#75 ~ A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Parents

June 2, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Adoption, Books, Brain Food for Thought, Family, Inspiration, LIfe, Reading | 4 Comments
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Cover for A Love Like No Other

A Love Like No Other by Pamela Kruger and Jill Smolowe

This book tackles topics about adoption and living in a family created through adoption from the perspective of adoptive parents. Although each section of the book has been written by a different adoptive parent, the editors grouped them by topics, such as reflections on birth parents, dealing with the unexpected, and personal transformations. What makes this book interesting is the diversity of adoptive parents and families represented. There are domestic adoptions, oversees adoptions, single parent adoptions, same sex couple adoptions, nuclear family adoptions. The selection of so many ranging voices is a testament to the beauty of adoption. It brings with it all of the joy, heartache, developmental and emotional complications, and love no matter where it is found.

Of the stories, the two that impacted me the most were written by Jana Wolfe and Melissa Faye Greene. Greene experienced a great deal of depression after adopting her son. Her son Jesse joined their family of four children by birth from Bulgaria and her story was very dear to my heart. I did not experience this when Emma joined my family. In fact, my situation was exactly the opposite. It was when Allison joined us by birth, following a wonderful adoption experience, that my world turned upside down. No matter how depression comes after a child joins the family, the affect can be devastating. Most importantly, it can also be overcome.

While Melissa Faye Greene writes about the early days and weeks after bringing her son home, Jana Wolfe discusses her first 13 years living with adoption. She chronicles the ups and downs she and her husband have experienced along the way. The way in which their marital relationship has grown stronger is very inspiring. What she said that meant the most to me is:

It’s not that adoption gets less significant to Ari [her son] or to any of us in his circle, but it’s become less of something you figure out and more of something you figure in.

Not everything can or should be fixed or solved for your children. Even if that were possible, it does them no favors to hand them everything on a silver platter. Life is about learning how to successfully navigate through each day, especially those things that are uncomfortable or unexpected. The best gift you can give your children is the freedom to explore their lives and the security of knowing that you’ll always be there no matter what.

Although I found most of the essays interesting, there were some that didn’t interest me at all. That, however, is the beauty of reading a collection of stories or articles: you can skip or skim over topics that don’t interest you without feeling (too) guilty. That’s not to say that I won’t ever read them, though. On this journey through life, what once did not appeal to me may someday be extremely relevant.

I would highly recommend this book to all adoptive parents and any people thinking about adoption.

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To buy this book, click here.

#20 ~ The Mistress’s Daughter

April 30, 2007 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Adoption, Books, Memoir | 2 Comments
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The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Homes

After reading a review of this book, I was eager to read it. It is the story of A.M. (Amy) Homes, an author and an adopted child. This memoir explores her experiences as she learns that her biological mother would like to contact her and her journey through reunion. As an adoptive parent, I am interested in reading about the world of adoption, especially from the perspective of adoptees. I hope that buy reading their stories in print or online that I can be a better parent to Emma as she grows older.

The Mistress’s Daughter is a well written memoir. You experience the roller coaster of emotions that go along with the reunion experience. It’s especially heartbreaking because it doesn’t come with the fairytale, TV movie ending that always seems to be expected to make the book worthwhile. There is honesty found in this book that is painful to read.

My initial reaction to the book was lukewarm. After Amy decides to go through the boxes she took from her birthmother’s house after her death, it seemed to me to lose focus. I appreciated her interest in her biological and adoptive genealogies, but her need to the stories of ancestors took away from her story. I was enraged as she was when her birthfather for not being recognizing her. His stubborn refusal to provide this simple information kept her from being a member of the Daughters of the Americas, where she hoped to learn more about her heritage. Still, pages upon pages of legal questions written by her lawyers to be asked to her father about his life were a mistake to have in the book. The accusations were not answered and it wasn’t clear if she took the man to court. It felt like reading a book that didn’t know where to end and didn’t want to end.

As I think further about her story and the way in which it is told in The Mistress’s Daughter, I like it better. Just as she wrote honestly about her adoptive mother and her reactions to this situation, Amy was honest about herself. It wasn’t explicitly written, but she did not hide the fact that she frequently met with her birthfather and even subjected herself to a blood test in hopes of meeting his “family.” She kept putting off a face-to-face meeting her birthmother. Then, she met with her for lunch only once. Amy held her birthmother to a higher standard. Her mother had to live up to all the mental pictures and stories Amy had created for her and she miserably missed the mark. Her birthfather had nothing to live up to. She bristled when she didn’t seem to live up to his expectations, but that made her want to be more of what he wanted her to be. It didn’t stop her from treating her mother in the same way. It was only after her death that Amy regretted not spending more time with her, even if the woman seemed so needy all of the time.

Adoption is as unique as each adoptive relationship. In the same manner, a book is unique each time it is read by a new person. If you have read this book, please leave a comment. I would be interested to know how others have reacted to her story.

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