Title: West Meets East: Americans Adopt Chinese Children
Authors: Richard Tessler, Gail Gamache, and Liming Liu
Enjoyment Rating: 4/10
Source: Personal copy, bought used through Amazon
Referral: Our adoption agency profiled the book in one of its weekly emails.
One of the things I like best about adoption memoirs is that they're often so colloquial and engaging. I'm the kind of girl who likes to look into windows at night when the shades haven't been drawn. Does that make me a peeping Tom or merely a curious person? (I don't climb through the bushes or anything, if that's what you were thinking). Anyway, it's the personal stories that make adoption memoirs interesting-- the conversational style, etc... West Meets East is part adoption memoir, part report of a sociological survey, but it's written in a formal, scholarly life-sapping style. So in other words, an adoption memoir with all of the fun parts taken out. Tessler (the author who actually did the adopting) writes about the nuts and bolts of his experience (including such details as a powerwalk through the Chicago airport on his way to China) but not many of the anxieties and joys of what he was feeling. So it wasn't as much fun as much of what I've read in other books.
Furthermore, West Meets East was published in 1999, and a twelve-year-old book might not seem that old, but Chinese adoption experiences and requirements change all the time, so it was hard to use this book as a reliable source of information. Back in 1999, it was relatively easy for American couples to adopt healthy baby girls in a matter of months. That's not the case any more, by a long shot. So there's practically no discussion of adopting kids with special needs, which is one of the things that keeps me up at night when I think about our upcoming adoption.
The greatest strengths of the book is twofold: it talks about different ways that our Chinese-born children can be socialized once they arrive in the US, and it also presents lots of information about the attitudes of adoptive parents, based on a survey with about 400 adoptive families. I'm encouraged that these families feel that their daughters have done well adapting to their new families and homes and also that the families feel that their experience in China was a positive one.