How to Use This Blog

A Wayfarer is a person who is traveling, a particular place, a circumstance, a stage of life, etc. Let's walk the road of adoption together. The journey is so much better with company!
Much of this information is useful for any adoption, but this blog is designed to be a
I hope this blog will be helpful to you in your adoption whether you are considering, waiting or home. I started this blog when we were adopting and found there was next to nothing on the web in any orderly manner. I set about to collect information for myself and then for others. Now, there are more sites for resources, but still not much that brings it all together. I hope this blog will serve as a sort of clearing house for Ethiopian Adoption Information. Please feel free to contribute your knowledge through commenting.
You can search by topic in three ways. 1. Go to the "key word" tabs on top and open pages of links in those topics. 2. Use the "labels list" in the side bar or 3. use the "search bar" above the labels list. You can also browse the blog by month and year in the Posts section or in any of the above as well. The sidebar links are to sites outside of this blog. While I feel they provide good information, I can not vouch for each site with an approval rating. Use your own discernment for each. If you have more to add to the topic, please add it in the comment section of that page or post.
And, please link to The Wayfarer Adoption Blog by putting my button on
your blog so others can use this resource too. Please link to this blog when ever you can and whenever you re-post things (or images) you have found here. Thanks!
The solid tabs are links to my other blogs for books and family. Check them out if you are interested.
Welcome to the journey!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Names. What is in a name and what to do about it. Common questions for adoptive parents.

What does your child's Ethiopian name mean?
Here are some sites to help you determine the meaning of your child's name. Try Ethiopian, Amharic, Eritrean names when you have the option to search.
Some are under construction, but should be back up soon, so check it again if it does not work now.
Best sites:

Other sites:
Here you can purchase your name meaning and translation and written for you:

How did my child get his or her name?
  1. First name is the name given by a parent or significant caregiver.This name usually has significance. A child is named for a blessing, hope or promise, a character trait they hope the child will have or a saint or holy name. Example: Muluken means good day. A translation from an Ethiopian man I met says that this name has a deeper meaning. It means, "the day I got all I ever wanted or dreamed of". This is a name for a boy, a father counting his blessings on the day his son is born. What a great name! 
  2. Second name is the name of the child's father. This keeps track of who they belong to, their line of heritage. 
  3. Most kids will also have a third name which will be their grandfather on their father's side name. In some places they will add more in order to trace the family line. In adoption papers rarely is the third or fourth or beyond name mentioned or recorded. An older child may or may not be aware of those names. 
  4. Your child's name gives him or her roots. This is very important. 
Site and blog that do a good job explaining names and naming:

What about nick names?
 A child may or may not know his or her full name. Nick names are common.
  1. You will often find a shortened version of the name. For example: Nateneal or Natan is usually Nati. Muluken is Mulu. Freiwhat is Frei. Abigel is Abi.
  2. A child may also be called the name for little sister, youngest brother, sweet tiny one, my son, or another such enearing name. The child may actually believe that is their name. 
  3. In English we often add an y on the end of a name for a term of endearment. This is also the case in Ethiopia. It is a bit different but is similar in concept. Yay or y/e/i  is often added to the end of a name. Example: Kedus would be Keduse. Nateneal is Nati. So the name can be shortened and add the fondness syllable or just have it added to the end of the full name.
Changing a name? Good or Bad?
  • This is a very personal decision. One that deserves a great deal of thought and sensitivity. 
  • If your child is an infant he or she could likely more easily adapt to a new name. 
  • An infant found may have a name given to them by police instead of relatives. 
  • If your child is older they are likely attached to their name, but may express a desire to have a name from you, an American name or a name that represents their new life. Some kids don't. 
  • Your child has lost everything except their name. I will strongly suggest that you keep it as part of their name, first or middle.  A name is usually very important. 
  • A name may have an unacceptable connotation or nick name when heard in English. This is sensitive as we do not want to take the name and also do not want to see the child have issues because of it.  Example: Nati is heard like naughty. This is not really a great connotation. The nick name is easily adjusted to Nate. Name kept. Others are not so easy. 
  • There are many factors, your own personal comfort level being one of them. Are you proud of your child's heritage?  
  • Fitting in is very superficial when it comes to names. Kids learn each others name by hearing. Teachers are quick learners. A name that goes with the family is something, but not everything.  Feeling like part of the family may start with the name but it certainly does not stem from the name. Feeling like part of the family is really deeper than a first name. The name could help. Maybe.
  • Despite the articles and fears of having a different sounding name, some of the most successful people in our day and age have unique names. Think of the current president, sports stars, actors and actresses, musicians, tech wizards, etc. No longer are Jane or John the standard. Even names that are common are spelled or altered in ways that keep you guessing. Khrystyne, Britni, Sofi, Davin, Zakari. Even some of the old standards are so unique they seem new. Linleigh (boy), Hattie, Dagney, Bracken, Theoran, Hildy. We have a number of immigrants who give their kids great names of their heritage. Krish, Anu, Zorah, Mishka, (Y)Jana, Marisha, Niklas, Zari. Not to mention all the names parents make up to be unique. There is no such thing as a truly American name. It is the melting pot after all. So, throw in a Mulu and a Frei. So, I guess I am not buying the "a funny name will put them back in their career" idea. Sure, maybe in the past, maybe to some degree now (certainly waning a great deal), but in the future, no, I don't think so. I mean really, our president is Barack Obama. How different is that from Kedus Khaliqi?

So, go with what you feel you need to do, with what your child needs regarding his or her name. Think carefully, weigh all the options. Make your choice and be sure of it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Children born of malnourished mothers may face long term metabolism problems

This post will begin on a bit of a personal note and end on a resource note. I don't really like to post much personal as it could feel sort of intrusive to my boys as they grow up and become aware of what mom is doing on the blog.... but, I feel that this is going to be helpful for others, so I make an exception.

Most of our kids are undersized when we pick them up. Most catch up and stabilize. Some are older or have health issues that prevent them from really catching up. Malnourishment can indeed prevent a child from growing to potential. One of my son's has had steady and normal growth since we brought him home. He is right on track for his age in every way. One of my son's was so tiny and had a huge belly and stick arms and legs when we brought him home. He was almost 4. He could wear size 2 comfortably. That is not extreme by any measure. That is common. Yep, malnourished as a young child. What happened next is not so common. By the time he was actually 4 (four months after we brought him home) he was wearing a size 3. Pretty good growth. A year later, at age 5 he was in size 5. He gained more than 10 pounds and about 8 inches in height in a year and 4 months. He had caught up. Problem was that big belly was still there. Not as hollow as it once was but still there. Shouldn't it have gone away? We looked into all sorts of things. Many ideas came across our radar and we looked at each one. Nothing really panned out.

The following year he continued his growth pattern. By age 6 he had gained over 10 pounds more and only a few inches in height. He is now stocky, husky, a little overweight. We pulled back and again looked at what we are feeding him. Looked at his energy and activity levels. All normal. We adjusted his food intake to be sure he is getting the right things in the right amounts for his age, without him feeling deprived (big issue for him). He continued to gain weight. This kid never horded food but his body seems to be doing it for him., he never ate until he puked either. No, none of that. Yes, he wants to eat everything he sees, but we don't really make that an option.  No matter how balanced his meals, how carefully we monitor his snacks and the amount of exercise he gets, he gains weight. Right now he is just at the high end. But coming from his situation and the fact that he was not even on the chart at first, in just under 3 years this is somewhat astonishing weight gain and could lead to issues as he grows up if we do not understand it now. Dieting is a bad idea for a child who comes from an impoverished situation. Panic. Fear. Mistrust. You know that sounds bad for attachment, even three years into it.

So, I look some more, I ask around some more. I am given a very interesting and eye opening article. WOW! This is the answer to why. I am so relieved to know the source of the issue for my son. Turns out that there has been some research done on this. The research is showing that persons who were born of a malnourished mother become overweight and even obese when they are able to consume a normal level of calories in a healthy diet. In probing this a bit more it seems that there is some indication that this is because the child in-utero did not receive enough nutrients and so their system did not develop the ability to metabolize the caloric intake of a healthy diet. Instead it developed in such a way that it is only able to handle the caloric intake of a person in a state of malnourishment. In this way the child survives and lives and grows and does not need as much to live. No one is saying this is healthy, however, a child born in this state is much more likely to live than a child without this situation who faces malnourishment. Therefore it serves the purpose of survival. Very interesting. So, due to international adoption and immigration, persons who having this "condition" as it were, come to America or Europe and go from super skinny to .... well, I guess what they are staying is to... overweight. And that is exactly what has happened with my son. He was 28 lb when we picked him up and at almost 3 years home he is now 60 lbs. That in contrast to our son (who is younger) who has had normal weight gain who was 30 lb. and is now 46 lb. The boys are of different tribal backgrounds and we attributed much of this to that, but maybe have been mistaken in doing so. They are only 8 months different in age.

What do we do about it? Well, that remains to be seen. In visiting with a new and adoption savvy as well as international issues savvy Dr. in our pediatric office, he confirmed all this and said he feels that is a reasonable explanation to my son's interesting growth pattern. He also noted that they are seeing more and more of this in internationally adopted kids. Presumably because there are more of them. Our son will be going for blood tests to see if anything that can be helped is out of whack. Thyroid, etc. Not expecting much. So, the dilemma, how to get a child who LOVES his food (and he gets good for you food and still loves it) to eat significantly fewer calories than his age recommendation.

Why? Well, just as in-utero his body did not develop the metabolism to handle a normal intake of food, his body, if left unchecked in an overweight status by age 7, will have more fat cells to store fat and therefore it will be harder to loose the weight after puberty.
In a picture: babies are born with a "normal" level of fat cells. If they are overweight at around age 7, as well as by the onset of puberty (around 10), then they have multiplied their number of fat cells and they can not be decreased. They will have to shrink them and that is harder if there are more than the right number. This is the issue with juvenile obesity.
For a child who was born with not enough fat cells, they gain a few, up to the normal level and are then overweight. The issue for a child born from a malnourished mother is that he has too few and gaining the right amount puts them at jeopardy of becoming an obese adult as their metabolic system is already out of balance genetically. Quite the conundrum really. 

Want to read the article for yourself? Check it out in The Economist.

 Our sons are the two in the middle. The one in stripes with blue sleeves is 2 years 10 months old. He is a normal size for his age and has had normal growth. Our son in the pink is smaller and older, he is at this photo, 3 years and 6 months old. The clothing he was wearing a month later when we picked him up were size 18 months.
These are our boys at Easter 2011. You can see their growth. N (brown pattern tie) has had normal growth and  is now 5 years 8 months. K (orange stripe tie) has had more growth than we ever expected. He is now 6 years and 4 months old. They are so very handsome!!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

radio show on adoption

I wanted to make you aware of a web site. I have noted this one before. Creating A Family. They have a radio show that I am linking here that directly talks about Ethiopia. There are a bunch of great shows that will help you along the way on every phase of adoption. This particular broadcast features Melissa Fay Green.
Check it out: Creating A family radio show

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beyond Consequences offering a two day training for families with out of control, aggressive, and violent children

This seminar is being offered by Beyond Consequences and looks like it will be really good for anyone who is dealing with a child who is exceptionally hard to handle. You can Check it out, register, see a simple questionnaire to see if this is for you and learn about Beyond Consequences by clicking this link.

A Two Day Intensive Training for Families with
Out-of-Control, Aggressive, and Violent Children

This specialized training will equip you and empower you
to re-establish safety, peace, and order back into your home.

Saturday & Sunday

July 23 & 24, 2011

Denver, CO

Topics will include:
  • Verbal and Physical Aggression

  • Certification for Violence Containment

  • Defiant and Unmanagable Behaviors

  • Threatening Behaviors to Self and Others

  • Destructive Behaviors to the Home

  • Significant Mood and Regulatory Disorders

  • Complete Disregard to the Word "No"

  • Reactive and Massive Meltdowns

  • Chronic Disrespectful at All Levels

  • Impulsive Hitting and Kicking

  • Unsafe Sibling Interactions

  • Intentional and Targeted Malicious Acts

  • Reactive Parenting That Develops From Constant Conflict

  • Parents Who Are Tired of Being Abused

  • Restoring the Desire to Parent Again
Two of the top experts in the field of Childhood Trauma,
recognized around the world, will be leading this training
and giving you tools and solutions that work.

Dr. Ronald S. Federici
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW

Both of these experts have not only worked in the
mental health field with aggressive and violent
children but they both have, more importantly, raised
children of their own with these types of unnerving
behaviors. They know your situation from a personal
experiential level. They "GET" it!
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The content on The Wayfarer:Ethiopian Adoption Resource Blog is for informational purposes only. We are adoptive parents, but we are not professionals. The opinions and suggestions expressed here are not intended to replace professional evaluation or therapy, or to supersede your agency. We assume no responsibility in the decisions that families make for their children and families. There are many links on this blog. We believe these other sites have valuable information, but we do not necessarily share all of the opinions or positions represented by each site, nor have we fully researched every aspect of each link. Please keep this in mind when visiting the links from this page.
Thank You.

A Links Disclaimer

I post a lot of links. I do so because I feel that the particular page has good information and much to offer. I do not necessarily support all that each site has to say or promote. I trust you to sift the links for information you feel is worthwhile to you. Each person's story and situation are unique and different things will be useful or not useful to each one in different ways. Please use your own discretion when accessing links and information.