A wry, forthright look at a Lincoln, Neb., family who embraced international adoption despite the daunting obstacles.
Eske was an only child when his parents gradually took on four more children from around the world. When the author was six, a nine-month-old girl from India, Meredith, came to live with them. The daughter of a 15-year-old dwarf, she had a maimed left leg and two attached fingertips. Several years later, two older Indian siblings were adopted—Michelle and Jordan, born to a desperately poor mother of the untouchable caste who begged for a living and prostituted her daughter. In 1996, another girl arrived, Yoo Jung, who was from South Korea and was diagnosed early with cerebral palsy. As Eske grew and went off to college, he began to regret how he had grown apart emotionally from his siblings, who each suffered ramifications from a traumatic birth. So the author decided to trek to India and South Korea to visit the orphanages from which his siblings came. In Pune, India, he found the Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK) orphanage and learned how the rise of the Indian middle class has wrought positive change on domestic adoption. A similar situation was beginning to develop in South Korea, while North Korea was “living in what Charles Dickens would have labeled its ‘winter of despair.’ ” In an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Eske hoped to find other examples of the “belonging” he craved and missed. The author also considers how do-gooding can go terribly wrong, most recently in the cases of Zoe’s Ark, attempting to save children from Darfur in 2007, and the Baptist zealots from Idaho who tried to bring children from earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010. The narrative is a somewhat convoluted but sympathetic and engaging journey into emotional enlightenment.
An honest exploration of the impact of international adoption on families and children alike.