The prodigiously cheering reflections of a mother gathering a large brood of children, both biological and adopted.
Greene (There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Africa’s Children, 2006, etc.) is the kind of person most engaged when there is a thick scrum of children underfoot. So when her eldest of four prepared for college, the author began to feel empty-nest syndrome, and she and her husband considered adoption. This was in the 1990s, a faraway time Greene recalls when her computer has to do “squat thrusts” to warm up before connecting to international-adoption sites on the Internet. After finding a boy in Bulgaria, she traveled there to investigate. Upon meeting him, she began to realize the heavy significance of the adoption process: “If I had thought this was a free look, a check-this-one-out, a no risk trial with the possibility of a full refund, I was wrong. It is not permissible to dabble in that way in someone’s life—especially a child’s.” Fortunately, the author and the boy formed a bond, and he became a member of the family, as did girl and three boys from Ethiopia in subsequent years. Greene is a writer of emotional impact. Whether she is describing the lands she visited to gather her children or the days that followed back home in Georgia, her words are flush with humanity and all the messiness and comedy that humanity trails in its wake. She goes the distance, which is a beautiful thing to behold, even as she plots her escape from all that she has called down on her head, for these are orphanage kids with plenty of baggage in tow. “I don’t think our plan is working. We’re getting all the pain of empty nest anyway,” she complained to her husband at one point. Eventually, an enveloping sweetness and involvement swept away all but what is elementally grand about being a parent and nursing a child.
An upbeat chronicle of a life that has been lived on the bright side of the road, its ruts beveled by naked love.