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Writer Joyce Maynard has been very open with her readers about her life. When she adopted two girls from Ethiopia in 2010, she wrote about it in More magazine.
But two years later, she decided to give up the girls to another family. She speaks to Here & Now about that decision.
On deciding to adopt two children
“At the age of 55, with you can say either huge idealism or ignorance, I believed that I care for and make life okay for any child. And I missed doing that. My children were long gone and so I sought out an easily found two sisters who were of an age that was not going to make adoption easy for them. And I went to Ethiopia and I brought them home. And certainly did so with an utter, absolute resolution that I would be their mother forever.”
On the decision to give them up
“And very early on in the process I recognized that they were not in the place that they should be. But I certainly felt for a long time that I must make it okay, and for 14 months I abandoned pretty much everything else in my life to try and do that. But it wasn’t okay—it wasn’t okay for them. They needed something that I wasn’t giving them. Among other things, a father, other children, a more regulated home life and I came to realize, and it’s not a choice that a lot of people can understand, and I have been much judged for making it, but I am making it very clear that I made the right decision for them. That the most loving thing I could do for them was to find them the right home and say good-bye to them, which I did.
On how the girls responded
“And of all the people who didn’t understand, I think two who did were the girls, who I called my daughters for a long time. I sat them down—we were all in the tub together actually—and I said to them, ‘You know, when I went to Ethiopia to bring you home, I made a promise to all the people who left you there that I would make sure you have a good life in America, and I will make sure you have a good life in America … I think you need a dad.’ And they did not argue with that one.”