If there's one thing you need when embarking on an adoption, whether international or domestic, it's patience. Hurry up and complete paperwork; wait for government approval. Scramble to organize dossier; wait for translation. And that doesn't count the months, even years waiting for a referral, and then the post-referral wait for court approval, legal hoops and diplomatic clearances. All of this is very necessary to ensure ethical adoption, of course, but the fact remains that there's waiting. A lot of waiting. It's not a process for the faint of heart.
And yet few books that explain the adoption process for kids address the waiting that families undergo. Enter Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami. In this picture book, young Arun learns that his family is going to be adopting a baby sister from India. Arun is excited, especially once he gets to see the picture of little Asha. He really hopes his sister will be with them for his birthday. But that milestone, and others, come and go, and still no Asha. Arun is sad thinking about his sister waiting for her family: "I hope the people in India are taking good care of my sister. I try to believe that someday soon she will come to us." At last Arun's father travels to India, and soon the new family is all together in America.
I love that Krishnaswami discusses the process of waiting for a child, and how difficult that can be for parents and siblings alike. For children whose families are adding another member, it might be hard for them to understand why the wait is necessary; Krishnaswami explains this in simplified terms, and while the explanation may not be enough for older children, it does open the door for further discussion. I especially appreciate the connections the text makes to India. Arun's father is from India (Mom is not) and the family observes several holidays and customs from Dad's heritage. It's great to see a multiracial family expanding through international adoption, yet remaining connected to the country of origin of its newest member.
While the text is fairly long -- I wouldn't recommend this for toddlers, but kindergarten and grade school ages should follow it -- the author does a nice job of explaining the complexities of international adoption in a way that most kids can relate to. It's especially good to find a book that doesn't begin just when the new sibling arrives in the family. Arun is part of the process from the very beginning, and the way Arun's parents approach the entire issue with him is one that many families may choose to model. Overall a celebration of adoption that doesn't skip over the realities, both good and bad.
Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami, published by Lee & Low Books
Sample quote: "I sit on the step and drum my heels on the floor. 'I've been patient forever,' I cry. 'I'm tired of being patient.' Mom and Dad look at each other. I think they're tired too."
Mary Kinser is a librarian and lifelong children's book addict. She is also the proud mama of a little boy whose bookshelf will probably always be too full. She began her blog, Sprout's Bookshelf, out of the continual efforts to surround her son with books that support him, as part of a transracial family formed through international adoption. RainbowKids is beyond thrilled to have Mary share her expert knowledge and passion of children's books with our RK family so we can all feed into our bulging bookshelf of top notch children's books passion!