Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other--a book response

I want to share with you something that is very funny to me and I don't mean the book itself.  Scott Simon, some important news radio reporter, wrote a book called "Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption."  It is about his family's journey to adopting two little girls from China.  One person on one of the china forums I stalk read the book and enjoyed it.  This led to a huge debate over the title of the book,  strong opinions on the uselessness of fluffy memoirs, and extensive criticism of Scott Simon's interviews promoting the book.  Not once did another person say, "I read the book; let's discuss its merits based on what is actually in the book!"

I thought, well, I'm not fond of the phrase Meant for Each Other, but I do believe in a Sovereign God so it isn't the death knell it is for others.  I enjoy fluffy memoirs; I can only hope I'm lucky enough to publish one myself.  And I refuse to base my reading choices based on interviews since interviews are done for the sole purpose of SELLING books.  So I got the book from the library and read it.

Now, here is the funny part to me.  For all the hoopla over the title, it is just the title.  It, and it's possible implications, are only hinted at once at the end of the book.  "The tectonic plates shift, the radiation belt springs a small hole, and children from the other side of the world, or the other side of the street, can wind up feeling utterly right in our arms."  On the last two pages of the book he explains the title and not in the damaging way nonChristians believe it implies, but also not in the freeing way that Christians understand it.  He uses the phrase "Baby, we were meant for each other" in the same way all loving parents say, "Oh, baby, you are so cute, I just want to gobble you up!"

In regards to fluffy memoir, it isn't one!  He barely talks about the adoption process for them.  He actually attempts to address adoption issues such as culture loss, abandonment issues, racism, and being a person of color in a family of whites.  He also interviews six other adoptive families about those issues in an attempt to answer these questions.  I say attempt because it is a short book.  You cannot adequately cover all these topics in one book.  However, he doesn't gloss over them and only mention the positives of adoption--which I think would be an okay thing to do when you write a book titled "A Praise of Adoption" and not titled "Everything You Need to Know about Adoption."

Now, I did not agree with him on everything 100%, and a few times I was actually appalled by what he said only to have it explained more clearly and less offensively later in the book.  I am sure that those who did not like his title would find his foot in mouth moments even more annoying than I did, and it is probably what made his interviews so upsetting.   I'm just not sure those that approved his title would like the book either.

I did enjoy the stories he did share, and I especially liked hearing the stories of the other families he talked about in the book.  There was one I wish would adopt me.  Perhaps he was a little flippant at times, but if we can't laugh as parents, we won't survive our kids to adulthood.  I did go away feeling more optimistic about adoption again and not feeling so much like I am the devil incarnate for wanting to adopt, so I'm glad I read the book.  

I really enjoyed his observation that only in New York City would Chinese school be closed because of Jewish Holidays.  Isn't that the point?  Yes, our children lose a huge part of their birth culture and language, but we can still provide them with some of it and in the process give them our culture.  Isn't one and half better than just one?  Aren't we all improved by becoming a multi-cultural family?

By the way, there is one thing I really disliked about this book--TMI in regards to his contributions to their infertility treatment.

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