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Adoption Blog: Be Bold or Go Home

Our Sacred Responsibility
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For almost a week, I’ve been obsessing over the case of Anita Tedaldi, the mom who gave up the toddler boy she adopted after parenting him for 18 months. Tedaldi published an essay about terminating the adoption of the child she calls “D.” on The New York Times Motherlode blog in August; last week she popped up on the TODAY show to talk about her controversial decision. Tedaldi claims the baby had developmental delays and failed to attach, but confesses her own bonding issues were what ultimately drove her to place “D.” with, in her words, a “better mother.”

As a freelance writer, Tedaldi has been publishing stories about her family life for years. In light of that, she claims she had no choice but to go public with her disruption story. She’s revealed private details about D., such as the fact that he was found abandoned on a roadside an infant, while skipping over a few pertinent details about herself.

The writer and her husband, a career military officer who is often away on deployment, already had three biological daughters when they applied to adopt internationally from an undisclosed country. During the process, Tedaldi became pregnant with a fourth child. (Often adoption agencies put clients’ adoptions on hold in the event of pregnancy, but not this time.) Shortly after Baby D. came home, Tedaldi fell pregnant again. Soon she was juggling both work and the care of six children, several in diapers, and all under the age of seven.  This exhausting scenario served as the backdrop for Tedaldi’s struggle to bond with the baby who’d arrived bearing a history of abandonment and neglect.

Tedaldi hasn’t acknowledged the exponential growth of her family in her latest media rounds, but the information is all there in her earlier publications, and it helped me to make my own sense of her vague, unsettling story. Whether you see Tedaldi as a hero, a monster, or a flawed human being who tried her best, it’s clear that letting D. go to a more attentive home had to be one of the better choices she made in the course of her adoption journey.

Sitting in church last Sunday, I was still thinking about Tedaldi as Father David, our Episcopal priest, was talking about the difference between perfection, which is unattainable, and maturity, which is at least in the realm of possibility some of the time. No one is a perfect parent. No parent has maturity figured out either, but we do have a sacred responsibility to ourselves and to our kids to keep moving in that general direction. For adoptive parents in particular, who arrive at parenthood in such a complicated way, with our own complicated histories, understanding that the real story is not about us at all may be the first real step towards growing up.

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Meet the Author

Sharon Van Epps

Sharon Van Epps


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
Ethiopia, India

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