After years as a drifting 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. Especially poignant is her struggle to bond with a sick, grieving baby while in a foreign country during political unrest. Next she sought to renegotiate a role within her family and fought the difficulties she faced in her job as she learned to be a single mother. A series of crises tested her resolve - her father's sudden death, the subsequent deterioration of her mother's health, and the loss of her job. Before McCabe adopted her daughter, friends had told her that single parenthood would be difficult, but they offered few specifics. To cope with the process, she sought out other books about single parenthood; McCabe found some works that offered much-needed stories about other kinds of alternative families, but few that focused on the process of parenting alone. McCabe tells a story of people and identities and the aspects of human nature that bring us together and push us apart. Her memoir is both funny and touching, sharing experiences that are universal to anyone who has ever nurtured, or tried to nurture, a child.
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.