My Family, A Symphony: A Memoir of Global Adoption [NOOK Book]

Overview


Before Madonna and Angelina Jolie made international adoption fashionable, Aaron Eske grew up in rural Nebraska with four siblings his parents adopted from around the globe. Each one arrived with severe health issues: Meredith was born without toes and was never supposed to walk; Jamie weighed two pounds and had cerebral palsy; and Jordan had his first heart catheter when he was five. His sister Michelle had suffered abuse in India and experienced trauma as a teenager.

As an ...

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My Family, A Symphony: A Memoir of Global Adoption

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Overview


Before Madonna and Angelina Jolie made international adoption fashionable, Aaron Eske grew up in rural Nebraska with four siblings his parents adopted from around the globe. Each one arrived with severe health issues: Meredith was born without toes and was never supposed to walk; Jamie weighed two pounds and had cerebral palsy; and Jordan had his first heart catheter when he was five. His sister Michelle had suffered abuse in India and experienced trauma as a teenager.

As an adult, trying to make sense of how his global family came to be, Eske bought a round-the-world plane ticket and journeyed in search of his siblings’ origins. He visited the orphanages where they had lived, met the people who had cared for them, and immersed himself in the the world of international adoption with visits to a slum school in India, the landmine-loaded North Korean border, and a tribal prom in an Ethiopian rainforest. The result is a harrowing, complex, and ultimately triumphant story of international adoption that highlights the issues surrounding this increasingly popular parenting option.



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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eske was born in Nebraska in 1983, and in 1989 his parents welcomed from India an infant they named Meredith. Three more siblings followed: Michelle and Jordan from India, and Jamie from Korea. As the family grew, they moved into ever-larger houses ("1,000 for each of us kids"), and Eske's feelings of alienation increased. After completing a master's degree at the London School of Economics, Eske decided to visit his siblings' home countries and the orphanages they lived in, even meeting their original caretakers, during a 23-city journey he viewed as essential to "getting back in with my family again." Throughout, Eske (communications director for Global Action for Children, funded by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation) shares family stories, reflections and observations from his travels, and details the history, joys, and complications of international adoption. The author notes he had to "search the world to understand our miraculous connection that beat evolution," but while his is a heartfelt story, it's not entirely clear if he's come to terms with the events and feelings that led to his feeling disconnected in the first place. (Dec.)
Library Journal - BookSmack!
Eske's parents expanded their family via international adoption before celebs made it chic. Life in a multinational family had its problems but not really the ones anticipated. Years later, Aaron, the Eske's only biological baby, tries to unravel the mysteries of his siblings' not-always-happy stories by traveling to their birth lands and researching the modern history and practice of international adoption. The point of view here makes the story distinctive: Aaron goes around the world to find out what was going on at home.What I Am Telling My Friends It's such a "guy thing" to attack a personal problem by traveling around the globe rather than, say, talking about it, but Aaron deserves props for not using the analogy of a mosaic or patchwork quilt! Therese Purcell Nielsen, "Memoir Short Takes", Booksmack!, 11/4/10
Kirkus Reviews

A wry, forthright look at a Lincoln, Neb., family who embraced international adoption despite the daunting obstacles.

Eske was an only child when his parents gradually took on four more children from around the world. When the author was six, a nine-month-old girl from India, Meredith, came to live with them. The daughter of a 15-year-old dwarf, she had a maimed left leg and two attached fingertips. Several years later, two older Indian siblings were adopted—Michelle and Jordan, born to a desperately poor mother of the untouchable caste who begged for a living and prostituted her daughter. In 1996, another girl arrived, Yoo Jung, who was from South Korea and was diagnosed early with cerebral palsy. As Eske grew and went off to college, he began to regret how he had grown apart emotionally from his siblings, who each suffered ramifications from a traumatic birth. So the author decided to trek to India and South Korea to visit the orphanages from which his siblings came. In Pune, India, he found the Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK) orphanage and learned how the rise of the Indian middle class has wrought positive change on domestic adoption. A similar situation was beginning to develop in South Korea, while North Korea was "living in what Charles Dickens would have labeled its 'winter of despair.' " In an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Eske hoped to find other examples of the "belonging" he craved and missed. The author also considers how do-gooding can go terribly wrong, most recently in the cases of Zoe's Ark, attempting to save children from Darfur in 2007, and the Baptist zealots from Idaho who tried to bring children from earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010. The narrative is a somewhat convoluted but sympathetic and engaging journey into emotional enlightenment.

An honest exploration of the impact of international adoption on families and children alike.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230114524
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 593 KB

Meet the Author


Aaron Eske works for a communications firm that specializes in non-profits. He was Communications Director for Angelina Jolie’s orphan advocacy organization, Global Action for Children. He has a masters degree in Global Politics and Development from the London School of Economics. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2010

    This is THE book for your family and friends for the holidays!

    This is one of the most honest, beautifully written adoption books available. But My Family, A Symphony, it is much more than an adoption story. It is about coming of age, growing up in the Midwest, and the complex nuances of family relationships. This book will make you cry, laugh, and wish you could be a part of the author's next adventure!

    As an adult adoptee from Korea, I appreciate this book for what is says about international adoption--as a reader--I appreciate how well it is written.

    I am buying 10 copies for now since this is at the top of my Christmas list for friends and family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    Awesome!

    Informative, funny, thought-provoking all at the same time!

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  • Posted December 10, 2010

    Sensitive Treatment of Fascinating Topic

    Eske examines his family's experience with internationally adopted siblings and also the political and economic morass that create orphans. It is funny, tender and provacative. He reconciles his distance with his siblings and triumphantly reclaims the knowlege that we are all a small circle of mankind.

    The story will resonate with those who have travelled the same path; others may misunderstand elements because they read it with a limited perspective of one who has not experienced such a reality. And while the story is a celebration of triumph over adversity, it does not have a pretty ending tied up in a bow.

    This is a must read for all adoptive parents and anyone interested in global child welfare.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

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