In 2006, I experienced the other side of the adoption equation during the nine months I spent in Ethiopia as a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow through the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Placed with an organization called Hope for Children, which supports children whose families have been affected by HIV and allows them to stay within their own communities, I saw the efforts Ethiopians are making to support as many children as they can.
But, too, I saw the pain developing countries feel when they have no choice but to send their children abroad. In addition to being a life-changing experience, this exposure was essential in my quest to understand adoption. Having only seen adoption from the perspective of the adoptive family, I hadn’t seen the entire picture. Although I spent time in only one country and one community, seeing these harsh realities helped me gain a more critical eye and realize the circumstances and pressures felt by communities worldwide.
*The names have been changed to protect the children.