Larry Bassett's Reviews > Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption

Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other by Scott Simon
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's review
Aug 26, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction, china, parenting

In the early 1960s when I was a teenager my parents bought a Volkswagen Bug. In those days VW drivers honked and waved whenever they passed another VW. Living in a suburb of the Car Capital, Detroit, buying a foreign made car was not exactly the right thing to do but still there were a lot of Volkswagens to honk at. And there were clever VW ads in the magazines. I cut out the ads, probably from Time magazine, and put them on the wall inside our garage where they remained for several years. Maybe until I went to college.

One of the things I learned in college is that people pay close attention to advertisements for things they have recently purchased, especially major purchases like a car. We do this to reinforce our need to feel that we have made a good choice. Viola! My parents bought a VW and I plastered the garage with dozens of VW ads.

These days every time I see something about China or Chinese adoptions, I put it on my list to read. I am the father of a 7 year old girl from China who was 3½ when she came to us. That means half her life so far has been spent in another country living a life about which we know very little. I read about the history of her birth country to understand how we brought a little bit of China into our house, to affirm our decision and to see what those missing 3½ years might have included. I read the fiction of Pearl Buck and the nonfiction of Peter Hessler. I take a course on Chinese culture. I follow China in the news.

Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other is, I think, better described by the subtitle: In Praise of Adoption. Simon explores the worlds of adopted children, the people who adopted them and the people who are the birth parents. He especially focuses on Chinese girls because that is his personal experience. The beginning focuses on the experience he and his wife had deciding to adopt, going through the bureaucratic process and actually going to China to get their first daughter. Much of the book is a pep rally for adoption. It is not judgmental about the birth parents and has several moving stories about adopted children being reunited with a birth parent. Simon does clearly negatively judge the Chinese one-child policy.

The book covers a lot of information and ideas in its quickly read 180 pages. Lots of statistics and facts and anecdotes about the outcomes of some specific adoptions are woven together with both the good and the bad. But, regardless of any cautions and negative details, the book is positive overall with a lot of emotional content.

Simon goes into some detail about the concept of primal wounds as it relates to adopted children. This theory says that the separation of the child from the mother – even immediately after birth – damages the child since a child has those nine months in the womb and has an intimate relationship with the mother as a result. The infant knows that the caregiver is not the familiar mother and suffers a psychic wound. Simon seems to take a middle ground about this concept, neither accepting nor totally rejecting.

If you who have adopted internationally, especially from China, you will want to read this book. It will tug at your heart strings but I mostly did not mind the sentimentality. As a guy who finds it hard sometimes to display emotions, I appreciated that this book sometimes (especially at the beginning and the end) brought the tears out. People considering international adoption should include this on their reading list to help decide if this kind of adoption is for them. The opening sections of the book that cover the adoption experience of the author and his wife really put you right there in the room with them. From our Chinese adoption experience, it was like he was writing about us.

Since Scott Simon is a well known personality from National Public Radio, there are some famous people whom Scott has evidently met through his work and their adoption stories. The fame of the author and some of the subjects will likely give this book some buzz that it might not have experienced otherwise. It is a small book worth reading.
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Reading Progress

August 26, 2010 – Shelved
September 2, 2010 – Started Reading
September 2, 2010 –
page 114
59.38% "I'd like to stay up and finish this book. I'm hooked. But it is past my bedtime!"
September 2, 2010 – Shelved as: nonfiction
September 3, 2010 – Shelved as: china
September 3, 2010 – Shelved as: parenting
September 3, 2010 – Finished Reading

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