Friday, July 15, 2011

No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene

Melissa Fay Greene is a journalist who does not shy away from getting closely involved with her subjects. She obviously chooses to write about topics that interest her, such as Third World poverty and international adoptions. She and her husband Donny began to consider adoption when the eldest of their four children headed for college in the 1990s. Greene then began to research the ways of adopting foreign-born children and the issues surrounding the movement now so popular among well-to-do Americans. She also began examining her own motives. The result was several major writing assignments and the addition of five children to her family. She tells about the adventure in No Biking in the House Without a Helmet.

Readers will guess from the title that Greene has a humorous side to her writing, and there are many very funny stories in the book, but she is still a serious journalist. She observed disturbing situations in some of the mega-families that she visited in various American states and wonders at what point a family with numerous international adoptions turns into "a group home," her term for an institution where children are better off than when they were orphans but not adequately nurtured. She also reveals the burdens that some families take on without full consideration when they adopt under-nourished and unresponsive children who may have never had personal attention in the overcrowded orphanages in which they spent their infancy. Neither does she leap or shrink when considering adopting first a boy from Bulgaria and then four children from Ethiopia (not all at the same time). She adopts, adapts, and discovers how much her new children have to offer her family and community.

I laughed a lot and didn't really want the book to end. I'm sure there are many future adventures for Greene's family about which I'd like to learn.

Greene, Melissa Fay. No Biking in the House Without a Helmet. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011. ISBN 9780374223069.

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