Be My Baby: Parents and Children Talk about Adoption

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Artisan Books, 2000 - Family & Relationships - 134 pages
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With insight and emotion, Be My Baby dramatizes the deeply felt bonds and life-affirming experiences that are at the heart of an adoptive family. Told through the voices of adoptive parents, their children (young and grown-up) and birth mothers, and accompanied by stunning photographs, it offers a luminous portrait of family life in the tradition of such best-selling books as Best Friends and Sisters.

With over thirty first-person accounts, including such notable adoptive parents as Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest and Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub, Be My Baby evocatively portrays the rich variety of adoption arrangements and experiences.
 

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Contents

Loving the children they feel were meant for them
1
Knowing that they belong
67
Reflecting on their contentments and on their challenges
89
Revealing the unexpected faces of love
121
Acknowledgments
131
Resources
133
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

One night, ten years ago, my brother and his wife called me from a hotel in a small town: "We have our baby girl," my brother said, "and she's so beautiful." They had learned only the day before about the birth of the daughter they were about to adopt. After picking up a car seat and a few pieces of clothing, they rushed to catch a plane to pick her up and bring her home. They had waited so long for her arrival, and now they barely had an extra diaper. "Where is she going to sleep?" I asked. "We tried the drawer, but she cried," they answered.

Sarah was my brother's first child, and our family's joy in her was immeasurable. We were transfixed by her; we sketched her luminous face as she lay sleeping, and danced around the room with her when she was awake. But we had numerous questions, too, about what being an adopted family would mean.

Raising a family, any family, demands what is best in us and often brings out what is worst. It requires us to understand what we sometimes don't, tries our patience, and rewards us with an unparalleled kind of love. Would an adoptive family be even more demanding? How difficult would it be to answer Sarah's questions about being adopted? Would even the smallest problem be seen as an "adoption problem"? We wondered, too, about how Sarah would feel about being adopted. Would she feel a sense of loss? Would she know deep in her heart that we were her family? And how might her thoughts and feelings change throughout her life?

These questions weighed on me, as well as on her parents, not only because they are valid questions, but because my brother's and my own childhood resonated some with Sarah's adoption. As the children of parents who grew up in rural central European villages and survived the Holocaust, my brother and I had had to integrate our parents' vastly different lives, and their dramatic, bewildering history, into who we were in our normal, modern life in America. Both of us wondered if Sarah, as an adopted child, would face similar challenges integrating her bewilderment about her origins and the different way she came to her family into a solid sense of who she was. For myself, the only way to address all of our questions, I decided, would be to listen to the stories of other adoptive families.

Once I began talking to people, almost everyone revealed some personal experience with adoption; a recent study states that six in ten Americans have such a connection. Whether they themselves, a family member, or close friend have adopted, or were considering doing so, adoption was clearly more a part of people's lives than I had imagined. Though comprehensive national statistics on adoption are virtually nonexistent, we do know that there are six million adopted people in America and that more than 120,000 children are adopted every year. The number of international adoptions in this country has more than doubled since the early 1990s, and 8 percent of all adoptions are interracial.

Today,

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