These personal essays and stories are informed by the contemporary adoption movement and raise timely issues that illustrate its complexity, among them: open and closed adoption, cross-cultural adoption, the birth record debate, the experience of bi-racial adoptees, adoption by lesbian couples, and the search for identity.
I'm kind of stuck between three and four stars because as with any book of essay's some will be more enjoyable than others. I don't have adoption affecting my life directly but it's always been a subject I'm interested in. I would have said, before starting this, that I expected to be more ineterested in the adopted daughters' stories. It was exactly the opposite and I was much more into the adoptive mothers' stories. The birth mothers' stories came in a close second for me.
The stories will take you through a wide range of emotions, as can be expected. Some of them pissed me off, some made me feel an astounding amount of sympathy and some were just plain weird.
In Robyn Flatley's My Son for instance, as she tells of her son finding her and them meeting after 26 years. As they were walking and talking one night she told him she feels "dizzy, like I'm in love with you." No real problem yet right? Words can be taken a great many ways. Okay. Soooo, the son replies, "You know, this is confusing for both of us. I will never make love with you; it's against my beliefs." Well shit. There goes that huh? Am I missing something? Is this normal in this world we live in? Is it normal for Flatley to feel "cheated" and to want to have "him inside me"? (pg. 49 - all of it). "Son" and "have him inside me" should never, ever, ever, ever go in the same sentence.
I don't mean to nitpick here but how seriously am I supposed to take an essay by a "mother" who complains about her husband and that the "only help he gave me was to watch them at night when I went out with friends.". "Them" being the children. Really? Could no normal people be found to write for this? That's not fair, there are some normal people included here but damn the abnormal really almost cancel the normals out.
Sheila Rule's was not a good one for me. I don't like anyone to make too big an issue out of race. IMO it's only serving to keep racism and the like alive. There's little reason for it IMO. If we all want to be equal then we'll have to be just that - equal. Screaming out about race and always distinguishing does nothing at all. Well, nothing positive.
Something similiar can be said for the essay(s) by KKai Jackson and Catherine E. McKinley. Race, race, race, race, race, and did I mention I'm mixed? You got to love this one though - the black part of their heritage is being embraced while the white part is to be hidden. It's to be pitied. It's to be ignored. It brings the question of what exactly would be said if this were the other way around in 2011 to mind? One can guess.
Something like this, with the last few examples, makes me think the person(s) have nothing intelligent to say. Nothing worthy that I need to listen to. So, in the end, while I did read the full stories by each, I took them with a grain of salt. I wouldn't read any again any more than I would read an essay by a KKK member.
I guess it comes down to what you have with any anthology or compilation - some you'll like, some you won't. Some you'll agree with, some you won't. I can say this, it's interesting and I'll continue to read more about the subject with an emphasis on adoptive and birth mothers. I think I'll probably shy away from adoptive daughters for the most part right now.
I almost forgot by Shay Youngblood's essay's - both of them - are worth mentioning. There is obvious racial distinction there but it's with a purpose. That purpose makes all the difference to me. Besides that, the talent is there and the story is there. Youngblood's two essay's are among the best in the book.