Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Mama Rewind: Adoption

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Welcome to Literary Mama Rewind! Every few weeks we'll round up some of our favorite essays, stories, poems, columns, and reviews from the Literary Mama archives relating to a particular theme. This week we're looking at adoption. These pieces, and the variety of mama's who wrote them, consider what it's like to mother a child not born of your own body.

"Hi, this is Jill."
Her voice trembled, and I could hear her sniffles. I wanted to comfort her, but fear had a tight hold around my throat. Had she changed her mind like our last birth mother? Did she want my Lacy back?

Weaving a Family reveals Rothman's personal journey as the white mother of a black child, but it is also a critical examination of our assumptions about race and family in this country.

In her memoir, Make Me a Mother, author Susanne Antonetta defines the term adoption broadly. Adopting her son, Jin, from Korea is just one of many acts of adoption Antonetta believes she will participate in.

  • Adopted by Caroline Grant from the Column Mama at the Movies

Adopted tells the story of two families. First we meet Jennifer Fero, a thirty-two year old Korean woman adopted as an infant by an Oregon couple who experienced secondary infertility after having a son; the second storyline follows John and Jacqui Trainer, a New Hampshire couple who decide to adopt from China after their own long struggle with infertility.

My little boy turns one year old today, and I decided weeks ago that I’d bake cupcakes to celebrate. It made me feel like such a typical mom, planning ahead, buying all the ingredients at the store, making sure we had birthday candles. But now that the day has arrived, I don’t feel typical at all. And as much as I’d like to turn this into a typical birthday, I can’t. Two things stand in my way. First, my son is not here to celebrate. And second, I am not yet his mother.

When one begins to research the idea of adopting a child that is not an infant, some frightening things come onto the scene quickly. In my notebook, I scribble "attachment disorder -- Google that!"

Jessica O’Dwyer is the adoptive mother to two children born in Guatemala. Her book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, was named Best Memoir by the San Diego Book Awards Association and one of the Top Five Books of 2011 by Adoptive Families Magazine.

Adoptive mothers can't do, of course, lots of things - can't share the reproduction war stories, can't know our babies from birth, can't breast feed (without heroic and slightly, it seems to me, weird preoccupation and preparation), can't be younger again. But I knew all of that before I became an adoptive mom, and the only thing I really mind is that I didn't have my baby from the get-go, couldn't protect her from all the harms the world threw her way in her first months (and, in the case of my younger daughter, years) of life. That hurts.


Amanda Jaros is a freelance writer and blogger, focusing on nature and science stories. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Terrain.org, Newfound, Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine, Highlights for Children, and Cargo Literary. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Chatham University.


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