Waiting for May
written and illustratedby Janet Morgan StoekeReviewed by Kay Marner
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"I know that when other kids get baby brothers or sisters, their mothers' bellies get big and they go to the hospital. But we're not getting our baby that way. We are going to get ours from China. But first, we have to wait."
Waiting. It's the universal, defining characteristic of the adoption experience. As adoptive parents, all of us know how it feels to wait. In Waiting for May, based on the author's and her son's experiences, Janet Morgan Stoeke depicts the act from a new perspective.
The story is told from a young boy's point of view, as he eagerly anticipates becoming a big brother to a girl from China. We follow him through the process of compiling a dossier—having his fingerprints taken and going through a homestudy—to the boy's hope, which we all share, that urging the FedEx courier to "hurry" will bring our child home sooner.
We watch the boy's first glimpse of a sad little face on the computer screen, and his growing understanding of the circumstances the baby is leaving behind in order to become his sister. We see the family's first tearful meeting with their child. When the boy is honored with his sister's first smile, he concludes, "That's what I've been waiting for all along."
We adopted our daughter, Natalie, from Russia three years ago. Our biological son, Aaron, was in kindergarten at the time. When I told Aaron that I'd be reviewing Waiting for May, he awaited the book's arrival with a familiar sense of urgency. (FedEx, again!) When it arrived, Aaron was the first to read it. He became lost in it, reading from cover to cover. "It's good. It's really good." We talked about what he remembers about waiting and about the first time he saw his little sister. Aaron says it feels like Natalie has always been with us.
Waiting for May gave me chills. Although the characters' experiences differed in several ways from ours, the most intensely emotional moments are the same, and it was with great pleasure that I relived them. I'll never forget, for example, watching—literally, being able to see—my husband, Don, falling in love with Natalie the first time he held her. And he and I are still awed by the love our two children feel for each other. Every time I hear Aaron say, "I love you, Natalie," I'm reminded once again, "That's what I've been waiting for all along."
I highly recommend Waiting for May to families who are waiting, and also to families who have already found that adoption is, without a doubt, worth the wait.
Kay Marner is a mother by birth and adoption. She lives with her family and works at the public library in Ames, Iowa.
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