Profiles in Foster Courage: Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s ‘We Never Asked for Wings’

“Profiles in Foster Courage” is a series of audio interviews dedicated to extraordinary individuals whose early life was spent in foster care, and to those who experienced first-hand the trauma and determination of those individuals whose early years were fraught with neglect. 

Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s second best-selling novel, We Never Asked for Wings, is about a young woman struggling to cope with her responsibilities when she must step up and become a mother to her two children for the first time in her life.

The epigraph at the beginning of the book is a poem by Jennifer K. Sweeney talking about a Himalayan legend that says that there are beautiful white birds that live completely in flight, must learn to fly before falling and dying in their flying. She ends her poem by saying that maybe some of us have been born to such a life with the bottom dropping out.Wings

Upbringing, struggling to find the most resilient in ourselves in order to cope with the world we have to face, hard choices and hope against all odds are the themes Vanessa convincingly explores in We Never Asked for Wings. In a flawless, charming style, she brings us into the familiar world of living with who we are, while learning to overcome our shortcomings.

In addition, the leitmotif of poverty, undocumented immigration, integration, and parenting throughout the book keep the reader emotionally connected with the social realities of a system that often fails the communities that most need our attention and civil responsibilities.

I met Vanessa for the first time when I recently interviewed her in Sacramento. I couldn’t help thinking: “This young, attractive, well-adjusted, accomplished young woman, how can she possibly be mother of two biological children, the foster mother of one, and the adoptive parent of another, a best-selling author, as well as the co-founder of an organization that connects former foster and disconnected young people to a network of supporters from around the country?”

You will understand when you listen to her story.

For more on Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s life, you can read her bio. Learn more about the LifeSet Network.

Lin Weaver is a media journalist and a radio and TV Producer. She is a Trustee of the UC Davis Foundation and a Member of the College of Biological Sciences Advisory Council. She lives in Davis, California.

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