Families celebrate inter-country adoptions

By Jason Harris - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Tue., Dec. 4, 2012
(L-r) Woynitu and Mamush Ciccarello hold their adoption papers, with their family all around them. Photos by Jason Harris.
(L-r) Woynitu and Mamush Ciccarello hold their adoption papers, with their family all around them. Photos by Jason Harris.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services held a children’s adoption ceremony in the Hall of Flags at the Capitol Building in celebration of National Adoption Month on Nov. 30. Leah Van Wilgen, the director of the Hartford field office of the U.S.C.I.S., said the day was a celebration of inter-country adoption. It’s for the families who have gone on that long journey which brought about this adoption that has been described as "eclectic," "a miracle," and "the most joyous of occasions." It’s a journey that brought these children to this great nation and state of ours, she said.

Donna F. Martinez, a United States Magistrate Judge and the event’s keynote speaker, said she was thrilled to be there since she is also the mother of an adopted child. Her adopted child came from South America many years ago, she said.

Pam and Gerard Ciccarello, of East Haddam, were celebrating their adoption of two Ethiopian children, Mamush and Woynitu, ages 8 and 6, respectively. Pam Ciccarello shared that they weren't looking to adopt at first, as the Ciccarellos already have five biological children, but they felt compelled to do this after they went to a fundraiser for an A.I.D.S. orphanage in Ethiopia.

"It seemed like the Lord was telling us to do this, since we have a home and food," she said, noting that their children were getting older and going off to college, which was making room in their home for more children. “It seemed like a simple thing we could do,” she said.

The first thing the Cicarellos did, before pursuing adoption, was to talk to their children about their feelings. “We wanted to make sure they were fine with it,” said Gerard Ciccarello. “We felt that since our other kids were good with that, it was another sign that God was leading us down this path,” he said.

They decided to adopt two children because they didn’t feel it was right to bring one child into their big family and also into a town like East Haddam, which isn’t that diverse, Pam Ciccarello said. She recalled that all of their biological children were very excited about the adoption prospect, but one of them asked that they not bring a baby into the house.

Still, sacrifices have been made. The children have had to share rooms - and their parents' time, which is probably the hardest thing, according to their mother. When Mamush and Woynitu first came into the family, they needed a lot of attention and they didn't speak any English, so Pam homeschooled Mamush. “I homeschooled him because we have no services in East Haddam, so I was afraid of behavioral issues for a kid who can’t speak the language,” Pam said.

English is Mamush and Woynitu’s third language, Pam said. Their first language is Sidamo, which is their village’s tribal language. There are 80 tribal languages in Ethiopia, she said, noting that the children had to learn the Ethiopian national language, Amharric, when they went to the orphanage.

“I think you come to appreciate how much change they had to go through,” said Pam Cicarello, adding, “They have been adjusting well.”

 


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