Cover image for Meeting Sophie : a memoir of adoption
Meeting Sophie : a memoir of adoption
McCabe, Nancy, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 174 pages ; 23 cm
Prologue, China, 1999 -- South Carolina -- China -- Missouri -- Pennsylvania.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV875.58.C6 M33 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Nancy McCabe's creative nonfiction has won a Pushcart Prize and been listed in Best American Essays twice. She is the author of After the Flashlight Man: A Memoir of Awakening and the Assistant Professor of Writing and Director of Writing Programs at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Here is a story of a single professional woman adopting a baby from China, losing her father to cancer and moving on after being denied tenure at a conservative Southern college. But it's also a meditation on the meaning of family: blood family, adoptive family and even the dysfunctional family-like structure of a college English department. It begins with McCabe's (After the Flashlight Man) first moment with her new baby in a Chinese hotel. As she gradually fills in the details of before and after, the unlikelihood of this adoption attests to McCabe's near-mystical desire for a child. A feminist liberal at a church-affiliated college, McCabe is ill-suited to her new department, whose members patronize her and hound her to act more like them: "Southern ladies." This attitude strikingly mirrors her role in her own family, where she was cast early on as "the dumb one" and a selfish outcast, despite her good grades growing up in the Midwest and her adult attempts to help out when her father is ill. The family myth shows its effect as McCabe doubts her ability to care for her baby until, seemingly through intuition alone, she guesses, contrary to the opinions of doctors and adoption professionals, her new daughter's allergies (to lactose and antihistamines), which are serendipitously similar to her own. As a new mother and grieving daughter, McCabe struggles poignantly and triumphantly to maintain her own identity as she creates her place within family. Her tale will be familiar and inspiring to those interested in delving into their own family relations, as well as to single women considering adoption. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologue: China, 1999p. 1
South Carolinap. 7
Chinap. 55
Missourip. 101
Pennsylvaniap. 159