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Health & Parenting

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Mary-Louise Parker on Momhood and Marijuana

The "Weeds" actress talks about blended families, acting, and legalizing pot.

Adopting Ash Parker

Although she'd dreamed of adopting a child since she was young, bringing home a baby from Ethiopia was something Parker couldn't quite imagine -- until she did it. "I didn’t know a lot about adoption," she says. "I finally just decided, OK, I'm going to do this, and it's going to be really hard because I'm single, and I'm going to do it anyway. I had a couple of countries floating around in my mind -- I had thought of maybe Vietnam -- but it was all vague and blurry.

Then she met with Jane Aronson, the "orphan doctor" and renowned expert on international adoptions. "After an hour of talking to her, I was, like, Ethiopia. It had never occurred to me before, but she showed me some pictures of the kids and showed me the need level there, and I wanted to go somewhere where there was a need," she says. "It's not like I only wanted to enlarge my family. I really wanted to give a child a home."

Parker took William with her when she went to Ethiopia to bring Aberash (nicknamed Ash) home. "That and my son being born were the most life-changing experiences" she recalls. "It was such a rich, traumatic experience -- in good and bad ways. You think you understand certain things, but you don’t really have a comprehensive understanding of poverty until you're hit in the face with it," she says. "There aren’t shelters there. There's nothing. There are people dead on the side of the road. There are mothers amputating children’s limbs so they will be more effective as beggars. "

After she brought Ash home, Parker was surprised at some of the questions about her newly adopted daughter.

"Somebody asked what her name was, and I told them Aberash. They said, 'Did you make that up, or did she come with that?' Like she was a car!"

Parker cherishes the child's name as "the only thing I have to give her that her parents left her." Aberash means "giving off light" in Amharic, but Parker is particularly touched by the cultural significance of the name.

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