Brotherhood of Joseph: A Father's Memoir of Infertility and Adoption in the 21st Century

Overview

While miracles in reproductive technology have brought joy to millions, those very advances have plunged many couples into an unrelenting cycle of hope and heartbreak. One failed attempt may lead to another and another—but how do you give up when there is always another doctor, another procedure holding out the possibility of conception and the child you yearn for? Brooks Hansen vividly captures the emotional turmoil he and his wife, Elizabeth, endured as they tried to conceive, the years their lives were put on ...

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Brotherhood of Joseph: A Father's Memoir of Infertility and Adoption in the 21st Century

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Overview

While miracles in reproductive technology have brought joy to millions, those very advances have plunged many couples into an unrelenting cycle of hope and heartbreak. One failed attempt may lead to another and another—but how do you give up when there is always another doctor, another procedure holding out the possibility of conception and the child you yearn for? Brooks Hansen vividly captures the emotional turmoil he and his wife, Elizabeth, endured as they tried to conceive, the years their lives were put on hold, and the excruciating sense of loss. He writes too of the couple’s journey through the bewildering world of adoption—a path to parenthood fraught with financial, legal, and emotional risks of its own.

Offering men a chance to be heard and women a rare opportunity to view the struggle with infertility from a male perspective, The Brotherhood of Joseph brings to life the anger, frustration, humor, heartbreak, and sense of helplessness that come to dominate the husband’s role. As his remarkable account reaches its finale in Siberia, however, Hansen’s once again becomes the story of a husband and a wife who, even after years of medical frustration and fruitless paperwork, still must take one last risk together and trust in their most basic instincts before their new family can be born.

"Literary grace that has the remarkable power to act as a lens" is how the New York Times Book Review has described Hansen’s writing, and that grace has never been more evident than in this remarkable memoir.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A tender, humorous account of a couple's struggle to start a family." -Kirkus Reviews

"Though the subject matter is emotionally difficult, Hansen's humor and positive outlook make this memoir an encouraging read for any parent-to-be." -Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Calling to mind the well known adoptive father, Joseph the Carpenter, novelist Hansen (The Monsters of St. Helena) tackles the practical and emotional turmoil facing would-be parents with fertility problems: assisted reproduction technology may be "yielding more happy children and parents who look like each other, but... it is also meting out despair at a rate, and for lengths of time, that I'm not sure the human heart was designed for." Chronicling the four years Hansen and his wife spent trying to get pregnant, and the two years they spend trying to adopt, Hansen gently guides readers through the labyrinth of interventions now available to infertile couples, while at the same time eloquently attesting to the trials and pitfalls of following them. Divided into three sections covering infertility, adoption and an international trip to meet a baby, the book is well paced and benefits from Hansen's careful insights; this is one sports fan who has thought much about what it means to be a father. Though the subject matter is emotionally difficult, Hansen's humor and positive outlook make this memoir an encouraging read for any parent-to-be.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist Hansen (The Monsters of St. Helena, 2002, etc.) chronicles the journey he took with his wife through years of fertility treatments and adoption proceedings. New advances in reproductive technology have given unprecedented hope to couples with difficulties conceiving a child. These advances can also, as they did in the Hansens' case, lead to a six-year cycle of daily hormone shots, intrauterine treatments and dwindling financial resources. The author reveals the isolation he and his wife Elizabeth felt, despite relatives' and friends' well-meaning efforts to be supportive. Eventually, the couple decided to adopt, which proved to be equally harrowing and expensive. They found themselves selling their qualifications as parents in short classified ads, sizing up the genetic pros and cons of potential adoptees and finally traveling to the ends of the earth-Siberia-on their quest to be parents. There was no shortage of bumps along the road, and Hansen makes palpable the couple's yearning for the life with children they had envisioned since they got married. Their desire for some approximation of the family they planned on led them to rule out an open adoption in the United States: "Just because we'd been through the IVF wars and lost," writes Hansen with characteristic wit and self-awareness, "that didn't mean that Elizabeth should have to resign herself to the role of co-mother." They went overseas, searching for a child with whom they felt a deep connection. Supplementing their story with lucid explanations of fertility options and procedures, the author has crafted a book that is both a helpful guide for infertile couples and a personal memoir appealing to any empathetic reader. Thetitle tips its hat to Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus, and the much-covered subject of infertility does indeed benefit from the addition of a male perspective. A tender, humorous account of a couple's struggle to start a family.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594868276
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/27/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

BROOKS HANSEN has written five novels and his work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Best Life, Open City, Grand Street, and Bookforum. He and Elizabeth live with their children, Theo and Ada, in California.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     vii
Infertility
The Trouble Starts     3
IVF, A-Z     23
The Toll     44
The Work     63
The Last Stand     72
Adoption
Adoption, in Prospect     77
Getting Started     87
Romania?     98
Russia!     109
The Trip
Highs and Lows     131
Tomsk!     149
Ilya     156
Sergei     182
The Wait     212
The Verdict     218
Epilogue     240
Acknowledgments     243
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Really enjoyed this book!

    Many of the experiences the author writes about in this book match my own story-infertility, iuis, ivf, and finally, Russian adoption. I relived our story through this book in a sarcastic, honest, thoughtful, informative, and easily understandable way. I loved that the author writes from a man's point of view. This book is well worth the read. Thanks to the author for sharing his story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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