ethiopian ties

I am a happily married mom with three kids - two boys, 14 and 10 years old, and one girl, 3 years old. My daughter is Ethiopian. I started this blog to raise awareness of the challenges and beauty in that country as well as the opportunities to help.

ellenore is a winner of Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Parents

Why did you decide to adopt?

I don’t have a simple answer. After having two biological sons, my husband and I discussed adoption as a way to continue to build our family. We liked the idea of helping a child who needed a family. We gravitated toward international adoption since our heritage is multicultural – he was born and raised in Greece and I was born in the US raised by Dutch parents. However, life intervened with a serious illness, loss of job, a cross country move and a medical scare. During those times, our focus was survival and our sons. But the thoughts of adoption remained a consistent. At one point I asked myself, “If we don’t pursue adoption and try to get our little girl, will I regret this later?" As I reflected, I fast-forwarded to my later life. I imagined my boys grown with their own families. I imagined thinking back to this time and this decision. I felt the searing sting of regret when I contemplated the hole in my heart where, our third child, was supposed to be. I had my answer.

What was the biggest challenge or hurdle you faced in the adoption process?

We began thinking we would adopt from China. I remember vividly when I received an email from our adoption agency while we were visiting my husband’s family in Greece that summer. I feel a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I read the message . . another family where one parent had a similar health history as mine had their paperwork rejected by China. The agency strongly recommended that we consider another program since we would likely be rejected as well. I had not considered, much less prepared myself, for this possibility. I felt the tears sting in my eyes as my husband gently asked me “What’s wrong?” I believed in my heart our third child we was waiting out there for us. As I let the bitter disappointment go over a period of weeks, I realized she was not in China. I reviewed other countries’ programs and looked closely into the Vietnam, Russia and Ethiopia. The more I learned about Ethiopia generally and through our process, the more peace I had with our decision.

When and how did you (or will you) tell your child they were adopted?

We have talked about our daughter's adoption story since she was an infant, often in the context of where we are from originally. She is now three and loves to role play -- generally choosing, "I am the mommy." She tells me, "You are Leyla." When we visited Ethiopia recently, she told me, "Hi Leyla, we adopted you from Eefanopia (her pronunciation) when you were a baby. I am from N.J. (where I was born) and Daddy is from Thessaloniki (his home town)." We want her to celebrate her heritage and understand her path to our family. I know the complexity will deepen as she grows. Just before I began writing here, we were snuggling in bed. I told her, “I love you to the moon and back.” She replied without hesitation, “I love you to the moon and back too for adopting me from Eefanopia.” My heart stopped. I know her feelings about adoption will likely go through various evolutions in her life. But for now, I am happy she is feels so comfortable with that part of her identity.