I’m over the moon to announce the official Feb. 1 debut of my book, ROCK NEEDS RIVER: A MEMOIR ABOUT A VERY OPEN ADOPTION. It’s the tale of how I became Grace’s mom and our relationship with her birth parents, who became homeless and stayed with us for a while. Everything you could ever want to know is a page …


Hi, Ghost Dad

I’m writing a lot about my family these days, and it’s tough to reckon all I think I know with what the actual facts are, once I dive in deep and really remember. I’ve been digging through photos and old diaries, and I also spoke with my older brother at length about what he remembers from his vantage point–growing up …

Vanessa McGradyHi, Ghost Dad

We Do Not Fail

When I used to work in offices, I had this inspirational quote hung over my desk. It reads, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I’d look at it every now and then and think about my parallel universes a lot: The one in which I lived on a farm in Vermont and made pottery. The …

Vanessa McGradyWe Do Not Fail

Love and Entropy in Texas

I came here to visit my daughter’s birth parents and ask them about their history and their adoption experience. It’s been an intense journey. They have an angrysad hangover, four years later, about how they were treated by our agency. They became homeless a year or so after Grace was born, kicked around LA for a while (and also stayed with us) …

Vanessa McGradyLove and Entropy in Texas

Lindy West Brings Light to the Darkness of Sexual Abuse

Nearly everyone has stories of abuse that transcend a horrific spectrum, men and women, adults and children. Playground teasing that escalates into groping and coercion. Repeated clandestine rape by a family member or “friend.” Jokes and remarks with a subcurrent meant to sexually humiliate someone in the moment, but stay with them forever. It took the ragevision of one woman, Lindy …

Vanessa McGradyLindy West Brings Light to the Darkness of Sexual Abuse

One little thing every day

Two things with Grace: This week she stopped asking me to carry her to school, which is one block away. She does this funny kind of skip-gallop-prance walk while holding my hand. It made me a little sad, but after all, I’m the one who hoists her up and says, “Someday you’re going to be too big and Mommy’s not …

Vanessa McGradyOne little thing every day

Three Weeks Later

The wedding was above all expectations. Most of the Very Important People we love showed, and I was blown away by the generosity and sweetness of our families and friends. There was food and music and tears and remembrances from all my parents (I was a little surprised to count up how many moms and dads I have, but really, …

Vanessa McGradyThree Weeks Later