'Joy' inspiring tale of adoption
By Jolie Jean Cotton
Special to The Advertiser
By Jolie Jean Cotton
"FINDING JOY" BY MARION COSTE, YONG CHEN ILLUSTRATOR; AGES 4-8, BOYDS MILLS PRESS, $16.95
November is National Adoption Month, and Hawai'i author Marion Coste's nationally published children's book comes just in time to celebrate.
"Finding Joy" tells the story of a Chinese girl given up by her birth parents, and an American woman's journey to adopt the child. The story opens with the infant's heartbroken mother and father wrapping the baby in a blanket and leaving her beneath a bridge with a note, "This is our Shu-Li. Please take care of her. No room for girls."
A stranger discovers the child and brings her to an orphanage, where caregivers offer warm milk and a soft bed. Meantime, in America, a husband and wife with grown children long for a new baby girl.
Excited and filled with fear of the unknown, the adoptive mother flies to China to bring the baby home. When the new mother sees her child for the first time, Coste writes, "The thread of fear unwrapped and fell away."
Artist Yong Chen traveled to Wuhan, China, to make the background drawings for his warm watercolor illustrations that tenderly portray both cultures.
The story is beautifully written to a child's sensibilities without bias or judgment.
The author's note explains China's one-child policy and the cultural preference for boys. I wish the author's note had been expanded. Coste writes, "Sometimes, parents will give up a newborn baby girl so they can try to have a boy." But there are other reasons, not included, as to why families in China must give up their children. Some Chinese families already have one child, and are forced to give up the second. Other families are simply too poor to care for a child, regardless of their sex.
Girls adopted from China will undoubtedly ponder their own birth story. As the mother of a child adopted from China, I think our children should be offered as many possible explanations for their difficult beginnings as we can provide, as it is unlikely they will ever uncover the truth about their own individual story with any degree of certainty. Coste's picture book is a good starting point to begin the discussion.