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FeromsaWe are quite different from the standard American family; so far I haven’t found any other family like ours.
We are white parents, yes; but not white American parents, so we can’t identify with the regular white-American-person. For me, American culture is something I started to learn about 12 years ago, so I’m still a bit clueless about many things that any average American considers obvious. I come from a country in Latin America that welcomed a huge immigration from Europe and in my case I was raised inside the Italian culture, from food, to cultural values, I inherited the Italian way of life. So just from the very beginning I lived inside an Italian bubble inside the Argentinean culture. I moved to the US not so long ago bringing all that background with me and started to learn a new culture, the American culture. So now I’m an Italian inside an Argentinean, inside an American.
I adopted two children from Ethiopia that also not only have their own culture, but are also black, which keeps making things more complex. If they were just regular adult Ethiopian immigrants, they would probably never fit completely either with the white culture or the African American culture. They would probably live in their own Ethiopian cultural bubble. But the thing is that my children didn’t have time to assimilate their native culture, and are living inside my own cultural bubble so they are going to be quite as puzzled with the outside world as I am.
A typical advice for white adoptive parents of Black children is to reach out to the African American community because that’s the world their children will identify over time, and not with the “white” culture.
The problem is that I don’t belong to the “white culture”, and even when I can understand most of it, I don’t identify with it. So how can I teach my children about African American culture if I don’t even belong to the American culture in general? Believe me, I’m trying, but you must understand that I have no one to teach me how to navigate the culture of this country and that I can’t advice any of my children about how one is supposed to behave in the outside world. Things that I consider perfectly fine, can be offensive for a regular American.
And African American culture adds another layer to that cultural dilemma. I have little knowledge of American history in general and less about the part that has to do with African immigration and slavery or even white/black racial conflicts. It’s something I never learned back in Argentina. So how can I pass a knowledge I don’t have to my children?
Feromsa and Feven belong to the Ethiopian culture, but they are living inside an Italian-Argentinean culture, living inside the African American culture, living inside the American culture. Do you follow me?
My move from Argentina to the US almost was as big as the move from Ethiopia to America to them. It’s not like moving from Italy to France. 
FevenMaybe that’s why I feel closer to Ethiopia than I do to America, I can understand much better the way an Ethiopian lives or thinks than I can an American. Also, Ethiopia had a big influence from Italy and that feels close to me.
I have to decide now which culture to prioritize among my children, and I find closer Ethiopian culture than American culture.
I know that for Americans, they are black, period, and they will be identified with African Americans, so over time they will have to make connections with the AA culture. But I want them to keep identifying with the Ethiopian culture, even when I can’t help to raise them inside my own background, since it’s the one I live in.
I guess we will have to solve this cultural puzzle together, them as well as myself.
If you ever see a black Ethiopian that carries an American passport but speaks Spanish like an Argentinean… that’s surely one of my children!
I’ll finish this post with a word that is used to say goodbye in Argentina as well as in Ethiopia:
(BTW, I had a blast while I was in Ethiopia saying “chau” to everybody!)