Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Book Review: Mommy Far, Mommy Near

Book: Mommy Far, Mommy Near: An Adoption Story
Written by: Carol Antoinette Peacock
Illustrated by: Shawn Costello Brownell

Book Review by: Zoe (yes, that's Zoe writing out her book review!)

What this book is about: This book is about how a little girl named Elisabeth wondered about her birth family. Her mom explained about it [why her birth family couldn’t keep her], but she was still sad and frustrated. She made pretend phone calls and called her “far” mother. When she was at the park she saw a Chinese mother and her daughter, and it made her sad because it reminded her about her birth mother.

What I like about the book: I liked that you can dream about your birth family.

What I didn’t like about the book: I didn’t like when she saw the Chinese mother and daughter because it reminded me of mine. [In fact, Zoe had been reading the book to us, and at this point she asked me to read it, because it made her sad.]

How this book helped me: It helped me understand a little bit more about adoption. Like knowing it’s okay to be sad about adoption, because it’s hard to understand. And you can go over it more than one time.


Grown-up notes: When I first joined APC, the big internet discussion group for prospective adoptive parents, before I adopted Zoe, this book was being discussed. A lot of parents panned it because of the “two mommies” concept – some arguing that “mommy” should be reserved for the adoptive mom and some other term used for the birth mom. Others complained that talking about the sad parts of adoption would plant ideas in the child’s head. Some thought the comparison of the child’s adoption to the family’s adoption of a dog was inappropriate.

I bought the book anyway, because I bought EVERY children’s book about China adoption! But I put it up on my bookshelf instead of Zoe’s, because I was unsure after all that criticism. How dumb was I?! But in my defense, I will say it was in the early days of MY adoption journey. Now, I really like this book, and find none of the APC criticisms valid.

It’s not perfect – the adoptive mom says she was “too old” to have babies, for example. And the birth mother’s love for the child is presented as undisputed fact; I BELIEVE my kids’ birth mothers loved them, because I don’t know how you carry a child for 9 months and not love her, and because I believe they made loving choices in making sure the girls would be found. But I make a clear distinction when I tell my girls their stories between what I KNOW and what I BELIEVE, and this book doesn’t do that.

Still, I think the book does a good job of explaining the one child policy in terms a child can grasp. [Warning: it explains that the girl was the second child, and that the family had another baby before her.] And it gives great tools to use with a child struggling to come to grips with many aspects of adoption, both happy and sad. I like the pretend phone calls, for example, and role-playing adoption with stuffed animals.

In some ways the book seems a little scatter-shot, since it covers so much:

· mom and daughter have different eyes
· parents’ infertility
· adoption trip
· everyone’s happiness
· one child policy
· abandonment
· child asking mom to “adopt me”
· child adopting her stuffed animals
· family adopting dog
· child lying on mom’s tummy
· sadness & loss about birth family

Whew! If you’re looking for something comprehensive, this is book for you, but if you want to focus on one issue per book, look elsewhere!


Sheri said...

We like this book too, but we TALK about it after readings - to make clear that there are other possible factors... that our family is not exactly like the story in the book (I'm single, and was not too old to have kids!), and that Elizabeth's life story is not exactly like my girls' life stories - everyone's life story is different.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the review. I smiled seeing Zoe working so diligently on her project, she is such an insightful and reflective child.