March 2010

In a previous post, I told you about my plan to keep my child’s first name and to add a new middle name. Or the other way around. Either way, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorite Ethiopian names for your reading pleasure. My plan to create a series of posts, one per name, where I will talk about the name and why I like it. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive database of Ethiopian names, which you can easily find here, here, or here ; but an entirely subjective list of names I happen to be considering.  My hope is for people to comment and help me choose.

Makeda (ማክዳ) is one of several Ethiopian ‘M’ names for girls that I really like, and it happens to be the current front runner. I’ve seen several meanings for this name – magnificent, high tower, beautiful arm rest (uh, what?) – but my favorite meaning is this one: Queen of Sheba. You know the story, don’t you? The famous Queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon in Biblical times, remember? Well, her name was Makeda. According to Ethiopian tradition, Makeda bore Solomon a son named Menelik, who founded the Ethiopian empire and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum, where it supposedly remains to this day. That is one heck of a legacy, people. On a practical note, it’s an easy name for Americans to sound out. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like names you hear on American playgrounds today – Michaela, Kayden – and therefore wouldn’t sound one bit out of place. I’m not sure about a nickname, though – Mak, Maki, Kady, Kay? Any suggestions?

P.S. I have no clue how to fix the inconsistent font.  Sorry if it’s distracting.


My sincere apologies for the lack of posts this week. Craziness at my job and some gorgeous spring weather have conspired to keep me away from my laptop. Here are a few things that are on my mind at moment, some of which I’ll expand on in separate posts over the next few days.

  • I decided to make this stew today, with a couple of modifications. I added mushrooms because I seriously love them, and I added some parsnips and cut down on the number of potatoes.  Also, I left out the wine because I didn’t have any in the house- it should be fine without it, right? I’ve never made stew from scratch before, I’ve only ever bought frozen stew with the high fructose sauce packets. But I’m trying to avoid processed foods after reading this book and watching this movie; the only problem is that I don’t really know how to cook! I’m going to be so disappointed if it turns out awful. At least the condo smells awesome, like garlic. Mmm.


  • There’s a hugely important adoption ethics discussion going on over at the Big ET Board. If you haven’t been following it, you really should. My nerves are too raw, my emotions just a little too close to the surface, to contribute to that discussion in an adult, productive way. I do want to post about it here, though, because it’s hugely important – I just need to organize my thoughts and let my emotions settle. In the meantime, Carey has started a blog with the intent to help people find ethical agencies. I think it’s a great idea and I hope it helps people. I do worry that she’s preaching to the choir, though; some people just prefer to wear blinders.


  • My copy of Colloquial Amharic arrived on Thursday. Yay! I love language – foreign languages, linguistics, grammar. I love how words sound, regardless of meaning, which is a weird thing to say and yet it’s absolutely true. Learning Amharic has been a goal of mine for a long time and I’m excited to finally have some time to focus on it. I’m also looking forward to practicing with native speakers on my two trips to Ethiopia! Just an fyi if you buy this book from Amazon: despite what the reviews say, CDs are not included. You have to go to this site and purchase the MP3s separately.


  • If you’ve read my About Me page, then you probably noticed that I call myself a liberal. I don’t want to make this blog about politics, but it’s a big part of who I am, and today happens to be a busy day in Washington, D.C. If you’re interested in Health Care Reform, I recommend Ezra Klein’s blog for comprehensive coverage on the subject.


  • And lastly, a few maintenance notes.  I’m not the most tech-savvy person, so please bear with me while I learn WordPress.  I plan to add some widgets and pictures and things like that, add some pretty to B2C.  And I need to add an rss feed thingee and a contact me button.  Most importantly, I can’t figure out how to allow comments without moderation – does anyone know?  I love that people are commenting, and I hate to leave anyone’s comment hanging if I happen to be offline!

The Pogues – Sally MacLennane (Live)

When my brother told me a few weeks ago that he and his girlfriend are expecting their first child, one of my first questions (after offering my congratulations and inquiring about Kate’s health) was, “do you have names picked out yet?” Naming a child is one of the most profound ways in which we claim our newly born children. You are my child, for I have named you. I’m pretty sure there’s a Bible story or two that I could reference if I weren’t drawing a total blank right now. Anyhoo, naming ceremonies are prevalent in many cultures. In Ethiopia, names are chosen with great care and are imbued with meaning. I plan to write about Ethiopian naming conventions in further detail soon, so stay tuned. Right now, however, I would like to focus on the dilemma adoptive parents face when deciding how to name their adopted children.

In international adoption (unlike domestic newborn adoption), the child referred to you already has a name, typically given by the birth family. The dilemma is: do you keep the name or do you give your child a new name? On the one hand, your child’s name is the only thing he was able to keep; how can you take that away from a child who’s lost everything else? What if your child was named by an orphanage worker and not the birth parent? Does that make a difference, or is it still part of the child’s story and therefore worth preserving? On the other hand, don’t adoptive parents have a right to claim their children too? One could argue that it’s part of the bonding process: you are now my child, for I have re-named you. To complicate matters further, there’s the fact that an American name will make the child’s life easier, less likely to be teased in the schoolyard or discriminated against as an adult. These are, in my mind, all valid arguments; there are no easy answers here.

So where do I stand on this issue? I certainly don’t want to take my child’s culture away from him by giving him some bland American name just so he’ll fit in better. I used to feel differently, but two words changed my mind: Barack Obama. Otherwise, I’m torn. Honestly, I never thought I would give up the right to name my own child. I won’t carry him, I won’t give birth to him, he will always have two mothers in his heart – don’t I at least get to name him? And yet I don’t think I can take his name completely away from him – it’s the one thing he’ll take with him halfway around the world to his new life, where nothing is familiar except for the name he came with.

Without having a referral – without hearing his name, without knowing who named him – I can’t say for sure what I’ll do in the end. Here’s what I do know. 1) I will either keep his name as a first name and add a middle name of my choosing. Or 2) I will keep his name as a middle name and add a first name of my choosing. One of those two options. And the name I choose will be Ethiopian, but it will be unobjectionable to the American ear and relatively easy to pronounce. Most likely. This is all subject to change, by the way. Like I said, I’m torn.

*Tsgereda is the Amharic word for rose according to

ETA:  Typos are embarrassing.

Apparently yesterday was the International Day of Awesomeness.  Since I’ve never been on time for anything in my life, I feel no shame about being a day late with this post.  That’s just how I roll.  Because I’m awesome.

 You know who else is awesome?  The Pixies, that’s who.

Well, the Ethiopian adoption community has been rocked by the ET government’s announcement that adoptive parents will now be required to attend the adoption court hearing.  Prior to this announcement, the adoption agencies represented adoptive parents in court utilizing a Power of Attorney; APs didn’t travel until after the court case was finalized. That means that you, as an adoptive parent, never saw the child until after the child was already legally yours.  Why the change?  According to reports, some parents were changing their minds once they got to Ethiopia and met their children; newly adopted children have been abandoned in ET, destined to live out their lives in an orphanage, legally unable to be adopted by any other family.  There are no statistics available that tell us how often “revocation” happens in ET adoption; clearly it’s happened often enough that the government of Ethiopia chose to take action. 

Why do parents change their minds so late in the game? Adoption isn’t exactly a quick or easy process, after all – there’s plenty of time to put the brakes on if you feel like you can’t go through with it.  While I’m sure that sometimes parents realize too late that they’ve made a mistake, there are other reasons behind the in-country disruptions.   Namely, there is a lot of speculation in yahooland that corrupt agencies are lying to families about the children’s health and/or dramatically under-aging the children.  Here is a heartwrenching story written by a family who thought they were picking up their healthy son, only to learn that their agency had lied to them and that their child would require lifelong care.  Recent news reports have shed light on one agency’s practices – one could certainly see how a pre-court trip would have saved these families an immense amount of heartbreak.  ET takes these cases very seriously and has made a change that will protect both children and parents.

I really do think this is a positive change.  Not only does it motivate agencies to stay honest, it also provides parents an opportunity to see the adoption process firsthand.  We rely on our agencies for every scrap of information; a dishonest agency can, without fear of repercussion, lie to parents and never get caught.  But now their clients will see for themselves what the real story is.  Increased transparency in adoption is never a bad thing, imho. 

Not to mention that parents will be able to meet and bond with their children prior to bringing them home!  It will be hard to leave her, even temporarily, but I think that there’s an upside.  During that time, you can prepare for your actual child, rather than an idealized child you’ve dreamed up.  Because you’ve met her and you know what she’s like.  I think that’s pretty fab, actually.  And if it turns out that your agency lied to you – your “healthy” referral has a serious medical condition that you’re not prepared to parent or your alleged 7 year old is clearly at least 14 – then you can say no thanks without damaging that child’s chance to be adopted by a family who is prepared to adopt her.

Yes, it can be a financial hardship to travel to ET twice – once to attend the hearing and again 8-12 weeks later to pick up your child.  ET’s not exactly a quick trip – the flight alone is 17 hours in the air, not counting layovers.  Not everyone has job flexibility, some parents have little ones at home to worry about.  In the end, some folks will think twice about adopting from ET because of the 2 trip requirement.  Given the rapid growth of the program in the past 3 years, some deceleration would probably not be a bad thing.  I hate to be cold about it, but “healthy kids: quick and cheap” is never sustainable, and I’d rather see ET slow down than shut down. 

For me, a single person with no kids at home, plenty of vacation time saved up and an employer who is 100% supportive – well, to be honest, I was planning to travel twice anyway.  Not only does this not change my plans, it actually makes things easier.  In the past, early trips were pretty rare and therefore not the easiest thing to arrange.  My agency was willing and had coordinated these trips in the past, so I was hopeful that it could all be arranged.  Now, it will be a standard part of the adoption process and I don’t have to worry about whether or not it will work out.



This is when I first decided to adopt from Ethiopia. I started lurking on the various yahoo groups, began researching agencies, and tried to save money for the adoption.


Liz: The Dark Years Year One

When rumors started circulating that Ethiopian adoption might close to single parents, I decided to take on a part time job in retail and step up my savings so that I could start the adoption process sooner. I cut expenses to the bone (no Netflix, no Starbucks, no lots of things); I lived on cheap carbs; and I did little more than work, sleep, and read adoption blogs. It wasn’t the happiest time of my life, but I was determined and I don’t regret a minute of it. I officially signed on with my agency in November of 2008.


Liz: The Dark Years Year Two

2009 started out as a carbon copy of 2008, with the addition of finally being in process with my adoption agency. I completed my home study in April, started compiling my dossier, and after a few delays, finally joined the official wait list for a child of either gender 0-18 months on July 2nd, 2009. My agency’s time frame is 12-18 months, so tentatively I expect to receive a referral at the end of 2010. And I was able quit my part time job right right before Thanksgiving, officially ending Liz: The Dark Years – yay!


My 8 month wait-aversary was a few days ago, which means I’ve basically reached the halfway mark! Despite all the rumors about ET adoption closing to singles, my agency is still processing single adoptions and every day that goes by is another day’s reprieve from the (inevitable) closure. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about parenting and attachment; and now that I have some spare time, I plan on learning a little Amharic. I’m hopeful that I will receive a referral this year.

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