CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008
With these opening words, an anonymous writer, who is an adoptive mother, begins a poem about the adoption of a Chinese girl by a Caucasian woman. Using only 165 words, the author sets out the gifts each mother gives to the child and the relationship between each of the gifts. For example: emotions and calming fears, talent and aims. The poem also tries to answer the questions: Where did I come from? Where do I belong?
The poem, in "simplified Chinese," is printed at the front of the book. Josée Masse's illustrations often sweep over two pages. The paintings are uncluttered and emphasize what the words of the poem are saying but add other qualities as well - the pregnant birth mother, the bubble-blowing birth mother picturing future scenes between the child and the adoptive mother. Masse subtly has branches of trees forming hearts, presents the moon with the Chinese mother's facial features, and has falling leaves become a face against the background. The front cover features the fingers on one hand of each of the mothers forming a heart around the little girl.
The illustrations also combine elements of the two cultures. The flowers on the Chinese mother's clothing appear later blooming on a hillside where the child now lives. The adoptive mother and child carry parasols often seen in Chinese drawings, and the mother's pantsuit jacket has a mandarin collar and other elements of Chinese attire.
The Source Note at the back of the book identifies Motherbridge of Love as a charity "that reaches out to Chinese children all over the world, in order to develop a connection between China and the West, and between adoptive culture and birth culture." The charity’ mission statement is set out, as well as one of its many objectives.
Although the book is about an adopted Chinese girl, it should be of interest to adoptive parents of any culture. The story shows the love that is given to this lively little girl and bridges the gap between the birth and adoptive mothers.
The text, while simple, does not turn the theme of the book into a saccharine presentation. The little girl appears to be about Kindergarten age, and so the book would be suitable for reading to and discussing with children from ages 3 to 6. However, it could be used with older adoptive children as a starting point for discussion as the questions the book looks at often recur as the child ages. That being said, non-adoptive children would appreciate this story as well and would be given a very positive outlook and understanding of adoption.
All royalties will be donated to the Mother Bridge of Love charity.
Jeannette Timmerman is a former teacher, consultant and administrator in the Winnipeg (MB) School Division.
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