on July 18, 2010
My wife and I have adopted two children from oversees, and I've read many adoption books. But Hello, I Love You is simply the best. Starting with the inspired name, this book will not disappoint you. If you are thinking of adopting or know someone else who is - read this book. If you are in the adoption process, stuck on a long international waiting list, or getting ready to travel - read this book. Or, if you've already completed the adoption process and want to relive the domestic or international journey - read this book. Here's why:
Ted Kluck approaches adoption with an authentic openness that truly astounds me. Rather than dwell on the home study, paperwork process or other details, he focuses on the things that will matter twenty years from now. As a Christian man who has struggled with having children, he tells us exactly what happened and what was going through his head. Even though I think differently than Ted (with the exception of his great sports analogies), I can relate to his struggles and victories.
Ted is a great story teller who makes you laugh - a lot. If you've travelled internationally and can relate to his descriptions of third world countries, you will probably cry as well. He describes the good, the bad and the ugly parts of adoption in remarkable ways. If you've never travelled outside the US, it's worth reading the book just for his descriptions of the food, people, airports, hotels, government buildings, and more.
Most important, Ted shows us what it means to experience both wonderful joy and to struggle through difficult circumstances as a Christian. His insights throughout the journey are clearly demonstrated in creative ways - like his letters to his son Tristan before, during and after the adoption is completed. Get ready for an emotional roller coaster ride.
Bottom line, I highly recommend reading Hello, I Love You. Whether you ever adopt or not, you'll know what it really means.
on August 18, 2010
Disclaimer: I wrote the intro to Ted's self-published "Kinda Christianity", so factually he's a brother and a fellow malcontent.
Here are 10 reasons not to buy this book:
10. This book does not give all the legal and financial counsel necessary to successfully complete an Asian adoption. From a legal and financial standpoint, it is malpractical.
9. Ted Kluck is not a liberal seeking to make you feel guilty for being and American who needs legal and financial counsel to successfully complete an Asian adoption.
8. It's not actually about Asian adoptions at all. Or African adoptions. How can you be fashionable unless you adopt an Asian or an African child? (HT: Brüno) (HT: internet) (HT: AT&T)
7. It's not a very serious and sober book, even though we are talking about the lives of children and childless young couples.
6. It's not a very feminine book. It's not going to make Oprah's BotM because girls won't get it.
5. Blue and Brown cover? blech.
4. It does say "adventures in adoptive fatherhood" on the cover, so as one astute reviewer has already laid out, it's not about Ted's wife. If you can't read the cover, you will not enjoy this book.
3. There is no use of Carlin's forbidden 7 words, so it is not as transparent as you might require.
2. Spoiler: they all make it out alive.
1. Published by Moody Press. They're Christians. You might wind up liking real Christians better if you read this book.
Right? So now you have a veritable avalanche of reasons not to buy this bound tome of recycled paper -- but you are overlooking the obvious. And I forgive you because you are an internet reader, someone who skims the reviews on Amazon. The obvious reason to buy this book is because there are so few books written by normal men for the sake of normal men who love God and their wives and want to love children in the right and godly way. It's about a man who isn't an emotional sot but who is working out his faith with fear and trembling. He's not an ex-priest who likes to smoke and curse who stinks up the prose with a low-brow version of ruggedness and literacy.
There are not really many books written for men who have a sense of being a man and a husband and a father who also enjoys playing Arena football and boxing in his basement. But this is one of them. When I write the other one, I'll let you know.
Now buy this book and stop pretending you are too manly to read. This is the new thing for dudes: adult life. Live it. (and buy this book)
[Note: I gave Ted a 4-star review for this book because it's not Hemingway for pete's sake. But it's lightyears better than Donald Miller and that "Wild at Heart" joker who's only about 4' 11"]
[postscript: I upgraded to 5 stars because Donald Miller and that "Wild at Heart" joker who's only about 4' 11" have like 50,000 5-star reviews. If we're grading on that curve, Ted's book deserves 7 stars]
on June 3, 2010
Full disclosure here: I know Ted and I like Ted. We're friends. Maybe not the closest of pals, but certainly more than facebook friends. I admit, my opinion may not quite reach the standard of complete objectivity. But I not only know and like Ted, I also know and like his writing style, his sense of humor and his heart. Having enjoyed his work as an author before ever having had the opportunity to meet him, this is not merely the effect of bias. As such, I'm convinced that even if I didn't know and like Ted, I would definitely like this book. This sense was buoyed when my wife read Hello, I Love You. She's never met Ted, but she enjoyed the book very much as well.
This is a funny book as Ted's ironic sense of humor is on full display. It's a painful book as Ted openly and honestly talks about his own sinful attitudes (specifically lack of trust in God) as he and his wife dealt with the struggles of infertility and international adoption. It's a convicting book, causing me to recognize my own lack of gratefulness for all of the blessings that God has poured out upon me. But most of all, it is a good book, a memoir in which he manages to somehow seamlessly weave together deep theological truths with the occasional reference to the classic film, "¡Three Amigos!"
Those who have gone through infertility or adoption will no doubt find this book compelling. I would recommend it though, whether or not you've ever dealt with either of these, as Ted's treatment of them stands to teach us all a number of lessons. Among these are the beauty of our adoption as children of God, how very much God has blessed us as such, and the glory of the gospel.
on January 5, 2013
Although Hello, I Love You was written more than two years ago, I wasn't aware of it until a couple of weeks ago. In a few weeks my wife and I will be adopting our third child from China so reading Mr. Kluck's book during the Christmas break was perfect timing. Hello, I Love You is quite different from other adoption books I've read. This 190-pager is written by a Christian thirty-something guy who speaks quite candidly about the challenges of international adoption, infertility, communication, the church, and more. It's both humorous and raw.
The 11 chapters are divided into two parts. Part 1 is entitled Tristan which is the name of the first child the Klucks adopted from Ukraine. Part 2 is entitled Dima which is the name of the second child the Klucks adopted Ukraine. Mr. Kluck is quite frank about not always enjoying the way things operate in the Ukraine, and I could see some Ukrainians being offended; however, Mr. Kluck has good things to say about the Ukraine as well. Adopting children is not always a smooth process, and that is certainly the case here. Reading about Kluck's two international adoptions made me extremely thankful for not having to face their trials. It was also good to read that Mr. Kluck is fully aware that complaining is sinful, and that he understands that his wife has been so patient with him. I can more than relate to these things.
If you are looking for a book that talks about how everything about adopting children is beautiful, this is not the book for you. If you are interested in reading what international adoptions can be like and feel like, especially if you're a man, I recommend Hello, I Love You. Although I was disappointed not to read about the completion of a third adoption, I know the story has not ended.
have just one memory that involves Ted Kluck. A year ago, maybe a little bit less, he and I were together in Chicago at a small gathering of young(ish) Christian authors. Ten or fifteen of us were gathered there, sitting around a group of tables in a hotel conference room. We had the opportunity to spend an evening with D.A. Carson, the D.A. Carson, to ask him any question we wanted. It's no small thing to have open access, even for an hour or two, to one of the world's greatest theologians. The questions were flying fast and furious. Unfortunately for Ted and for me, we were the only two there who weren't involved in some level of graduate degree in theology. I was rooming with a guy who, if I have it right, is significantly younger than me but the owner of two PhD's. Meanwhile, I have a three-year degree in history and Ted, well, he's a former football player who undoubtedly took a few knocks on the head along the way. Ted and I sat opposite one another at this table, both feeling like the dumb guys. We didn't understand the questions and we sure as shootin' didn't understand the answers. Later we commiserated, celebrating being the dumb guys. It's a good memory.
But really, that memory has very little to do with this book review, a review of a book dealing with adoption.
Adoption is all the rage today. Is that an obnoxious thing to say? I simply mean that lots of Christians, and Reformed Christians in particular, are talking about adoption and, even better, getting involved in adoption. In recent years we've seen the birth of a great organization and conference dedicated to it and we've seen the release of a couple of excellent books on the topic. Best of all, we've seen more and more people actually adopt children, welcoming them to their homes, to their churches. Like many of you, I'm excited for this trend and hope it continues.
A new book on adoption, and one that is quite a bit different than the rest, is Ted Kluck's Hello, I Love You. This is essentially a memoir, a story written during the time that Ted and his wife Kristin adopted two boys from Ukraine. As such it provides a gut-honest look at the trials, the tribulations and the eventual joys of adoption and, in this case, overseas adoption. Along the way it covers topics like infertility, international travel and spiritual depression.
One of the strengths of this book is the wry sense of humor Kluck maintains throughout. Though he deals with a serious topic, he allows his sense of humor to shine through. He's adept at finding the humor in just about any situation. It's not often of the laugh-out-loud variety, but it's humor nonetheless. One of the weaknesses of the book, strangely enough, is this same sense of humor. Different people have different tolerances, I suppose, for the extent and the amount of the humor and I found that after a while it got a little predictable and maybe just a little bit too much. The same goes for Kluck's honesty. Yes, I wanted him to be honest about what they encountered and how they dealt with it, but at times it seemed like he stubbed his toes against some kind of a line and occasionally crossed it.
I have to say, though, that neither one of those little complaints did much to temper my enjoyment of the book. And certainly neither one would keep me from recommending it. The book is successful exactly because of Kluck's honesty about the trials that came with the adoptions. As I, the reader, read about yet another roadblock, I wanted Ted and his family to overcome it. As the final paperwork was complete and as they headed home with their son, I rejoiced along with them. Somehow all of those trials made the joy more complete.
This is not a textbook for adoption and not a theological defense of it. Instead, it's a memoir, a story of adoption. And it works very well on that level, as narrative. But it also works well in pointing subtly to the bigger point of the spiritual reality inherent in adoption and the spiritual struggles so often encountered by those who pursue it. And besides all of that, it's a fun book to read. Win, win. It's pretty good for a fellow dumb guy.
on May 24, 2012
There really do not seem to be many books available about Ukrainian adoption..I think I've read most of them though. Ted Kluck's book was my favorite. Ted has a dry sense of humor, and is brutally honest about being a 'bad traveler' - he does not sugar coat anything in this book. His descriptions of Ukraine, it's people and the painful process of trying to adopt from this country, ultimately leaves you with hope and strength that your own journey to adopt from Ukraine is the right one.
on May 27, 2012
The sense of humor in this book (dry, snarky) is pretty much in line with my own, making this book a quick and enjoyable read. It's listed as a "memoir" so it's not rife with information, but I still feel I gained a lot from the informal retelling of their particular international adoption experiences. I wished he said more (anything at all) about the time periods between their trips, while they were waiting. I suppose being the guy this time was filled with working to try to pay for all of this.
While (as one reviewer puts it) it comes off as whiny at times, Kluck is transparent and mostly unapologetic about this, which I appreciate. Sometimes things are hard and praying is hard and the story that ends well isn't all sunshine and cupcakes from beginning to end. His expressions of his joy of meeting and bonding with the boys, and his tenderness to his wife are very moving. All told, a thoughtful read and hopefully an encouragement to others that the process may be difficult but the difficulties can be overcome to rich rewards for parent and child.
PS: Not enough books are written by men or from the perspective of men, on any serious personal topics, let alone this one. That alone makes it a worthy read to me.
on May 24, 2010
Ted Kluck, writer of things sports- and church-related, is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. In Why We're Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church, he offers the "everyman" perspective on why the emergent church movement doesn't work and why the visible church deeply matters to the life of believers. But in his latest book, Hello, I Love You, he tackles a topic that's perhaps closer to his heart than any:
In the last couple of years, adoption has been the topic of conferences, sermons, blogs, books... you name it. It's been top of mind for many Christians.
While the resources that have been produced are no doubt beneficial, this book is different.
That's because in Hello, I Love You, Kluck takes readers on a deeply personal journey into what he experienced becoming an adoptive father.
And a lot of the time, it's not pretty.
Written in two parts, the first is based on notes taken during the adoption of his first son, Tristan. Kluck shares (with often hilarious results) the events leading up to Tristan's adoption.
One of my favorite moments, strangely, is the painfully accurate description of the Detroit airport. While the Northwest side looks more like a mall than an airport, Kluck writes, "[T]he non-renovated Delta terminal looks like the world's largest Greyhound station--a dimly lit hole strewn with garbage and smelling faintly of a mixture of Cinnabons, grade-school, and industrial-grade cleaning agents." (p. 34-35)
(If you've ever been in this airport, you know how true this is.)
What struck me most profoundly though was how the first half frequently broke from the traditional narrative model and became letters written to Tristan, sharing the events of the day, thoughts on life, music, sports and faith.
In this half of the book what comes across most clearly is how much Kluck loves his son, who at the time wasn't even his son yet. In one letter, he writes:
"I can't stop looking at your picture on the digital camera. I feel silly, but I keep saying "lemme see Tristan." And then your mom and I pull out the camera (again) and flip through the pictures (again). And we prayed for you tonight, Tristan. We prayed that our Lord would keep you safe from evil and prepare your little heart to be loved by us..." (p. 53)
Reading this, it's amazing to see the love that God creates in the hearts of parents for their children--even those who are not biologically their own. Truly, it is inspiring.
Part two chronicles the Klucks' adoption of another boy, Dima. Written more as a journal during the events of the adoption, the feeling is quite different.
The tone changes. It's still funny, but there's something else there.
It's a struggle with despair.
The Klucks' second adoption didn't come out of, necessarily, the same kind of desire that their first did--it came out of necessity. In the time between the two adoptions, they learned that they were unable to have biological children.
Kluck doesn't portray himself as a great man of faith or even a particularly great husband. He's often painfully honest about his shortcomings.
He struggles with feelings of resentment toward his church and its extremely fertile congregation (pp. 95-101).
With a sense of failure as a man and a provider (p. 161).
He becomes a grumbler and his complaining alienates him from his wife and blinds him to God's grace in his life.
Kluck isn't playing humble here. He doesn't look to anything outside of himself as the source of his problems--he acknowledges his own sins and strives to move forward in repentance.
As the story of Dima's adoption unfolds, he displays genuine authenticity.
Reading Hello, I Love You gave me, as a husband & father who hopes to one day adopt, a refreshing reminder. Kluck's honesty about the struggles he and his family faced during the process, to say nothing of the astronomical financial cost hit hard; but with every word of this book, he tells us, "It was worth it."
It's a reminder to me that every sacrifice I make for my daughters is worth it. And it's a reminder that for Jesus, who paid the ultimate price for sinners like me to be adopted into God's family--from His perspective, it was worth it. Not because I deserved it, but because He is so gracious.
A galley copy was provided for review by the publisher
on July 29, 2010
Adoption is an amazing thing. It requires sacrifice, love, and perseverance to welcome someone into your family and promise to take care of them and treat them as one of your own children. As a Christian, it's an amazing picture of the gospel and how God has adopted us into his family as sons and daughters. I have the utmost respect for people who adopt, and my wife and I have discussed the possibility of doing so ourselves one day.
I've never been able to witness the adoption process up close, however. After reading Ted Kluck's new book, Hello, I Love You, though, I definitely feel like I have. Kluck, co-author of such fantastic books as Why We're Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church as well as author of The Reason for Sports and others, has written a fantastically personal memoir about his experiences adopting his 2 sons from the Ukraine. Part travelogue, part blog post, part spiritual journal, Hello, I Love You takes readers on a journey with Ted and his wife through their multiple trips overseas, the frustrations with the enormous amounts of red tape, struggles with infertility after adopting their first son, and taking that son back to the Ukraine to adopt again.
Throughout the whole book, Kluck is brutally honest...about everything. He describes his difficulties with international travel, his huge frustrations with the adoption process, struggles with infertility while in a church with tons of young couples having babies, as well as his own spiritual struggles and doubts throughout all this. The book reads like a series of journal entries or blog posts, and this format allows Kluck to bring readers into the process. You feel some of the same frustrations when yet another curveball is thrown at them. You feel the joy of just an afternoon in the orphanage with the kids. And you get the payoff when they head home with their child.
Adoption is becoming a trendy thing to do. Brad and Angelina, Madonna, and others have made it chic to adopt foreign kids. While I'm not a huge fan of these people, I can't see much bad about more people wanting to adopt. Kids need homes. In the Church, though, adoption is becoming even a larger part of the culture as people seek to live out the gospel. That's what it feels like Kluck and his wife do in this book; they are living out the gospel to these kids.
Fair warning: if you have a desire to adopt and have never really looked into what all that entails, reading this book might scare you off a little. The shear difficulty and cost of the process, the amount of paperwork, the hassles and red tape, and the perseverance required are all daunting. I think, though, by the end of the book, reading Kluck talk about his children, readers are rewarded for taking the journey with him, and it might just convince a lot of people that it really is worth the effort. I hope so.
on June 9, 2010
Ted Kluck's writing quickly draws you into the costly, unpredictable, and exhausting world of adoption. His combination of heartfelt journal entries and conversational narrative (splashed with sardonic commentary and clever pop culture references) makes for a unique and unforgettable read. Most notable were Kluck's consistent expression of love and admiration for his wife, and his candid admission of his frustrations, struggles, and shortcomings. At the end of the book, the reader knows adoption, and Ted Kluck, a whole lot better.
I highly recommend this memoir. (Who doesn't appreciate a good Elvis Costello jab?)