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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.

International adoptions

"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 (, 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 own.

"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.

Creating blended families

Many families, like Mary-Louise Parker's, blend biological and adopted children. (Adoptive Families magazine estimates that about 25% of its readers also have biological children.) Are there unique challenges in bringing home a child who’s been adopted when you already have biological children at home?

Of course -- but it might be less complicated than you think, says Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "Sometimes we think this is harder, or odder, than it really is. There are lots of complex kinds of families. What is it like when there are step-siblings, or half-siblings? What is it like when you live with a grandmother who takes care of the family? That doesn't mean you don't think it through, but I don't think we should be making it a bigger deal than it is, either."

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