Monday, July 16, 2007

"The Kid" by Dan Savage---BBBT

The latest leg of the Barren Bitches Book Tour has been The Kid by Dan Savage. It is a non fiction account of two gay men who are involved in an open adoption. It takes a look at why they decided to adopt, other methods for becoming parents, and the adoption process from start to finish. I have never read Dan Savage's sex advice column before but his style of writing is appealing to me. I will probably seek out the other books that he has written about his family and look for his advice column. The book, at times, invoked strong emotion from me. I wish that instead of reading aloud Not Buying It during our vacation that I had chosen this one instead as I would really love to see DH's response to this book. I know that the Rutherford B Finger chapter would turn him off, however, I don't think that he is alone in that. I had a hard time relating that chapter to the rest of the book. Overall, it was a good book and I will recommend it in the future.

If you were participating in an open adoption, what are the top three questions you would ask the birth mother?

Hmm... I think I would ask pretty basic questions:

1. Why are you putting the child up for adoption?

2. How much contact do you want?

3. Any special talents and/or conditions in either family to watch for?

Savage refers to children in foster care as "damaged goods." How did you react to this? Did you find it offensive or an honest way of expressing why people choose to adopt a newborn rather than a waiting child?

This reference did disturb me when I first read it. After completing the book, I understand his need for using that term. One only has to search on Adopt US Kids briefly to learn that there are very few children that don't have at least minor special needs in any category. My husband and I have been struggling with this decision. In some ways, we feel, that this is an opportunity to take the less traveled road and do some good but on the other hand, it might be easier just to not have to face a difficult situation. Savage's comments about not wanting to "start parenting at a disadvantage" and later on about wanting to start with an even playing field even if there was no guarantee really hit home. I think that many people realize that even with adopting an infant, there is still a chance that something is wrong or may end up wrong later on. However, only with an older child are you 90% certain that some issue will have to be addressed from the beginning. Reality is that everyone has issues and most of them stem from something in childhood. No matter how hard a parent tries, their child will not always be the perfect image of their dreams. However, it does take a special kind of strength to step out of the expected and face the difficult reality.

I think that his comments are an honest portrayal of the children in state care and what many people think about dealing with the issues that these children have.

On p. 164, Dan is terrified of bringing baby items into the house before the adoption is finalized. Will you (or did you) bring items into the house before a birth or an adoption?

Actually, I have changed my opinion on this. Before, I was pro shower, pro preparation. These days... honestly, I think the only thing we will do if we are ever blessed with a child is to clean and paint the room that they would be using and buy a car seat if the child is an infant/toddler. Obviously, we may need to change that theory when it gets closer but I don't want a nursery/child's room all done up and then suffer a loss of any kind. Even if we somehow manage to get pregnant, I don't really want a shower until after the fact. I had changed my opinion before reading the book but I understood where Dan was coming from with that point.

What do you think DJ will think when he reads this book down the line?

I think that if DJ reads the book when he is older it will solidify his understanding of his parents. If he reads it when he is old enough to be considering children, I think that he will understand that his own fears are common. The book doesn't, in my humble opinion, portray anything negative about the process or his fathers feelings about him. There is the part about not feeling bonded right away but if you think of it in a typical Mother/Father situation, I think that a lot of fathers feel the same way at first. But, I don't feel that it should be a contention point if he reads it since I am sure that by now there is a definite bond believe the two.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Love, and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman (with author participation!).


Ellen K. said...

Great review. I love this book too. I especially like #3 on your list of questions to ask a birth mother -- I hadn't even thought about that!

Stacie said...

I enjoyed your review very much. I am impressed that you are considering adopting a special needs child. When we discussed adoption we knew that, if we chose to adopt, we would adopt internationally to be able to adopt a very young child because I knew I would have a hard time coping with the emotional needs and troubles of a child who has been through the foster care system. It takes a special person to do that. How great than when you looked at whether that special person could be you the answer might be yes.

Twisted Ovaries said...

I loved the idea of asking the birth mother about special talents.

Could be bad news though, if she comes from a long line of carnival performers. I'm just saying.

Drowned Girl said...

I like your answers.

josh said...

I chuckle every time I think about Rutherford B. Finger. Great answers.

The Town Criers said...

I also loved question #3--and the positive twist of watching out for a talent rather than just the health problems you would hope to avoid.

Lori said...

I wish I'd asked my daughter's firstmom question #3. Then I would have been prepared for the tented toes and the penchant for trapezes.

I'm just saying...