Save the Date – Open Door Book Reading and Signing in Bethesda, MD

Event Details
Martha Collins and Mary Evelyn Greene
Sun, 23 Nov, 2014 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM 
Martha Collins reads from Day Unto Day. She is joined by Mary Evelyn Greene, author of When Rain Hurts. The reading will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Martha Collins is the author of Day Unto DayWhite Papers,  and Blue Front , a book-length poem based on a lynching her father witnessed when he was five years old. Collins has also published four earlier collections of poems, three books of co-translations from the Vietnamese, and two chapbooks. Both White Papers andBlue Front won Ohioana awards. Blue Front also won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was chosen as one of “25 Books to Remember from 2006” by the New York Public Library. Collins’ other awards include fellowships from the NEA, the Bunting Institute, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation, as well as three Pushcart Prizes, the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, a Lannan residency grant, and the Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize.

Mary Evelyn Greene, Senior Managing Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, adopted two IMG_3401toddlers from Russia in 2004. Ever since, she has devoted herself to improving her alcohol-exposed son’s conditions, publishing articles in Adoptive Families Magazine and Adoption Today along the way. She is a contributing author to Easy to Love but Hard to Raise (2012), a collection of stories written for and by parents of special needs kids. She currently lives in Silver Spring with her husband and children. When Rain Hurts is her first book.

Location: The Writer’s Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Fees: Free admission
Contact: 301-654-8664 or
Calendar: Workshop & Event Calendar
Category: Open Door Reading
As part of the BTST Book Club series Dr. Rich and her change agents were very fortunate to be given the opportunity to sit down with Mary Greene and talk with her about her journey of adoption and the struggles and joy she and her husband have experienced since then.
From discussions about her son’s disruptive behavior to learning about and dealing with his FASD-related special needs, she opens up her life in a very honest and touching way.
“When rain hurts” by Mary Greene
Her book has inspired us and will hopefully motivate others to change their lifestyle behaviors before, not just during, pregnancy.

“When Rain Hurts” by Mary Greene

In this episode of the BSTS talk show, change agents and Dr. Rich recently sat down with Mary Greene, an adoptive mother of two children from Russia, to discuss her memoir, which is much like a contemporary version of Michael Dorris’s, “The Broken Cord.”   

“Mama, rain hurts Peter.”
This was among the first intelligible sentences Mary Greene had ever heard her six-year-old son say.   The pain caused by the gentle touch of rain is a poignant example of sensitivity to commonplace stimuli that FASD are troubled by on a daily basis. 

In her book “When rain hurts” Mary describes her journey of adopting Peter and her daughter, Sophie, as toddlers, and the struggles and joy she and her husband have experienced since then.  From discussions about her son’s disruptive behavior to learning about and dealing with his FASD-related special needs, she opens up her life in a very honest and touching way.

“You can still love someone but hate what it’s doing to our family and what it is doing to him. And the impact that it is having on all of us.”
From the beginning of their family life together, Mary and her husband, Pat, consulted Dr. Aronson, an international adoption specialist who was uncertain about the degree of Peter’s FASD, but fairly certain that he had it.  Over time, Peter’s behavior seemed very robotic. He repeated things over and over again and seemed autistic. His sensory issues caused him to refuse most foods except those with soft texture.   One of the strongest supports she found was Dr. Ronald Federici, a well-known developmental neuropsychologist from Clifton, VA specializing in post-institutionalized children with histories of profound neglect and deprivation.  He diagnosed Peter with Autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as intellectual disability.
Reading the book, most of all, I enjoyed her journey entries as snapshots in time. Mary says that her journal entries reflect an evolution of her parenting skills over time. For children with FASD normal/natural parenting strategies don’t work.  As an example, consequences are difficult to use to change behavior because many kids with FASD have a hard time learning from experience.   Like Peter, they can be impulsive, easily led and gullible, have poor judgement, and difficulty deciding between right and wrong.  For parents and caregivers, this means they must adjust their expectations to the child’s capabilities.  Because they have problems with “cause and effect” reasoning, there is a high rate of incarceration among individuals with FASD.  The difference in Peter’s case is that his parents understand his underlying special needs and have proper supports put in place to prevent him from being taken advantage of or ending up in jail.
Though parenting a child with FASD has been challenging, when given the choice to change anything about her situation, Mary emphatically states – “I would always choose my children!”  
From her first hand experience raising a child with this preventable developmental disability, Mary believes we must change the way we speak with women during childbearing years.
“The message has to be changed, that  drinking when you have the opportunity to get pregnant is dangerous and comes with risks. Doctors and other health care professionals need to speak honestly with women about their drinking habits.”
Thank you Mary Greene for taking the time to talk to us about “When Rain Hurts.”  Your book has inspired us and will hopefully motivate others to change their lifestyle behaviors before, not just during, pregnancy.
Daniela Mielke

BSTS Talk Show #3: Book Discussion on “The Broken Cord” by Michael Dorris

“Do you want a beer?” 

Thanks, man. I’ve already had enough.”
In other words, “I’ve had enough in utero for 10 people in 10 lifetimes.”  This is a frequent role play discussion I have with my patients who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The Better Safe Than Sorry – Alcohol and Unprotected Sex Don’t Mix! talk show is thrilled to present our third filming in which we discuss the book, “The Broken Cord” by Michael Dorris. His story depicts his life with an adoptive son, Adam, who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). The story is heartbreaking, describing both Adam’s struggles throughout life and his father’s worries, frustrations, and despair raising a child with permanent brain damage.  There was hope in the end.  Michael Dorris helped establish the National Organization on FAS ( and advocated for policies to label alcohol with the US Surgeon General’s warning.

Watch our book discussion about “The Broken Cord” on our YouTube channel

“The Broken Cord should be required reading for all medical professionals and social workers, and especially for pregnant women, and women who contemplate pregnancy, who may be tempted to drink.” (New York Times Book Review)

We would love our readers to share their responses to “the Broken Cord” with us. Let’s start with my initial response. After reading The Broken Cord, I left my job in pharmaceutical research to educate myself by obtaining a Master of Public Health and a Doctorate of Medicine in order to help promote awareness about this misunderstood and under diagnosed condition.  Here are a few of my perspectives shared with my interns this summer just before we all read the book in preparation for the talk show:
  • When I read the Broken Cord 21 years ago for the first time, I was upset that I did not learn about this in college – having graduated with high honors with a degree in microbiology.  What could be more important to learn in all the years of biology courses that I have taken than what such a pervasively used beverage like alcohol does to the developing baby – even before you know you are pregnant???
  • When I re-read the book this time, I was even angrier that many people remain unaware of this problem and receive mixed messages in the media and from doctors.  Many doctors are still telling women that a little alcohol is okay. What’s a little alcohol to one woman is a Long Island Iced tea – containing about 6 shots of pure liquor!
  • Michael Dorris had a first hand experience with the frustration, dismay, disappointment and heart ache in raising a child with FASD before anyone really knew it existed.  It’s been 40 years since he adopted his son, and sadly, the school systems, the medical community, the alcohol industry, and the public as a whole remains indifferent and seems unconcerned with the fact that our “social drug of choice” is leading to intellectual disability in 1-5% of children annually.

What did you think when you read “The Broken Cord” for the first time?