Monday, May 23, 2011

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet

Melissa Fay Greene's newest book is a memoir about her family - having four biological children and then adopting five children internationally. Although nine children is nothing compared to the Duggars (Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar currently have twenty children, I think, unless I lost count somewhere), things are hectic in the Greene/Samuel household.

As Greene sends her oldest daughter off to college, the couple decide to look into adopting a child. Melissa had toyed with the idea of having a fifth child, but already in her early forties she was beginning to think that was not in her future. When she meets Jesse at an orphanage in Bulgaria the two visit for several days, and Greene returns to the US, not yet committing to adding him to their family. Add him they do, and eventually they add Helen, Sol, David and Yosef all from Ethiopia. These chidren are older when they come to the United States, and some have family that is still alive in their home country. Greene does not sugar coat the transition time and patience needed for these children to become a part of the family and for deep, emotional bonds to form. She writes of her own depression after adopting Jesse and the feeling of being unable to keep this child.

I loved reading about the different children, their personalities, and the way each of them fit in to their new family. I felt like Greene painted a realistic look at adoption (although money didn't seem to be an object for the family) and what it takes to make something like this work. I have my own personal reasons for enjoying this book: my brother was adopted from El Salvador when he was seventeen months old. I was ten at the time and my sister eight. I only have childhood memories of the process my parents went through to add him to our family, but it was a special and exciting time in our family. I also know how incomplete our family would be without him, and Greene is able to share how this is true in their household as well.

Anyone who enjoys memoirs, books about families and children, or adoption stories will find this book hard to put down.

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