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Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  21 reviews
July 15, 1968. It is only three months following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the nation is burning. Black and White America are locked in the tense grip of massive change. Into this inferno steps an unsuspecting young White couple. Neither had truly known even a single African American person while growing up. Now, a child will change all of that fore ...more
Paperback, 360 pages
Published April 21st 2005 by Soul Water Rising (first published 2002)
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This book was so difficult for me to read. I started it last winter and finally finished it tonight. Every time I read from it it took an effort to pick it up. I'm relieved it's over! I'm going to have to read something fluffy next!

I think it's good that I have read it and am going to focus on what I learned from it and not all the fears it raised in me. The story is a memoir of the first African American baby to be adopted by a white family in New Mexico. He was born in 1968 and his adoptive fa
Havebooks Willread
***Incomplete review*** (I need a way to start a draft and then come back to it without saving it and others seeing it before it's done! lol)

While this book was not easy for me to read, it was excellent and I think anyone who loves a good book would appreciate this memoir of a Black man's experience growing up in a White family, even if said reader is not a White parent to Black children as I am.

The author is very introspective and philosophical (which I mostly appreciate, although sometimes I g
The author writes an important story, especially for anyone considering transracial adoption - But it was so very, very tedious to read the melodramatic prose. I found myself skimming sections because of the over-the-top flowery language. It is not in chronological order which makes it very hard to follow. Still, it has lessons for the transracial parent (and perhaps validation for the transracial adoptee) that are not available in many other books. It really portrays the way a child of color in ...more
This memoir offers a fascinating and necessary perspective on trans-racial adoption. At times the beauty of his word choices and sentence structure made me cry; at other times he slipped into a dissonant tone and structure that felt a little too familiar for a work of this kind. I had a hard time following his plot line as it traced his emotional development(I think?) as opposed to any semblance of a time line. Adding to my muddled understanding of time, was his repetitive use of situations, sto ...more
Deborah LaRoche
Nov 18, 2013 Deborah LaRoche rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Deborah by: Andrea Langley
As the mom-half of a white couple currently in the process of adopting a black child, I've been trying to get my hands on any and all perspectives that might help in raising our daughter with a healthy approach to her own racial identity. This book had a few insightful "takeaways," but the writing style itself was so incredibly self-indulgent that they were sometimes hard to catch.

The most helpful thing I learned from this book was that saying to someone of another race, "Oh, the color of your s
I find this book to be self-indulgent, and more than a little repetitive. Jaiya John says the same thing in every chapter: He had a good life, with good parents, but felt disconnected from his family and friends because his race wasn't something he could talk about. This book would have been an excellent memoir, and an important piece of literature for those adopting black children, if it had been better edited.
The poetry in this book is beautiful, and it may be worth reading just for that. Jaiy
Happy I read it, but it wasn't easy. His writing is REALLY indulgent and it is 350 pages of him repeating that he didn't feel he belonged. Not that I want to diminish that feeling, but it could have used some editing. He writes without much structure, floating from his emotional turmoil to his spiritual life, without grounding these in a certain time or circumstance. The book does have powerful moments, usually when he actually tells his story in linear time and specific stories. I was definitel ...more
There are few adoption books that I have read that I would not recommend and that I have not learned from. I suppose in that regard, this book is not unlike others. There are things to be learned. Even still, I would not recommend it. While I appreciate the author's journey and struggle, he is still dealing with anger and hurt from his past and it steeps into each page coloring the lens through which we see his life. This book is much less about adoption and more about one man wrestling with his ...more
Sep 19, 2008 Matt rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: minorities (racial or sexual)
Recommended to Matt by: for a class
Oh my God, I hated this book.
First imagine a four-year-old telling you his every thought.
Then imagine the opposite of stoicism.
Then imagine so many double-binds and hypocrisies that you want to spit.
Imagine the tragic sensitive artist digging through issues of race.
This book was self-published, which apparently means that he couldn't be troubled by an editor.
Save yourself some pain. Read Sherman Alexie or the Convergence of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender: Multiple Identities in Counseling.
Sally Ooms
The non-fiction book reveals the agonies and triumphs of an African American adopted into a white family in the 1960s. It chronicles the conflicted feelings John endured as a boy in a family endeavoring to love him but who did not acknowledge his differences. This is one person’s story of coming to terms with alienation and eventually finding his element, much like several stories in Finding Home.
Karen C
Intense. Dr. John obviously has the soul of a poet - and the writing can be a bit too flowery and emotional, but much of his personality comes through because of it.

Not a rainbows-and-flowers view of transracial adoption, but not an indictment, either. Leaves you with much to think about. Should be read by every parent considering or already having a transracially adopted child.
As a white adoptive mom to 2 beautiful brown babies I am so thankful Jaiya John shared his life with us. It isn't easy to read that sometimes love isn't enough but it's important to know the kind of thoughts and feelings my kids might have that they don't want to share or can't share.
I heard Jaiya John speak about adoption issues over the summer. This book is one man's journey to find his identity after growing up in a family and neighborhood that was predominantly white. Luckily for him, his biological parents are equally amazing and part of this story.
Jeff Learned
This book had some good nuggets for me to think on, especially since I've adopted trans-racially myself. Although it was repetitive and unfocused at times, there were a few powerful chapters.
Important to read. Difficult to read. Provided so many words for the waters I have been trying to navigate for my children. Thank you to Jaiya John for finding the words.
Wow what a read. I was very moved by this book and hope I have gained some insight which can help me in parenting my culturally diverse children.
The author is now an adult, these are his thoughts on being a transracially adopted person.
Boring! Couldn't even finish it, barely got past the first 75 pages. A big whiney baby!
Aug 19, 2009 Hannah added it
A little depressing, but good things to think about. weird religious views.
One of my all time favorites. Jaiya Johns is a fabulous author.
A must-read for all white adoptive parents of black children.

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Jaiya John is the founder and Executive Director of Soul Water Rising, an educational mission devoted to improving human relations, combating prejudice, and fostering spiritual growth. For over a decade he has traveled the nation as a professional speaker, poet, author and youth mentor. Jaiya’s passionate, poetic presentations combine spiritual and social science insights. This work is truly his m ...more
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