Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adoption Memoirs

I have always had an interest in adoption. Perhaps it's because I am convinced I was a Georgia Tann baby, stolen at birth and sold to my parents. I have several good reasons for suspecting my adoption, including a missing birth certificate and no newborn baby pictures, but that's a discussion better left for my therapist.

I am fascinated by adoption and obsessed with Ukraine. Not surprisingly, I am particularly interested in the Ukrainian adoption process and recently read two memoirs on the topic: Two Little Girls and The Pumpkin Patch.

I read Two Little Girls several months ago, and I was astonished by Theresa Reid's honesty. She is very open about her feelings, or lack thereof, for her two adopted daughters. On several occasions, she talks about not loving her second daughter as much as her first.

I appreciate Reid's honesty. She wants to give an accurate description of the adoption process (or, at least, her adoption process), but I couldn't help but imagine her daughters reading this account as teenagers or adults. They would definitely need therapy as much as I do.

The reviews I read about the novel, however, focused less on Reid's honesty about her children and more on her descriptions of Ukraine. One reviewer was deeply offended on behalf of Ukrainians. Reid's descriptions are bleak, often heartbreaking, and honest.

Ukraine is like a family member to me. I can say whatever I like about her, but no one outside the family has the right to make any criticisms.

But Reid's evaluation of Ukraine did not offend me. Indeed, her descriptions made me miss the country. The inconsistencies and inconveniences she comments on are two reasons why I love Ukraine. I often have nightmares that I return to the country to discover it completely Westernized.

For some reason, though, I was offended by Margaret Schwartz's descriptions of Ukraine in The Pumpkin Patch. Now, I will acknowledge that I just finished the book tonight, so maybe her descriptions are simply fresher in my mind. But I think my reactions are based on more than that.

Schwartz approaches Ukraine as a complete outsider. As far I could tell, she does little, if any, research on the country before visiting there. She criticizes the nation and its people for corruption, poverty, and a crumbling infrastructure.

Her criticisms do have merit, but it doesn't sit well with me from a person who does not even make the effort to fact check her book. She includes incorrect city names, Russian words, and even currency exchange rates.

She may not want me, but Ukraine is my adopted motherland. And I've apparently appointed myself her literary guardian.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

Yes, so when is our trip? We must go before the country changes.

Blogger said...

Yes, when is our trip? I guess so much depends on schedules . . .

notaconnoisseur said...

I have been wondering how you managed to get a passport to travel to Ukraine since you do not have a birth certificate showing when you were born, where you were born and who your parents are. Whether you were purchased or born into your family, both of your parents adore you and are so grateful for the day you came into their family. :)