May 14, 2007

Review: "Megan's Birthday Tree"

I brought "Megan's Birthday Tree: A Story About Open Adoption" home from the library several weeks ago and keep renewing it in order to have it around just a little bit longer. Puppy is still too young to enjoy it, but both T and I quickly labelled it our favorite open adoption book.

"Megan's Birthday Tree" is narrated by Megan, a young girl in an open adoption with her birth mother, Kendra. Kendra planted a tree when Megan was born, and each year on Megan's birthday Kendra decorates the growing tree and sends a picture to Megan. When Megan learns that Kendra is moving to a new city, she worries that Kendra will forget about her without the tree to remind her.

The story follows Megan as she searches for ways to replace Kendra's tree and ensure that she won't forget about her. It culminates with Megan sharing her fears with Kendra and being reassured of their bond:

At first Kendra looks confused. But then she wraps her arms around me and holds me close. "Oh, Megan, I don't need a tree or anything else to remember you! Even though we don't live together, you will always be a part of me."

And when I see the tears in Kendra's eyes, I know she really means it.

Some things T and I appreciated about "Megan's Birthday Tree":

  • The book has an actual plot. Many adoption books focus on explaining adoption. It was refreshing to read a storyline about something other than the birth and/or placement. This is the first adoption book I've read in awhile in which I was actually interested in seeing how it ended.
  • Megan has complex feelings about her adoption appropriate to her age. Furthermore, they are her own feelings and not just a reflection of what adults have told her about her adoption.
  • The adoptive parents play a very supportive, but minor role. The story focuses on Megan and her relationship with Kendra. As an adoptive parent trying to create space for Puppy and his first parents to develop their own relationships, I appreciate seeing that modeled.

This is an excellent book for any family involved in an open adoption and could be reassuring for children in closed or semi-open adoptions, as well. (Not to say that it can't be enjoyed by non-adopted children, too!)

For children ages 4-8 years. The characters are Caucasian. Megan's first father is not mentioned.

(written by Laurie Lears, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, Albert Whitman & Co., 2005)


Ranee said...

I'm so glad you posted about this. I've been struggling lately with what or how I'm going to deal with this with my daughter. Although our situation is a little different and the birth mom is in and out of our lives and really seems to not care most of the time. I want to have a positive outlook on this but sometimes it is hard. So glad I found your site!

Heather said...

I'm glad you found me, too--welcome!

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