The author's decision to enter into an open adoption takes an unexpected twist when her daughter's biological parents become homeless and she invites them to stay with her—an unusual living arrangement that becomes a well of conflicting emotions and increasingly difficult decisions chronicled here.
...Vanessa McGrady’s new book, Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption, reads like a real-life manifestation of [Adam] Pertman’s theory on open adoptions—but it sheds some revealing light on the 'difficult or complicated' part. Like Pertman, McGrady posits in her book that 'open adoption is better … for the mental health of all involved,' but what Rock Needs River does most effectively is lay bare the stressful, painful, psychologically taxing situations that can result from open adoption ... while Rock Needs River markets itself as an uplifting work about cobbling together a family from nontraditional parts, McGrady’s adoption story is rare and important for another reason ... Rock Needs River reminds the reader that although open adoption is often characterized nowadays as the enlightened, humane way to adopt a child, it can come with its own complications. Adoption of any kind inevitably creates unusual and challenging situations for everyone involved, and not all can be fixed by an open arrangement.
Replete with humor, anger, sadness, joy, Rock Needs River is a chronicle of relationships ... In stories from her childhood and early adulthood, McGrady writes lovingly of her divorced parents, and also acknowledges that she received negative messages about marriage, messages that left her with few tools to navigate a marriage of her own ... [McGrady] is ceaselessly generous and courageous in giving voice and tone and texture to each of the main people in this story. This is a book about McGrady’s abiding devotion to her daughter, “the greatest love of my life,” and, as such, is a joyous journey to experience with her.
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.