This chat with Margaret Feinberg was great fun. She is such a truth-teller and person who digs deep, and I found myself being especially candid with her.
Here's a snippet of our interview. You can read the whole thing by visiting her site:
Margaret: What three things have you learned about God, yourself, and adoption since Love You More was published?
Jennifer: It’s been about 3 ½ years since Love You More
came out. Since then, my kids have been catapulted into adolescence, I’ve written a few books, and I’ve entered more decidedly into what I must concede is midlife. (I’m 46.)
So, it’s truly a challenge to name only three
things I’ve learned, but I’ll try.
1. Parenting teens is harder – and more delightful – than I expected.
People who know my family often say: “Wow, all four of your kids are so different
from each other.” It’s true. I have to laugh when someone pulls me aside – sometimes after I’ve spoken to a parenting group – and says, “Tell me the truth. Is your adopted child more difficult to parent than the others?” I appreciate the honest question, but I have to admit that I don’t understand (or mis
understand) my daughter Mia any more or less than I do the others, especially in this tricky phase. All of my kids have gone through enormous growth spurts (physically and otherwise) in early adolescence and all have had social, academic, and/or emotional glitches that have utterly confounded me as a parent. They also continue to bloom into delicious young adults whom I admire.Read entire interview
at Margaret's site.
Dust of Snow
by Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Being a family means you are part of something wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.
Love You More
, my adoption memoir, is on sale for National Adoption Month for just $1.99.
(Thank you HarperCollins.)
(Truly) honored to be in such good company on Amazon's adoption parenting/adoption books best sellers:
In celebration of National Adoption Month, Love You More (every e-book version) is just $1.99. Visit Amazon or any e-book store. Below, an excerpt:(And yes, I really did obsess over thesexual politics of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.)
In a moment of decisiveness, we decided to return to Illinois, several years after leaving it.
We moved back to the town where we both had grown up, close to where much of our family lives. David got a job in software. We bought a house, outfitted its garage with snow shovels, a lawnmower and two cars. Within weeks, I learned that I was pregnant.
Suddenly, my husband was the one with the full-time job.
I spent my days padding around the house in my socks, doing laundry, paging through cookbooks and reading volume after volume of pregnancy and parenting books. As our baby grew inside me, I pined for New York. I missed my friends. I missed my job. I missed real bagels, restaurants that stayed open past nine, and the noise and color of neighborhood festivals and street fairs. I missed walking to church on Sunday mornings over uneven slate sidewalks and missed our old parish’s West-Indian congregation. I missed taking a taxi to the airport and making the long journey to the other side of the world to stop in on Emperor Tự Đức or eat soft-shelled crabs in a shack on the South China Sea.
I even missed the car alarms that woke me many times on Sterling Place. Sometimes I would walk around my quiet house, singing out the long symphony of buzzers and tones that used to irritate me.
At night, listening out my open window, all I could hear were crickets.
The conversations my husband and I had begun to engage in had plummeted from heady discussions about Waiting for Godot (“Why do you think only Vladimir remembers things from one day to the next?”) to the banal (“Should we go with the PPO, EPO, or HMO this year?”). I’d gone from a life where I might find myself drinking a bowl of chocolate and nonchalantly glancing over at Uma Thurman sitting a few tables over in a Greenwich Village coffee shop to standing in a long line to apply for membership at Costco.
As tender as were my feelings toward my babies, I started to feel that I was changing from someone special into a lackluster suburban mom with a long “To Do” list and dark circles under her eyes.
It wasn’t that I didn’t connect with motherhood.
I had always wanted to be a mother. I remembered the yearning I’d had, back in Brooklyn, for those children who were to come. I loved so much about the quiet early years of my children’s lives. Reading books. Letting them make detours on our walks so that they could break off a flower from a lilac bush or stop and watch a train go by.
The beggarly question of parentage--what is it, after all?
What does it matter, when you come to think of it, whether a child is yours by blood or not?
All the little ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults of the time, and entitled to our general care.
That excessive regard of parents for their own children, and their dislike of other people's, is, like class-feeling, patriotism, save-your-own-soul-ism, and other virtues, a mean exclusiveness at bottom.
Thomas Hardy (from Jude the Obscure)
In celebration of National Adoption Month, Love You More (every e-book version) is just $1.99.
Visit Amazon or any e-book store.
photo by Jennifer Grant
Among the Rocks
By Robert Browning
Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.
That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!
I'm honored to introduce you to Gillian Marchenko and her new memoir, Sun Shine Down
. Sun Shine Down
is a gripping memoir of parenthood. Marchenko's clean prose and raw confessions drew me into the book; I lost myself in the story and, when I was done, I reflected deeply on how parenthood has changed me. Whether or not you are the parent of a child with special needs or have become a parent by adoption (both topics are explored in this book), Sun Shine Down
will grab your heart from the first pages. I highly recommend it to you!
An excerpt from Sun Shine Down
: Sergei showed up at the hospital around eight o’clock that morning, about an hour and a half after I had woken up from the surgery. Unshaven, wearing the same clothes from the previous day, he bent and kissed me like I had seen him kiss his mother countless times. Just a slight brush of the lips. Taking a closer look at his face, I noticed his eyes were puffy. What is going on? Had he been crying?
“How are you feeling?” he asked, standing over me, concerned.
“I’m sore. I still can’t feel my legs from the epidural.” I peered down at the sheets covering my motionless legs. “Sergei, where’s our baby?”
“She’s on another floor in an incubator,” he said. “She was in a bad shape when they took her from you.” Though a native Russian speaker, my husband's English is excellent. If he makes a mistake, he is either tired or nervous.
“She was all shriveled up, and she wasn’t breathing when she came out. The doctor resuscitated her. She has some kind of blood infection too.”
I tried to focus on his words, but the black circles underneath Sergei’s eyes kept distracting me.
I've met Elisabeth (Beth) Corcoran two or three times over the past few years. I knew of her blog and of the jagged, difficult journey she had been traveling as a woman who was quite certain that she should not
stay in a damaging marriage -- but also as a person who had been taught that divorce was not
(ever) an option for her.
What a tricky and painful road to walk.
And yet - when I was with Beth, she surprised me. The pain she had been through didn't leave her jaded. In her open gaze and smile, I saw a woman who seemed filled with hopeful expectation. She shone
. (People like that always impress me.)
Beth’s new book about her marriage and divorce, Unraveling: Holding on to Your Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage
(Abingdon), was released yesterday.Learn more about Beth and her book, below: Tell us what Unraveling is about?
It’s basically a road map of emotions taking women through the really hard journey of a Christian marriage coming to an end. I encourage women to feel every single feeling they’ve got, pretty much for as long as they need to. Talk about what inspired you to write it.
I was in a difficult marriage for almost nineteen years, which included a separation and fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt that unfortunately ended in a divorce.
My divorce didn’t just break my heart: it broke my life.
And writing this book was part of my healing. Tell us what’s different about your book - different from other books about divorce.
I'm delighted to have Karen Beattie
on THE TRICKY BITS today. When I told Karen about my vision for this blog (months before launching), she wrote the post you'll find below and patiently kept it in her pocket until now. I read her new book Rock-Bottom Blessings
several months ago and was truly startled by her vulnerability and excellent storytelling.
If infertility, midlife, financial, and/or parenting issues have kept you awake at night - this book is for you.
(If not, well congratulations, I guess. And read this book anyway so you can better understand your friends and everyone else you've ever met, for crying out loud.) Here's what Richard Rohr said about the book:
"For some reason, we need limitation to make contact with abundance, we need one person's story to find the depth of our own, we need to go down before we know what up really is. Karen Beattie will help you do all of the above
- with grace and dignity - and good writing besides."Um. I can't really do better to recommend this book and this writer to you. Now:
- Read an excerpt of Rock-Bottom Blessings.
- Comment for a chance to win one of three copies of Rock-Bottom Blessings. (Loyola Press has generously given me copies for readers of this blog.)
- Enjoy this original post Karen Beattie wrote for THE TRICKY BITS.
When “second best” turns out to be the greatest gift.
After about five years of trying to adopt a child internationally, my husband and I gave up. It was too expensive. We were too old to wait years to be matched with a child. And we were exhausted.
We aren’t alone. In recent years, international adoption has become much more difficult and expensive, and as a result, inter-country adoptions in the U.S. have plummeted 60 percent.
We had to mourn this dream – just like we had to mourn when we had two miscarriages and a failed infertility treatment.
I felt like a boxer, battered and beaten and bloodied in the corner of the ring, trying to decide whether to find the strength to get up, or just remained crumpled and defeated on the canvas.
My husband David and I had a choice: We could resign ourselves to being a childless couple. Or we could adopt through the foster care system. The former seemed empty and depressing. The latter seemed scary.