Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pattersons of Ethiopia?

I suppose it’s probably worth explaining.

Most of the visitors to this site (Hello! Leave a comment, if you are so inclined!) know myself, Kara or Mihret in some capacity. Some of you are friends, some are family, and many of you are folks who have either adopted from Ethiopia, or are looking into adopting from Ethiopia.

And then there are those of you who came to Blogger, typed in “Ethiopia” or “adoption” and found us.

For those that don’t know us, Kara and I are, yes, the parents of Mihret, who we adopted in July of 2007, from the amazing country of Ethiopia.

To date, Mihret is the only Patterson family member with a direct tie to Ethiopia. Though, if history is reasonably accurate, and Ethiopia is the country from which we all sprang, well…

But that’s a thought for another time.

When Kara and I visited Ethiopia to bring Mihret home (click on the 2007 entries to read our journal entries that cover the trip), we, along with the other families there for the same reason, got to attend a very special ceremony.

At the ceremony, one of the nannies gave a brief but lovely speech that made something perfectly clear: Since our children were from Ethiopia, we would always, in some way, be Ethiopian.

It’s been my experience that most international agencies in business today encourage this line of thinking, no matter where your child is from. Parents are asked to celebrate the home culture of their children, whether they’re from Ethiopia, or China, or Russia.

Kara and I did what we could – we bought Ethiopian clothing, and Ethiopian music, and an Ethiopian cookbook. We have Ethiopian artwork on our walls, and pictures of Ethiopia throughout the house.

Is it enough? I don’t know. But we’re trying, and we’ll do more once Mihret knows what Ethiopia is. Right now we’re just trying to keep her from chewing on our shoes.

I am, like a lot of Americans, something of a mutt. I’ve got a lot of German in me, but also some Irish, Scottish, and English.

I’ve never really felt the impact of those cultures – but I feel the impact of Ethiopia.

When Kara and I started looking into adoption, we were told, time and time again, to realize that this was going to change the face of the Patterson family for generations to come. And when we went to court, we were reminded that making Mihret a legal part of our family would, forever and ever, make her our daughter.

Our daughter is Ethiopian. Our family is Ethiopian.

And through the generations, part of it always will be.

We are the Pattersons of Ethiopia.

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