Discovering Their Roots
A Visit with Their Ethiopian Birth Families
Lisa and Suzanne have something in common besides being great friends who live in California. They have also both adopted sons from Ethiopia.
Lisa’s son, Yohanes, and Suzanne and Stephen’s son, Anemo, are close in age and are being raised like brothers. Being adoptive parents to children from Ethiopia has connected the two families, but that bond deepened last year when they decided to travel back to Ethiopia together through Zimdina.
“I have the privilege of knowing my family and story. I wanted [Yoyo] to have that opportunity as well,” Lisa explains about one of the main motivations for traveling back.
“Anemo said, ‘If Yoyo is doing it, then I’ll do it,’” adds Suzanne.
The visit with Yoyo’s birth family was first and Anemo’s the next day. Lisa says Yoyo loved seeing his country where everyone is brown like he is. And for Suzanne, watching Anemo’s openess to meeting his birth mother, as well as his birth sisters, was awe-inspiring.
“Anemo ran down the stairs and ran outside. His mother walked up to him and kissed him 13 times on each cheek. He was beaming. This was spontaneous and beautiful,” Suzanne says.
Though the trip back to Ethiopia can be daunting, financially and emotionally, for some adoptive families, Suzanne and Lisa don’t hesitate to offer this advice:
“Just do it,” says Suzanne. “We spent a lot of time focusing on what could go wrong, but we never considered all the beautiful things that could and would happen. Be open to the wonderful surprises. Have this shared experience with your child who can understand it. Give your child and yourself this shared story.”—Suzanne, who traveled with her family back to Ethiopia to meet her son Anemo’s birth family