True Love

A LOVE LIKE NO OTHER: Stories from Adoptive Parents
Edited by Pamela Kruger C’82 and Jill Smolove. Riverhead Books, 2005. $23.95.

This book arrived in the Gazette’s editorial offices just days before our family traveled to China to adopt a baby girl (for more on that, see this issue’s “From the Editor”), and pretty much ruined any hopes—admittedly slim—I had harbored for an orderly departure. Even as I was rushing to clear my desk, I couldn’t resist repeatedly dipping into the rich and varied selection of stories put together by alumna Pamela Kruger—a freelance writer and contributing editor at Child magazine and the mother of a biological child, Emily, and of Annie, adopted from Kazakhstan—and her co-editor, Jill Smolove.

The writers featured here, many well-known, include members of male-female couples, same-sex parents, and single mothers and fathers. Their stories encompass what seems to be every variety of adoption and shape of adoptive family. Especially to my taste were the more heartwarming and humorous—that is, reassuring—selections, such as the account by Smolove’s husband, Joe Treen, of his transformation from “Reluctant Spouse” to doting father of their daughter Becky, adopted from China (“What can I say? I fell for the kid.”).

But the book does not sugarcoat the complex realities of adoption—the sometimes cool reception by relatives; the intrusive questions of strangers; the children’s confusing and confused responses to their history and heritage; and the ambivalent, sometimes downright desperate, feelings experienced by adoptive parents themselves. And while most of the stories end on a happy note, some confront the limits of what love, determination, and the best intentions can accomplish, as with Barbara Miller Rubin’s description of her family’s struggle with the mental illness of her daughter, adopted from Chile when she was five months old. “We didn’t cause her problems, and, in the end, we couldn’t fix them,” she writes. “Despite all our efforts, we were no match for a bunch of neurotransmitters.”

The book’s publication was timed to coincide with National Adoption Month in November (I didn’t know that, either), but I expect to be returning to it for many months and years to come.—J.P.

 


©2005 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 10/25/05


ALL THINGS ORNAMENTAL : The Arts

Books The Emperor of Wine. Parker’s progress
Art Fine Arts tribute to Neil Welliver and Robert Slutzky
Interview “Zen Rabbi” Alan Lew
Books A Love Like No Other. Adoption stories
Books Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. Life on the page
Briefly Noted
Arts Calendar



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