Meri, 11: The Day My Parents Adopted Me From Ethiopia

It was a long trip and many things were different. But I enjoyed it. I was young so I wasn’t that close to many people. But it was hard to let go of my grandma, who took care of me when my mom wasn’t there.   

Then I met my adoptive parents.  

I knew they were going to be my parents the second I saw them, the way they smiled at me. They were crying but trying to act calm.

I was 5 years old and I was excited for the journey. I was so outgoing, but I didn’t even speak English. I talked to everyone. It was weird for me to get used to the crazy things American people did. They ate with silverware! Later I found they had traffic lights! I got used to it very quickly.

I was on a plane for 27 hours. I was really impatient. I didn’t want to put my seat belt on. I cried, I laughed, and I made fun of the guy behind me, snoring. My parents tried to calm me down, but they were just laughing hysterically.

We got to the airport. My aunt picked us up. She started driving me to this huge mansion. Now it seems like a tiny house to me, but at that moment my room was the size of my whole house in Ethiopia.

When I was younger, I loved doing activities like sports and games. I grew out of Amharic very quickly and learned English.

One of the things I miss most about Ethiopia is the delicious food with all the sauce and spices, and being welcomed with open arms.

But what I like about America is my parents, my friends and my amazing schools, Adams Elementary and Morningside Academy, and coming to The Bureau of Fearless Ideas.

Meri Putnam hopes to one day become a famous fashion designer. She is 11 years old and in the fifth grade. Her favorite color is green. She wrote this essay at The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas in Greenwood, Seattle.

The Seattle Story Project: First-person reflections published at These are essays, stories told on stage, photos and zines. To submit a story – or note one you’ve seen that deserves more notice – contact Isolde Raftery at or 206-616-2035.

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