This snippet from a press release hit my email box this morning: While going through the adoption process, Anderson found a lot of books that talked about adoption but were told from the perspective of the child and the adopting parents. “There was nothing from the birth mother’s point of view,” Anderson says.
Well, I thought, there are actually several such books, but another non-AP perspective, I told myself, is always nice. The article’s title? Author’s adoption experience spurs children’s book.
Wait, what? Chil…? A first mother wrote a children’s book called Inside My Heart: A Tender Story of Adoption? No way. Snif snif: Damnit, I hate the smell of appropriation in the morning. Smells like horseshit.
Sure enough, an adoptive mom has written a heartwarming book for little children about why they were given up from a perspective that is not her own to use at all. Of course, this is often done in fiction. If Ms. Anderson wrote a children’s book from the perspective of a child or a bunny or a choo-choo train, I wouldn’t care a fig, because this would not hurt any bunnies or trains or, if it were written right, any children. This book, I suspect, will hurt children.
What gives Hilary Anderson the right to a first mother’s perspective? She’s benefited from the misfortune of three such women: My story comes from my interaction with the birth mothers of our three children. I want them to know what a gift they have given me and how blessed I feel.
Because women who give their kids up don’t think they’ve given up much of anything? Am I the only one who read that implication there just now? These women know they gave up something precious. They know you feel blessed. I imagine they’re a little perplexed that you chose to express your gratitude to them by writing a children’s book, though, seeing as how they are adults. I mean, this is a book you wrote to be read to children, isn’t it? So you’re thanking them by giving someone else a present. “Um…you’re welcome?”
As a young child, I suspect I would have been hurt by this book. I would have been, and was, hurt by anyone and anything that told me my first mother gave me up because she loved me. (I can’t help but suspect a book called Inside my Heart will make this claim. I have another reason to believe so, of which more soon.) To be read something that purported to use my mother’s voice to tell me she gave me up because she loved me would have frozen my blood and cracked my heart in two. But these things don’t show on the outside, so Mommy would have gone right on reading the beautiful story of the beautiful woman who beautifully gave up her beautiful baby so it could have a beautifuller home than she could give.
I suspect the book uses the old “because she loved you” trope because the review tells us Anderson doesn’t like the term “giving up a baby” […]. No, I’ll just bet she doesn’t. I’ll bet she sleeps better at night knowing those women willingly made those babies just for her, that they never once thought of keeping them, that they are not sad at all. She knows these things, and that’s what qualifies her to write a children’s book for her own satisfaction and profit using their voices. (Truly: the entitlement of this woman. Imagine noticing no first mothers have written books for children about giving them away. Imagine deciding not that this is probably for the best because it would confuse a child to read such a book, but that this is a void you, a non-first mother must fill. I mean, really? Really, Lady?!)
My evidence that it’s for grown-ups? The way children will react to being read Inside My Heart is never mentioned. (Shouldn’t a children’s book press release contain a phrase like “Your children will…”?) The ages the book is appropriate for are never mentioned. There’s not much here about the content of the book at all, and the closest the release comes to mentioning an audience for it is when it describes the book as a quick read as a bedtime story.
Just a short little something to bludgeon your children’s psyches with before tucking them in to sleep.
It isn’t for children at all, of course. It, like the wonderful book about adoption that never mentions adoption, is for adoptive parents. After reading it they, like Ms. Anderson, will feel much better about raising children someone else gave birth to and then, yes, gave up.