Thursday 18 January 2018

'They have huge respect for everyone's differences'

Different Cultures

Jacqui, Sophie, Mia and Ronan Scully from Galway
Jacqui, Sophie, Mia and Ronan Scully from Galway
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

Galway-based couple Ronan Scully and Jacqui O'Grady are in their 40s, and adopted their two daughter, Mia (8) and Sophie (4), from Ethiopia.

Ronan and Jacqui have been married for 16 years. When having a family didn't happen naturally, they embarked, unsuccessfully, on fertility treatment, after which they decided to look at international adoption. After a long-drawn-out process, they were approved by the Irish Adoption Board, and were thrilled to adopt their Ethiopian daughters.

They met Mia when she was six weeks old, and Sophie at five weeks. "I really liked Ethiopia because I love the food there," says Mia. "Sophie's orphanage is an orange building with loads of cots and babies, and we had to mind her there every day. It was a good feeling when we took Sophie home."

One of the biggest challenges the family face is teaching the kids to be independent, while keeping them safe.

"When we were kids ourselves, we were just thrown out on the road to play," says Jacqui. "We have adapted our lives to ensure that they grow up with a sense of independence and are able to cope in certain situations."

Ronan and Jacqui want their girls to be exposed to Ethiopian culture, so they watch Ethiopian athletes and put up the flag when they win. Ethiopian New Year's Day is on September 9, so they usually meet up with other Irish families who have adopted from there.

POLL: Childhood

They have many friends in the small community of Ethiopian people in Galway, and as Jacqui can't do the girls' hair, she's delighted that one of the Ethiopian mothers can braid it for her. The family say they haven't experienced racism, and feel very lucky that Galway is so multicultural and there are people from every walk of life there. The girls' school and crèche are very multinational, and they have become very aware of different nationalities, cultures and religions from an early age.

Mia will make her communion in April, and will wear a necklace with a distinctive cross representing the orthodox religion of Ethiopia.

"I really like school," she says. "People from my school are from Ireland, the Congo, Poland and India, and I love the teachers and my friends."

"They have a huge respect for everyone and their differences, and it's great that they are growing up with that attitude," says Jacqui.

Irish Independent

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