Books about adoption, whether fiction or memoir, hold a special fascination for me, and always will. Some of my own experiences as an adoptee are documented in the “adoption” category of this blog.
Which is why Dave Hill’s book “The Adoption” caught my attention. Dave, a fellow Brit and blogger, has become a virtual friend and a fascinating “inside source” on the weird and wonderful world of publishing.
The basic premise of “The Adoption” is as follows: a couple who realise they are too old to have any more children (and who already, in fact, have three of their own: two teens, and a younger son at primary school) decide to apply to adopt another child in order to complete their family. Given the dearth of newborns available for adoption, they are offered the opportunity to care for Jody, a three-year-old who has lived with a string of different foster parents since being removed from the care of her young, alcoholic mother by social services.
Told from the point of view of all the members of the family in turn, including Jody herself (who is, of course, Tadpole’s age), I found “The Adoption” incredibly honest and illuminating. The characters rang astonishingly true, and for the first time, I think, I fully appreciated what a minefield bringing up several children represents, and how complex the interaction of family members can be. Welcoming a newcomer into the fold creates tensions, both exacerbating existing problems and creating new ones. I found myself on tenterhooks, wondering whether ultimately Jane had bitten off more than she could chew.
I also found myself dreading Tadpole’s teenage years, as Dave Hill’s descriptions of the teenage daughter, Lorna, brought back vivid memories of some of the despicable things I once said to my own mother under the influence of raging hormones.
The following is a short extract, a scene which takes place shortly after Jody’s arrival at her new home.
Her name was Jody: Jody Jones.
Jane knew that three-year-olds are leaving babyhood behind. They may still get scared by strange noises or imaginary beasts, and may still cling to comfort blankets. But mostly they are becoming sociable. They begin to enjoy the company of other children; they like to laugh and act daft; they start to grasp the shocking truth that grown-ups cannot read their minds and sometimes need to have things explained. Times passage, too, begins to have meaning. They start to talk about the future and the past.
The past: Jody’s past; the mental space from which it was Jane’s mission to rescue her. Jody got slowly to her feet.
‘Come on, Jody. Let me give you a hug.’ Jane held out her arms. Jody stepped into them, keeping hold of the doll and leaving Grandpa’s Handkerchief behind. Jane lifted her up, shocked by her lightness yet almost breathless with the weight of responsibility. ‘Let’s find the others, shall we?’ she said.”
Such a vast place, the internet, and yet such a small world at the same time.