Shared Origins

Zoe and Tsehaye were born in Ethiopia and adopted by Lory and Sonya, a lesbian couple living in the US. When the girls are in middle school, Lory takes them to Ethiopia to explore their heritage. Although her same-sex partnership has been accepted within her community for over 20 years, Lory chooses to keep it a secret on their trip. In Ethiopia, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Helen is an orphan living with her aunt and uncle in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When Helen, Zoe, and Tsehaye meet in Ethiopia, a strong bond is formed. Together, the two girls with two mothers and one motherless girl navigate the geographical, cultural, and emotional space of losing and finding family.

The Great Wide Open

When Rachel Westbrook found out she was pregnant, she knew that she could not keep her baby, but she also knew that she needed to be in his life. Doug Dotson and Maura Dillon had been married 10 years before they discovered they could not have a baby on their own and would need to adopt to grow their family. This is a story of the open adoption of Reed William Max Dotson and the journey his birth parents and adoptive parents are experiencing together.

[College Photographer of the Year, Bronze, 2010]

The Lucky One

Alison Aucoin’s journey to adopt and parent a child from Ethiopia requires her to accept the consequences, good and bad, of the destruction of her life in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. Through this experience, she questions what it means to be a woman and a mother without being a wife. She now confronts subtle and overt racism in the South as a white mother with an African daughter. Uprooted from the place of her birth, Alison strives to develop a multi-faceted definition of “home.”

Alison Aucoin and I have been collaborating on this project since April 2007, a year and a half before we traveled together to Ethiopia for Alison to adopt her daughter Edelawit. Together, we have amassed thousands of photographs and dozens of hours of digital audio recordings. This project is a work in progress.

 

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