WE by Ben  Barnz

WE

An Adoption and a Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gay Hollywood couple struggles through a custody dispute after adopting a baby in this debut memoir.

Barnz had always had a strong desire to be a parent. After settling into a long-term relationship with his partner, Daniel (complete with a commitment ceremony in the Hamptons), they decided to adopt a baby. Through their attorney, they were connected to Emma, a young woman in Minnesota who was seven months pregnant. They nervously got through an initial phone call with her, desperately hoping she would choose them as the new parents. In the end she did, so they flew her to Los Angeles, put her up in an apartment, and arranged for doctor visits. Emma seemed fairly happy about the situation, and the bond between the three began to grow. Baby girl Zelda was born, a healthy and adorable arrival. But Barnz’s world came crashing down when an email arrived from the couple’s adoption lawyer. The birth father, Liam, was thinking of petitioning the court for custody. Emma had dated Liam only briefly, wanted nothing to do with him, and she noted that he did not want to be a part of the child’s life until now. Barnz was haunted by the thought that Zelda could be taken away, and his fears were magnified when Liam did in fact contest the adoption. Emma returned to Minnesota, and Barnz and Daniel anxiously awaited news from the lawyers as the fate of their new family hung in the balance. The author’s concise memoir offers a compelling account of the anxieties that can accompany an open adoption process when a previously absent party suddenly appears. The volume skillfully details the couple’s unquestionable commitment to the baby and their admirable desire to have a strong relationship with the mother. It’s an apolitical affair (their status as a same-sex couple is not an issue), but flashbacks to Barnz’s early years in New York give a fuller picture of what makes the author tick. Income remains a mystery; Barnz never goes to work (there is a fleeting reference to designing handbags and an unproduced screenplay by his partner), yet the couple can handily afford the birth and the lawyers who deftly carry them through the crisis. Still, this is an honest and ultimately endearing book.

An engaging account of a gay man who fervently wishes to start a family.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-948018-21-0
Page count: 244pp
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2018




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