Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book #46: China Ghosts

China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to FatherhoodTitle: China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood
Author: Jeff Gammage

I've been thinking a lot about writing about our adoption experience, mainly because, as a wannabe writer, I tend to make sense of things by writing about them. I can envision myself writing a series of essays about our adoption experience, but I also see that there are lots and lots of people who have already done the adoption memoir thing, and especially the Chinese adoption memoir thing, and I wonder how much I have to add to the story. This is the second Chinese adoption memoir I've read, and it was fairly similar to the first one: professional couple, no kids, one parent is a journalist, decide to adopt, fly to China, pick up unhappy child, transition, parent finds him/herself greatly changed. China Ghosts is interesting and compelling, and I think it's preparing me well for the fact that aside from all the adoption stuff, just the trip to China alone will likely be the most foreign and the hardest thing I've ever done. What I wasn't prepared for in China Ghosts was Gammage's anger. He's so angry that he didn't decide to adopt sooner. He's angry at the Chinese government. He's angry at the Chinese orphanage. He's angry at the birth parents. He's just one simmering pot of anger. I wasn't totally convinced by it-- I wasn't sure if anger was his angle, or if he really did hate himself for not getting his stuff together sooner in order to start the adoption process sooner. Because if he had, I think he must realize, from a practical standpoint, that he would have another daughter and his daughter would have another father. I know we're in for some big ups and downs over the next few years, but I hope that I'll be flexible enough to ride those waves without resorting to anger. I was also interested that in both this book and The Lost Daughters of China, the parents actually adopted two daughters, but the second adoption story felt like a short postscript to the first. I wonder if Gammage feels the same sense of anger over his experience with his younger daughter as he does with his older daughter's adoption.

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