured she was talking to the girl behind me and I hope the most there was on my face was a quizzical look. Apparently the girl behind me had done the same so the woman continued, 'izich ga'ko neberku. formun limola sil botayen yazulign biyesh sihed alsemashim?' For a split second I was thinking the woman's talaqe so maybe i should be a little considerate. But man! The woman had so much energy ... she was like an a 5 year old with ADD right after you'd given him some sugar. Fiten koskushe I said, 'ine alsemahum' and turned my face away. I could hear the girl behind me saying 'inem alsemahun', but the conversation continued so the woman stayed on.

Was I glad I didn't let her in in front of me coz that lady made the most random comments in town. The one time she figured it'd be a good idea to include me to her unsuspecting audience list she said, 'ignih ferenjoch iko ye'agerun hitsan aguzew aguzew cheresut. tayachewalesh?' I threw another glance at some adoptive family for her benefit but that didn't satisfy here. She continued, 'agermum?'

I mumbled back that igna indemanasadigachew so I wasn't sure if i was in a position to comment. Apparently that did trick. She gave me a are-you-crazy look, turned around and never bothered to entertain me anymore. Oh well. "Minishim ayamregn, kemeqretish lela" indemilut ...

There is one aspect of adoption that I have a hard time not being judgmental about. Why do they put up kids who have parents for adoption? Adoption an abandoned kid is something, but taking a kid because the birth parents feel they can only support the kid until the day some foreign parents waltz in and fly off with the baby is something else. Like Madonna's case. I still don't understand why, if there is such an abundance of orphans in places like Ethiopia, they keep adopting kids with parents.

Some parents anguished, as did Karla Suomala of Decorah, Iowa, when she arrived in Addis Ababa to adopt 5-year-old Dawit and his 21-month-old sister Meheret.

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her.

“It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”


While the governments collaborate to protect a delicate adoption system from the perils of growth, adoptive families arrive each week in Addis Ababa to ease their children into new lives.

Last week, these included Mr. Vasquez and Ms. Suomala. While she had no trouble escorting Meheret from the orphanage, Dawit refused to budge, so Mr. Vasquez carried him toward the gate.

There, the child grabbed the bars and would not let go. Mr. Vasquez considered prying his hands loose and thought better of it. Instead he told Dawit that it was O.K. to cry.

I understand that raising a kid is a huge responsibility. But I feel the moment of realization is misplaced and somehow we have grown into a nation of being OK with it. In fact, it seems we've a system to support it. In a country that hesitates to discuss and provide all methods of family planning and STD prevention (people aren't sure if they should promote 'abstinence' for unwanted pregnancy or the use of condoms. The suggestion of pills for contraception is usually met with comments like, 'betekiristian'wa atqebelewim'. If the woman's body keteqebelew ine silebetekirstianu min agebagn?) I wish a lot more was being done to emphasize that getting pregnant is in itself a monumental responsibility.

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