I always knew it would be important to ensure Makeda’s identity was persevered, and honoured. I knew it would be our responsibility to make certain she had friends if not from her birth country then at least those who were of African decent. When we started our adoption journey early in 2008, we lived in a (very!) predominantly Caucasian area. It always plagued us to know that she would stand out. Her skin colour would be obvious and while our desire was to ensure she interacted with children of the same race, it would take lots of driving and many hours of intentional effort to follow through on this intent.
Unbeknownst to us, as our (well, Makeda’s) Visa was traveling in the diplomatic pouch from Nairobi to Addis Ababa, we would simultaneously drive through the Rockies…leaving our friends behind and embarking upon a new journey in Alberta. We arrived in our new home as the pouch was opened and barely two days before we received news that our daughter was 100% paper ready to come home, we arrived in our new home. What we didn’t realize was the number of friends we had and have (since relocating) made who live (relatively!) close…with children adopted from Ethiopia.
Our journey has taken many many twists and turns. Many weren’t anticipated. Most were gut wrenchingly difficult. But the blessing through the trials has been the friendships created. The blessing has been worth the rollercoaster.
Not long after we arrived home (in our new home!) we had the privilege of reuniting Makeda with an orphanage mate. And though the two girls will never remember their meeting on Canadian soil, the photos show otherwise. And, there was something in that moment of meeting that jerked me awake. The realization of their loss, the intense desire to honour their birth mothers, their orphanage caregivers, their culture…it has motivated the desire to maintain and seek these connections more than I could ever have anticipated. Since that day, we have had the privilege of several other play dates with children born in the same city as Makeda. We have a connection with families, friends, children Ethiopian born, which we never would have otherwise.
And I see it now. I feel it. It’s an ache nearly, as I realize the crucial importance, validity, and significant necessity of these hours spent with children not only of African decent but who are Ethiopian born. Makeda, at nearly 15 months old, has no idea what’s going on. She won’t understand for quite some time. But one day she will look around and she will reflect and admire the photos intentionally framed and hung on our walls, and she will begin to understand. And I would bet she will find joy in the realization that she is playing with children who come from the same beginnings as she. There will be an unspoken camaraderie, familiarity, friendship found in the moments she will share with other Ethiopian children.
Raising three kids is crazy. International adoption is possibly crazier! After sharing and offering glimpses into her family’s Ethiopian adoption journey to their daughter over the course of nearly four years at www.thekeizerfamily.blogspot.com, Ashleigh now shares her passions including healthy eating, budget friendly living, adoption (Ethiopian especially!), and family life at http://livehealthyonadime.wordpress.com/. She is also a regular contributor to Adoption Magazine.