Sunday, December 5, 2010
Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, review, author interview and book giveaway!
Release date: October 19, 2010
Jessica O’ Dwyer wanted to have a child, but because her menopause arrived 20 years early, she decides with her husband Tim that she wants to adopt a baby. This leads them to an agency, led by a woman called Yolanda, who assists adoptive parents with adopting a child from Guatemala. Jessica and Tim believe at firsthand that Yolanda tries everything to help them and to get their child Stefany back with them to the US as soon as possible. But things turn out to go differently in Guatemala and with the not so trustworthyYolanda.
The process becomes a long term one, and becomes more difficult when Olivia seems to be very attached to her foster mother Lupe. Bureaucracy and corruption (a few times Jessica and Tim are advised to seek assistance from someone who knows someone, who has a friend who can tell them more for..dollars..)and difficult adoption rules and regulations from The Hague are what they have to cope with, while for Olivia it is more difficult to getting to know her adoptive parents.
Mamalita is a gripping real-life story about adoption and what comes along when parents are adopting from a country as Guatemala. I was amazed to read how bureaucratic the process was to get Olivia official in the papers as their daughter. During the book, the reader learns also how adoption is seen from Guatemalan eyes, when Jessica describes what is done to birth mothers in rural villages when the community discovers this. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a gripping, realistic and brilliantly written adoption story and /or interested in Central American cultures. Mamalita is truly an eye opener!
Author interview with Jessica O' Dwyer, the author of Mamalita & Giveaway
Tell us a bit about how Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir was started. When did you know you wanted to write down your story about adoption?
Seven years ago, I was living in Antigua, Guatemala with my then fifteen-month-old daughter, Olivia, whom my husband I and had been trying to adopt for a year. I wasn’t the only American would-be mother living there. We were a group of eight. And every day, as we sat around obsessing over our cases and a bureaucracy we couldn’t seem to navigate, the other mothers used to say, “Somebody needs to write a book about this.”
My entire life I’d been searching for the one story I had to tell. Even as I was living the experience, I knew Olivia’s adoption saga was it.
When did you get the idea to write a book about the adoption process of Olivia?
Before the adoption was final, I set the goal to write a book about it. I’m a lifelong journal-keeper, so I’d taken notes from the beginning. I wrote down conversations, saved emails, and took photographs of places we visited and where we lived. That archive became my primary source material.
During my professional career, I worked in magazine publishing and museum PR. Every day for more than twenty years, I’d shown up for jobs that required me to sit down and fill pages with words. Even so, I had no idea how to write a book! But I was obsessed with telling this story, and a book seemed the only format large enough to contain it.
During the book, the reader gets a real good inside look on the adoption process in Guatemala. What surprised you the most about the adoption process, what turned out differently than you expected?
What surprised me most about the adoption process is how varied it can be for different people. The paperwork is daunting for everybody, but if you’ve signed on with a good agency, the process is straightforward and relatively easy. If, on the other hand, you get involved with one that’s like ours, you better brace yourself for a bumpy ride.
I never expected to quit my job and move to Antigua and finish the adoption myself. I never dreamed I’d get an insider’s look at what goes on behind closed doors. What outraged me most was the degree to which the welfare of children is ignored, by allowing cases to go on and on for months or years on end. Every day that a child languishes in an orphanage or foster care, without one-on-one love and attention, is a day he will pay for later, physically and emotionally.
What does this book offer adoptive parents?
Encouragement to keep going, no matter how hard it gets. Love really can conquer all.
What advice would you give prospective adoptive parents about how to prepare themselves for adoption?
Do your research. Get references from other adoptive parents. Develop a network with families who are going through the same journey. As helpful as those bonds are before your children come home, they will be even more helpful after. No one understands adoption as well as a friend who has been through it.
Being a trans-racial, trans-cultural, adoptive family comes with challenges—doesn’t every family?—and it’s important to know when to seek help. The easiest challenge is the most obvious: People notice us. We stand out. The more difficult tests are invisible. At its core, every adoption involves profound loss—of a child’s birth mother, father, and siblings; and of familiar foster family or orphanage staff—so it makes sense that he or she may struggle with issues of abandonment and attachment. Honest and open communication is critical, so that a child feels safe enough to express—verbally or non-verbally—fear and anger at a situation that is essentially out of his control. We as parents must remain steadfast. There is no shame in asking for help.
What have you enjoyed most about the adoption?
My children—Olivia, now eight and Mateo, six. They are my reasons for living. I’ve also enjoyed being captivated by the country of Guatemala. It’s a complicated place, with a fascinating history. I’ve loved learning about it.
Can we expect more books by you in the future?
I hope so. That’s the first step. Thank you for thinking positive!
MarjoleinBookBlog is giving away a copy of Mamalita:an adoption memoir , (many thanks to SealPress) to one lucky winner!
Comment on the interview to be entered and include your email so I can contact you if you win.
+1 extra entry if you become a follower of my blog and +2 extra entries if you post about this contest on your blog/facebook/twitter. Open international and the giveaway closes januari 20.
For more about Mamalita and Jessica, visit: http://www.mamalitathebook.com/