Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami.
Illustrations by Jamel Akib
I am not an adoptive mother or child. Yet, there is something about this book that instantaneously connects with me. So much so, that every time I read it to my son, I cannot do so with getting emotional.
An interracial couple made up of an Indian father and a white mother, parents to a biological son, Arun, are in the process of adopting a little girl, Asha, from India. Presented from Arun’s point of view, the story reveals the family’s excitement and their emotional lows as they wait for the long drawn out adoption process to conclude with finally bringing Asha home.
What I liked:
There is not much to not like. I liked the honest timeline presented in the story. The author makes it evident that the process of adoption, particularly, international adoption, is not a walk in the park. There are real people, real emotions, and real waiting periods involved and all of which can make the process of adoption that much more frustrating and anxiety provoking.
I liked the incorporation of the Hindu custom of Rakhi, wherein a sister ties a brother a rakhi (more simply, a decorated thread) as a token of her love thereby symbolizing their eternal bond as siblings during a special day to mark the celebrated occasion. Using the metaphor of rakhi and the visual artifact of paper planes, the author captures Arun’s feelings while he waits impatiently for his sister to be brought home to the US.
The story begins with Arun telling his best friend, Michael, about the Indian tradition of rakhi, and how he wishes for a little sister. He continues to ask his parents when the day would come that he would get to meet his sister. The parents, who have told Arun about the adoption, ask him to wait patiently, explaining to him how the process of adoption needs to take its own procedural time.
Meanwhile, seasons change, Arun grows another year older, and time moves along, slowly. Arun’s parents even throw a party for Asha on her first birthday. Well attended by family and friends, the family saves Asha’s presents for when she would finally get to the US. They even keep her birth name, Asha.
Finally, the day arrives when it is time for Arun’s father to travel to India to bring Asha home. On the day of his return to the US, Arun and his mother eagerly await his father’s arrival along with Asha at the airport. The family unites in baggage claim in a tight hug.
And oh, the parents just happen to be of different races. The father’s Indian heritage is made evident at the beginning of the book but the parents’ racial makeup, otherwise, is only presented through pictures.
This is a really realistic, and heartfelt story. This is the first children’s book on adoption that features a mixed-race couple that I have read and I applaud the author for using this family as her setting. There is a lot more nuance to the story than this review could justifiably explain. I highly recommend this book.
Note: We received a complimentary copy of the book from Lee & Low Books for review purposes.
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