Once we come home from Ethiopia with our newest family member or members, it’s easy to become absorbed in day-to-day life. As eager as we might be to find a larger community, it’s often simpler to get through each week’s roster of soccer games, dentist appointments and trips to the grocery store, forever moving ‘finding community’ to the back burner. I know when we brought home our 5 month old in 2006, we were delighted to live in one of the largest Ethiopian communities in the U.S. We had recently moved to the Bay Area, and were fortunate to meet with other Ethiopians, not just at restaurants or other Ethiopian owned businesses, but throughout our daily lives. We were also lucky enough to become part of a large and well-established Ethiopian adoption community. Even with so much Ethiopian goodness on our doorstep, I remained anxious that we do enough to foster authentic relationships with other Ethiopians.
A job transfer less than a year after my daughter came home sent us to Columbus Ohio. Initially worried that we’d lose the opportunity for Astrid Meklit to move comfortably among other Ethiopians, we were thrilled to learn that Columbus has one of the larger Ethiopian communities in the Unites States. Just as I was looking for ways to meet other Ethiopians, the Ethiopian community reached out to the adoptive families in the region. We were invited to take part in every aspect of the cultural center, from classes and after school programs, to holiday celebrations and volunteer opportunities. While it might have been easier to wait to join the community until Meklit is older, we hoped that by taking part today, Meklit will never remember a time when there weren’t other Ethiopians in our lives.
This afternoon was spent at my dining room table with the rest of the steering committee for 2009 Enqutatash celebration. A volunteer at last year’s celebration, I was asked to join in the planning of this year’s celebration. While I ran around this morning tidying and running the vacuum, Meklit asked me who was coming (not that I would be tempted to clean only because company was coming…). When I told her that Seleshie and Seleshie (yes, there are two) and Judy were coming, she became very excited. “Oh, we see Mama’s friends today. The friends are coming!” And really, that just says it all. We see the Seleshies (and other community members) frequently, they’ve become our friends.
I hope that you all find community and friends within it. According to the Embassy of Ethiopia (I called them today. They were super nice about answering my questions) there are sizable Ethiopian communities in the Bay Area of California, Washington DC, Dallas, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Portland and of course, Columbus. Although the larger communities may have more to offer adoptive families in terms of classes, cultural events and places of worship, even the smaller communities will offer opportunities to come together. I hope you’ll all take advantage of these opportunities. I’m so very glad we do.