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Parents at Last: Celebrating Adoption and the New Pathways to Parenthood Hardcover – October 6, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Parents at Last: Celebrating Adoption and the New Pathways to Parenthood, authors Cynthia V. N. Peck and Wendy Wilkinson and photographer Helen Kolikow Garber lift the veil of secrecy from the highly emotional process of adoption and high-tech babymaking. Here are portraits--in both words and pictures--of parents who became parents through alternative means, including adoption, high-tech conception and birth, stepparenting, and foster parenting. Adoptive parents themselves (Peck has adopted seven children and raised nine, and Wilkinson is the mother of an adopted daughter), the authors effectively cull the words of veterans of infertility treatments and adoption struggles to create scenes of joy. Focusing a few short pages on each family, Peck and Wilkinson glean the essential story, translating into words the emotional impact of becoming a family through extraordinary means. The stories range from the "special" (an infertile couple who uses a sister's donor eggs and births quadruplets; the single mom who adopts seven children) to the more "ordinary" (a single father of two adopted Chinese children; a couple with their long-awaited adopted child). Garber's accompanying photos portray 32 families in celebration, all expressing relief and delight at having faced Lady Luck's worst, thrown the dice again, and won. --Ericka Lutz

From the Inside Flap

For some, parenthood comes easily; for others, the path to parenthood is long and paved with challenges, not only physical but emotional and financial as well. In words and photographs, Parents at Last celebrates 32 couples and individuals who persevered in their quest to become parents, often in the face of formidable odds.

These parents used any and every means available to them in order to bring a child into their lives, from adoption, both international and domestic, to high-tech medical procedures and even surrogacy. Their first-person narratives, accompanied by Helen Garber's revealing photographs, share both the highs and the lows they encountered on their journeys.

"In the Beginning" looks at new parents, those for whom the memories of infertility, bureaucratic red tape, or the difficulties of single parenthood are still vivid, though tempered by the joy and excitement of their new arrival. "The Wonder Years" offers stories from families that have had a bit more time to reflect on the changes they experienced, and are beginning to grapple with some of the questions that inevitably arise around
adoptive and medically assisted pregnancies. "In the Parenting Trenches" recounts the experiences of families with older children, and how parents cope with the dual challenges of adolescence and a family structure seen as different by much of the outside world. Lastly, "Pioneers Share Their Wisdom" focuses on those who have successfully seen their children to adulthood and the profound life lessons theyve learned along the way.

Whether they chose adoption, sophisticated medical procedures, or even surrogacy, the individuals
profiled in Parents at Last speak candidly of the obstacles and rewards they encountered in their roles as new parents. Their moving stories are sure to offer hope and encouragement to all those on their own paths to parenthood.

For anyone who has ever struggled to build the family of their dreams, or been touched by that struggle, the unique stories of the 32 families collected here are an inspiration. These movingly honest accounts, some told from the flush of new
parenthood, others offering the perspective made possible by years or even decades in the parenting trenches, confront the challenges and celebrate the pleasures of the new paths to parenthood.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060960290X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609602904
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.8 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,188,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Helen K. Garber is known for her night urban landscapes taken in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Venice, Italy. Her images are exhibited internationally and are permanent collections of museums, private and corporate collections nationwide.

Helen's work has been published in a number of books and she authored Venice Beach, California Carnivale in 2005. Her photo essay about life on Ocean Front Walk became the official commemorative book for the 2005 Venice Centennial.

A Night View of Los Angeles was commissioned for the 2006 International Biennale of Architecture in Venice, Italy. It is a 40-foot long, 360-degree panorama of the entire city of Los Angeles that was printed on one continuous piece of silk fabric. A second print was printed on vinyl for the front entrance of Photo LA, 2007. Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa presented Helen with a special commendation for the beautiful rendition of the city.

Helen partnered with graffiti writer, Duce and invited other renowned Los Angeles graffiti artists to use that print as a surface to ceremoniously tag the entire city of Los Angeles at once. It creates a statement about the importance of having art programs in public schools. A Night View Collaboration was first installed at the 2007 Venice Art Walk, and has been exhibited a number of times including the international FADA Los Angeles Art show in January 2010.

Helen directed a 2-year long project entitled An Intimate View where artists of different cultures and economic backgrounds documented their own neighborhood over a period of a year in a subjective manner. The first installation included the 25 artists of GroupLA 2008, An Intimate View of Los Angeles. Presented at MINARC/Gallery Skart, it premiered as part of Month of Photography Los Angeles, 2009. The installation was again exhibited at the international, FADA Los Angeles Art Show in January 2010. The collaboration was well received and reviewed.

GroupSC 2009, An Intimate View of Southern California, covered a broader area that included 45 artists living in cities from San Diego to Palm Springs to Santa Ynez Valley. Duce painted a mural on a trailer the group rescued from the forest and revitalized into a mixed-media projection mobile. The new installation debuted at MOPLA 2010 and was the centerpiece of the Autumn Lights Festival in September 2010.

Urban Noir/LA - NY is a multi-media installation and formal photo exhibit that combines Helen's night urban landscapes with text derived from pulp fiction using the city as character and jazz music. It was first presented at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, NY, in the fall of 2007. Grammy-nominated musician, John Beasley then composed an original jazz score that he performed live as part of Helen's presentation at the Annenberg Space for Photography in June 2009. The 17-minute projection was presented as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences, Oscar Noir Festival in August 2010.

The Noir Diptychs are a series of images concerning the idea of fear. The decisive moment when you sense something is amiss and you have to act quickly to preserve your safety.

Although her Brooklyn neighborhood was upper-middle class and quite safe, Helen's mother taught her as a child to be afraid of the city streets after dark. Once she was a teenager she realized that she enjoyed the heightened senses and the rise in adrenaline that accompanied roaming Manhattan at night with her friends.

Helen was involved in two car accidents within 4 months of each other in 2007. The physical injury to her neck disallowed her the ability to look through the lens of her camera for the next 3 years. She looked back to her contact sheets to create a two-image narrative from her existing negatives so she could continue to create new work while her neck fully healed. The first two Noir Diptychs were exhibited at Farmani Gallery, Brooklyn, NY in 2009 and then at dnj Gallery, Santa Monica in 2010/11. The next three in the series debuted at Artview Gallery, Chatham, NY in summer, 2011.

Venice/Venezia, also created during the time of her recovery are a second series of diptychs that illustrate the relationship of the two cities. It is a comment on global tourism and the effect on the people who actually reside in these over burdened destinations. The formal exhibit was first presented at dnj Gallery, LA in 2010 with an edited version at the LA Architectural Photography Show in 2010 .

Helen is now working in mixed media using photographs from her archives, book pages from her personal library, twine and encaustic on reclaimed wood panels. The first piece in the Encaustic Noir series was acquired and exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland in July 2011. In the same year, another piece was auctioned to benefit the George Eastman House, International Museum of Film & Photography in NY. Other pieces created and sold in 2011 benefited such organizations as the Photo Review, the Venice Family Clinic, the Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Her latest series, Roadside Ruins is on view at the Loft at Liz's in Los Angeles until May 7, 2013.

Conjuring Venice, Venice imagery with pages of Ray Bradbury's Death is a Lonely Business (set in Venice) is a sub portfolio of this work. The encaustic assemblages are intended to promote re-use, appreciation of the urban landscape and historic preservation.

Encaustic Noir was presented as a solo exhibition at dnj Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, in 2012, opening during Photo LA weekend.

At the same time, Helen directed the inaugural NoirFest Santa Monica, a citywide, interactive cultural festival using Noir as the unifying theme. Highlights of the January - March, 2012 festival included a citywide read of Raymond Chandler's Lady of the Lake, a Raymond Chandler double feature at American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre, a Santa Monica Conservancy Virtual Tour of the West Side locations led by Chandler historian Judith Freeman at the Annenberg Community Beach House and a night photography shoot at Ms. Garber's favorite location, the Santa Monica Pier.

Venice:Yesterday/Today or still crazy after all these years was a portfolio created in 2012 to support the Venice (CA) Historical Society. After given access to the society's photo archives, Ms. Garber and society president, Jill Prescut acted as urban archeologists and determined the exact locations where the earlier images were taken. Miss Garber re-created the moments from the past and with fine art printer Titano Cruz, paired the two images and presented as diptychs. The inaugural exhibit including 16 diptychs opened in August, 2012 and is meant to travel to various public locations throughout the city.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In October, I was privileged to attend an elegant gallery opening in LA to launch a beautiful new photo essay book, PARENTS AT LAST: Celebrating Adoption and the New Pathways to Parenthood, by Cynthia Peck and Wendy Wilkinson and featuring the heart-felt images of an accomplished photographer, Helen K. Garber.
As an attorney who practices adoption and surrogacy law, I am always looking for that "perfect" book to enlighten myself and recommend to my clients. I have found it in PARENTS AT LAST.
PARENTS AT LAST provides hopeful parents and others with personal stories about the joys and rewards of building a family by an alternate route. Each story reminds us of the absolute miracle of bringing a child into this world and the resplendent wonders of raising a child, however, where ever, and by whomever the child is conceived. The challenges and the joys faced by each family in PARENTS AT LAST offer well needed comfort, support, and promise to readers preparing themselves for their journey and validate their choices for their family and friends---and ultimately, for their children, too.
PARENTS AT LAST is the collaborative effort of several exceptional talents, bringing together an ideal mix of seasoned and experienced backgrounds in the authors, Cindy Peck and Wendy Wilkinson, and the photographer, Helen Garber. Together, they present readers with the full spectrum of adoption and assisted reproduction possibilities. They provide intimate and vivid portrayals of same sex and single parent adoptions; adoptions of older children and those with special needs; adoption by stepparents and older parents; international and interracial adoptions; surrogacy; anonymous donor sperm insemination; and egg donation, in one case, by the recipient's own sister.
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Format: Hardcover
As an adoptive parent I found the stories in Parents at Last to ring true. It was so encouraging to see many different kinds of families gathered together in one book. There are many ways to go about creating a family. The only constant is love and commitment. Several of the stories reflect the parents feeling that their child was meant to be theirs. We also experienced that faith as we searched for our daughter 5 years ago. This is a beautiful book that I plan to share with our adoption support group.
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Format: Hardcover
This book offers hope & compassion to many people with the goal of creating a family. As the Mother of a stillborn son 18 months ago and with added discouragement of not yet conceiving again at age 35+, this book offers hope that there are alternatives to building my family should I need to go that direction. It's nice to know that I'm "not alone" in this quest. It was also wonderful to hear about the book on the "Today" show; that's what prompted me to purchase it.
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By A Customer on September 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must for any person who has ever dreamed of parenting and encountered obstacles. It's a great book for those who want to read some heartwarming stories that are REAL!
This book will definitely be given to many of the people on my Christmas List.
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