Best Of The Web
“In America today, it’s quite normal for a family to adopt a child and maintain some degree of contact with the child’s birth parents. But as accepted as this is now, it’s a significant departure from the adoption practices that dominated for most of the 20th century, when “closed” adoptions were preferred (that is, adoptions in which children’s biological parents cease to be a part of their life after the adoption). Slowly, in the later decades of the century, experts came to favor these more open processes. As the journalist-turned-adoption-advocate Adam Pertman wrote in his 2006 book, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution Is Transforming Our Families—And America, “Social-work and mental-health experts have reached a consensus that greater openness offers an array of benefits for adoptees—from ongoing information about family medical issues to fulfillment of their innate desire to know about their genealogical histories, even if the expanded relationships prove difficult or complicated for some of the participants.”
Some 13 years later, Vanessa McGrady’s new book, Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption, reads like a real-life manifestation of Pertman’s theory on open adoptions—but it sheds some revealing light on the “difficult or complicated” part. Like Pertman, McGrady posits in her book that “open adoption is better … for the mental health of all involved,” but what Rock Needs River does most effectively is lay bare the stressful, painful, psychologically taxing situations that can result from open adoption. (Full disclosure: I am adopted, and my adoption is closed.)
McGrady became a mother in her 40s, when she adopted a newborn baby girl from a local couple who wanted to pursue music careers instead of becoming parents. She’d always planned on having an open adoption, but never the possibility that she would later take her daughter’s biological parents, whom she identifies only as Bill and Bridgett, into her home for a few months when they found themselves homeless—or that their relationship would sour when she eventually stopped welcoming their last-minute requests to crash with her.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."
"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."
"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."
"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."
"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."
"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."
"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."
"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."