A little girl asks her parents to tell her once again about the night they became a family. It is clearly a story she delights to hear, and she knows every detail of her parents getting the phone call, journeying to the hospital, and lovingly bringing her home. There are many personal touches, from the mother singing the same lullaby her mother sang to her to the parents glaring at anyone who sneezes near the baby. The watercolor illustrations are full of whimsical details which reward parents reading through the book for the 163rd time. It's a sweet little book, and I can see why it is popular among adoptive families.
There is one page, however, which made me pause. The girl asks, "Tell me again how you couldn't grow a baby in your tummy, so another woman who was too young to take care of me was growing me and she would be my birth mother, and you would adopt me and be my parents." I haven't been able to put my finger on precisely why it doesn't sit right with me, but I think it has to do with the context:
- Although they are in the hospital where, presumably, the child's first mom is recovering from childbirth, this is the only inclusion of her in the story. There is no mention of meeting her or interacting with her. The adoptive parents meet the baby in a nursery.
- The illustration shows the girl's birth parents grafted on to her adoptive family tree, instead of showing that adopted children have two family trees.
- The wording unintentionally makes a direct connection between the adoptive mom's infertility and the other mother's pregnancy. Drop the phrase about the first mom being young, and it's almost a description of gestational surrogacy.
It may just be me being nit-picky, but this brief mention of the girl's birth mother brings up more issues than it solves for me. It's not enough for me to put it on a "not recommended" list, but it wouldn't be my first choice of gifts for an adoptive family.
The age range is 4-8 years, although I think kids younger than 4 could enjoy it. The child and adoptive parents are all Caucasian.
(written by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell, HarperTrophy, 1996)