Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Found and Blackbird

I just read Found, by Jennifer Lauck. Lauck was adopted, and according to her, it fucked up her life. Granted, her adoptive family saw some serious tragedy, and her adoptive brother was nasty about Lauck being adopted, but Lauck talks a lot about the essential maternal bond between mother and child, and how much she lost by never bonding with her birth mother as an infant... so she searches for her--this is largely that story. Lauck ends up really coming down hard on adoption practices in general--much of which is valid, I think, but some of it is over the top. I don't know. She's a mom now herself, and her descriptions of her relationships with her kids are pretty great. And I appreciated this:
It is distressing to learn that the U.S. leads the world as the single largest adoption nation. It seems startling to me that Americans are so fast on the scene of international disasters, and we scoop up orphan children and have them adopted into U.S. homes before body counts are added up.

Imagine if a collective of Chinese emissaries rushed to our shores after a disaster like Hurricane Katrina and took off with Louisiana babies. Or say a collective of Australian humanitarians came to Manhattan after 9/11 and hauled away orphans. These scenarios are ludicrous, and yet this is what American representatives are doing under the guise of being helpful.
She goes on to talk about what we could do for kids in crisis situations that would actually BE helpful.


After reading Found I put Lauck's first memoir, Blackbird; A Childhood Lost and Found, on hold at the library, and I've just finished it. Blackbird felt like a more successful book to me--Lauck is still clearly really close to some of the stuff in Found, and I know that for me, it's really hard to write about anything so close.

The best part about it was that yesterday I had it on my desk at school, and one of the freshman girls in my struggling readers' class said, "I read that book! Omigod I loved that book!" She's someone I haven't gotten to know, because she's absent more than she's in school. But it made me so happy. It also made me think again how true this passage is--I'd marked it before she said anything:
Just like that, I'm back in a school again. The thing is, when you aren't like everyone else, when you aren't normal, school isn't real, and that's how I feel here, like it's not real at all. There are other kids and there is a teacher, but I don't see them, don't become part of what they are part of. They belong here and I don't, and that's just the way it is.
I never felt that way about school, but Lauck put words to something that I've seen so many of my students dealing with.

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