Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."



Last night I lay in bed thinking about the photo I posted of baby N from Thailand.

N was the youngest of three sisters that I fell in love with during the course of our family tracing and reunification project. One of the very last projects post-tsunami.

N and her sisters were Burmese. So they were illegal. undocumented. marginalized. invisible. They did not receive the services they should have as the Thai families were assessed and offered government help immediately after the tsunami.

Three years ago, N's mom was just 22 years old. Her oldest daughter was 7.
Her husband an alcoholic.
N's mom was wasting away.

She did not have the option to give her child up. I don't think it would have even crossed her mind. She held N constantly-I never saw the two apart.

Baby N slipped through the cracks and died without any fanfare just a week after our project wrapped and I went home to the States. I was told that mom took her two girls and returned to her family in Burma which was the plan we had helped her to make prior to leaving.

I spent many hours over the course of many weeks in really crappy public hospital waiting rooms with that little family of women. Mom never spoke one word aloud. She whispered yes or no to the translator. She just sat and stared straight ahead. Her eyes were completely empty. I remember that she carried baby N to the squat toilet with her - she never would put her down or hand her over for a break. She was clearly exhausted.

There were a few times when we thought mom and baby had rallied but in the end, when I last saw them in another hospital waiting room (no hospital would actually admit them since they are undocumented migrants), N had wasted away to just 3 pounds at 6 months old. She slipped. She was gone. Is it odd to say that she was at her most beautiful just before the end? She was breathtaking and perfect.

Is this what women of the world are reduced to? Child marriage. Abusive husbands. Zero power. Zero ability to ask for help. Voiceless. Disease ridden. Ashamed. Carrying their dying babies until their last minutes on earth?

We talk about these stories from Africa but I promise you this is a world-wide epidemic. The female burden. I wonder if it is ethical to share these pictures on a public blog? But then I think about how this mother's story would have never been told if I weren't writing it today. I probably own the only photos of baby N ever taken. She represents millions upon millions of others.

I have no answer other than this: we need to recognize the women of the world. We need to stand in solidarity. We who have power and resources need to offer women options that work in many areas of their lives. We have to offer more than adoption.

I say this with all the transparency of a future adoptive parent. I want a child. But I do not want to take a child from her mother's arms. I just don't. N was beloved. N died. I cannot find a way to bridge that gap and make everything right if only I could have just taken her for my own.

Is it courageous that some women choose to give up their children? Yes. Can I stand to hear stories of women begging foreigners to take their babies because they can't fathom that anyone will help them keep the children alive? No. We talk a lot about choice in adoption but the tragedy is that there are not nearly enough choices offered to most mothers in this world.

So. What now? I feel convicted by my own story. Baby N reminded me of a piece of humanity I have let slip a little in this endless wait.
I don't want baby less. But I so want every mother to have the right to keep, nourish, sustain, and love her own child. That should just be a basic human right.



  1. Made me cry...while nursing my baby Camilo that I am priviledged to be his mami.

  2. Yes. I am grateful for your conviction and for Baby N.

    Last Spring, I saw 'A Powerful Noise' and the documentary was followed up by a panel that included among others Nicholas Kristof and Madeleine Albright. Ms. Albright said 'There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.' Did you see it?

    That phrase speaks to so much.

  3. I think about that now, as America is considering negotiating with the Taliban. ANd I just cringe to think that we would give credence to a government that thinks rape and abuse of women is SOP.

    She was breathtaking and perfect.

  4. I think this is where a large number of anti-adoption people are coming from. They argue that international adoption, in particular, offers this supply and demand and gives women who are in that predicament a resolution, albeit one that takes their children away from them. They argue that we should put money and resources into helping these women so that they do not HAVE to place their children for adoption.

    I'll be honest with you. I didn't consider this until after we brought our first two home and I saw the transition they made. There were tears for their mother and every single time I kept thinking-if only we could have given her money to help her raise them, she wouldn't have felt the need to send them away.

    The truth is-we do need to work harder with global treatment of women and children. They've always been second class citizens and until that changes, this issue will not go away.

    Thank you for sharing this. And, thank you for acknowledging that in adoption, where families are united, there is another side of the story where a family is torn apart. Until an AP understands that, they are denying their children something very, very important.

  5. Thank you for an amazing post.

  6. Amanda,
    Firstly, I've never, ever read anyone's blog before and just happened upon yours and I am so happy that i did.
    Secondly, although your posts are so emotional at times. and although i've welled up once or twice, I've not once full fledged cried, UNTIL this 1/29/10 post. While viewing these pictures of this poor young mother holding this tiny, tiny, beautiful little baby, and then you said "is this what women of the world are reduced to?". Oh, how that hit my heart - i had to leave the room and sit on the edge of my bathtub to cry. I just kept thinking, how much is one woman supposed to endure?
    Since you seem to be in the business of helping on an international level (not 'business' per se), what can the average american woman do to help?
    I am trying so hard to NOT read ahead and just follow your story in date order, but god, it is killing me to know when you get your referral and how it all works out.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story - you are helping me tremendously dealing with the waiting game. I am so glad to have found you!


About Me

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J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.