I come from Story Tellers.

(More on this another time.)

I know really good story tellers. One of them, David, introduced me to Lea Thau via email three years ago. He has always been one of my biggest champions and felt like I had a story to tell that she might be interested in. It took a year to get in touch. And then another year to nail down a phone date. Two months later, she flew into Portland to spend the weekend with us. Her co-producer Laura followed a month later landing a few days before Christmas. We were moving into a house that needed a bunch of work, Paul had just started a new job working from home, we were only a few months into the Framily Experiment… and we were a total mess. 

I texted her this fall to say that I had been thinking about her visit last winter and I wanted her to know that we were not nearly the disasters that we were a year ago. For instance, I DO NOT CRY ALL THE TIME. We have furniture. We have a handle on the sibling wars. When I say "hey, we are all watching the same movie", everyone gets on board and claims their blanket. We are making plans but are no longer tied up in anything like The Big Plan. This is what it is right in this moment. When something changes, we will reassess. 

What you should know about Lea is that she is kind and she is relentless. She does not settle for all of my I-Don't-Knows nor does she seem particularly fixated on closure or tidy endings. Three years ago we did not have this story to tell. Three years from now it's going to be something altogether different. Her well of empathy, compassion and endless curiosity is a gift to so many.


I listened to the episode this afternoon. I was worried I would sound delusional or uneven. There are one or two things that might not be totally accurate… If you were to ask me why we got pregnant again, I would tell you that my hormones literally took over my good sense and that Baby Fever is not to be trifled with. We didn't pick either of the boys up from the hospital– the real story on the pick up of both boys sounds much more far-fetched in real life. Listening to myself parent on tape is mortifying. Listening to my own voice is mortifying. Still. Those things do not matter. J's honest and brave retelling of parts of her story matter. This documentation of our life during that time matters.

And of course, Lea gets to the heart of things better than I had dreamed she would. We went back and forth for more than two hours one night about motivation, adoption, and race and more than anything, I worried that we did not communicate effectively or with enough conviction our complicated feelings around all of it. But, it didn't matter, because she distilled it all, the way she does, better than we could have on our own. Everyone needs a good editor in their lives.

So. Here is David's story. I love it so much, I can't even begin to tell you….

If you do not already listen to Strangers, here are three of my favourite episodes. Oh, and these might make you cry. I'm not saying they WILL but they might. There are plenty of funny ones, just not these:

My Father's Bones

Little Orphan Edie


And here is ours.




  1. Omg! I’m sitting in the staff ropm at an elementary school, or I would’ve squealed aloud. I love Strangers, and Unconditional is one of the best pieces of radio I’ve ever heard. So looking forward to your story!


  2. Hello! I love your blog and am so glad you are writing and sharing with all of us, what a journey. I listened to Strangers first thing this morning and it had me thinking and grining and empathizing, I just loved it. Thank you so much for sharing!!


  3. I love Strangers and I couldn’t believe it when the episode popped up in my podcast feed last night. I thought surely that has to be the same family. It was so great to hear from Julie. I think about her a lot after reading each of your posts. One of my favorite episodes for sure which is saying a lot 🙂


  4. Whoa, that is saying a lot. Thank you, Maria. I was looking through the list of episodes and just thinking how it’s almost irresponsible to just narrow it down to a few favourites, lest folks just stop with those.


  5. i listened back in decemeber after this post… and i had tears in my eyes more than once. i am so grateful for stories like this that challenge the way i think about family, strangers, and love. i did NOT know this podcast before now – what an incredible gift these stories are!!


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