Ethiopian American or African American?

This is a question a lot of American adoptive families of Ethiopian children ask.  It is a valid questions, and most come to the conclusion that both terms are correct.

What maybe we can’t answer is what our children will identify with. I spoke to my friend who is an adult that immigrated to Ethiopia as a child. He said that his family did such a wonderful job embracing all people and not showing favoritism to any ethnicity or race. This allowed him to feel like he could identify with whatever group he felt was right. The result? He feels like he identifies with everyone. That is my hope for my children.

I think no matter what there will be issues that everyone has to face as far as fitting in with western society. Having a darker father and a very very fair looking mother made me look somewhere in-between. Growing up I felt that western media was embracing either an “exotic” darker look, or a more fair “girl-next-door” look. I wasn’t either of these things. I think I was brought up in a way that it didn’t bother me, but I definitely noticed it. Sometimes I’d try to push for one or the other and experiment with what I looked like and it just didn’t turn out as I thought, and it wasn’t me.

I think with both of my children, there are going to be things they notice about themselves that go against what western society is telling them is normal. I feel it is my job to explain to them how the culture of this country works, and explain (or show them) other cultures and why American society is neither correct, nor a universal view.

If my boys grow up and decide to live in the United States they may be viewed differently than when they are with me, and I’m aware of that. I think that is sometimes easy to forget, though. I remember talking to a woman before Samuel came home about how people will view us one way, and then when he is by himself will view him totally another way.
Why does this matter? Because racism is unfortunately very real in our country. I have heard a lot of adoptive parents being criticized for just raising their child as Ethiopian Americans and forgetting that there is an African American subculture in our nation. The criticism is that the parents do not believe that their Ethiopian children will be as big of a target for racism because they’re Ethiopian. However, this is not the case and it is naive to think it is.

I always knew and believed this, but it became real when I heard about an Ethiopian student that was murdered by a white supremacy group in Washington. I just kept thinking that could have been Samuel and that is when it hit me we need to be hyper-aware.

There is real danger in this world for all of our children, regardless of race. I think by pretending it does not exist is very irresponsible for parents. I think when and how to bring up these issues is a personal choice and depends on the age of the children, but it should not be overlooked.

African Children: The Hottest Accessory For Rich White Women

Brian and I had no idea when moving to Beverly Hills how in-style we would be as adoptive parents.

Lately (aside from the park where everyone thinks he is a criminal), Brian has been mistaken for either an actor or a professional athlete – even with tourists coming up and snapping pictures of him.
He’d like to think it is his good looks…. but we quickly realized it is when he is out with Samuel that is triggering these cases of mistaken identity. (I, however, have only been mistaken for the babysitter….)

International and transracial adoptions are quickly sweeping over Hollywood.
Angelina Jolie, Katherine Heigl, and Madonna all recently adopted internationally.

Ethiopian adoptions doubled following Angelina Jolie’s adoption of her daughter.

So what is the harm in being inspired by celebrity adoptions? I guess nothing if you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Some people have argued that through this process all of the people doing it to be fashionable would be weeded out because it is so long and strenuous. I completely disagree.

If you have enough money, most of the adoption can be taken care of through your attorney with little to no fuss from the prospective adoptive parents.  Also, the waiting isn’t nearly as demanding if you’re not waiting for something your heart is aching for….and certain countries the wait is much less.

A good example of a “bad” adoption is Casey Johnson. She was the heiress of the J&J brand, and adopted a little girl from Kazakhstan. She originally tried to adopt from Cambodia (“inspired” by Angelina Jolie) but the country actually turned her away (hmm…) However, after another celebrity friend introduced her to her baby from Kazakhstan she was again inspired to adopt. This time the country let her go through.  Her daughter soon after adoption was quickly taken away from her, and went to live with her grandparents (Casey’s parents). Casey’s mother was afraid for the little girl’s safety living with her adopted mother. Casey was a drug addict and a complete train-wreck.  She ended up losing her life due to poor lifestyle choices.

In areas like Beverly Hills where it is important to someone’s wellbeing to be on trend, it would not be uncommon for such an outlandish objective.

The big concern is what happens when, like all fads, this one fades? Or, like in the case of Casey Johnson, the person is not fit to raise a child.

And adoption is becoming such a trend it is also blowing up in predominantly white churches across the nation.

I was talking to a friend that was questioning some of the motives of the people at the church she goes to, when it comes to international adoption.

She was complaining about suddenly being bombarded with “however-million-orphans minus one” videos, t-shirts, and other propaganda that either glorifies the parents or tries to push for international adoptions as a means to save a life.

**I personally, know people who have used that line in their videos and I think their motives were great for adopting, so please don’t be offended if you’re reading this**

I hope that any potential adoptive parents know:
if you’re doing this for any other reason that wanting a child in your family, you are in for a big wake-up call.

It is something almost anyone can do, but it doesn’t mean everyone should do it.

Good Hair

Samuel’s hair has been the source of much thought and frustration.

It would have been easy to shave it, but I felt I needed to learn how to work with his texture and really know what to do with his natural hair.

He wanted dreadlocks so we started to grow it out. It started looking unkept and I felt like I was getting judged by other African American mothers when they looked at his hair (probably my insecurity speaking)…..

He needed about an inch or a half-an-inch more before we could go to a salon to have it locked up.

last night I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to try to do it myself because I didn’t want to pay $400 to get it done if it wasn’t long enough, and risk having to do it again.

So, here are my twists….I think it is pretty cute..

Hopefully it will grow in and start looking better. Parts of it were so short they had a mind of their own- so we just went with it.

Daryl Davis

In light of our strange park experience yesterday, I thought I’d post about a man that has been inspirational to me.

I remember first learning about Daryl Davis when I was an Anthropology major in 2005.

I first thought it might be a PR ploy for the KKK (just like violent biker gangs put together toy drives and other charitable out-of-character work), and Mr. Davis was just an unsuspecting victim.

The more I learned about Daryl Davis the more I realized the KKK actually wants people to think it is for a boost in PR, when they actually really have connected with the man they are supposed to be separated from. This became most apparent to me when I found out that eleven members had left the hate group and given Davis their robes, all because of their relationship with him.

His story is inspiring- and you can read a good article about him HERE.

most embarrassing moment- 2!

My second most embarrassing moment happened today.

You can ready about my first HERE.

I decided to stop at Starbucks (I tried to give it up, but it is an addiction) for an iced mocha and a bacon-egg sandwich. Their sandwiches come in white paper bags.

We went directly to the park where Aram and Samuel like to play cops and robbers. Aram was being the cop and Samuel was being the robber.

Somehow…I’m not really sure how it happened….but in the three seconds that I turned away from them to throw away my mocha…Aram had taken the white paper bag and decided to make a hat out of it. It ripped perfectly to where the top was pointed and the bottom was wider- yes, he looked like an obvious klan member! OMG- I’m cringing even thinking about it.

He just thought it was a funny paper bag hat and Samuel had no idea what they looked like together. The worst part was Aram was yelling “I’m going to get you!” and chasing Samuel with the bag on his head.

The other parents looked like they weren’t sure what they were witnessing. I was mortified. I had to chase him down tell him I had to throw away the bag because the leftover cheese was getting on his head.