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Monday, July 7, 2008

Crazy Cakes

One of the foundational books in the Chinese Adoption cannon is I Love You Like Crazy Cakes. Written by a lady who went through the China adoption experience, this book focuses on a single mom's trip to China and back again to adopt her daughter. Before we got Miss G, I thought it was a sweet little book. I still think it is sweet, but probably will not read it to her again.

Tonight, as Gioia and I read Crazy Cakes together before bed, I was struck at how personal the story was. It is written in a direct, clear voice - "Your nannies brought you and your friends from the countryside to the city to meet us." "On the long trip home, you stood up in your seat and smiled at the man behind us."

A nice story, yes, but not our story. First of all, there is no Daddy. If there is one thing which is fundamental to our family's adoption story, it is the fact that Chris and I were both 100% participants in the process. He and I shared everything about that trip, from the day we received Baby G's first photos to the three and a half weeks of traveling to bring her home to Taiwan. We fought over carrying her in the mei tai, and traded off rocking her back to sleep when she filled her diaper at 3 a.m. Single parenting is fine, of course, but not our story.

As I read through the book, the small details that were not quite right kept leaping out at me. Baby G, you slept in a pack and play that we carted from hotel to hotel so we could establish consistency in your bedtime routine. You did not sleep with linens from America, but in a sleep sack that your mommy made and a little elephant from Bangkok.

When we finally made it home, we opened the door to our apartment in Taipei and collapsed in a pile of suitcases. We did not have a welcome committee of family and friends that first day, but they all came to see you over the next four months - one by one, flying 24 hours just to meet you, hug you and say hello.

This was your adoption day story, not the one in the Crazy Cakes book. I was perhaps so bothered by it all because little Gioia seemed to be listening so seriously to the story. Here I was, saying things like - and then we dressed you up in crazy hats and took funny pictures. But we didn't. And I don't want to tell you a story that is not yours.

Maybe when you are much, much older Baby G. But for now, I will put this book away and instead tell you your story.

4 comments:

Cokes said...

So, you need to write your own story for Gioia. No story can compare. Everyone loves her likes Crazy Cakes. Mom

Beuk said...

yeah, we need to use one of those print-o-matic make your own white cardboard books that we have and make we miss you like G-cakes.

bevs97 said...

interesting...

My sis in law adopted her daughter from Russia last week, they have been home only a few days now. I was looking for things to buy her, and decided against this book because it was about China rather than Russia, but reading what you have said, it strikes me that it's not about whether it's china or russia, it's about telling the child "her story", and not someone elses.

Johnny said...

I also felt the awkwardness you described while reading the book to our daughter. The thing that kept running through my head was, "Wait, this is a story written by a Mommy and there is no Daddy in the picture - yet I'm the Daddy describing how only Mommies adopt."

Now, that's not a slam against the author or single-female parenthood. I just felt, like you, that it was awkward to be the reader of that story.