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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Painful Decision To Give Up Two Adopted Children

joycemaynard.com)" href="http://media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2013/10/1009_joyce-maynard.png">Joyce Maynard is pictured in the photo that accompanied her blog post on her decision to give up her adopted children. (joycemaynard.com)

Joyce Maynard is pictured in the photo that accompanied her blog post on her decision to give up her adopted children. (joycemaynard.com)

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.

Interview Highlights: Joyce Maynard

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.”

Previous Interviews With Joyce Maynard

Guest

Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW.

And now, a very tender topic - not for children; we'll give you a second to adjust. It's a conversation with author Joyce Maynard about her decision to give up two adopted, older children. She'd announced the adoptions with tremendous happiness, in a magazine article in 2010. A little over a year later, she quietly announced on a website that despite some happy times, the adoption failed. She was vilified in social media and has been largely silent since. She's still very protective of the girls' identities, and the specifics of their problems as a family. But recently, when we were in the middle of another conversation, Joyce Maynard decided to talk about her decision.

It sounded stunning, at first, to people: How could someone send children away - you know, especially children who had already been, obviously, abandoned because they were being adopted. You say...

JOYCE MAYNARD: I, at the age of 55, with you can say either huge idealism or ignorance, I believed that I could care for, and make life OK, for any child. And I missed doing that; my children were long gone. And so I sought out - and 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. And very early on in the process, I recognized that they were not in the place where they should be. But I certainly felt for a long time that I must make it OK.

And for 14 months, I abandoned pretty much everything else in my life to try and do that. But it wasn't OK. It wasn't OK for them. They needed something 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 very clear that I made the right decision for them - that I needed - that the most loving thing I could do for them was to find them the right home and say goodbye to them, which I did.

I - and, you know, 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 loved 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, and I think you need - I kept it simple. I said to them, I think you need a dad. And they did not argue with that one.

It was absolutely the hardest thing in my life to do what I did, which was to - first of all, there's no website you go to find the right people for two girls who have experienced extraordinary, unimaginable loss and pain - and just physical hardship, hunger. But I found a family, the right family, I believe; a family very different from me. And that was good news, that they were very different - lots of children. And I went - I made a long, hard journey - one of my sons came with me - hardest day of my life and probably, to date, of his, and we said goodbye. And I do not see them, and I do not hear from them. And I expect one day, at a time of their choosing, we will meet again.

But right now - it's over two years now. Right now, the job is to let them grow and sink their roots. And I had to figure out why - how it was that I could have been so wrong, and so arrogant, as to suppose I could fix anything, do anything, make anything work. And I - it humbled me. It made me much less of a judging person myself - because I have been so judged for this.

YOUNG: Well, it sounds as if you're saying that part of fixing yourself was recognizing that you could not be the mother that you wanted to between - these two girls.

MAYNARD: I stopped - I let go of the idea that I could do everything, and it was a great move.

YOUNG: Well, tell us more because I am betting that there are ears to the radio right now - of people who felt the same way; that they would bring children into their lives - whether foster children or adoptive children - and it isn't going well, and they don't know how to admit that.

MAYNARD: You know, this is - I have to be very careful what I say here, and I will. I'm going to answer that question. But first, I want to say: I will never be a voice suggesting that adoption should not occur. I'm not...

YOUNG: Of course not. Yeah.

MAYNARD: I believe that there is - that there are children out in the world with - who will die if someone doesn't come and take care of them. And best of all, certainly, if it could be done in their culture and in their country, but sometimes it can't. But having said that, I will say that the way international adoption, particularly of older children - children who already have formed lives, language, relationships, culture - and you pick them up and bring them to wonderful America - and in my case, it was perfect Marin County - is an enormously complex experience for them that I don't think very many adoptive parents are fully prepared for.

And I hear from - I've now heard from hundreds of adoptive parents who are struggling, and whose children are struggling. And there needs to be, certainly, a different level of understanding before people embark on this. I thought I'd read the books and taken the classes. But how could I have supposed that a child who was 12 would come with such deep losses and hurt that were not going to be solved by, you know, the catchword - you know, now I'm your forever family.

I believe it is possible to heal deep, deep wounds. But the people who are equipped to do it had better have deep, deep reserves themselves to struggle through some hard times. And I've struggled through a lot of them. But I wasn't, finally, the person who was going to be able to bring them through. And I see my role as the person who got them to the people who can.

YOUNG: Could you tell if the girls felt betrayed?

MAYNARD: When I said goodbye to them, they could not even look at me anymore, and I do understand that because I'm a lot older than they are. And that's part of what I needed to recognize, that they had to absolutely let me go. And I needed to let them know that I loved and cared about them - it wasn't hard for me to say that - but not to keep that string connected that was only going to tug them back. You know, it is one of the hardest things to say about this, that this was the hardest thing that ever happened in my life, and I've had a few.

YOUNG: Mm-hmm.

MAYNARD: This was not one of the 10 hardest things that happened in theirs. They were already girls who had lived through a lot of losses. And they needed to get on with building a new life where this wasn't going to happen anymore. I needed to absolutely find people who were rock-solid, going to be able to see this through. And I believe I did.

YOUNG: Joyce, thanks so much.

MAYNARD: It's always good to talk with you, Robin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

YOUNG: Author Joyce Maynard on giving up the two older Ethiopian girls she'd adopted because she felt it was better for them.

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

Robin, you have to applaud her honesty in dealing with the situation.

YOUNG: There's been a lot of reaction to her. And there have been calls for more supportive families adopting older children, which according to research, those adoptions are more likely to lead to what's called adoption disruption. So if you have thoughts on this, please share them at hereandnow.org.

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Robin Young.

CHAKRABARTI: I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. This is HERE AND NOW.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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  • Laura

    I have had experience as a birth mom. I had a son 13 years ago and he has a fantastic life now with his adoptive family. It was incredibly hard and still can be, but it gets better. I think it takes a strong person to do this, regardless whether you are adopting or giving up a child. I firmly believe you always need to have your children’s best interests at heart.

  • Anne

    I haven’t adopted, but I’ve been a foster parent. No one who hasn’t done it can understand how hard it can be. I kept a journal with one of our teen girls that I call Next Friend, the Journal of a Foster Parent. It’s real, not touchy-feely. I self-published it and give it away to other foster parents who are having a hard time.

    I applaud Joyce Maynard’s honesty.

    • Leroi

      Hear, hear Anne. I have fostered and adopted and this is tough, tough work. Please don’t judge unless you have walked in her shoes!!!

    • Todd

      My wife and I have considered fostering/adoption and I would love to read your book. Please let me know how to obtain a copy. Thanks!

      • kym

        Todd,

        May I recommend not doing it the Capobianco way or Maynarding if you suddenly realized the child you adopted didn’t speak your language, and god forbid… was actually a child.

    • Nancy Adams

      Fostering is completely different than adoption…ask any foster child that. I have worked with many foster teens…none of them felt as if they were in a permanent home while they were in their foster home..they knew it was temporary. To compare the two is disengenuous….the bottom line is lfe is hard and life gets messy but at least know what you’re are getting yourself into. I do not give Joyce any ounce of applause for her selfish acts and narcissim…not one clap!

      • Nancy Adams

        Disengenuous may be the incorrect term…I dont mean to be calling you a liar and I apologize…but I will say it does a dis-service to the world of adoption to compare the two on even scale.

  • Guest

    Why didn’t relationship between Joyce and the girls not work? I would have liked a more detailed explanation. Is she saving it all for the book?

    • Nancy Adams

      I hope she doesn’t earn a bunch of money as she exploits her trgic situation but I sense that is what is happening.

      • Daisytoo

        Her tragic situation? I’m guessing you meant the children’s tragedy.

        • Nancy Adams

          Sorry, I was trying to be sarcastic with the words she used..as “a painful decision”….but yes you are right, not her tragedy by any means but certainly the adopted children’s trauma and tragedy for sure.

          • Daisytoo

            No apology is necessary. You’re kind to have clarified – but please be assured, I did get an accurate sense of your actual meaning.

            I can actually begin to understand the dilemma of someone who adopts and then finds the reality overwhelming. In the not too distant past, this was too often the case w/children adopted from Russia – born w/fetal alcohol syndrome and then developing severe attachment disorder after being abandoned into hideous orphanages. Those parents had to make some very difficult choices – especially if they had other children whose lives could be endangered by a sociopathic child. Some chose to bring in major league help – which was quite often very effective – but at real sacrifice of time and money. But that’s what needs to be done for a child one has pledged to love and care for … Others, painfully, had to send children back to Russia – where little to nothing has changed in their orphanages.

            But this woman – after all w/grown children – had to have been living in a cave not to have heard about the risks inherent in adopting severely traumatized children. And who knows how difficultly challenged the children actually were? Maybe they just needed some extra care and attention.This interview reveals a complete narcissist, who should never have been allowed to adopt the girls under any circumstances.

          • Nancy Adams

            Agreed..I have my own thoughts on all those Russian adoptions gone wrong but will respond more when I can collect my thoughts and be more articulate but for now the adoption agency that I came through and ended up being on the board of opted to get out of Russia and Rumania because of so much chaos….Everything went topsy turvy when the motherload of white babies were available…families rushed to get these beautiful blue eye Russian babies without any thinking of fetal alcohol and attachment disorder and all. All we saw was Jessica Lange going over to “save the day” and we were shown the dying rooms of these babies….and children tied to their beds and chairs..No one asked what the fall out to this institutional treatment would be on these young babies/toddlers/adolescents/ teens??

  • Beverly Mire

    With all due respect to struggling adoptive families, there has to be much more to this story. Joyce Maynard seems to be covering for herself. We’ve all heard the stories about the horrific baggage adoptive children can come with. But since she opened the door we deserve to hear the details, the girls’ real story. And she told them in the tub (granted, it was Marin County so it probably was a hot tub)? There’s something smelly here.

    • Bryce Butler

      Absolutely agree. I thought the questions were so lightweight as to be meaningless. All Joyce Mayard’s positive talk about what was good for the girls and how she had now found them a home that could truly support them was so much new age yuppie BS. But she also said she has no contact so how would she know if they’re doing well. The woman is her own reality tv show.

      • Debra Kelley

        Great comment Bryce – Maynard *wishes* she were her own reality TV show!

    • Sarah Morison

      Wow, I think you are being so judgmental and speculative!  You have no idea what went on in that family, yet you are so quick to make aspersions and innuendo.  I think it sounds like Joyce Maynard made a very mature decision and was thinking of the “best interest of the child”.  There are plenty of people who do not realize what they are taking on in adopting children who have deep wounds and good for her for recognizing that she did not have what it took, and searching for the right match for her girls.

      • Nancy Adams

        “The best interests of the child”..I as an adult adoptee and former social worker with teens ” in care” I am so sick of this thrown around phrase. I have served on an international adoption board and have worked with fractured teens who have been adopted and then placed “in care”..all out of the “best interests of the child! I have seen more than my share of adults wanting to adopt for all the wrong reasons and when these adoptions go awry in their minds…the kids are disposible and passe on as if no additional damage is being done to the children….The best interests of the child or the sibling set should was to have been transported or adopted by what seems to be a very selfish gal to fulfill a latent mid life need…Give me a flipping break…She does not get a pass card for giving these girls up for a “right match” and then being “courageous” in telling her story…adoptees are not pets that can be passed on when the situation doesn’t deem right for them.

      • Julie Gaglione

        Yes, I am judgmental….she invited judgment when she went on the radio. She was looking at her own best interest. Do you think she ever would have re-homed her biological children if they had severe problems?

        • pennyroyal

          there are ways to avoid parenting of one’s biological children; the traditional one is boarding school….

          • Daisytoo

            That’s a ridiculous overstatement.

          • pennyroyal

            In your opinion. She had the means to do that, if they had been her biological parents. Prep schools, private schools, boarding schools. Look around. There are lots of them.

          • Daisytoo

            Of course it’s my opinion. Why on earth would I reply w/someone else’s opinion? I attended private schools, including a girl’s prep school.

            My (biological) parents didn’t avoid parenting me by sending me to good schools. Neither did they avoid parenting by sending some of my siblings to excellent boarding schools. They lovingly fulfilled their parental obligations in accordance w/what they considered best.

            This is not to say that some children aren’t foisted on private schools, just as they’re foisted on public schools. But of course, not all are. Which is why what you said remains a ridiculous overstatement.

          • pennyroyal

            I disagree, obviously. I did not say that anyone who sent their kids to boarding school was avoiding parenting. That would be ‘ridiculous’.

          • Daisytoo

            So far, the only ‘obvious’ thing you’ve said is that Maynard is a narcissist. And I agree w/that assessment.

            Private schools are not set up to tend to the needs of traumatized children. That’s not their purpose or function. I’ll leave it at that.

        • rd2612

          Exactly. And what has happened to the girls now? If she really cared she would have kept contact with them and made sure everything was going well for them.

    • hello neighbor

      I completely agree, Beverly Mire. This was a non-story that triggered more questions than providing answers. What was so untenable she interrupted the adoption? What horrors did they experience that explained how disturbed they were? Did they display symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder? If so, it would make total sense. So why not supply some details instead of vagaries?

      And WHY ON EARTH was she in the tub with adolescent/pre-adolescent girls? That was big red flag about her judgement. I have nothing but empathy for the girls and questions for Ms. Maynard. My guard is up.

      • kym

        I am also more curious about the girls and would rather hear from them/about them than listen to this “mature” pity party of a woman.

        However, I think we probably never will hear about the girls’ experiences unless they are happy endings and make adoptions look good. Those girls will be encouraged to be silent unless they are smiling, laughing, and loving their time in this wonderful, magnificent country that as only helped them. If their stories deviate from that storyline (ie they get molested, fall into drugs, the wrong crowd, or suffer from mental issues), then the tabloids might gossip about them, but we will never hear FROM them.

    • ZucchiniBlossom

      That would be an invasion of the girls’ privacy. I’m glad Maynard did not say too much. She failed. She did her best to find them a better family. I’m wondering why she was legally allowed to do so when other families have faced charges for trying.

  • Debra Kelley

    While in all probability the girls are better off without Joyce — because frankly, who wouldn’t be — do we need any further evidence of her extreme narcissism? Salinger’s letters, “look, I got breast implants! look, I got them removed!” “look, at 54 I adopted two Somali children! look, attention waned on that move so now I want people to see what a wonderful person I am to realize they needed another home!”
    Please, I stopped reading, or even thinking about, Joyce Maynard years ago — and so should you.

  • Denise

    Thank you for sharing this story, I too experienced giving up a child that shared our lives for 5 years as a foster son. We intended and hoped to adopt him, but it all fell apart and he moved out 3 years ago. We naively thought love would solve and repair all that he had been through, but we did not have the reserve necessary and he literally did not know how to survive in a loving, nurturing and structured family. His need for chaos and inability to accept our love was stronger than any ideal we held. The reality was that we were all miserable and engaged in a slow destruction. No matter how much we thought we could handle it and wanted to help; and as many positive experiences as we did enjoy; in the end, as my son said, “our lives were ripped out from under us in ways we could never imagine.” There was a mutual recognition of this and we finally made the same decision that Joyce did, although it was before adoption. I truly appreciate that the decision was the most “loving” that she could have made. I understand the depth of Joyce’s decision and commend her both for making and for being so honest about it.

  • chantaldeelite

    That detail about being in the tub with them is troubling to me. 14 months of parenting two children who were of a difficult to place age? Not appropriate. So many international adoptions suffer mild to extreme abuse. The children Maynard had almost seem like they got lucky with their misfortune: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/

    • Charlie Cardinal

      You really don’t know what went on in that house. But I do, from a personal and professional point of view. The questions are superficial; the answers are evasive and easy. Most of them are not thorough or true. Ms. Maynard did not do “little else” for 14 months. She traveled, often, for extended periods. She wrote a novel. When home, she tried desperately to get others to assume the care of these children — friends, acquaintances, strangers. The reason she hung on so long is that, or so it is said, she had a contract for a book of essays on parenting and didn’t want to give that up. Before she adopted these girls, she became so obsessed with the chance that another journalist who was adopting a child would write about it first that she tried to sabotage that adoption, and required extensive therapy before proceeding. The new home is a good home — solid and studied. That much is for sure. According to the extensive coverage of her wedding in the New York Times, Ms. Maynard now is happy at last. None of this saga was about what those children needed.

      • Nancy Adams

        Ms. Maynard seems like incredibly manipulative and selfish gal and now she is going on all media outlets as a PSA on parents that could be like her..she is an opportunist and wants to be seen now as an expert on parenting. She did not want to give up anything and She had no idea about the dynamics and psychology of adoption and the true effects of all of it is on relinquished children, Ugh,….just can’t stand it the narcissism from her.

        • pennyroyal

          yes, narcissism is the right word

          • Daisytoo

            Now I agree w/you 100%.

      • Guest

        narcissism…

      • chantaldeelite

        Oh gosh, reading that wedding announcement in the Times… no mention of the girls, lots of talk of three month long vacations and fine meals. I’m disappointed that Here & Now did not ask tougher questions of Joyce Maynard and I hope that they expand their coverage of this issue beyond the one-sided story of a seemingly deeply narcissistic person. Exposing these abuses are crucial; lives are at stake.

      • Max

        Charlie Cardinal – I am so glad you shared these details. I also read the cautions another adoptive parent shared with Maynard when Maynard had an online discussion forum, years ago. Those cautions focused on the very significant challenges of international adoptions. That person who wrote to Joyce had a successful adoptions but it not only required intense commitment but a daily schedule of physical therapy for the child as well as constant supervision, love, , compassion, etc. So Maynard was indeed warned of the potential time commitment as well as the changes she might have to make in her routine. Continuing to write and travel extensively right after the adoptions was certainly not something she should have assumed was a given!

      • Michelle Burnett

        I’m just now getting caught up on this whole story and was giving Maynard the benefit of the doubt – until I read the wedding announcement. The girls “needed a father”? Well, it seems to me she have waited to relinquish them a little longer, and then she could have met this amazing love of her life and they would have had one! Right? Oh, no, wait. Having to parent kids while you’re blissfully in love with your late-in-life soulmate would probably be a real drag. This whole thing is repellent to me. I’ll never read another thing she writes ever again.

  • merlin1935@hotmail.com

    My sister adopted a 4 year old boy and gave him a very good life. It was very hard on my sister, because the boy exhibited very negative characteristics and bad behavior despite her efforts to raise him properly. At some point she regretted the adoption, but remained steadfast and did not give up the child. Today, the child is doing better.

    People considering adoption, especially the busy celebrity types, should know that this is not an experiment they can call off if it goes wrong. If you would not give up your own child that you birthed just because times are tough, then you should never give up a child you adopted.

    There’s more to the Maynard story. I suspect she suddenly got tired and wanted to move on with her own life, not because those kids did anything wrong as kids.

    • ZucchiniBlossom

      I’m sorry to hear everyone slamming Maynard. I think she probably meant well, but like many damaged people, she doesn’t herself realize the extent of her own damage. This is a survival mechanism, denial. Is she supposed to think, well, I’m a shallow, narcissistic, impulsive person and I haven’t got emotional reserves or anybody to lean on. Instead, she thought, I raised my own kids, why not these as well? She screwed up, but she did leave the children in a better place. She’s not a monster, just an incompetent person who tried to do good. At least give her credit for trying. Blame, if any, should go to the agencies who facilitated the adoption without looking too closely at her — but can you really blame them, they are so desperate to find homes for the children. The children had a less than ideal experience after a terrible start in life. What they needed was something much more like what a normal family would have been in their home country. Expecting them to adjust to this country at all was optimistic.

  • Mamarack

    The timeline is, as other people have pointed out, quite suspicious. Maynard moved on quite quickly… http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/fashion/weddings/just-the-beginning-of-their-growing-time.html?pagewanted=all

    • Ann

      “I love it that in your eyes, I am the babe of the universe…” wedding vows says it all.

      • Debra Kelley

        OK, I don’t think I’ve ever employed this way overused acronym, but truly…OMG.

      • kym

        Or what she thinks of her “gift to her children: “One of the things I always wanted to give my children — and you can’t
        make it happen — is the experience of seeing me in a really happy,
        healthy relationship,” she said.

        Gee ma, I’m so glad you’re thinking of ME, and not YOU.

  • Thyme

    I honestly hope that Joyce used an adoption agency or her state’s Department of Children’s Services to find the girls a new home. There has been some recent newstories about the rehoming of international adoptees and none them were good. I think that anyone who is considering adopting older children should realize that it will probably take longer than a year to solidify the relationship. I hope that she involved the help of professionals to fully vet the new parents and home. At the very least a homestudy and background check should have been done and hopefully some kind of home visit at least in the beginning to make sure that everyone was OK.

    http://adoptionvoicesmagazine.com/my-second-mama/rehoming-adoptees/#.UlXUDRBUI2A

    • alwayshope

      Yes, this was the first thing that jumped to my mind as well. I hope so as well.

      http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#article/part1

    • pennyroyal

      I keep seeing ads on TV for adoption saying ‘you don’t have to be a perfect parent’ — makes it seem soooo easy. Love conquers all obstacles. NOT!

  • Syemane7825

    What a selfish b****! You didn’t ask yourself these basic questions (such as the kids “needing a father”) before you went off adopting kids from a completely different country only to abandon them? What did you expect them to say when you told them you were pawning them off onto someone else? I wouldn’t talk to you either! I think that fact alone (that the girls don’t talk to you) shows how you handled the situation. Why’d you have to go to another country to fulfill this whim of yours?

  • Nancy Adams

    I am an adult adoptee that has been immersed in the adoption world and there is something that is amiss with this story. You can applaud her honesty if you want but I hope the lesson learned is that adoption is a serious and sacred at its best and at its worst dysfunctional and disruptive as this story entails. Joyce seems to have wanted life her way on her terms ..older single parent adopting sibling set of transracial adoptees…what was she expecting or planning to have happened?? Such naivate and lack of any kind of adoption understanding on a psychological and emotional level ….so the damage that was done the first ten years is just impacted with her deciding after 14 months….oh well…I am not the one to have adopted them..can’t meet their needs…pass them on…SERIOULSY!!! Shame on the adoption agency or the adoption attorney who allowed this to happen….Adpoption is first and foremost for the homeless child(ren)..not to provide a service TO adults who are missing the younger years of childrearing or do not have biological children. When are we ever going to be clear on this important distinction between helping homeless children or helping childless adults….I have no words for my feelings as an adoptee……no words!!!

    • ElliFrank

      Nancy Adams, thank you for your excellent posts on this story. I hope that Robin Young pays attention to your perspective, which I share as an adoptive mother, and does a follow-up story with several adult adoptee guests.

      It makes me ill to hear a parent like Joyce Maynard rationalizing her lack of commitment to the girls she adopted and then abandoned. Clearly she is just trying to avoid feeling the guilt that she should for having facilitated another breech of trust in the lives of these children.

      Giving up after just 14 months into the adoption of older children whose lives have already been marked by traumatic loss and other difficult experiences? It’s simply inexcusable!

      I think that adoption agencies who do such inadequate screening of pre-adoptive parents should be held fiscally responsible to pay for the costs of all therapeutic services the children need in their new family. Until these agencies are held responsible in a way that matters to them, they will continue treating international adoption like a business, with the children as disposable commodities.

      Robin Young, I usually appreciate your reporting, but you blew it with this story by avoiding the most fundamental and critically important issues.

      • Nancy Adams

        Thank you for your kind words! Well the other piece of my anger is that there are such awesome adoptive parents out there and what a dis-service this kind of “parent”(and I use this word loosely) does for those really great and committed and dedicated and loving adoptive parents out there!

        • Nancy Adams

          My sense is how quick it happened and with her means..she may have had an attorney driven adoption which in my mind has always been the worst kind of adoption and the least caring about the adoptee…It then becomes a monetary transaction. Ugh…. Robin was indeed very soft ball with this gal..I think she even misses the point about adoption..that is can be work…hard work and committment and pursue any avenues that will help these children.

          • Jackie

            Nancy – I agree. There are manyadoption agencies who require,individuals and couples to go through counseling sessions, answer difficulties about why they want to adopt, have home studies and background checks. Was an exception ,axe for Maynard?

          • Jackie

            Sorry for those typos . Spell check and awful key pad.

          • Nancy Adams

            I do not know about how she went around to attain these children. However I do believe the most positive adoptions are those done by agencies where there these things are serioujsly taken in consideration. Most of the high profile adoptions cases gone wrong have been attorney driven adoption.Often homeless children are not homeless..they were stolen and sold. NPR did a story on this awhile back. With good adoption agencies where there is information exchanged..an intake and interview process of the adoptive couple..awareness of the needs of the child gives a healthier process even knowing there will be sure be challenges. What I have seen with people who have a lot of money, they want what they want at that moment and will hire an expensive adoption attorney. Now she traveled there to get them as well. It seems that she was able to skip many many of the needed checks…because honestly the majority of adoption agencies will not place with older people. Exceptions are made all the time for wealthy people. I know that agency I was on the board with received letters from celebrities wanting a korean child and Holt made them go through the same processes as everyone else….so the celebrities would go somewhere else where their money could get fast results. The agency also had an age rule…both the parents ages could not equal more than 100. So not knowing her adoption process, my sense was there were definitely money involved and exceptions made.

          • http://stevenmitchell.blogspot.com/ Steven P. Mitchell

            Generally, to my knowledge they do not do that for international adoptions. It is primarily a financial transaction.

      • Max

        Joyce Maynard has a Facebook page. Unless I missed something, she has not posted a link to this NPR interview but she has not hesitated to promote her book, articles about Salinger, her reasons for agreeing to be interviewed for the recent Salinger documentary, even her letter to another writer who criticized Maynard on Twitter. I find it a strange omission.

    • Daisytoo

      Thank you, Nancy.

      Ms. Maynard revealed it all when she claimed that ‘she abandoned her life’ for the girls. No, she abandoned two already traumatized girls. Every word you’ve written supports my own thinking; this was a failure on the part of Joyce Maynard, who clearly was thinking only of fulfilling her own (apparently pathological) needs, and the agency/lawyer who also didn’t take the actual needs of the children into account and released them to her as one would trophies.

      I am a grandmother who, as a teenager, relinquished my baby for adoption. I was a teenager w/enough maturity to know that my baby would be better off adopted by a family who were mature enough, capable enough, to lovingly provide what I was unable to provide at my age: a stable home with two parents.

      My decision, while right, was painful. And it was painful not only for me, but for my newborn son. As beneficial as adoption was for him, he suffered a separation from me, his natural mother. Don’t ever let anyone tell you newborn babies don’t suffer at being removed from the mother who gave birth to them. They do. I trust he adjusted to the loving home he entered; I pray for him and I pray for his parents. The very thought of him ending up w/someone as self-absorbed as this woman breaks my heart. It’s an outrage. I can only hope that the family she found for the girls was unselfish and skilled enough to provide for the deeply traumatized sisters. I hope they finally find some peaceful security and unconditional love in which to grow and thrive.

      Again, thank you for your wise words on behalf of the girls and all children.

      • Nancy Adams

        There is an amazing book by Nancy Verrier called The Primal Wound…and it speaks directly to the fact that when a baby is separated from the b-mom and the voice that they were used to hearing inside the womb, now is no longer there…trauma and loss sets in there at that time. I beleive that to be true. In the adoption process…the ones that suffer loss are definitely the birth mothers and the adoptees….thank you for sharing your post. Adoptees do adjust and adapt and as for me I have the most amazing adoptee family ever….love and support beyond measure but it does not take away the sense of loss from the get go. I beleive your baby thinks of you all the time as I do with my b-mom.

        • Daisytoo

          Again, thank you. My baby is 45 years old now – glad to know that what I’ve known in my heart to be true has been written down in a book. We are made to love and be loved. It takes so little and at the same time, so much, to give and receive love.
          We all suffer losses. Some go down so deeply. With love, we find compassion. I do trust that, like you, my son has been loved and loves.

    • Max

      I don’t want this post to be lost so it is nearly a continuum of ine below. Years ago, Joyce Maynard had an online discussion forum. She was one of the first writers to do so. One of the regular participants there had adopted a child from overseas and was honest about both the deep challenges and the joys.

      But there was no swerving from the hard truths, the sacrifice and commitment required to parent a wounded child who was faced with the challenges of a new family, country, language, culture. As I recall there was honesty about not only minor testing of boundaries but significant attachment issues, nightmares. The time needed and, as a result, the lack of free time.

      So I find it disingenuous for Maynard to say she was not aware of the risks. She dropped in frequently to read and respond to posts there. .She was a very active – and, to my view – fascinated participant during the discussionsof the risks of international adoption.

      Surely those posts are out there somewhere since what goes on the Internet may stay there.

      • Nancy Adams

        Absolutely! There were indeed factors already in place before she adopted…She knew there wasn’t a father figure around and AFTER she gets them…she realizes they need a father(!) but after 14 months, she gave it her all?? So agree with you!

        • Max

          And she did- and does- maintain a whirlwind schedule of travel, book promotion, writing articles, teaching writing workshops, etc. she was not living a life with much, if any, room for 2 older adoptees. I look forward to the time when they tell their side of the story. And I think it is very egotistical to write of their feelings. Someday they may read those words.

    • Olga Verbochka

      this is a very interesting point, Nancy. I am an international adoption researcher. Thank you for sharing this

      • Nancy Adams

        Well I am an international adoptee and would be very interested in your research. Most of my adoptee community are 3/4 international, 1/4 domestic. I have done a tremendous amount of reading on the psychology of adoption..and the challenges of issues of adoption at large, domestic and international which in this interview will be compounded by the relinquishing twice.

        • Olga Verbochka

          I am glad you responded Nancy! One of the studies that I am conducting at the moment has to do with cultural self identification. If you like, please participate and encourage other international adoptees you know to participate https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/C8DY77L

          another study (in the process) will be in relation to adoption disruption. Lets stay in touch, in case you want to participate in future studies as well

          • Nancy Adams

            will do the first one but not the second….thank you…Please keep me posted on further research and results…THANKS!

          • Olga Verbochka

            Will do! And thank you very much Nancy!

  • Suzanne Nam

    Are you kidding me? Why are you giving this woman a platform to talk about how hard it was for her to abandon two children? Because she is a celebrity? What about the girls? Shouldn’t we be hearing *their* story instead of hers?

    Robin Young, I’m disappointed. That last comment, about applauding her honesty, was the topper. Really? I thought when Here & Now became NPR’s flagship show the quality of the journalism would increase, not that it would become the radio version of a train wreck talk show. I miss Neal Connan.

    • Debra Kelley

      Suzanne, I agree…I was really excited when my Sacramento station, capradio.org, began airing Here & Now a few months ago. And in general I’ve been impressed with the program’s topic selection, interviews and commentary. But I don’t understand why, realizing as Robin apparently said that Maynard had been [something like] “vilified by social media” over her decision to re-home the girls — “re-homing” being the term we use in dog rescue! — that Here & Now decided to air this piece. Just weird.

  • Ryan Fleming

    The fact that she said finding the girls was “easy” makes me suspect – Maynard must be a person of incredible means, and/or a less-than-forthright agency cut some corners. Clearly she was unfit as an adoptive parent, and there had to have been red flags from the start that she or the agency simply ignored. I want to believe her heart is in the right place, but what’s missing is the remorse, an unconditional apology to the children and the adoption community. She could have given that even without the details.

    As the faux-motivational poster saying goes, “It could be that your life’s purpose is to serve as a warning to others.” My wife and I got about 1 year into an overseas adoption process, and
    with eyes wide open we decided to withdraw. During that time, even the best adoptions I saw seemed to be incredibly difficult for everyone involved – financially, stresswise and timewise. Stories like hers (at least the Cliffnotes version we heard of it – I’m sure there will be a profitable book in the future) are a double-edged sword: they make adoption agencies more skittish (making the process more difficult for waiting parents), but it underscores the fact that adoption is loaded with difficulty.

    My hope is that her story will prevent others from making a similar mistake, that the ending was good, and that the girls ended up with a family who could provide the unconditional love they deserve.

    • Debra Kelley

      Thanks Ryan for your personal story, and to the others who’ve posted their own stories. I accompanied a friend in late January 2005 to Siberia on the first visit to adopt her second Russian daughter…what a trip that was!
      My friend worked through a well-respected adoption agency, paid huge sums of money, was luckily able to take a lot of time off work, and had a wonderful Russian adoption guide (worker? counselor? certainly an empathetic and resourceful friend in that lovely woman!). And now is blessed with a wonderful mother and 7 brothers and sisters and their kids to help with her two girls. I wish the same support for the two Somali girls and their new parents.

  • pennyroyal

    I think the whole concept of adoption needs to be rethought. I speak as the adopted mother of a son, now 43. My husband and I adopted him at 9 days. Now that he’s met his birth mother and I know her story, and her hardship and longing for him, I think he never should have been taken away from her. I have regrets about this.

    My husband and I had a 9-year-old girl in our home for 9 months and then the pre-adoption disrupted. She was from a ‘well run (vouched for by the Commonwealth and the foster mom) group home, where the kids were in and out of each others bed at night. We found this out when our son was in his late teens. She had gone downstairs at night to his bedroom (but nothing happened. He was still prepubescent).

    We also had weird neighbors who adopted a girl from Colombia and then at age 14 kicked her out. She came to visit us at age 18, having spent the time in a group home. Those people should never have been given a child. They had a sociopathic biological child. Don’t know what the social workers were thinking.

    • Adoption News and Events

      Your candor is appreciated.

      Much has changed since church ladies and members of the Junior League found couples to adopt relinquished infants.

      Adoption is now entrepreneurial enterprise: 13 billion dollars a year according to estimates. The recent case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl highlights a case where a mother was paid (all legal ‘expenses’ including a car and home out of foreclosure), to allow strangers she found on the internet to cut her daughters umbilical cord and take her out of state. Legal maneuvering evades the rights of the child to her father and kin.

      • pennyroyal

        what is the difference between some of the stories (above) and child trafficking?

        • Mari Tatlow Steed

          None…and in fact, federal and state lawmakers (both of whom have strong anti-human trafficking laws on the books) really need to start taking this seriously. Because that’s exactly what it is: human trafficking.

  • Sharon Van Epps

    Ms. Maynard notes that many adoptive families who are currently struggling are reaching out to her for help. I urge any adoptive family in trouble to seek help from a reputable, qualified source: a licensed social worker with adoption experience, a reputable adoption agency, or any post-adoptive support organization like PACT: An Adoption Alliance, FAIR Families, African Cradle, the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio etc. Even if these organizations aren’t local to you, you can call or email their experts. FAIR offers a free, confidential advice hotline. By Ms. Maynard’s own candid admission, a lack of humility and maturity in decision making led her to an adoption that wasn’t right for her or the children. By all means seek help if you need it, but from someone with appropriate expertise.

  • fun bobby

    that’s horrible. I can’t help but think of the recent article about what happens to all these foreign kids who get adopted by idiots like this woman and then they get abandoned and often end up in terrible abusive situations

    • Nancy Adams

      Agreed…Sorry “fun Bobby”..I did not see your post…I just said something similar…The terrible message is we adoptees are disposable…..We did not fit the bill ..their order got mixed up…promises made that the we the adoptee could not fulfil in the A-parents minds…..Heartache at its worst in for toying and manipulating with childrens’s lives….!

  • spongeO

    They were girls who lived through a lot of losses…so what’s one more, right?

    • kym

      Sure, beat on the abused, until they’re dead. That’s the way to “save” someone.

      • Daisytoo

        I think spongeO was being (annoyingly) sarcastic.

  • Agency14

    This is so incredibly upsetting to read. The selfishness of this woman is mind blowing. As an adoptive parent (which I am) or as a biological parent, your children are your children – and their pain or history or future – are yours to deal with, help with, absorb, form…you don’t bail. You PARENT. You love. You stay. Would anyone be so forgiving if she had decided to have children in some biological way, and then a year down the line decide it was just “too hard” and that they needed other parents?

  • Michele Courville Feiner

    Thank you for your story. Don’t let anyone judge you for what you felt you needed to do for your family. Adoption is an incredibly difficult task and nobody’s situation is the same.

    • Daisytoo

      I reserve the right to judge the impulsive behavior of a 55 + year old narcissist looking for a fix via her unthought out adoption of 2 human children as dysfunctional at best, as well as extremely self-absorbed and abusive.

      She adopted children who turned out to not be trophies to her vanity (and the loneliness extreme vanity engenders) but traumatized children whose needs were certainly not being met by sharing a bath w/’the babe of the universe’, Joyce Maynard. And she did so on a whim. Which is outrageous.

      I also hold whomever legally enabled this ill advised adoption culpable.

  • Cheryll

    What is it about this compulsion to share the most intimate details of our lives with large numbers of strangers? What is it about the strangers’ compulsion to offer up strongly worded opinions about what we’ve done? When did this unceasing flow of excess information become the norm? What did we do with all the time we had before we started commenting wildly on things we can’t really know anything about? When did we start thinking so highly of ourselves and our ability to know what’s right and what’s wrong in every single situation?

  • Kevin Haebeom Vollmers

    You know, I’ve never liked the words “rehoming”/”rehomed.” So, I’m just going to use “Maynarding”/”Maynard” instead. The change has a nice ring to it and it will give Ms. Joyce Maynard what she wants – attention.

    • Nancy Adams

      Re-home/re-homing are such “gentle and soft” words to some very profound damaging actions done to an adoptee. Most adoptees I know strongly resent if not hate that term for all the glossing over of what it really is. For the adoptee the re-homing creates more negative things that the adoptee thinks about themselves..was I not good enough?….smart enough?..pretty enough?…obedient enough?..that the “new family” had to reject me also as my b-parents did….Re-homing is the worst kind of term….EVER…A bif difference is that the he-homing is done on the a-parents initiative..using websites to replace their unwanted child to God Knows who and place these “rehomed children in very vulnerable situation in contrast to when a child is placed in a new setting becuase of physical or sexual abuse or a setting that is too dysfunctional for the child to grow up in….it is done by a third party to help the child get out of a very detrimental situation. Recent stories are coming out on how these potentially rehomed children are being traded in the underground for illegal activites…heartbreaking…truly heartbreaking…all because the child was not what the A-parents had ordered.

    • fun bobby

      yes because it is even more callous then when that term is applied to pets

    • Beth Berryhill

      it’s called abandonment….those children were yanked from their own country and brought here to a new one where it isn’t their culture nor relatives or friends…..they are told of this new life they will have better than the one before and then once here they are thrown away like a paper towel….These children weren’t a little cuddly kitten that could be sent to live somewhere else when the cuteness wore off…(not that I agree with this either) but they were children who had an adult who vowed to protect them and give them a family they lacked….This lady is no better than the woman who adopted the Russian boy then put him on a plane and sent him back to his native country….

  • briansonyaw

    NO ONE can understand unless they have been here. NO one will get it unless they walk this horrible path themselves. She did what was in the girls best interest. We also had to do this. Our daughter was almost 16. Too old to adjust to a new language, new country, new home, new family, new rules, education in america and so much more. I believe so many of these older adoptions are failing and we are all too ashamed and protecting these young people to share too much. There is so much more pain than anyone can imagine. 3 years later and I still struggle. We do what is best for them the best we can.

    • kym

      Um, you didn’t know that they didn’t speak your language before you adopted? You didn’t know that she would have to “adjust” before you adopted?

      I’m so sorry that it has been so difficult for YOU – that YOU are still struggling for 3 years. And YOU were the one who did NOT have to move, learn a new language, meet new people, or adapt to a different educational system or different set of rules, while knowing no one else.

      May you never forget the pain you caused the girl you adopted and took away from everything familiar.

  • squeezaz

    As an adoptive parent, I find Joyce Maynard’s actions unacceptable and her justifications even more so. Also, I find this “fluff” piece next to useless. Why was the air time wasted on “I did what was best for the girls and you’ll just have to take my word for it”?

  • Mari Tatlow Steed

    Thumbs down to Maynard for her callous, selfish actions. And thumbs down to HearandNow for only offering her viewpoint. Where are the voices of her (former) daughters, adoptive parents who are in it for the long haul, adopted for the right reasons and love unconditionally — or at least other intercountry adopted people who could speak to what it’s like to be adopted, especially by someone as clearly unsuited to parent as this woman?

    • kym

      Exactly, I’m tired of hearing from attention-grabbing people who call themselves parents because they “adopted” until it was no longer advantageous. I’d rather hear from the former daughters too. Are they even alive still? Does this “paper parent” even know if they’re still alive?

      HereandNow, when will we hear their voices or their account?

  • Dana

    When a natural mother feels pushed into giving up her baby because she’s young and/or poor and/or unmarried and no one is giving her any other options *but* relinquishment, everyone praises her to the skies while she’s still considering her decision, but as soon as that baby’s gone, it’s “what did you expect” and “you should have kept your legs shut” and “that baby is better off without you.”

    When an adoptive mother adopts children on a whim, refuses to cope with their problems on their terms and then gives them away to some other family, we’re all supposed to be kind and understanding to her.

    Tell you what. You first. Let’s stop seeing mothers pushed into giving away children they wanted (yes, most of the time, that is true), let’s stop seeing everybody–especially adopters–saying mean things about these women and breaking open adoption promises, let’s stop seeing situations like the Veronica Brown travesty and all the horrible things said about her father, then maybe we’ll talk about these full-grown, older, often married, better-off women not being monsters because they’ve played games with other people’s lives.

    Really. Tired of it. Either adopt from domestic foster care or get a hobby, I don’t care which, but these tragedies have to stop. Every one of them is preventable.

    And just for the record, ALL children can be cared for in their own countries. Full stop. The capacity is there. And as long as Americans keep importing these countries’ children instead of leaving them where they are, none of these governments will feel the incentive to bother. You’re giving them reasons not to care about their own people. So this needs to stop too.

    • ebayjim

      “ALL Children can be cared for in their own countries.” The key word is ‘can’. The FACT is — they are not. In many countries they are considered discarded, inferior or worthless. In countries where children ‘age out’ (e.g. – China at age 14) there is no safety net. They are ‘unadoptable’ at age 14 in China; that’s the law. If they are lucky they may get a factory job making measly pay with horrid living conditions. If they are lucky. We don’t have to rehearse the possible outcomes if they are not so lucky.
      Sounds to me like you suffer from a bit of zenophobia. Let’s face another fact — countries are not going to suddenly change their policies toward unwanted children if international adoption is shut down. Culture and worldview come into play now.

      • Mari Tatlow Steed

        Sounds to me like you suffer from a bit of classim and racism yourself. You presume to know how all Chinese (since this is the example you cite) children become available for adoption, yet are actually buying into popular myths about “discarding” and “abandonment”. When these children grow up and discover their own narrative (as opposed to you creating it for them), they often discover they were actually taken from frightened, poor parents. Talk about xenophobic! And actually, countries DO change their policies to reflect prevailing conditions and times, Ireland being a prime example (and even the US, post Baby Scoop Era). Up until the early 1970′s, when unwed motherhood was considered criminal and there were no resources for women, children were institutionalised, sometimes adopted domestically and frequently trafficked to the “wealthier” US in the thousands. Once lone parent support became the norm, the stigma of unwed pregnancy eased, and women were better able to provide for themselves and their children, the trafficking stopped. Go figure. Supply and demand…it’s that simple.

        • ebayjim

          I don’t presume. I happen to know. I have two daughters from China and am pro-active in the adoption community. Abandonment is not a myth. Both of our girls were deliberately abandoned by their birth parents. Why? Both families had sons. If you were active in the adoption community you would be aware of such activity as children who are reported as ‘taken’ from their families, recovered by authorities, only to have the parents refuse to take them back. It’s more than the one-child policy. It’s the centuries-old social stigma of not having a son. It’s the social stigma of having a special needs child. They are given up by their birth parents. Yes, there are instances of children (particularly healthy boys) who are coerced from the birth parents. This is an exception, not the rule. Nice of you to resort to ad hominem comments without knowing the facts.

          • Mari Tatlow Steed

            Actually, I am VERY active in the adoption community, as an ICA adopted adult and mother of loss. Thanks for presuming again, Jim. So you know that your children were abandoned for certain, or the agency told you that? You’ve met and connected with both daughters’ natural parents? Evidence please. Otherwise, you’re still buying the myth. No ad hominem here, my friend…that would be you.

          • ebayjim

            So we both presumed — I apologize. Our girls were given up at later ages. They both have vivid memories of their past and have articulated those details to us. We have even asked the same questions from different angles to see if they would answer any differently. The lack of education at their age (both now 14), their lack of any understanding of love, nurture, attachment and other issues — all are earmarks of being given up. I don’t have to talk to their natural parents. I don’t have to give you ‘evidence’. Their own testimony, habits and nature are all the evidence we need. The way you keep bringing up the ‘myth’ thing seems to indicate you think every child has been stolen, coerced or such. I don’t know what your personal experience is as an ICA, I don’t know your familiarity with Chinese adoptees, orphans and such. I trust that you are a positive force in your sphere of influence. I do know this — we get to be Mama and Baba to two girls who would’ve had no social safety net in less than 9 months after we brought them home. We are not rescuers, we are parents. We know there is a dark side to international adoption. However, we don’t see a boogeyman behind every bush. We advocate for the legal and ethical adoption of domestic and international children who are truly orphans.

          • kym

            Far too many babies/children are kidnapped from their parents because it’s profitable, papers (ages, names, health, etc.) of babies/children sent overseas for adoption, from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia, and within the US are falsified. As time goes on, we find out about more and more lies and fabrications within the adoption systems, so it’s understandable that someone like Mari, who is as knowledgeable about ICA as she is, would suspect that your adoptions might not have been perfectly honest or completely avoidable.

            As Dana and Mari both said, many stranger adoptions could be avoided if social pressures and poverty supported them to be raised by their parents or within their families. Social pressures can be changed with support and empathy by the families and larger communities. Poverty can also be changed by providing more support too, jobs, training, or temporary relief. Instead, adoption is promoted and subsidized, permanent family separation is encouraged, and in the cases of ICA, permanent estrangement from natural culture and language are celebrated. The subsidies that are awarded for permanent separation from families, language, and culture, could have gone a long way towards preserving the family, tongue and heritage for that child.

            Your denial in realizing the structural violence in these practices perpetuate the classism and racism that, sadly, drives many adoptions.

          • Mari Tatlow Steed

            And you’re still showing extreme classism and racism.

  • Susan Foley

    When you have a baby or adopt a child, no difference, you make an absolute commitment. You will put yourself always after the needs of this child or these children. If you do not have what they need you go get it. Adopted kids come with baggage. News flash: so do biological children. This woman is unfit to be a parent. Here’s hoping the kids found someone better qualified.

  • Tara

    So many questions come to mind, this was a horrible interview! How did she find this family she sent the girls to? Did they have a home study? Was a social worker or agency involved? Did she just dump them or did they have a choice or transition in any way?

    Also, not having a father is not a reason to abandon a child. I adopted my son as a single mom, it’s hard and sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, but I couldn’t imagine just deciding to give my precious boy up because of that. I provide him with male role models. God help my brother and I if my mom decided she didn’t want us because our father was not in the picture.

    That said, I don’t actually believe that is the reason those children were sent away, and unless and until she is actually willing to be honest, know one will know the truth. I wish she would just stay out of the media and keep the story to herself if she is not willing to be honest because her vague, rambling, narcissistic story is helping no one. I hope those girls have landed with a family who can put them first.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      It’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Eileen Burke

        When a person writes publicly about her experience, she opens herself up to judgement and makes it everyone’s business.

      • Michelle Burnett

        RosemaryPeppercorn, I don’t know what your issue is, but you need to calm the **** down. Joyce Maynard did the interview voluntarily and wrote about the issue voluntarily on her blog. She MADE it other people’s business, when she went public with not just the relinquishment, but the adoption. Please, get help for your issues and stop working them out in abrasive messages on public message boards. Please.

  • Adoptive mother

    I have two adopted daughters that I adopted as very young children. The older one was two months, the younger one year. The older one has adjusted to life perfectly and is like a biological daughter to us. They younger one has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This is an extremely difficult condition to treat. My daughter has lied, stolen, hit and is currently going through the courts on multiple charges.

    My husband and I are now raising her two sons because she has no empathy and, if left with their mother, would probably develop the same condition as she has. Her case is considered mild. We have not, to this day, abandoned her as her mother did, but, do I understand Ms. Maynard and what she has done? Definitely, and I support her in making a choice that was best for her daughters and herself. You end up with severe depression yourself. The divorce rate for couples who adopt children with RAD is huge. It is a rare person or persons who can raise these children. The best thing you can do is admit that you are not that person and help the child find a family who can cope and help the child to heal.

    Love does not conquer all.

  • Julie Gaglione

    This woman had better not write a book and profit off her mistakes. She is one of the most narcissistic people in the universe…next to my adoptive father. Does this make me beyond angry? Yes, it does. Would she have re-homed any of her biological children when they had severe problems? I know the answer. She has told “her” story of pain and anguish…now, stop talking…please. And, yes, this is as “civil ” as I can be on the topic of Mrs. Maynard. She has passed her parenting responsibilities on to someone else…she needs to grow up.

    • J__o__h__n

      Why else would she be going public with it? Of course this will be turned into a book.

    • Ethiopian_one

      She has legal obligation to the two children until they turn 18. I am disgusted with the intention of making a profit out of a sad story as well.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      You’re ignorant.

  • Eileen Burke

    I certainly will not be applauding Maynard for her “honesty”. My take on her–She was far too old to adopt an infant here in the states, decided that international was her best option and as a bonus, she would be seen as a savior to the children she adopted. Low and behold, the children did NOT see her as their savior, did NOT profess gratefulness and undying love for her, and it was just flat out too dang hard on MAYNARD to continue on with the commitment she made to these children.

    Maynard needs to stop explaining why this was in the children’s best interest and instead use her platform to educate other would-be adopters and the general public about the issues surrounding international adoption. If prospective adopters are not being thoroughly vetted and educated about the very real issues older adoptees face, then perhaps it is time to take a step back and shut down these adoptions.

    Surely “saving” children from their culture and country and bringing them to the US only to be abandoned again is not in their best interests. And, after all, adoption is supposed to be for the betterment of the children who are being adopted, not the people who seek to adopt.

    • Daisytoo

      If only she was capable of honestly exploring her actual motivations for the impulsive ‘rescue mission’ she initiated she’d have seen she was actually attempting to rescue herself from the lonely effects of her own self-absorbtion. She misused the children to that end. However, narcissists are not capable of self-reflection. Which is its own tragedy.

      Compounding the children’s plight – and equally culpable as Ms. Maynard – (if not more so) was whatever adoption agency or lawyer who abetted this travesty. Even a superficial once over of this aged child, Maynard, and her motivations for adopting would have rightfully cancelled the process from its inception.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      Oh, you’re in charge of her career? Why don’t YOU help the children of Congo? Why? Because I said so. Go now. What? That’s not best for you in your life right now? Then WHY ASSIGN A RESPONSIBILITY TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW????

      • Eileen Burke

        Assign responsibility for what exactly? Where did I write that Maynard must go save children?? I certainly assign her responsibility for her choice to first adopt 2 children and then decide that it was just too dang hard for HER and send them away.

        What about Maynard’s story makes you feel the need to defend her actions, exactly?

  • Daisytoo

    I hope you don’t mind my asking: What has had you and your husband continue to foster 17 children over time, especially given the deeply challenging issues the children have?

    Please understand this is not a hostile question. If you’re willing, it would be helpful (for me) to understand. I did relinquish my newborn infant son for adoption 45 years ago. He was not placed in foster care, but adopted by a family.

  • BrooklynParent999

    There are cases where keeping a child at home is too dangerous in that they are a serous threat to the other children and to themselves. In those cases, sometimes the best scenerio is to find that child a safe place to be and have them cared for by someone other than the adoptive parents. HOWEVER the fact that these two girls were given to a home with lots of other children leads me to believe that they were not a danger to themselves or to others. Which leads me to believe that Maynard adopted them out simply because she couldn’t be bothered to do the work of a parent of transracial, older, international adoptees. I’m guessing that they interferred with her writing life and needed more attention than she wanted to give or simply did not love/worship her quickly enough. And, how can she not be in touch with the new family if only to make sure that these kids are okay? SHE took them from their home. SHE is responsible for their welfare even if they are in another place.

    • Eileen Burke

      While I agree that a home with other children can be a dangerous situation if the adopted children are a threat, is that not something that should be well thought out in advance? It is reprehensible that whatever agency or lawyer a person uses for adoptions such as these does not thoroughly inform and vet a prospective parent. However, there must be some responsibility taken by the adoptive parents in these scenarios. There is a world of difference between finding help for a child through whatever means necessary (i.e. full time away from home therapy) and simply giving up on the child and sending them to another home to be raised. There is such a dichotomy among adoptive parents. I hear the cries of adoptive parents saying they love their adopted children as surely as they love or would love their biological children. And yet, we have situations like this. Biological children get into accidents, have a sudden onset of disabilities, exhibit psychological disorders, and yet we don’t “rehome” them, we do everything in our power to get them help and do not abandon them. And for those people who do abandon their children, we certainly don’t lessen the realization of the abandonment by using words like “rehome”.

  • Max

    Years ago, Joyce Maynard had an online discussion forum. She was one of the first writers to do so. One of the regular participants there had adopted a child from overseas and was honest about both the deep challenges and the joys. But there was no swerving from the hard truths, the sacrifice and commitment required to parent a wounded child who was faced with the challenges of a new family, country, language, culture. As I recall there was honesty about not only minor testing of boundaries but significant attachment issues, nightmares.

    So I find it disingenuous for Maynard to say she was not aware of the risks. She dropped in frequently to read and respond to posts there. .She was a very active – and, to my view – fascinated participant during the discussions of the risks of international adoption.

    Surely those posts are out there somewhere since what goes on the Internet may stay there.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      I can’t believe how foolish you sound.

  • Terr Wond

    there are a great many children taken for adoption merely because it makes the agency money, the judge money, there is a ton of money in adoption, BUT THINKING THESE ARE UNWANTED CHILDREN IS SO WRONG! the agency doesn’t want the children they only want the money. the real moms and some dads desperately want their children. that someone would pay to take a chance at whether they want them feeds the child trafficking theft idiocracy that fuels removal of children that belong with their loving family

  • CLB

    There are reasons, valid reasons to disrupt an adoption, but I’m not getting a hint of that from this piece. I am the single mother of an internationally adopted child, so I know first hand the joys, sorrows and difficulties one encounters on this path. I can’t imagine doing this to my child after only 14 months. If Joyce wants people to understand she should state why she could not parent these children, otherwise she should not share this with the world. Thinking they need a dad when you adopted daughters as a single mom is not a reason. Saying they need more kids, when they have each other is not a good reason. You made a commitment to these girls that would alter their lives and yours, if you made a bad decision for yourself, then have the courage to say so and find a way to forgive yourself. They could not even look at her; and she presumes to know that this is because they needed to make this break? How presumptuos! At 14 months home they had barely settled in to a new environment. It’s just as probable to assume that they could not look at her because they felt deeply wounded and betrayed and they were about to lose a person they’d been growing to love and trust, they likely felt unworthy of love and arrived to their new family scared and even more emotionally wounded, more guarded and less likely to bond with a new family. They were enduring yet another major loss in their young lives and that’s on her. Did she go to therapy with them to help them understand the transition? Did she even offer to call and see how they were? Did she let them visit the new family and make the move when they were comfortable? My daughter made a slower transition in to preschool that these girls were allowed. It sounds like Joyce decided clean break, over, done now, have a nice life. I believe it hurt her to do this, but did she hurt for them or for herself? I also wish she had outlined how she found this family and “knew that they were the right family for these girls”. That would be interesting since it would be coming from someone who thought she knew that she was the right family for these girls and admits she was so very wrong. If and when these girls do look Joyce up she should not expect a “gee thanks, we liked the new people so much better” and should be prepared to answer the question “Why? Why didn’t you love us enough to try?”

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

      She did what was BEST FOR THEM. I, too, am the parent of an internationally adopted child. It’s NO ONE’S BUSINESS.

      • PixieCorpse

        It’s none of your business either, yet here you are reading articles about it and commenting about it.

        Why is that OK for you, but not for those who disagree with you? Why is it so important to you to defend the indefensible behavior of someone you’ve probably never met?

      • Enoch__Root

        She made it everyone’s business by making it public. I never would have heard about it except for her decision to do an interview.

  • Parker Dockray

    I don’t understand how you did inquire about WHERE she sent these children – not the actual identity, but how did she find the new family? This is especially a concerning question given the recent Reuters investigation – http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#article/part1

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

  • Mitchell Jones

    Wow. I think this woman’s conduct was quite reckless, irresponsible and rather senseless, at best. The “mistaken”, collision course adoption, etc. could have been avoided. I am astounded how this woman appears to be so completely and utterly dismissive about the horribly traumatic impact she solely created in the girl’s lives. “She did not know it would be so difficult” “They needed a ‘father.’” All of a sudden and out of the blue, this woman has an epiphany where she miraculously ”knows precisely what the girls need”. Ms. Maynard, I guess during your ‘silence’ on the detrimental ramifications of your actions, you came up with that heart felt elementary conclusion, which seems to be a convenient truth. The blatantly lazy and irresponsible approach to the whole situation and/or adoption process is disgusting. ‘Applaud her honesty’ (in dealing with the situation), as one listener puts it, what about pinpointing her apparent lack of concern for the (protection of the) potential adoptees? What about examination of and responsibility to conduct some sort of due diligence regarding exploring possible racial, psychological, cultural, sociological, or any sort of research pertinent to her impending (self-imposed) situation? There seems to be not one ounce of remorse or accountability echoing from this woman. She seemingly just hopped on a plane picked up two hungry, malnourished, etc., kids of a differing race, swooped them up, soon to realize, whoa and whoops and got out of the situation and got rid of her problem(s), after and exhausting 14 “months”.

    If it was me, I would not be able to look at you, as you powerfully and thoroughly conveyed, “my actions were so utterly lazy. I did not display the responsible care and concern for you girls to even contemplate the ramifications that come from not examining and candidly exploring various situations that one is getting into as a responsible adult with life experience. Some may say, this fiasco was a well intended gesture. I say, as an adult, one has a “responsibility” to respect, explore and more importantly “protect” the lives/preserve and provide emotionally stable environments for children. It is not just some idealistic fantasy where one can just take a pencil and simply erase option C and simple wipe off remaining grime from the eraser. Indelible lines are left, hearts are scared, perhaps psyches are mangled, and choices are not understood. If individuals such as this women are so easily deemed as appropriate and viable candidates to participate in the child adoption process, God help our future children.

    Ms. Joyce Maynard, should have undergone (and still should undergo ) psychological/psychiatric examination or two for fitness to parent under such conditions, with such obvious future majorly impacting welfare concerns. However, upon listening to her interview, I am sure, perhaps, Ms. Maynard would have convinced herself then and perhaps many others as she did, that she was fit.

    Shame on you. Go some place and just sit in a corner…. Please leave your “do-gooder” notions for those who may be more fitting or at least more conscientious.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      You’re a fool.

      • Mitchell Jones

        Fool – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fool‎:
        a person who lacks good sense or judgment : a stupid or silly person. : a person who enjoys something very much. Ms. RosemaryPeppercorn, thank you. Id welcome and rather be a fool than a complete and utter disgrace. Disgrace http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disgrace‎: 1. a person, act, or thing that causes shame, reproach, or dishonor or is a disgrace…2 to cause (someone) to feel ashamed. : to cause (someone or something) to lose or become unworthy of respect or approval; One that brings disfavor or discredit: …Sometimes shoes worn can be and are uncomfortable; however, if the shoe(s) fit, wear them… The abovementioned actions were and are reprehensible, at best. If you believe that is not the case, that is okay too. But the sobering stated actions of Joyce Maynard clearly indicate otherwise..

  • Vanessa D

    Aside from Maynard’s ethical / moral character, I think there is another aspect to all of this, which is societal. For decades we have been receiving the “Just Do It” message, telling us that we can do anything, accomplish anything, and (business managers are really good at this one) find a work-around and make it happen! It’s a refusal to recognize and admit that people do have limits; think of all the buttons that remind us of that meme: Just Do It, No Limits, Go For It, I Can Because I Believe I Can! It’s often helpful to remind ourselves that we likely can do more than we sometimes think we can, but that is just not the case all the time and especially in the matter of changing the lives of children we adopt. We have given this message to our children also. In my view, this is a recipe for shaping many individuals in that same mold that resulted in a Joyce Maynard rejection of the two girls. Please don’t think for a moment that I’m excusing her behavior. But I think she may be typical of that particular segment of society that has bought into the idea that SOMEHOW they will make a situation be okay, without first carefully considering what they are about to do, with all the challenges that come with it, and really bringing themselves down to earth and admitting that they may fail, they may not be able to make it work, so then what??? Maybe it’s time we lose that particular sentiment, kick it into the trash and admit that we can’t always “make it happen.” Then we will be empowered to make thoughtful and realistic choices when the lives of others depend on it. When it comes to our own lives, and ours alone, then we can say, well if it doesn’t work out I haven’t hurt anyone but myself. Then we can tell ourselves, “GO FOR IT!”

    • kym

      Exactly. People should look at more realistic expectations of themselves BEFORE they embark on a lifelong project that affects not only their lives, but those of others. Just Do It is fine as long as no one else gets hurt in the process.

  • kym

    You’re entitled to your opinion, and I know nothing about your parenting skills. But, at the age of 55 years old (certainly old enough to know herself and her limitations) chose to take responsibility for 2 girls who had never been to this country, who didn’t speak English, who would certainly need support and should have been able to rely on her for support. After a VERY short time, she throws in the towel, surprised that these girls actually needed support and didn’t know English.

    And this public display of “it was so difficult for me”, life was so hard for me is pathetic and insulting to our intelligence. Having children or adopting children is a LIFELONG responsibility – not a 14-month stint or even a 9 year trial period. And especially adopting, adopting a child never occurs accidentally. If she didn’t want to make this commitment, then you should have gotten a tamagotchi instead.

    It’s unfortunate that with your “heightened” level of experience like hers, you fail to see or acknowledge the damage she most likely did to these 2 girls due to her reckless, irresponsible, immature, and needy behavior as a fully-grown 55 year old woman who had already experienced motherhood. It’s unfortunate that with your “superior” understanding of her situation that you also fail to understand or empathize with the lives of those girls. FOURTEEN months. Those girls deserved much better. We, as a society, deserve much better than to listen to her lame non-explanations and pleas for sympathy.

  • Stacey Coleman

    I am astounded by the level of judgmental, self-righteous piety I’m reading here. Not one of us has but superficial knowledge of this woman, these children, or their specific situation. It is appalling to me that intelligent, educated, articulate women seek ways to tear each other down. And for what?! What does it do for you to comment on a radio story, holding your own life and decisions and morals above someone else’s? Truly. I want to know. What does that accomplish?! I’ve seen comments denigrating Ms. Maynard’s actions as selfish. Maybe they were. I have no idea, I am not privy to that situation (and neither are any of you!), but I know this—Those two girls are growing up in the US instead of Ethiopia. Guess what? They win! It never even occurred to the vast majority of you to give this woman, the one who lived with them for 14 months, the benefit of the doubt! It never even occurred to you that she might have made the best decision! And why?! Because it isn’t what YOU would have done in the same situation?? YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE!! That’s the whole point. Just TRY to have a little bit of compassion and empathy. You might be surprised by how it feels, and if my guess is correct, might improve your relationship with your own children!

    I do not understand the sense of entitlement that allows people the nerve, the utter GALL, to believe that they have any right to cast judgment upon someone who hasn’t asked for their opinion. And to the poster who contends that Ms. Maynard’s participation in the interview was her consent for our judgement–Really? Do you ACTUALLY believe that?? I bet their are a swarm of bullied girls from your middle school who wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear you believe that.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      FINALLY! A sane, intelligent voice! :)

    • Enoch__Root

      No. It does not occur to me to give her the “benefit of the doubt”. She is a single side of the story and she is also rather arrogant and self-serving. She did a radio interview in an attempt to expunge herself of guilt and as well as for attention. Let’s hear what the children have to say about how difficult this decision was for them.

      And she did ask for everyone’s opinion by doing the radio show about it. Would you have even known about it if not for the interview and its text version here? It is a private matter, but this woman’s attention seeking behavior is stronger than her grace. The show itself is a lesson in self-pity and rationalization over her horrible choices. These aren’t just personal choices that affected her. They were choices that affected the lives of two children.

      You say people should try empathy and compassion in listening to her story. I choose to reserve mine for the story of the two girls, not their selfish, arrogant failed adoptive mother.

  • Priscilla Lane

    So where are her daughters? How did she “rehome” them? How does she even know they are okay if she doesn’t hear from them or see them? Were they legally re-adopted, or did she just sign over a POA and abandon them to fate? Why hasn’t this woman been investigated by the police?

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      Are you insane? Of course they were legally adopted by someone else. What is wrong with you? Investigated by the police? REALLY?

      She did what was best for them, and YOU have no right to interrupt their private lives.

      • Ms. Pris

        You have no way of knowing any of that, actually. And yes, I think people who abandon children should be investigated. Child abandonment is illegal in the US.

      • PixieCorpse

        I fail to see how Ms. Pris’ comment is interrupting anyone’s private life.

        I also think you have an awful lot to learn abut how adoption actually happens and “un-happens.”

        http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#article/part1

        Those girls could be anywhere, with anyone, having anything done to them, or nothing done for them. If they didn’t have famous Ex Mommy’s names attached to them, they could be purchased by pedophiles, sold into prostitution, and/or wind up in shallow graves, and nobody would ever go looking for them.

  • Bryan

    My wife and I adopted a “Special Needs” girl from Foster Care 12 years ago… The Social Workers painted a fairly rosey picture of her behavioral past After the Honeymoon period she started to display violent behaviors towards us… I got the brunt of the physical / verbal abuse.. Over the course of 12 years she has badly injured me almost a dozen times. I’ve had ribs broken, blackened eyes with bloody
    gashes on my throat, a good-sized chunk of flesh bitten out of my arm, contusions on my limbs, crushed and disfigured genitalia requiring two separate hospitalizations for reconstructive surgery. This part of my anatomy is in danger of being removed (yes, both) if I were reinjured which she threatened on 5 different occasions. She has threatened to kill me on 10 occasions, describing the method each time; stabbing in my sleep, bludgeoning, using the hatchet from the basement. We have had to empty our house of a number of objects… She attacked me with a butter knife once, I had to
    lock myself in my car… In a recent phone conversation her Maternal Grandmother admitted that her Paternal Grandmother and her Father were both Sociopaths and she must be one to… How would YOU feel facing all this ? Fran kly it makes it hard to sleep at night… The Law is of little assisstance… WA State will not remove her…
    This is my life, I tried to give someone a “Safe Loving Home” It’s a War Zone Now.
    We should have let someone with huge resources take her…

  • Latvian truth

    Well, maybe you don’t know (as I see in your comments) that many children are taken away from normal parents (finding some tricky points in laws – I am talking about Latvia (in Europe)) – like ”not too good financial situation (but it is not a reason to take away children) or suspicion of emotional violence (and, if the child says it is not so the orfans ‘ court (I could not find a better word in google translator as I don’t know this term in English. It’s an institution that should be thinking about the rights of chidren, but the reality is different) says the child is affected with force (why should a child lie if he wants to stay with family?). Then the children are taken away to asylum. The parents has to go to psyhologist, to prove that they are normal! Sometimes these courts hesistate on purpose, to seperate these families for as long as they can. Then sometimes the children are inserted in foster families, and when, finally, the parents had proven that they were accused wrongly (but this is also tricky. Some parents get very emotional (you would not be? In many cases child is taken away in the element of surprise (one child was taken from mother when they get off the car – she was claimed to be too protective (too caring – it would damage the child, spoil him) – so the court says they have psychological problems, so – they can’t take care of children. Some parents stay calm, tries to be logical – so they are too cold and not interested. And then the court says that child has already a good life and emotional attachement (of course! if he is not allowed to see his parents, but lives for a about a year with a new family he gets attached) with a new ”parents” so it would not be good to return him to his old family. If he wants – the court says the parents had treathened him. The decisions of this orphan court quite often can’t be contradicted. If the child happily returns to his old family, nobody gives a thought about the emotional damage he received while beeing seperated, about trauma the family deals for the rest of their lives. And it is a great pity to see that many from these children are adopted to USA, where they are ”not what the author expected to be”. It could be true about china children, girls are not popular among natives, maybe some etiopian children were real orphans. But americans probably don’t know that these children are practicaly stolen from their families. The official law in Latvia says that the child can be adopted to foreign countries, if he can not receive the necesary help (medical) in Latvia, but reality is different. I could post some links, but they are in latvian. Some latvian girls were taken out from foster family in Latvia. They went to excange trip to USA, after which it appeared that one family already had payed for the rights to adopt her, but the girl did not agree. The younger sisters were beaten in USA. Of course, they wanted to stay in Latvia with their loving foster family, but the corrupted orhpan’s court decided otherwise and they now are put in some other new family…

  • Chats

    What makes me sad is her Facebook page,, which used to be full of wonderful pictures of these two girls and their adventures. They are ALL gone – there are hundreds of photos of her life, her kids, her new husband, wedding, etc. but none, not one of her and those beautiful girls. That she tried to find them a better home is, as least understandable if she didn’t feel she was good for them. That she totally erased them from the history of her life is unforgivable.

    • RosemaryPeppercorn

      It is NOT unforgivable!!! It is the ONLY WAY!!! I adopted two children. One was not an infant. HAVE YOU? In order for them to begin a NEW bond, they must cut the old one. It is VITAL.

      She NEVER erased them from the history of her life. She did what was BEST for them despite judgment from the cruel and ignorant masses.

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  • Another commenter

    I think it is fascinating that about the age J.D. Salinger was he collected Maynard at about the age of the two girls that she collected.

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