Posts Tagged ‘Joyce Maynard adoption’

Joyce Maynard writes about adoption

Friday, April 6th, 2012

This week, writer Joyce Maynard publicly announced the disruption of her adoption of two girls from Ethiopia in a letter posted on her website. No doubt many people have an opinion on disrupted adoption in general, and this one in particular. As a person who knows Joyce as a teacher, mentor, and friend, I urge you to read her letter.

I also urge you to read KJ Dell’Antonia’s thoughtful analysis of Joyce’s announcement in the New York Times Motherlode essay, Joyce Maynard Announces Failure of Her Adoptive Family. Here’s an excerpt:

Adopting a child — a small, confused person with an identity and a sense of herself as a part of a family or a community that isn’t yours — isn’t simple. No matter how good the intentions are on all sides to become a family, it doesn’t always work — and “doesn’t always” is more often than you think.

Some experts estimate that as many as one in five adoptions of children over the age of 6 end in disruption, for complex reasons. A newly adopted child is apart from everything she’s ever known. She’s without any firm touchstone from her past, and her future is nothing but a promise — a promise of “forever” and “family” from someone who’s taken her from a life she never truly realized was anything but forever itself.

This is a truly difficult dynamic to surf… I know that I couldn’t really apprehend what had been taken from our daughter until she became our daughter. As convinced as I was that I understood what we were both getting into, I really had no understanding of how hard it would be for us to come from our different places and fall in love. There were moments when I thought it would never happen.


[Joyce] is sure to be the subject of … criticism… But I suspect very little of it will come from those who have a bone-deep understanding of the complexities of adoption, or how difficult it can be to blend a family from the mixture of emotions and motivations and intentions and actions that we all bring to our little tables. When adoption is successful, it is at best a phoenix: it rises from the ashes of a tragedy. It is never the life we hope for when a baby is born. When it works, it’s wonderful.


In February 2011, after the highly publicized case involving adoptive mother Torrey Hansen and the 7-year-old boy she sent home to Russia, I posted about the difficulties faced by some adoptive families, stressing the importance of finding a community and asking for help. I reiterate that here. As an adoptive parent, I have faced, and continue to face, challenges I never imagined, never could have imagined. From my conversations with other adoptive parents, I know I’m not alone.

I’ll end here with a line from Joyce’s letter: “Until I walk in someone else’s shoes, I try not to suppose I know her story.”

Wishing peace to all. ~