Aster and Charlotte: Sisters Discover Their Ethiopian Roots

Zimdina Ethiopia Post Adoption Services Bring Adoptive and Birth Families Together

Tammy Toole always wanted to take her adopted daughters back to Arbegona in Ethiopia to reconnect with their birth family. It was just a matter of when.

That opportunity came in the spring of 2016 when Aster, 11, and her sister Charlotte, 12, were old enough to understand and appreciate the experience.

“The girls were more excited than anxious,” Tammy says, crediting the time spent preparing them for the trip by Wide Horizons For Children staff. Zimdina, meaning “extended family” in Amharic, has helped hundreds of adoptive families travel back to Ethiopia to connect with birth families.

In Arbegona, the girls were welcomed with great love and affection. “The experience was joyful and celebratory,” says Tammy. They learned they had older siblings and Aster shared photographs from her life in the U.S.

Aster
The experience was joyful and celebratory.
Tammy
Aster and Charlotte’s Mom

The sisters also met with their birth mother, who explained that when their father died, she was no longer able to care for them—helping the girls better understand why they were placed for adoption.

“The trip was amazing. I would do it all again,” says Aster.

“Visiting our family was a wonderful experience,” adds Charlotte, “overwhelming but full of love!”

The trip to Ethiopia reaffirmed the link between their past and present and gave the sisters a new sense of belonging.

“The girls successfully navigated this overwhelming and intense experience, and were happy and proud when we returned home,” says Tammy, who plans to help her daughters stay in touch through photos and letters.

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