Ada Calhoun “They Took My Daughter”

Posted in Freelance by Ada Calhoun on December 4, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.08.28 PMThanks to the Alicia Patterson Foundation for funding my reporting this year on new mothers and child welfare or criminal justice interventions. Here’s my latest story for the fellowship, about a woman in California who had her baby removed from her care after she checked out early from the hospital.

Tiffany Langwell was thrilled to find out she was pregnant again at the age of 38. She had two children from her first marriage — a 15-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. After separating from their father, she had reconnected with a high school boyfriend, David Hodek, and they had gotten engaged. In August of this year, their baby girl was born healthy, at 8 pounds, with bright blue eyes and a full head of downy hair. Langwell and Hodek had what they describe as a blissful first night home. The next day, a representative of the child welfare agency in Riverside County, California, took the infant into protective custody. Click here to read the rest of the story at

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Have any great photos of St. Marks Place?

Posted in Ada, St. Marks Place by Ada Calhoun on August 11, 2014

Bowery and St. Marks Place, 1942.


Cool photojournalist Marjory Collins took this photo of St. Marks Place and Third Avenue one midnight in 1942.

Do you have especially awesome photos of St. Marks Place that I should include in my book about the street? If so, please write to me at

Thank you!

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Posted in Ada, Freelance by Ada Calhoun on July 22, 2014

For my second story as an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, I wrote this story for about H.R. 1091, the Life at Conception Act — what it could mean for women’s legal rights, and what it could mean for its 132 House co-sponsors, most of whom are now running for reelection.

Read the story here. And an interesting epilogue by a Cosmo editor here.

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Posted in Ada, Freelance, St. Marks Place by Ada Calhoun on May 21, 2014

East Village, 1984. Photograph by Steve McCurry/Magnum.

I wrote a story for about watching the filming of a riot reenactment in Tompkins Square Park. It starts:

The first time I saw a riot in Tompkins Square Park, in New York’s East Village, was a hot summer night, in 1988, when I was twelve years old. Growing up on the fifth floor of a St. Marks Place brownstone, I was usually able to sleep through any street noise. But this street noise was exceptional. Actually, it was deafening. There were helicopters, anarchist squatters flinging bottles, even policemen on horseback. Like people all up and down the street, I leaned out the window and watched what looked like the end of the world. The second time I saw a riot in Tompkins Square Park was on a recent Thursday, in May, at the age of thirty-eight… Read the rest here.

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Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on May 9, 2014

This year I have a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation to report on pregnant women and the criminal justice system. Here’s my first story, for “Pregnant on Opiates: When Following Doctors’ Orders Breaks the Law.”

Here’s an excerpt: Pregnant opiate users and addicts say they sometimes hear one thing from health professionals, who may recommend they be put on a maintenance program like Subutex or Suboxone, and another thing from law enforcement or child welfare agents, who may say that mothers who use any drug, even Subutex or Suboxone, should be investigated. This puts many women in the Catch-22 of either trying to go off a drug completely while pregnant, knowing it could result in a miscarriage, or following their doctor’s orders and fearing that their baby could be taken away at birth… Read the whole thing here.

And here are two other stories I’ve written on similar topics: “Mommy Had to Go Away for A While,” for the New York Times Magazine; and “The Rise of DIY Abortions” for The New Republic.

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Happy St. Mark’s Day!

Posted in Ada, St. Marks Place by Ada Calhoun on April 25, 2014


Patron saint of people writing books about St. Marks Place. And notaries. And probably also drunk teenagers. P.S. Here’s a book in which St. Mark’s Day and St. Mark’s Eve figure prominently: The Raven Boys. More YA books should be about corpse roads and prep school boys.



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Haute LEGO Story for T Magazine

Posted in Ada, Freelance by Ada Calhoun on April 8, 2014

13design-arena-lego-slide-N28V-tmagArticleA few months ago, I went to Billund, Denmark, to visit the Lego factory and hang out with some of the people building the fancy Lego House there. It was like a karmic reward for every horrible work trip ever.

Here’s a bit of the story, from the New York Times‘s fashion magazine, T:

One evening at a bar in Billund, about a three-hour drive west of Copenhagen, members of the Lego House design team geek out about the aesthetic perfection of the Lego brick. “The cool thing about it is it’s simultaneously real and abstract,” Brian Yang of BIG says. “So it’s a bridge between your imagination and reality.” Alex Vlack, of New York’s Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA), which is designing the exhibitions for the project, chimes in. “For me, it’s like a paper clip. There’s no way to improve it.”

Read the whole story in the print version this weekend, or online here.

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NYPL: St. Marks Place Talk 3/6/14, 1:15pm

Posted in Ada by Ada Calhoun on March 3, 2014


Looking for something to do Thursday at lunchtime? Stop by the New York Public Library main branch for an informal talk about the St. Marks Place research I’ve done in the library’s Allen Room. I’ll talk for about a bit, show photos, and then take questions until 2:30.

The location is the cozy South Court Auditorium. If you go in the main doors just head straight and to the left to find the stairs down to the auditorium. Ask one of the nice docents if you need help. I always do.

Details are here.

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Poets & Writers: Postresidency Syndrome

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on February 24, 2014

When I came home from my first residency, I had a mini nervous breakdown. As freelance therapy (much cheaper, if not quite as effective, as actual therapy), I wrote a story about postresidency angst for Poets & Writers. It’s called “Going Back Home: Unlocking the Secrets of Postresidency Stress Syndrome.” It’s not online, but here’s the first page: (more…)

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Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism 2014 Fellowship

Posted in Ada by Ada Calhoun on February 11, 2014


Looking forward to attending the Kiplinger Program at Ohio State this April.

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