on November 15, 2005
I felt I had to respond after one person failed miserably in reading comprehension. First, in the beginning of the book Savage made the point and he and Terry had discussed infidelity and were committed enough to their relationship that that would not be enough to break them up. As to the claims about the birthmother being mentally ill, they took care to show that she wasn't. She was able to care for herself, make logical decisions and was sane enough to know that her chosen lifestyle made it impossible to be a good mother to her son, hence choosing adoption. And they didn't relocate to get away from her. They lived in Seattle and used an agency there. She was currently living in Portland, but since she regularly moved from city to city, it wasn't an issue. In fact, those who bother to read the whole thing will discover a chapter in which they flew to L.A. to meet with her after the birth and to allow the birthfather to see the baby. (And according to the legal agreement they signed, they can't keep her from seeing the kid a certain number of times a year, and Savage himself deplored the fact that some adoptive parents don't follow the signed agreements.) A lot of the other complaints seem based on the fact that the reviewer could not tell sarcastic humor from genuine sentiment. Savage is not a hearts&roses style writer. He's a hardcore cynic and likes making shocking jokes, like his fake birthmother letter in which he jests about having drug addicted friends babysit. For every time he made a joke about a baby as an expensive hobby, he also mentioned looking forward to being able to teach him to walk and talk and later watching his Little League games. Plenty of other writers have made similar jokes about their children - Erma Bombeck said she wanted to trade hers in for dogs, Bill Cosby has written about wanting to send his to jail for being annoying. It has nothing to do with how they actually parent - they're just trying for a laugh. Plus, if he really thought it was just a lark, would he and his boyfriend have gone through so much to adopt?
This book has left me much more optomistic about gay adoption, but pessimistic as to the literacy of people on the internet.
on November 19, 1999
I bought this book with some trepidation, but that is why I wanted the book. I wanted to know what it was like to fight for a child against the odds and especially, why a pair of queer men would want to raise a child- and you have shared that with me. Thank you. As a married 24 year old mom I take for granted the privilege of fertility. The emotions invoked in me were rather unexpected, as most parenting/adoption books use extreme sappiness and sentimentality. Instead of making me cry and think, they make me puke and zone out. (How many "This is what God wanted"'s can YOU endure...) but your straightfoward and damn honest writing captivated me, and I cried several times. Especially the wonderful explanation of the choices forced upon infertile couples as opposed to the fertile couples. I sincerly hope you write a followup novel. I think we are all hoping you will, to get a glimpse of living as a queer parent, not to mention the complexity of an open adoption. Kudos to you and Terry. Make sure that in preschool, the teacher has him plant two bean seeds in that little styrofoam cup for Father's day.
on July 31, 2000
Having heard Dan Savage's reading on NPR on how having a kid enables him now to be able to cruise straight men, I was at first irked at Savage for using a baby as a writing prop. Or, maybe I was just irked because I didn't do it first. Anyway, amidst shopping in Provincetown for baby clothes for my partner's and my own impending adoption, I picked up this book, however begrudgingly. Dan, all is forgiven. "THE KID" is so laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and heartfelt that my only regret is that I didn't read it sooner. If you're gay or straight and even considering adopting, this book should be required reading as Savage bravely sets up to the plate with extreme candor about all of the things over which adopting parents fret endlessly. Not to mention all of the things that fastlane big city boys and circuit queens fret (or should be fretting) over endlessly -- aging, one's purpose in the universe, and what the heck do we do now with our lives other than stand around listening to trance music. My boyfriend thought I was insane while reading the book, one minute laughing hysterically and the next minute weeping uncontrollably. Now that he's reading it, he's doing the same. Even if you're not adopting, buy this book as Savage is the new homo heir to Shirley Jackson's wonderfully funny "Life Among the Savages". Highest recommendation.
on December 30, 2005
This is an incredibly honest recounting of how the author and his boyfriend adopted a child. It was fascinating to read about "open adoption", at the time of the book only legal in three states, Washington, Oregon and New Mexico. This system is where the birth mother is allowed to choose the adopting couple and continues to visit the child after giving birth. Worried that no young mother would choose a gay couple, they still go through with the grueling application and review process and are rewarded by being the first couple in their orientation group to be picked. The mother is truly a fascinatingly real character and Savage does a wonderful job portraying her. The scene at the hospital when they finally take the baby is heart wrenching and the author beautifully explains how experiencing the mother's grief completely validates the open adoption approach. This simple book encompasses so much about the human condition it becomes a spiritual beacon of tolerance and compassion.
on December 27, 1999
I was reading this book while on a flight from Seattle when the guy next to me, a Seattle resident, commented that some of his friends in the Seattle gay community think that Dan Savage tends to be too open with his comments on social issues. Perhaps that's true, but it's just that sense of raw honesty that makes this book such a great read -- Savage tells it like it is, from agonizing over giving up a degree of sexual/social freedom to have a kid, his real reasons for wanting to adopt (so he can let himself get fat), to handling poopy diapers, to his concern over his slowness to feel a bond for his son once he was born. Nothing is sugar-coated with false sentimentality -- in fact, a couple of passages made me stop and think, "I can't believe he admitted that!"
Especially interesting is the detailed account of the mechanics of open adoption and how they met the birth mother, a teenage street punk, and the relationship Savage and his partner developed with her. An engaging, humorous and touching story, whether you are planning to adopt or not.
on April 3, 2000
I've always enjoyed Dan's often-caustic weekly advice columns, and was wondering how he would approach a book on a rather volatile subject -- Gay adoption. As it turns out, he outdid himself with the candid, sensitive but outspoken true story of his and his partner Terry's journey through the twists and turns of the adoption process. Being willing to face a "system" that has always seemed intimidating for any couple (let alone those already dealing with hypocrisy and bigotry on a number of levels) made Dan and Terry heroes to begin with in my eyes. Add that to their willingness to accept a baby regardless of its desirability by "specifying" couples, and your admiration for them and their courage can only double. The breezy, anecdotal writing style draws you along and makes this a difficult book to put down. I laughed out loud any number of times, and found myself sitting with tears in my eyes as the book drew to a close. I've enjoyed this book as much as any I've read in the last couple of years. The language is a bit "earthy" for a family book, but I know my family will enjoy it. I hope he writes a follow-up in a few years. Thanks, Dan. ...Kiss DJ on the head for me!
The entire premise behind open adoption is that honesty is the best policy. Proponents of the practice maintain that being truthful with the child about their adoption, as well as maintaining contact with the birth parents, reduces the emotional difficulties that all parties face in this situation. Given the importance that complete honesty is to open adoption, any good book on the subject should be permeated with that quality. I was very pleased to see Dan Savage meet that threshold with this book.
Savage so completely embraces open adoption's honesty ethos that the reader is spared no emotional detail. He clearly depicts the adoption process' fears, sorrows, anticipations, and joys. Upon completing this book, the reader will have a clear understanding of the emotions that one goes through while proceeding through an open adoption. However, while I cautiously anticipated that the book would be honest, I didn't expect it to be as funny as it is. The passage that had me laughing the most was the fake "letter" he drafted to the birth parents. This missive is every homophobe's worst nightmare. Yet, after playing the stereotypes to the hilt, Savage pulls back and shows the actual letter he drafted to the birth parents. By moving seamlessly from broad satire to poignant introspection, Savage emphasizes adoption's bittersweet nature.
As has been noted, Savage's penchant for honesty also extends to graphically disclosing the lifestyle that he and his boyfriend live. Portions of the book, such as the criteria Savage used to decide if his son should be circumcised, will undoubtedly shock some readers (who will likely quickly become ex-readers). While some might see this disclosure as self-indulgent, it is entirely appropriate when considered within the spirit of open adoption. Still, I don't see The Kid being distributed as a required reading text at open adoption seminars due to these passages. However, it is a book worth seeking because the emotions and experiences that are depicted will resonate both with people considering open adoption and a broader audience as well.
on November 4, 2005
First, the negative reviewer here posted a couple of things that are in error. First, it is not clear to me at all that the mother of this child is mentally ill. She has made a lifestyle choice that is far different than what I would make, but just choosing homelessness does not make you mentally ill.
Secondly, Dan and Terry did not "relocate to Seattle" after adopting in Portland to avoid the birth mother as you seem to suggest. If you had read the book instead of just skimmed, you would know they lived in Seattle the whole time. In fact, going to Portland for meetings with the adoption agency was an issue because that's where Terry's father died and he hated the city.
That said, this isn't a perfect book. And I, too, was somewhat taken aback with some of the things Mr. Savage wrote about infidelity etc. But I'm sure there are plenty of heterosexual couples who have similar attitudes. Not my cup of tea, but if it works for them, that's fine. I think the best thing about the book is that it makes clear that adoptive parents don't have to be perfect angels. That you can have thoughts that seem crass and selfish and still be worthy of parenting. It's a good, fast read and if you find the topic of adoption interesting but don't want some saccharine drivel, this is the book for you.
on August 22, 2001
Dan Savage has always been witty and funny but this book showcases a more mature and candid Savage. Not only does he reveal much about his personal life but he does so in an extremely entertaining way. For me, part of the charm of this book was its frank, honest, autobiographical nature.
I'm not the sort of person who laughs out loud while reading. The Kid, however, made me do just that. Over and over. Savage draws you in and then you can't put it down. There's intimacy, drama, suspense and lots of humor. There's also a lot of honest, valuable information for anyone considering adoption or even anyone who wants to better understand the inner workings of gay life and relationships.
It's likely the few negative reviews here were posted by those who don't believe gay couples should raise children. Most of their comments just don't make sense in the context of the book. I doubt they even read it. Unless you share their beliefs, it's extremely likely you'll find this an enjoyable read.
I hope there's a sequel but I'll be buying Savage's next book regardless of the subect matter. His writing just keeps getting better.
on January 4, 2000
As an adoptive parent, I can say with absolute certainty that this is the very best, most intelligent, realistic, touching, enjoyable, and hilarious book on adoption I have ever read. Anyone who has adopted, is adopted, or is planning to adopt, whether gay, straight, or in between, should read this book. As a matter of fact, anyone with a brain and a heart should read it. Hurry up and write another book, Mr. Savage.