The baby is screaming again. My baby. I hoist her off the narrow hotel bed--again--and try to cradle her as I rock my torso back and forth in an uncomfortable straight-backed chair.
This baby does not cradle. She doesn't know how to cuddle, to be soothed in anyone's arms. She howls and arches away, squirms and flops, a sixteen-pound fish out of water. I'm not used to holding babies, and she's not used to be being held, but when I try to put her down, she wails. My arms feel chafed, raw, and my wrists ache from the hours of straining to hang on to her.
Huge tears pool in her eyes. These tears could break my heart. These screams could break my eardrums.
After years as a temporary college instructor with no real home—her family and longtime friends scattered—Nancy McCabe yearned to settle down, establish a place she could call home, and rear a child there. A tough academic job market led her to accept a position at a church-connected college in the deep South, a move that felt like an uneasy return to the conservative environment of her childhood that she thought she had left behind. McCabe had many reservations about rearing a child alone in this climate, but the desire to become a mother would not go away.
Meeting Sophie tells the story of McCabe adopting a Chinese daughter and the many obstacles she faced during the adoption and adjustment process as she renegotiated her role within her family and fought difficulties in her job. Especially poignant is her struggle to bond with a sick, grieving baby while in a foreign country during political unrest—followed, upon her return to the U.S., by a devastating loss and a career crisis.