Sunday 28 June 2015

'Little Lucy's Family'

A story about adoption

'Little Lucy's  Family : A Story About Adoption
Written by Eleanor Gormally
Illustrated by Orla Roche

Reviewed edition:Veritas Publications 2006
ISBN 1 85390 997 1
Pages: 32 (library copy)

Also published by ACTA Publications (1 Sept 2008)
ISBN-10: 0879463732 ISBN-3: 978-0879463731

Back of Book:
Little Lucy's Family is the story of a little girl and how her family came about. It tells how Lucy's Mum and Dad travelled all the way to Russia to adopt her, how they brought her to their home and how together they became a happy family. 

This is a heart warming story about an adopted child, based on the Irish authors own experience of adopting her daughter.

The illustrations are colourful and quirky, with some lovely patterned details. Lucy's  'crazy' pet rabbit is a mischievous character and an enjoyable constant in the book (he appears on most pages.)  The characters have a marionette like appearance, which I can't quite make up my mind about. On one hand, the actions and body movements of the characters are quite expressive, while on the other - the faces seem to lack expression and emotion. At times, I felt they were even a little on the creepy side. But, what's creepy for me, may be quirky for you!

The  story is narrated by a young child Lucy, who is the central character. She opens with: 'My Dad says: There are lots and lots of different kinds of families in the world. My Mum says: There are lots and lots of different ways to make a family. I say: My family is really special!'

Lucy then goes on to explain that, when she was 8 months old, she was adopted from Russia. She says her parents 'couldn't have babies like other Dads and Mums' and that a television program about a children's home in Russia inspired them to begin the adoption process.

Lucy's personal story teaches the reader about the many aspects of adoption.

Lucy explains that she calls her birth parents 'my Babouskas', because like the Russian dolls, she came from inside her birth Mum.
She explains the difference between an adoptive parent and a birth parent. She talks about the reasons why a parent may be unable to keep a baby e.g. due to poverty, a lack of support or illness. Lucy fondly describes her parent's trip to Russia to meet her and their joy when the process was complete. We hear about the warm discussion between Lucy and her parents regarding her journey back to Ireland and Lucy says that this lovely account of her adoption (as told by her parents) is 'my favourite not-found-in-a-book story.'

Lucy has some peers in school who are also adopted and we hear a little about her friend Jin's experience of transracial adoption. Jin's keeps a personal  life story book which is a written account of her life before she was adopted.  She has visited China and the community of her birth and Lucy expresses a desire to make her own cultural connections with Russia.

The story deals with some of the emotional difficulties an adopted child may experience. Lucy has unanswered questions about her identity and she carries some feelings of loss. The author has captured these big emotions in simple, yet profound language.

'I sometimes wonder what my birth Mum and birth Dad thought when they saw me for the first time. I wonder what I was like!' 
'I feel sad because my birth Mum and birth Dad didn't keep me. I wonder did they love me. Sometimes I get angry and all confused and don't know what to think. Sometimes I feel kind of lonely like a bit of me is missing.'

Lucy  wonders if she may look like her birth Mum and longs to know about the sound of her voice, the colour of her hair and the colour of her eyes. She struggles somewhat with her  feelings and initially does not want to talk to her parents in case they are hurt. She does open up to her father however, and he reassures her that it is okay and natural for her to have questions about her birth parents. 

And, here's where I felt a lump in my throat while reading this book.....  Lucy's Dad asks her to close her eyes as he describes some of Lucy's personality and characteristics.
Here are a few of her father's lovely words...

'.....think of your jokes and how you make others laugh, think of your love of snow and frost and swimming and music, think of your sense of somewhere and everywhere in the middle of all of that is your birth Mum...........And remember that your birth Dad is in there somewhere too.' 

In short:

This is a beautifully written story giving a young child's perspective on adoption. A helpful resource for children, parents or professionals, it explores the many aspects of adoption in a sensitive manner.

Lucy's parents often tell her the story of her adoption and Lucy recounts their many emotions-anticipation, worry, excitement & joy.
Happy reading, Missus B

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