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  • Writer's pictureAnne Heffron


photo by Brad Ewell

I was listening to a recent double-guest episode of the Tim Ferriss Show because I like to hear what Seth Godin has to say about life. The follow-up guest was someone I had never heard of--Dr. Sue Johnson. She is a therapist who writes about love and connection. I was fully engaged until she mentioned adopting a child and about the time that, although the child was suffering from undiagnosed abdominal issues, she and her husband decided not to sleep with the newly adopted baby at night because they were recently married and still slept entangled.

This was when my own abdomen started roiling. I wanted to throw my phone on the ground, get in my car, and run over my phone until Dr. Sue Johnson was dust, but instead I kept listening.

She is full of advice about how to create deep, loving connections with others. Oh, why is the world so clueless about mother/child separation? Why do I have to sound like a broken record when I write and speak because even those who immerse themselves in connection are willing to leave an aching baby alone while they prioritize their own physical pleasures?

I remember reading once about an adopted person and her husband who adopted a baby from Africa. They brought the child to their home in the United States and created a cave of them and the baby for three months. They were there for that grieving, shocked body, and for their own. There and there and there. Was it inconvenient to shelter like this? Of course? Did they wish to flood their home with family and friends and show off their new pet, I mean acquisition, I mean child? Of course. But they entered a period of what could look like mourning so feelings could happen. So a body could be held with consistency.

(I'm not addressing the issue of transnational and transracial adoption here, but it certainly is a doozy.)

This is day 2 of Brad Ewell sending me one of his photographs so I can create a blog post around the image. This was our text dialogue, starting with the comment Brad sent along with the photo:

I've only seen clouds once like that in my life.

Inside your body maybe.

Oh ya...there's been turbulence like that in my body forever.

I get it. If you had to reduce that feeling to one word, what would it be?

Hmmmmm. Roiling.

I sent him the definition of roiling:

make (a liquid) turbid or muddy by disturbing the sediment.

Make someone annoyed or irritated.

He wrote:

Yep. That's it. Want my thoughts on the word?

Of course I want your thoughts!

The sediment is the lost life and mystery we as adoptees carry. Occasionally, often, sometimes, depending on where we are on our journey, something will roil that sediment up and make everything muddy and then we struggle until it settles again. Kinda like your writing struggles after your dad passes.

Wow. Yes. I feel that.

I'm going to write two letters, and then I'm going to do some yoga to soothe my guts.

Have a good day, all y'all.

Dear Tim Ferriss,

Can Brad and I please be on your show?

We have things we want to share about connection and human performance that we think we help everyone in your listening audience lead fuller lives.

Thank you for Tools of the Titans even though there are so few women included. I own three copies of that book becase I move around a lot.


Anne Heffron

Dear Dr. Sue Johnson,

I'm not ready to talk to you yet. I bought your latest book and am reading it even though I choke a little bit in your presence. Could you read You Don't Look Adopted and get back to me if you have any questions?

Tell your son I said hi.


Oh gosh: I googled Dr. Sue Johnson and discovered she died a few months ago. I am sorry for her family's loss. I am sorry she did not learn more about her son's abdominal health before she died. Maybe she did.

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