Vanessa McGrady, Rock Needs River

From a story first told in the popular New York Times parenting blog comes a funny, touching memoir about a mother who welcomes more than a new daughter into her home.

After two years of waiting to adopt--slogging through paperwork and bouncing between hope and despair--a miracle finally happened for Vanessa McGrady. Her sweet baby, Grace, was a dream come true. Then Vanessa made a highly uncommon gesture: when Grace's biological parents became homeless, Vanessa invited them to stay.

Without a blueprint for navigating the practical basics of an open adoption or any discussion of expectations or boundaries, the unusual living arrangement became a bottomless well of conflicting emotions and increasingly difficult decisions complicated by missed opportunities, regret, social chaos, and broken hearts.

Written with wit, candor, and compassion, Rock Needs River is, ultimately, Vanessa's love letter to her daughter, one that illuminates the universal need for connection and the heroine's journey to find her tribe.

A memoir from a woman who adopted a baby girl and then supported the birth parents when they became homeless.In her early 30s, McGrady pregnant and fell in love with the idea of being a mother, but then miscarried. Suddenly, the need for a child was foremost in her mind, but her body wouldn't cooperate and bring a pregnancy to term. So the author and her partner, Peter, turned to adoption as an alternative. After two years of waiting, a baby girl, Grace, arrived. McGrady thought she had it all--house, husband, and child--and then it began to fall apart. Peter's drinking led to divorce, but they continued to co-parent Grace. Remarkably, when Grace's biological parents became homeless, the author took them in. Though they only planned to stay a few nights, they lived with her for a month before moving out, only to come back when they had nowhere else to turn. Amid the tumult, McGrady wondered about the psychological effects for Grace--e.g., would she still call McGrady "mom" when her biological mother was living in the house with them? In this open, honest tale, the author shares the intimate thoughts and feelings that led to her decision to adopt, to leave Peter, and to let Grace's parents into their lives. The conversational tone makes the reader feel like a trusted friend as the author meanders through her thoughts on motherhood and the memories of her parents and childhood and of the men she was involved with prior to Peter. She offers interesting insight into the lives of those who adopt and those who give up a child for adoption, as well as the personal angst that goes along with such a decision.An expressive and love-filled tale of a unique adoption scenario. - Kirkus Reviews


Vanessa McGrady spends time thinking about feminist parenting, high-vibrational food, and badass ways to do things better. She often wonders why people aren't more freaked out about plastic in the oceans. Whether in New York, the Pacific Northwest, or Glendale, California, she is grateful to call each place home. She's lucky and profoundly grateful to be a mom to a magical sprite child named Grace. To learn more about Vanessa, visit