This book falls into this category for me. I bought it without an opportunity to read it, but it's a Little Golden Book and ranked #5 on Amazon.com for children's books about adoption. How bad could it be?! How about completely TERRIBLE?!
The book: A Blessing From Above
Momma-Roo is a kangaroo with an empty pouch, and she prays for a child. One day as she rests under a willow tree she notices a nest crowded with eggs. The birds hatch, and the nest gets even more crowded. Then, as the "last and littlest" bluebird hatches, he was "bumped from the nest and falling down, down, down, straight into Momma-Roo's pouch!"
So, baby bird falls from nest -- how does mama bird react?
The mother bluebird looked down and saw her littlest one. She knew her nest was not big enough for all her chicks. It made her happy to see her baby bluebird in such a warm, cuddly place.Aackk!! Well, that's completely dismissive of birth parents, isn't it? Mama bird comes across as negligent and uncaring, experiencing no pain at the loss of her child. And this, despite a dedication to all birth mothers (OK, the dedication is another problem, filled with gift imagery, and saying birth mothers are "an instrument of God's love.") Mama bird isn't even important enough to the story to be given a name, and isn't mentioned again after her "gift" is received by Momma-Roo (who, btw, is Momma-Roo even when she has no kids!).
The book is clearly written from the point of view of the adoptive parent; there's nothing that addresses the feelings of the adoptee. In fact, the adoptee is merely a passive object, dropped from above, who happily chirps, "Hello, Mommy," when he finds himself in Momma-Roo's pouch (yeah, that's how gotcha moment was with each of my kids!). Baby bird is barely important enough to be given a name -- Momma-Roo calls her "Little One."
I suppose there's one plus for the book -- it illustrates a single-parent adoption. But there are many others that do this, and don't have the baggage this book has. And if my child came across the book, I'd talk about the lack of choice on the part of baby bird and use it as a transition to "how do you think that would make the bird feel? how does it make you feel?" (You can sometimes find a teachable moment even in a bad book!).
FYI the book clearly has a religious cast, opening with a passage from Psalm 127: "Children are a gift from God; they are His reward." The final passage from Ephesians 1:5 reads, "In love he destined us for adoption to himself [dot dot dot]. The dot-dot-dot made me curious, so I went looking for the omission -- "through Jesus Christ." So not just a religious cast, but a specifically Christian cast. (We'll leave aside the discussion about how every reference to adoption in the Bible isn't necessarily a reference to adoption as humans practice it, and the discussion about the controverted meaning of God's will in the adoption triad -- each of those topics is deserving of a post of its own!).
A Blessing From Above is not a blessing, it's a curse! It gets two thumbs down.
So does anyone want to contributae to the "I Read It So You Don't Have To" series? Email me the title of other adoption books for kids that strike you as problematic. If it's not something I have or can get, I might ask you for more details, but I won't make you write the bad review unless you want to!