Mary-Louise Parker on Momhood and Marijuana
The "Weeds" actress talks about blended families, acting, and legalizing pot.
Adopting Ash Parker continued...
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.
"There was a young girl in Ethiopia named Aberash Bekele, who was kidnapped
and raped by a man when she was 14 and told she would have to be his wife," she
explains. "She shot and killed him, and there was a big trial and she was
acquitted, which is practically unheard of there. I don’t know if that story
informed her mother naming her, but the name is something that's hers. I can’t
give her a locket, a picture, a letter -- that's it. That's profound to me, and
I don't want to rob her of it."
"The instinct of wanting to keep a child connected to his or her culture,
roots, and biological origins is a wonderful thing and certainly considered
best practice in adoptions today," says Adam Pertman, executive director of the
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national adoption policy organization.
"Everybody wants and needs to know where they came from, and names are one of
the ways we can do that."
It’s because of Aberash -- maybe because of both Aberashes -- that Parker
was drawn to support the Brighter Futures Project
(www.brighterfuturesproject.com), an initiative of the Gladney Center for
Adoption. The initiative employs orphaned girls in Ethiopia and China making
hand-knotted, beaded bracelets. These girls have "aged out" of prospects for
adoption, and are making the transition from orphanage life to living on their
"It gives them direction, purpose, a little bit of income. These are girls
that are faced with prostitution at the age of 9 -- things we just can’t
comprehend. If you want to give a present, their jewelry is meaningful -- and
quite beautiful," Parker says.