Be My Baby: Parents and Children Talk About Adoption



"I think that kids feel like they'd hurt my feelings if they said something wrong. I once said to a friend, 'You know, it's okay being adopted. You don't have to treat me differently. You can ask me about it.' And she sighed and said, 'Oh, thank God.'" (CAITLIN WACHS, age nine, adopted at birth)

"The birth father's absence in the adoption scenario creates a sense that fathers matter less. That's why I think it's so very important for the adoptive father to be a really involved parent --to ...

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"I think that kids feel like they'd hurt my feelings if they said something wrong. I once said to a friend, 'You know, it's okay being adopted. You don't have to treat me differently. You can ask me about it.' And she sighed and said, 'Oh, thank God.'" (CAITLIN WACHS, age nine, adopted at birth)

"The birth father's absence in the adoption scenario creates a sense that fathers matter less. That's why I think it's so very important for the adoptive father to be a really involved parent --to close that gap." (AUBREY REESE, adoptive father)

"Adoption is not something to get over. It's something I am. I'm also Korean, and I'm also Italian American; I'm a son, but I'm also an uncle, and so on." (PETER SAVASTA, age twenty-four, adopted at five months)

"I feel I have more room to give my kids a bit of a break as individuals. I can't project as much of myself on them." (JAMIE LEE CURTIS, adoptive mother)

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The black-and-white photographs in this rich book speak volumes. Wide smiles radiating joy, pensive faces and unbounded affection do much to dispel any existing negative myths about adoptive families. The treatment of this complex topic is honest and straightforward. A diverse group of adoptive parents, adoptees and birth parents speak from the heart about the experience of adoption. Over and over, parents and children speak about their love for and deep connection to each other. Photos and text combine to deliver powerful impressions. Readers will be moved by the poignant feelings and observations expressed by the subjects in the text. This book, which covers domestic and international adoptions, is an excellent resource for adoptive families and anyone interested in this issue. Most of the families represented in the book have open adoptionsĀ¾that is, ongoing contact with birth parents. A number of the families have a connection to the arts, such as the families of actress Jamie Lee Curtis and actor Tony Shalhoub. There are two drawbacks to the text--it contains too few pages about birth parents overall, and it could have represented more diversity with respect to the income level of adoptive families. The last section is entitled "Birth Mothers," when in fact "Birth Parents" would be more accurate. 2000, Artisan/Workman Publishing,
From The Critics
As an adoptive parent, I was really excited about reviewing this book. It is a collection of personal glimpses into the lives of adoptive parents, children, and birth parents. Each story is accompanied by beautiful black and white photographs that make this book artistic as well as informative. The stories cover many types of adoption: domestic, foreign, biracial, infant, older children and foster children. I appreciated the honesty of the interviewees. I have a better understanding of what my own child may be experiencing by reading the perspectives of the young people in this book, and it validated my own feelings as I read of some of the parents' experiences. Parents and older adopted children will really appreciate this book. 2000, Artisan, $27.50. Ages Adult. Reviewer: S. Latson SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This photo-essay features the selected reflections of adoptive parents, adopted children ages 9 to 19, adults adopted as infants, and two birth mothers. The majority of the pieces focus on feelings and memories of parents or adult children. A variety of situations are presented: private and agency adoptions, domestic and international adoptions, only-child and multiple-children families, and families with combinations of adopted and biological children. The subjects are candid when discussing the conflicting and complex emotions surrounding such issues as nature versus nurture theories, ethnic identity, sibling relationships, feelings of loss, insecurities and fears, and coping with reactions of others to blended family. Despite the wide range of experiences and emotions presented, the overall message is positive and affirming. The cases included make for interesting and thought-provoking reading and could be used as discussion starters. Quality black-and-white photographs of the subjects illustrate this oversized title.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Adoptions was once an intensely private affair. With today's more accepting social climate (including the open records laws for adult adoptees seeking information on their birth parents) that is no longer a routinely imposed social custom. In Be My Baby: Parents And Children Talk About Adoption, Gail Kinn documents the diversity of adoptive families. The text is largely an interview based format, splendidly enhanced with the photography of Ken Shung and provides a warm, insightful, occasionally inspiring, and highly recommended reading, candidly revealing what the adoptive family experience is like in our contemporary culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579651527
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.38 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Kinn has conceived and edited a wide range of film books, including Screwball: The Great Romantic Comedies, Hollywood at Home: The Photographs of Sid Avery, and The Scorsese Picture. She lives in New York City.

Ken Shung's photography has appeared in many national magazines, including Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, Mirabella, More, Rolling Stone, and New York.

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Read an Excerpt

One night, ten years ago, my brother and his wife called me from a hotel in a small town: "We have our baby girl," my brother said, "and she's so beautiful." They had learned only the day before about the birth of the daughter they were about to adopt. After picking up a car seat and a few pieces of clothing, they rushed to catch a plane to pick her up and bring her home. They had waited so long for her arrival, and now they barely had an extra diaper. "Where is she going to sleep?" I asked. "We tried the drawer, but she cried," they answered.

Sarah was my brother's first child, and our family's joy in her was immeasurable. We were transfixed by her; we sketched her luminous face as she lay sleeping, and danced around the room with her when she was awake. But we had numerous questions, too, about what being an adopted family would mean.

Raising a family, any family, demands what is best in us and often brings out what is worst. It requires us to understand what we sometimes don't, tries our patience, and rewards us with an unparalleled kind of love. Would an adoptive family be even more demanding? How difficult would it be to answer Sarah's questions about being adopted? Would even the smallest problem be seen as an "adoption problem"? We wondered, too, about how Sarah would feel about being adopted. Would she feel a sense of loss? Would she know deep in her heart that we were her family? And how might her thoughts and feelings change throughout her life?

These questions weighed on me, as well as on her parents, not only because they are valid questions, but because my brother's and my own childhood resonated some with Sarah's adoption. As the children of parents who grew up in rural central European villages and survived the Holocaust, my brother and I had had to integrate our parents' vastly different lives, and their dramatic, bewildering history, into who we were in our normal, modern life in America. Both of us wondered if Sarah, as an adopted child, would face similar challenges integrating her bewilderment about her origins and the different way she came to her family into a solid sense of who she was. For myself, the only way to address all of our questions, I decided, would be to listen to the stories of other adoptive families.

Once I began talking to people, almost everyone revealed some personal experience with adoption; a recent study states that six in ten Americans have such a connection. Whether they themselves, a family member, or close friend have adopted, or were considering doing so, adoption was clearly more a part of people's lives than I had imagined. Though comprehensive national statistics on adoption are virtually nonexistent, we do know that there are six million adopted people in America and that more than 120,000 children are adopted every year. The number of international adoptions in this country has more than doubled since the early 1990s, and 8 percent of all adoptions are interracial.


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Table of Contents




Loving the Children They Feel Were Meant for Them

KIDS, 9 TO 19

Knowing That They Belong


Reflecting on Their Contentment and on Their Special Challenges


Revealing the Unexpected Faces of Love



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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2003

    An idyllic view of adoption

    This charming book gives us a respite from all that can and does go wrong in adoption and gives us, at least for the leisurely duration of reading the pages, a feeling of joy in the beautiful ways families can be formed. The lovely photos by Ken Shung create the feeling that adoption in all its forms, national, domestic and open, is something powerful and special, perhaps even more powerful and special than creating a biological family. It is peaceful and lovely to hear the children talk about their feelings about adoption and how birthmothers and adoptive parents become friends. Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald, author of ADOPTION: An Open, Semi-Open or closed Practice?

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