Just finished reading Theresa Reid’s Two Little Girls: A Memoir of Adoption. I’ve read this in a matter of 2 days, partly because I spent a day in an airplane traveling across our country and partly because it was so good.
Reid tells the story of her and her husband’s journey to adopt two little girls, one from Russia and one from Ukraine. The first adoption goes without a hitch and the Reids adopt a lovely girl who was “the princess of the orphanage” in Russia. In their quest to adopt a sister for little Natalie they go through horrible false-starts and spend a ridiculous amount of money. They change agencies halfway through the process, then change back and then change again. They have to cancel their trip and their commitment to a girl in Kazakhstan right after September 11, 2001 makes it unsafe for them to get to her. They finally, many years later, and after weeks spent in Ukraine, bring home, not the girl they traveled to retrieve, but an entirely different little girl with questionable medical problems.
Reid’s tale ends well with a happy, well adjusting family. But along the way you see the trauma and vulnerability her family suffers. This is not a story for the faint of heart. There is a lot of pain, doubt, and tough decisions that are made. There is an emotional depth to this book that comes only from living through the journey.
Reid is an excellent writer who is able to capture both the excitement and fear of the adoption journey. She unabashedly exposes her egocentric fears and insecurities. Which we all have, but rarely deign to admit. She addresses the dissonance involved in specifying what kind of child you want and can parent while wanting to do good for “the needy children in the world.” She shows families who are willing to overcome all odds to grow their family, and she shows families who make the heart wrenching decision to walk away from a child they have committed to. I’m not sure how many families have the resources or funds to go through such an exhaustive search for their child. She not only details her own experience in the tone of a dramatic saga, but integrates her personal research. She confronts our societal biases towards adoption and families created by adoption. You can tell she is a very well educated woman, and her candidness is refreshing in a genre of books that can sometimes be a little touchy-feely or a little too superficial to provide comfort through a difficult journey.
She includes a lengthy and annotated “Adoption Resources” section at the back of the book which looks to be a trove of thoughtful and intelligent books and organizations.
I would recommend this book to someone already committed and determined to adopt, no matter what the odds. It might scare you off if you were not convinced of the way ahead. It makes me glad that we have decided to do a domestic adoption rather than search the world over for our baby. While I’m sure domestic adoption has the same potential for agony, at least I will be able to go through it with my support system a phone call away and with the conveniences of the American hospitality industry at my disposal.