(NECN: Marnie MacLean, Windham, Maine) – As she walks through campus, there is nothing that sets Tarikuwa Lemma apart from the other freshmen at a college in Maine.
But a closer look reveals a young woman who has been on a long and painful journey – a journey that starts in her home country of Ethiopia.
“My mom died when I was 10,” said Tarikuwa.
When her mother died, Tarikuwa says her widowed father struggled financially to care for her and her siblings. It made him vulnerable to brokers who profit when they provide children to adoption agencies.
“It brought in the adoption recruits for people who are friends with my father to come into our homes and tell him that this is a great opportunity to send your children to America to get a great education,” she said.
Tarikuwa’s father agreed to send her and two of her sisters to America.
What none of them understood was he had given them up for adoption. They were adopted by a family in Virginia who thought they were saving orphaned children.