Safe: A Memoir of Fatherhood, Foster Care, and the Risks We Take for Family (Hardcover)
A heartrending and unforgettable memoir of an unlikely journey to parenthood through America’s broken foster care system.
What does it take to keep a child safe?
As a long-time strategist and activist fighting for better outcomes for foster children, Mark Daley thought he had the answer. But when Ethan and Logan, an adorable infant and a precocious toddler, entered into their lives, Mark and his husband Jason quickly realized they were not remotely prepared for the uncertainty and complication of foster parenting.
Every day seven hundred children enter the foster care system in the United States, and thousands more live on the brink. Safe offers a deeply personal window into what happens when the universal longing for family crashes up against the unique madness and bureaucracy of a child protection system that often fails to consider the needs of the most vulnerable parties of all—the children themselves. Daley takes us on a roller coaster ride as he and Jason grapple with Ethan and Logan’s potential reunification with their biological family, learn brutal lessons about sacrifice, acceptance, and healing, and face the honest, heartbreaking, and sometimes hilarious challenges of becoming a parent at the intersection of intergenerational trauma, inadequate social support, and systemic issues of prejudice.
For fans of Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know, Stephanie Land’s Maid, and Roxanna Asgarian’s We Were Once a Family, this touching and suspenseful memoir highlights the impossible choices all parents, in the foster system and beyond, face in raising children today. Safe shines a much-needed spotlight on how this country treats the most vulnerable among us, sounding a vital call to overhaul a thoroughly broken system.
About the Author
Mark Daley is a social activist, entrepreneur, and foster-turned-adoptive father. Daley has over two decades of experience in message development, communication strategy, and public policy, including as a communications director and spokesperson for then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He has worked with more than thirty members of Congress, numerous governors, and other elected officials. He is the founder of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ equality organization, and TheFosterParent.com, a national platform to connect interested families with foster organizations. Daley lives in Southern California with his husband and three children.
“Mark Daley points out the ways in which structural and systemic forces cause profound inequities, traumas, and heartbreak in the foster care system, but most importantly he shows how we can move toward a better future by examining what it means to be a family, and what it means to love. A truly revealing work.”
— Hillary Clinton, New York Times bestselling author of Book of Gutsy Women
“Beautifully told. Mark Daley’s wit and compassion shine in this deeply personal story of love and courage.”
— Huma Abedin, New York Times bestselling author of Both/And
“A page-turner. Mark shows that courage comes from being willing to show up and be vulnerable when the outcome is out of your control.”
— Justin Baldoni, New York Times bestselling author of Boys Will Be Human and Man Enough
“Safe is a gripping and unforgettable story told with love, humor, and empathy. Mark Daley courageously welcomes readers into some of the most trying and painful times of his life to shed light on the challenges faced by millions of families across America.”
— Jen Psaki, former White House Press Secretary and host of MSNBC’s Inside with Jen Psaki
“Part humorous and part heartbreaking, Safe explores more than one gay couple’s journey to parenthood. It shines an unflattering yet necessary light on the country’s broken child protection system, highlighting the cycle hundreds of thousands of young people are currently trapped in. From lack of resources to the impact of systemic racism and social stigma, Mark Daley’s memoir is not just an important read for would-be parents but for policymakers, business leaders, and anyone else concerned about the well-being of our communities.”
— LZ Granderson, Los Angeles Times sports and culture columnist
“Daley lets his frustrations with the foster system fly, yet he manages to do so without compromising his strikingly compassionate tone. The result is a gripping and earnest examination of the meaning of family.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A strong indictment of a failed child welfare system, but with an unexpectedly happy ending that speaks to the power of love.”
“A riveting memoir that shows readers the rewards and challenges that accompany the journey to build a family via foster adoption, with a focus on the highs and lows of navigating a complex bureaucracy that is meant to protect children and families but often lets them down...A notably balanced, compassionate [book].”
“Safe is an intimate story about what it means to become a parent and the surprises, joys, and sacrifices that arise along the way. In heartfelt, vulnerable prose, Daley shares his family's journey as they navigate the maddening bureaucracy of the foster care system, providing a nuanced glimpse into a complex system filled with competing, conflicting imperatives and impossible choices. From moments of joy to the agonies of uncertainty, Safe is a reminder that love is the way through a world where there are no guarantees.”
— Rebecca Grant, author of Birth: Three Mothers, Nine Months, and Pregnancy in America
“Safe is a moving story that tackles complicated questions with honesty, welcomes the possibility of heartbreak with courage, and deeply moves the reader. I have no doubt it will make waves.”
— Holly Robinson Peete, actress and author of My Brother Charlie