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Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  97 Ratings  ·  22 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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Jun 25, 2012 Andrea rated it liked it
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
Feb 08, 2016 Kevin rated it really liked it
This is the story of the first transracial adoption in New Mexico, told from the perspective of the black boy adopted by white parents. It's primarily about the many transracial issues the author faced, growing up in a white family and community and always being different, yet also feeling alienated from the black community. It's a pretty meaty read, full of story and I think it takes a little getting into (the beginning felt a little random, like you're not sure how these threads are coming tog ...more
Havebooks Willread
Mar 02, 2015 Havebooks Willread rated it it was amazing
***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
Aug 06, 2012 Brynaleh rated it really liked it
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
Apr 13, 2009 Heidi rated it it was ok
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 liked it
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
Dec 23, 2007 Robyn rated it it was ok
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
Apr 01, 2008 Susie rated it liked it
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
Mar 20, 2012 Penelope rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiography
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 did not like it
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
Aug 08, 2013 Sally Ooms rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 10, 2008 Karen C rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
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.
Apr 22, 2013 Bethchurchill rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 16, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 03, 2012 Jeff Learned rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012, foster-adoption
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.
Dec 16, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 27, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 30, 2011 Tami rated it really liked it
The author is now an adult, these are his thoughts on being a transracially adopted person.
Feb 20, 2014 Patty rated it did not like it
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.
Aug 19, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites. Jaiya Johns is a fabulous author.
Feb 11, 2008 Wendy rated it liked it
A must-read for all white adoptive parents of black children.

Jeannine Spurgin
Jeannine Spurgin marked it as to-read
Apr 19, 2016
Kelli Abruzzo
Kelli Abruzzo marked it as to-read
Apr 08, 2016
Elaine Polk
Elaine Polk rated it it was amazing
Mar 08, 2016
Karen Walker
Karen Walker rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2016
Karen marked it as to-read
Feb 21, 2016
Jaiya John
Feb 19, 2016 Jaiya John rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Jaiya John
Feb 19, 2016 Jaiya John rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Sarah Harrison
Sarah Harrison marked it as to-read
Feb 14, 2016
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Dr. Jaiya John was born into foster care in New Mexico, and has served organizations, agencies, schools, and initiatives globally for 26 years. He is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant, author, poet, spoken word artist, and youth mentor. Jaiya is the founder of Soul Water Rising, a global human mission that has donated thousands of Jaiya's books in support of social healing ...more
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