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Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption Hardcover – August 24, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition and author (Pretty Birds), shares an entertaining and affecting narrative about his experience adopting two daughters from China and his take on what it means to be a father. While he doesn't go into personal whys and wherefores, he animatedly relates the journey that he and his wife, Caroline Richard, took to parenthood: falling in love with the thumbnail photo of the infant who became their daughter, Elise; meeting her in Nanchang; bringing her home to join a French-Irish-Catholic-Jewish extended family in Chicago; and returning to China to adopt Paulina, their second daughter. Almost a prerequisite in any book about adoption is the question of attachment after abandonment, and Simon nimbly acknowledges and dispels Nancy Verrier's concept (from The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child) while guiding adoptive parents toward compassionate awareness. Simon's answer to "Can I love someone's else's child as much as my own?" is a resounding "Yes! Yes! At least as much and more!" - which echoes the tone of his lively, openhearted book. This adoptive parenting memoir is a standout among books on the subject, with Simon on the page much the same as Simon on the radio - informative, enlightening, and enjoyable.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
NPR’s Weekend Edition host Scott Simon and his wife decided to end their already lengthy fertility treatments, coming to the conclusion that “wizardry does not always deliver” a pregnancy. His engaging memoir begins with their visit, along with four other couples, to an orphanage in Nanchang, China, where they have come to pick up their daughter Elise, the first of two daughters they adopt from China. Simon’s memoir touches on the many threads that make up the whole adoption process—from the initial choice to go through an international agency, the endless forms to be filled out, and the exhaustive background checks—to their worries about the birth mother, and the doubts over whether or not they are doing the right thing for themselves or for the baby. Simon weaves into his and his wife’s experience the adoption stories of friends, including sports commentator and novelist Frank Deford and his wife, who adopt a Filipino baby after their daughter dies of cystic fibrosis. An illuminating, heartwarming account of the many facets of adoption, written with Simon’s signature style and wit. --Deborah Donovan
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Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other is a thoroughly positive look at the way that adoption builds families for children (and many couples) who might not otherwise know the joy of a warm and caring family. There is thankfulness for birth parents, including the comments of a man who found his birth mother while in his thirties: "Now, as a father myself--two boys and a girl--I realize what a hard thing she went through to do the best thing for me. She didn't have me `taken care of.' Even if she couldn't care for me as a mother. She had me, and loved me, and did the best thing that she could do for me."
There is also gratitude for those parents who have opened their hearts and homes through adoption. NPR's Steve Inskeep, himself an adopted child, summed up the care he felt as he grew up. "I didn't get their genes," he says of the couple who adopted him as an infant. "But I got their history."
Regular listeners to NPR's Weekend Edition are likely to "hear" Scott Simon's quiet voice as they read this brief but touching memoir. But, just as he does in many of his Saturday morning commentaries, Simon reaches beyond his personal story to make the point that adoption is a beautiful way to give many children the home, history, and loving family they might not ever have otherwise known.
Scott and his wife married later in life, found that they were unable to have a baby the traditional way. They tried all of the various methods of conception and nothing seemed to work. They looked at each other one day and said "there are so many babies looking for parents, let's go find ours." This led them to friends who had adopted and finally to China. Scott Simon tells the adoption stories of some of his friends, and they are poignant.
In an effort to curb population growth, China introduced a one-child rule in the late 70's. Because Chinese culture values boys over girls, there has been a boon of baby girls abandoned by their mothers, ending up in orphanages. Scott Simon reflects on the agony a mother must feel in leaving her baby in a busy, public place. Hiding across the street waiting and hoping for someone to find her baby. Hoping too that the baby will be safe, and that a good family would adopt the baby.
What torture that must be. We can only imagine. The Simons name their baby Elise, and as they unwrap her multiple layers of clothing, they fall in love. She looked at them as someone new taking care of her. Life in an adoption agency is not easy. Babies are usually fed well, but on the agencies schedule, and when a baby cries not picked up and soothed or loved right away. There is too much to do. So these babies learn at a very early age that they must take care of themselves. They lose a little of their babyhood- how very sad, when we think about this.
Scott Simon discusses his personal life. How very lucky he and his wife are, and how very lucky his two girls are. He talks of them as the most important things in his life, and, of course, they are. When he and his wife and their first daughter, Elise go to China to pick up their second daughter, she didn't look like the picture they had. But Elise went up to her, picked up her hand, and said 'It doesn't matter'. Scott Simon says that moment was one of the most important in his life, filled with love for his daughter and and for the moment. Scott goes on to say
"Adoptive parents work harder because they don't assume their children's reflexive love. Maybe it forces us to say what we are too scared and shy to state when it is easy, in more conventional families." He and his daughters talk about adoption, and they have a free conversation whenever the subject comes up. The two girls study Chinese at times, and the Simons want to make sure they know their culture. So, they will be ready when the time comes to learn more.
This is a book about adoption, yes, but it is also about lessons learned. We all yearn for love and sometimes we have to search for it. For Scott and Caroline Simon, their search ended with Elise and Lina. What lucky parents and what lucky children. Perpare for this book with a box of kleenex near-by, and with words that will fill your heart.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 08-24-10
Pretty Birds: A Novel
I haven't purchased a book with the haste or conviction that I did this one, thoroughly surprised my wife. And not only did it not disappoint either of us, it surpassed our hopes for what one book could do. I'd give it a plus in addition to the 5 stars. An unequivocal MUST read if adoption is anywhere within your horizon or within the horizon of someone you love.