Arlo D. Otomo

Katherine Nielson

This is the adoption-migration narrative of Arlo D. Otomo. He was born Shashemene, Ethiopia to Jula and Fatuma Gesho. Arlo and I, share a link of adoption but the circumstances surroundings our origins are vastly different. My narrative lies in placement. Arlo’s in loss; a loss that thrust him into several transitional states. During a personal interview I asked Arlo a series of questions to which he responded. The following is that text.

Describe your life in Ethiopia up until Adoption?

It was hard because we were really poor. His wife told me that food was also hard to come buy but his mother always made sure he was fed. She would sneak out at night and by him bread. She was also generous and would give the families food away to their neighbors. She couldn’t stand to see another go without.

Under what circumstances did you lose your parents?

He does not remember how his parents died. His wife told me that their family had traveled from their village to another to meet relatives. During their stay Jula (Arlo’s father) was performing work in the fields and fell ill. As Fatuma (Arlo’s mother) nursed her husband she also fell ill and died within days. As a result Arlo fell into a state of trauma where he could neither eat or speak; primarily he slept. It was during this period that he also lost his father. He was only eight years old.

What type of clothing did you wear?
A. Anything I could find. Again his wife provided me context. Arlo, only had a shirt to cover his nakedness until the age of eleven.

When were you adopted to the United States?

August 29, 1995 by Cuck and Marigold Cartwright. Issy (Arlo’s wife) again provides context. Cuck and Marigold had already adopted two of his siblings and had not planned on adopting Arlo until returning to Africa and seeing the malnourished state he was in.

Was it had to adjust to life in the United States?

No, my brothers and sisters had been adopted before me so, I was coming home to family.

How would you describe your present life?
A. My life is great! I have a beautiful and wonderful wife. She is a wonderful mother to our four children. My job supports four our needs and I like what I do. I could not have asked for anything more in my life.