Allegra Blackwood contemplates her identity as she stares into the bathroom mirror. Her goal was to take a photo that captures questioning who you are. I was looking for a photo that represents not knowing who you are yet, Blackwood says. After all, that is the entire message behind my article.
Allegra Blackwood contemplates her identity as she stares into the bathroom mirror. Her goal was to take a photo that captures questioning who you are. “I was looking for a photo that represents not knowing who you are yet,” Blackwood says. “After all, that is the entire message behind my article.”
Eilidh Hutchings

The African Child

Ever since I was little, I’ve known I was adopted. When I was younger, my mom never tried to hide my adoption from me. I have aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins who aren’t biologically related to me. In fact, a majority of them are just family friends that took on the caretaker/family member role.
As a baby, I was adopted from Ethiopia. My story begins with me being placed inside the arms of a nurse by an unknown woman — at least that’s what I’ve been told. I met that nurse once when I went back to Ethiopia. She was still working at the Nazareth (now Adama) Hospital, and she told me that I must have been very special for someone to go all the way to the hospital to place me in her arms. That nurse assigned me the first name I’ve ever gone by: Malefia. When I was younger and had asked what the name meant, my mom told me it meant that I was a strong and healthy child, and that’s what the nurse saw in me.

I started off my life by bouncing between two different orphanages in Ethiopia. Sele Enat, a smaller orphanage, was my first home before I was eventually moved to Layla House.

When my mom and I went back to Ethiopia, Sele Enat was no longer in service, so my mom and I went to visit Layla House. There in that orphanage I met a beautiful baby girl. She was so happy and carefree. She donned a blue and yellow striped onesie with a tiny dress with flowers on it that were various shades of blue. Her legs were hidden wrapped in a pink blanket with tiny bunny cartoon characters on it. She didn’t really know what was going on around her, whether it came to complex politics or how she got to an orphanage in the first place. She was so young and innocent. I couldn’t help but marvel as she tugged on my bracelet donned with African shells. She enjoyed the noise it made and I saw her smile. Growing up, my mom has always been an avid photographer and she loved taking photos of me when I was a baby and so seeing this little girl smile made me wonder who was taking photos of her? I know that I’m super lucky that I got adopted when I did because most kids that stay in orphanages after they reach a certain age end up staying in the system until they eventually age out. Looking at that baby wrapped in the pink blanket, I suddenly felt a wave of gratitude wash over me as I imagined little snapshots from my life. Starting kindergarten, realizing that I wanted to be a writer when I was nine years old, going on vacations with my mom and remembering how she used to read to me every night and how I would always ask her to read my favorite book All Aboard. I knew none of those things would have been possible if I didn’t start out here, a little girl in an orphanage just like this baby.

When I looked outside the area with the baby, I saw older children riding a tricycle they could hardly fit on, and it broke my heart. There were very few resources at that orphanage, but nobody was complaining about the possessions they didn’t have, or acting out because this wasn’t the life they envisioned for themselves. Everyone was doing their best to provide meals and education for all of the children there, and it made me realize, that could have been me. I felt numb as I watched a teenager attempting to ride a tricycle remembering how the first bike I can remember was a Pinkalicious bike completely pink and decorated with cupcakes and flower stickers. I was about seven years old.What would have happened if I had aged out of the system spending my childhood years in an orphanage?

I could have been a 15 year old trying to ride a tricycle.

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About the Contributor
Allegra Blackwood
Allegra Blackwood, Journalist
Allegra Blackwood has wanted to be a writer ever since she can remember. Her dream is to give a voice to people who are scared to speak out or forced to be silent. Joining the Communicator was a dream come true for her and she hopes to do more journalistic work in the future!

Comments (4)

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  • M

    Marty MendezOct 27, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    Wonderful piece of work. She is headed to the top. Well said/told.

  • J

    Joyce RobbinsOct 21, 2023 at 3:09 pm

    I am so impressed by Allegra, always have been!

  • K

    Katherine KlykyloOct 21, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    Excellent writing!

  • J

    Judith BlockOct 20, 2023 at 11:58 am

    Beautiful essay that oozes with empathy, gratitude and maturity. You are gem!