The Real Mommy War

“The Brightest Light . . .”  Letter from Laura Farruggio 

about the Ethiopian birth mother of her adopted son, Max:

birth mother

In 2004 an Ethiopian teenage girl named Etenesh Ermias traveled from her neighborhood in Kalsho to Addis Ababa to find work. While there she became pregnant and returned home. In September 2005 a baby boy was born. His given name translates to mean“the brightest light at the break of day.” Unable to care for and feed her child, he was plagued by malnourishment and was always sick. Desperate to save him, and hoping he would have a chance, she and her family placed him with a local orphanage for adoption.

In January 2006, an American woman desperate to be a mother, received a phone call telling her that she had a son. He came home in May 2006. Just eight months old, he was weak and malnourished, but now safe in the arms of America. Seen by the best pediatricians, and provided with vitamins and nutrients . . . He grew strong.

While his parents in America raised him and loved him, we never forgot his birth mother –  so imagine the heartbreak when we were told by a friend that my son’s birth mother had died three months earlier from malnutrition and Amoebiasis, a condition caused by living in unsanitary conditions and drinking contaminated water. Ironically, this news was like cold water being thrown over me.

I had to sit down and share with my child that his first mother died from something that, not only is preventable, but should never happen in the 21st Century - to die from drinking contaminated water.

Our son is a 7 year old boy who eats half of what is on his plate and tosses the rest when I’m not looking. He pours a glass of water into an large glass and takes a sip before leaving it to grow warm. It is ultimately fed to the kitchen drain. He is American.

His birth mother did not have a minimum of what we routinely waste and she is now dead. She is Ethiopian.

Ethiopia demands a face to this crisis and I want the face to be Etenesh Ermias of Wolaita Sodo, birth mother to my only son and also to a 5 year old boy named Teddy who is still living in these horrific conditions, and is chronically malnourished as a result.

We cannot let this stand as the norm another day. We cannot watch a benefit concert, read the news and shake our head with an exclamation of “How sad….” We must do something. And we can.

This is not a personal goal. This is a global mission and it must start here for me. I will provide a clean water filtration system to the place where Etenesh Ermias died. I will see to it that not another person there dies from contaminated drinking water.
She will not die in vain.

And that is just the start because we will not rest until everyone has safe drinking water.
Because for as long as I draw breath I will never again pour a glass of water
into a cup and not think of a world of people without.

Please Help.

To donate to the water filtration system that will be set up in the area mentioned in Laura’s letter, as well as other projects in the southern region of Ethiopia, please visit:

Related Articles

The Getty

I have been reluctant to bring the boys to The Getty because I did not feel they were quite old

Breastfeeding: Difficult Cases from 1935!

By Jamie   This is a video created in 1935 to show treatment for difficult breastfeeding cases. IT IS FASCINATING!

No, Child Labor in the US is Not a Thing of the Past…

  We often speak about child labor as if it was a dark part of our US history in the


Write a comment
  1. Laura 28 January, 2013, 06:20

    Thank you so much for helping me honor the life of my son’s birthmother. My heart breaks every single day at the loss of her young life over something which should be accessible to every living thing in 2013: Clean Water.

    I appreciate every single individual who will donate to this cause and help us bring clean water both to the area where my son was born and everywhere it is needed.


    Reply this comment
  2. Erin 28 January, 2013, 06:27

    Laura, I <3 you. Jaime, I <3 you, too. It has touched and saddened me on so many levels to know that this happened–most of all, to know that it is preventable. There are so many things people here "need" when the fact is, we have so very much. A "need" for clean water is not a need, it is a right. My heart is with you for sharing this story and letter, and know that I love you much.

    Reply this comment
  3. Diana 28 January, 2013, 17:20

    Thank you for sharing this story and for making it easy to do something to help, however indirect a small monetary donation may be. You are doing wonderful, life-saving work. May we see the day when no one is without safe, clean drinking water.

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply