This Mother

What do we take? What do we leave? What do we publish and invite the world to disparage? In these sixteen essays, all of which have been previously published, I turn to themes of motherhood. Before I was a mother I have always been a writer. I’m contributing author of 10 books and I've published feature articles, personal essays and penned columns in a wide variety of magazines and genres. And then I met my most challenging topic—motherhood and transracial adoption.

With my husband I raised three children, who are now grown. Two of our kids were adopted from Korea, a one-year old, and an older child adopted at age 10. We waded into uncharted territory, as not only were two of our children adopted transracially (I'm American Indian and my husband is white), but we adopted an older child changing the birth order within our family. We had a birth daughter who became our 'middle child.' And shortly after we adopted our oldest daughter, our old son, then age 7 (and also adopted from Korea) was diagnosed with a brain tumor—an event that changed all of our lives and taught me to let go of expectations and to forge a new identity.

When I began assembling a collection of my stories to include here, I found that each one begged for revision. A number of my feature articles were too magazine-y in tone and needed to be reshaped into memoir. Others, when further examined with my poet’s eye, had become too pretentious after being culled by careful editors and gave off the full-bodied notion that as a mother I had things all figured out, which of course I don’t. Next I contemplated my gloomy stories. A number of my feature articles are best known and remembered for the difficulties I've faced. But there was also great joy within my journey through motherhood.

Today as a mother and a grandmother my life in no way resembles what I had hoped for, or expected it to be, and yet I am deeply thankful for where this journey has led me. And now that my kids are grown I enjoy seeing how my perspective has evolved and changed over the past four decades.

My special thanks to the editors where these pieces originally appeared. It's a privilege to have readers. Thank you for being one of them.