Shared Origins: An Adoptive Family's Journey Back to Ethiopia
Elena Rue is a documentary photographer who explores issues associated with international adoption and orphaned children. As a 2006 Hine Fellow, a program of the Center for Documentary Studies, she spent nine months working with a local non-governmental organization in Ethiopia to document the lives of AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa. From 2007 to 2010, she worked for the Literacy Through Photography program at the Center for Documentary Studies, and she is currently pursuing a master’s degree at UNC–Chapel Hill in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Lory Mills is the parent of two children adopted from Ethiopia. She and her partner, Sonya, adopted their first child, Zoe, as an infant, and later they adopted two-year-old Tsehaye. For Lory, the trip to Ethiopia was first about helping Zoe and Tsehaye find a connection with their birth country and culture. Her dream is to find an ongoing connection with Ethiopia for herself and her children.
Together, Lory, Zoe, Tsehaye, and Elena collaborated in documenting the girls' first trip back to their birth country. In preparation for the trip, they made journals in which they recorded their experiences and reflections. The family visited the orphanage where the girls were cared for before coming to the United States, as well as other personally and culturally significant sites. This exhibition documents their shared experiences.