Every parent has had that moment where they have said something to their children and then they think, “Did those words actually come out of my mouth?” For example, I have said the following to my children: “don’t lick your shoe,” “don’t throw the cat,” “don’t ride the dog,” “don’t brush the sink with your toothbrush,” “why aren’t you wearing pants,” “why are you wearing two pairs of underwear,” “don’t eat food off of the floor,” “get the dog toy out of your mouth.” I could probably go on and on! Melissa Faye Greene explains that the inspiration for the title of her book came from the time one of her sons rode his bike down the stairs into their basement and she yelled after him, “No biking in the house without helmets.” I think the title of the book, No Biking in the House without Helmets first grabbed my attention because of its quirky title and because I have boys and can relate.
Greene is open and honest about what it is like to be an adoptive parent and she delivers the story with a great sense of humor. Not everything goes smoothly in this story, she’s not the perfect mother, she does not have perfect kids and you may not agree with her parenting strategies. It is a realistic and honest book about tough issues. Greene provides a straightforward account about her struggles in their adoption process. This book covers a variety of topics related to adoption, including international adoption, post adoption depression, transracial parenting, disrupting birth order, birth parents, sibling rivalry and many more.
What I liked most about this book was the author’s brutal honesty. Greene tells about her struggle with post-adoption depression. She explains in her book that she was afraid to take a family picture because it would make the adoption real and she could not come to terms with the fact that her adopted son was a permanent member of their family. At one point in her story she admits to calling the adoption agency and asking about sending her adopted son back to Bulgaria. When a child joins a family through adoption the honest truth is that there may not be reciprocal “love at first sight” emotions. The child may be terrified of being in a new environment surrounded by strangers and the parents may feel like they’re babysitting. Greene writes, “It’s an awful thing we adoptive parents ask ourselves. Do I love her yet? Do I love him yet? Like the television ads for wireless phones: “Can you hear me now?” We don’t pursue this line of questioning about the children to whom we give birth. Yet here sat this little guy at the table, painstakingly peeling a hot dog, looking up with his sparkly eyes, and I asked myself, Do I love him yet?” Greene demonstrates through her story that there is hope but progress takes time and a lot of work.
Greene and her husband adopted five children, one from Bulgaria and four from Ethiopia. This book clearly demonstrates how every adoption is unique. Greene shares a glimpse into each of her children’s adoption story, their struggles, and their successes. She gives a thought provoking description about the feelings, thoughts and agonies involved in taking a child from their life in another country and trying to integrate him into the American life. I don’t recommend that you read this book if you’re looking for parenting advice or strategies, however if you’re looking for a some authentic examples of what an adoption journey may look like and some struggles that you may face along the way then this book may be for you.
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