Recently, a friend of ours adopted a little baby boy, while another friend is seriously considering the option of adoption. I showed the photo of my friend’s new son to David, and told him “Baby Alex is Aunty Angie’s new little boy. See, she loves him so much.”
He looked at the photo, and pondered for a while. “Baby Alex is so cute right? Aunty Angie is so happy to have a little boy now. Just like Mummy and Daddy love you and didi so much. Now che che Dana has a didi, you know?”
It was time to bring out a book that arrived a week earlier, to explain to him the concept of adoption. We read The Adventures of Squirky the Alien : Why am I blue? from cover to cover, side by side.
Squirky is a little blue alien who suddenly realises that he looks very different from his sister Emma and the rest of his family. His parents decide that it is time for him to be told the story of how he came to become a part of their family, and Squirky finds out that he is actually from a far-away planet called Planet Q! This discovery of the truth is very overwhelming at first, but the love and comfort of his family assures him that he is not alone. The story is open-ended, because this is the first of a series of books that author Melanie Lee is crafting.
We love how the story brings out the concept of adoption in a very simple and empathic way. When we saw the page of Squirky crying, David immediately asked “Why is he so sad? Poor Squirky! I want Squirky to feel better.” And later on, when we came to the page where Emma and Squirky are having a little pillow chat, he said “Squirky is happy now, right? Just like me and didi.”
“Yes David, but he still wants to find his blue daddy and mummy.”
Indeed, the journey of adoption is so full of emotion, that I found myself feeling so much for all the characters in the story as we read through the pages, even though I have no experience with adoption or wanting to adopt myself. It’s hard to explain the complexities of human ties and emotions to a young child, but I think this book is a great way to start broaching a topic that we wouldn’t normally talk about in everyday life.
I really like how the illustrations bring the story out so clearly and vividly to a young child, especially for pre-readers like David who are still very much getting the “feels” from the pictures that they see. Just by looking at the pictures alone, David could identify the key emotions that Squirky went through in the book – happiness, worry, loneliness, fear, sadness and joy.
I’ve generally struggled when talking to anyone about adoption, especially to kids, and one of my concerns was who to refer to as the “real” parents. So I’m glad to have found some helpful handles to speak about this subject, thanks to a list of FAQ listed at the back of the book. For instance, Melanie suggests that we can frame adoption positively to children by referring to the biological mother as “tummy mummy” and the adoptive parent as “forever mummy”.
I think about parents who have adopted a child, and want a book to help their child understand that he/she is wanted and loved.
I think about siblings who suddenly have a new brother or sister, and are confused about what that means.
I think about friends of adoptees, or friends of parents who adopt.
There are so many reasons why people adopt, and why children are given up for adoption, but underlying it all is the reminder that love comes in many shapes and forms, and adoption is one of them. And so, this is a book for everyone, young and not-so-young alike.
Perhaps what makes this book especially precious to me is the author’s personal experience, which she has drawn from in coming up with this series. Melanie is a friend of mine, from uni days, and I admire her immensely for her courage and tenacity in the emotional journey that she and her husband have gone through, in their desire to become parents. There is so much credibility and authenticity in what she has chosen to write.
This is a book written by a mother who has gone through the adoptive process for herself, and emerged on the other side. In many ways, her journey has just begun, but there is also much to celebrate about all that she has already left behind. I’ve met her son for myself, and his smile lights up the room. It’s clear to see how very, very much he is loved. 🙂
If you’d like to get a copy of the book for your kids or yourself, it retails at $10 at MPH and major bookstores island wide. You can also follow book updates on the Squirky blog. And… I have three copies of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien: Why am I blue? to give away (Thanks Mel!), and you can join in via the Rafflecopter below!! This giveaway is on till 16 August 2014.
Come on down to Woods in the Books for the launch of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien: Why am I blue? next Saturday, 23 August, and get your copy of the book autographed by Melanie herself! 🙂
We were given a signed copy of The Adventures of Squirky the Alien: Why am I blue? No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are ours.