Posted by: ourwildride | August 26, 2007

Latest Read

I’ve been working my way through The Omnivore’s Dilimma by Michael Pollan.  And getting myself thoroughly in a funk in the process.  I already thought I knew enough about farm policy to not want to know more.  I was right. 

Late last week I decided I’d had enough and needed some fiction again.  I also realized that Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees was going to be due back at the bookmobile on Monday and thought I better get moving.  Let me just start by saying I am very much a B.K. fan.  I am entertained her writing style and the way she uses words.  I’ve read some of her more recent fiction and her non-fiction but after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this past spring I decided I wanted to read her early fiction.  The Bean Trees was her first novel.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the book is dealing with (among things) adoption and illegal Guatemalan immigrants.  I found it to be an enjoyable and easy read in spite of exploring some very heavy and dark issues.  It was especially interesting to me in the context of working through what being an adoptive family means and trying to fully articulate an answer to the ‘why’ question. 

There are some very angry adult adoptees out there.  (Do a google search – you’ll find them).  I’ve been trying to understand their perspective on adoption.  And I think in a way I do understand (although, that doesn’t imply I agree with them).  There are also just very angry people out there in general.  We all have issues to work through in our lives.  Period.  I don’t think lining them up and comparing them to determine who is worse off is necessarily a productive exercise.  Nor do I think it ultimately helps people come to a resolution.        

I can say I feel like we are supposed to be moving forward with Toby’s adoption.  Unfortunately, Toby doesn’t have a voice in this equation.  So can I really justify that this is the ‘best’ thing for him?  I think it would be easier to argue that this isn’t the ‘best’ thing for him.  However, given his reality, I honestly believe it is the ‘best’ thing for him among some very limited choices.  We are so fortunate to be able to exercise the option to have him join our family.  Because when you distill down the decision – at the very bottom it is our choice, our option. 

Here’s what B.K.’s characters have to say:
M:  “You’re asking yourself, Can I give this child the best possible upbringing and keep her out of harm’s way her whole life long?  The answer is no, you can’t.  But nobody else can either…  That’s why it’s the wrong thing to ask…”
T:  “So, what’s the right thing to ask?”
M:  “Do I want to try?  Do I think it would be interesting, maybe even enjoyable in the long run, to share my life this kid and give her my best effort and maybe, when all’s said and done, end up with a good friend.”   

Difficult situations and no guarantees.  As parents, we’re all just doing the best that we can on any given day.  And so I pray for wisdom in parenting – adoptive or not.  And I remind myself that control is most often a very thinly veiled illusion. 

There are no silver bullets in farm policy, adoption policy, and parenting – but giving up isn’t much of an option either. 



  1. I just read all her early fiction too and thought of you and your family. Parenthood / control. Lots of thought there. My thoughts are much clearer on the food/farm issues. But that is only because I practice the one better than the other. Great thoughts Jane, thanks for keeping me thinking.

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