Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other

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He could have been talking about his daughters.  Then again, he could have been talking about his wife.  Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, recently spoke to a small group at WBEZ Studios in Chicago about his new book, Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other.  After hearing his words in person, I have decided that the title refers to the whole family.

Mr. Simon alternated between being witty and intense, one minute wondering with self-deprecating humor how he could have managed to snag his gorgeous wife, then choking up in genuine tears as he recalled the moment when his baby girl from China became a citizen of the United States.

Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other offers a portrait of the Simon family as well as a handful of other families built through adoption.  Mr. Simon and his wife, Caroline, have adopted two little girls from China, Elise and Paulina (Lina).  The anecdotes in the book portray two children who embody a complete sense of belonging to Scott and Caroline.  

One of the beautiful aspects of this book is that it explores this idea of belonging through adoption, without limiting the type of adoption.  We see families that adopted infants domestically; families that adopted young children internationally; families of one color adopting children of another color; families that adopted their children’s children.  The limitless power of love and inclusion.

And yet, the book is not just filled with starry-eyed stories of adoption honeymoons.  Mr. Simon acknowledges the deep pain that accompanies adoption, the pain that we adoptive parents wish we could erase with enough hugs and kisses and new toys, but pain that exists nonetheless.  Nancy Verrier’s 1993 book The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child is discussed and mulled over, and although Mr. Simon does not want to think that his girls have suffered a loss at birth, he remains open to listening for their pain one day.

To complete the circle, Mr. Simon does not deny the pain that precedes
the decision to adopt for many parents.  His humorous description of
failed fertility treatments does not attempt to disguise the humiliation
and disappointment of the process.  He shares the heartbreaking stories
of parents who decide to adopt after their biological children have
died.  None of these parents expected their families to evolve and grow
through adoption, and yet it happened.  Adopting brought healing and joy
to all the parties involved.

Mr. Simon’s two little princesses, Elise and Lina, are very real
children.  Their doting father writes about them honestly and
unflinchingly, giving us a picture of tantrums and screaming alongside
giggles and laughter.  His love for the girls radiates through every
word, and the concept of how these children and these parents were meant
for each other comes across clearly.

In listening to Mr. Simon speak, I also felt his all-encompassing love
for his wife, Caroline.  She sat in the small audience with the rest of
us, listening to her husband tell their story for the umpteenth time,
and when I glanced over at her, she gave a lovely, warm smile.  Watching
the two of them, it was clear that they were meant for each other long
before Elise and Lina entered the picture.  

Scott Simon is in a position to raise public awareness about the
benefits of adoption.  This is a critical time for his work, as there
have been a handful of stories lately that have cast a negative light on
adoption, such as the terrible story of the single mom who sent her
adoptive son back to Russia because she could not manage him.  

In truth, adoption disruptions and adoption dissolutions are rare, and
they receive a disproportionate amount of publicity.  By and large,
adoption is a way to bring parents and children together into families
that cannot live apart.  Scott Simon describes his book as being “in
praise of adoption,” and it is an important addition to the collection
of adoption literature.

Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other demonstrates that genes and biology
are just the beginning of a human being, but through adoption, a family
is forever.

Interview on Morning Edition With Steve Inskeep

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  • This book has not been welcomed by all in the adoption community. Many have found it insensitive, ethnocentric, and objectionable. See, for instance:

    Note that this post above contains links to three other reviews by first and adoptive mothers at: FirstMother Forum, Third Mom and Adoptiontalk the later of which said "A whole host of distasteful and uninformed international adoption themes is presented here."

  • This book was written as a first hand account of a personal experience from the perspective of the adoptive parent, and therefore less representative of the whole adoption triad. This is true.

    I doubt that we will ever be able to sway new parents from expressing the thoughts and feelings associated with meeting their first child and sharing their joy with others.

    Is it a great work of literature and research that adds to adoption community knowledge? Not really.

    Is it a heartfelt autobiographical novel of a family? Yes.

    So, that's what it is. And I applaud it for what it is.

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