This book is nearly 10 years old now and it seems it was written when domestic open adoption was really new in the US. It's been an interesting and fun read and I've been wondering whether a fully accountable open adoption system (mother's choice of adoptive parents, full and frequent contact) would change the adoption culture in the UK, or whether it's too late for that.
Dan and his boyfriend are a very real couple and worry that they are too real. The birth mother who ends up choosing them is also very real. Having browsed a few "Dear Birthmother" letters, I can see that there must be a temptation (even if you are also a very real and down to earth couple) to paint yourself as cheesy and, at least socially, conservative. They worry that this will handicap them in being chosen by a birth mother; in fact, the mother that chooses them would almost certainly not have chosen a traditional couple, and certainly not a conservative couple.
Although this book is a personal story, I think what I got out of it most was information on how and why open adoption works, and in particular - and I suppose this slightly surprised me - how it can work well for mothers in really difficult situations, like the mother that chose this couple.
I suppose like Dan, I thought that birth mothers tended to be "nice girls" who wanted a "good Christian home"; the birth mother that chose them was actually afraid that her child would be taken away by Social Services and in some ways was quite desperate, and (it is clear, though I don't think she necessarily chose this couple because of this) needed a couple who would be accepting of her situation and make an effort to take care of her before the birth, and try and keep in touch although this might be very difficult, after the birth. Some of the couples I've either read blogs of* or read Dear Birthmother letters from, without being judgmental, would almost certainly not have the personal resources to understand an intentionally homeless girl and track her down thousands of miles away.
Dan Savage is, as many of you know, a sex columnist. Also (duh) gay. So if you are of a sensitive disposition then some of the asides and descriptions may be a bit much for you. I assume I'm not subconsiously being homophobic in saying this as I also find some of the descriptions in Belle du Jour a bit much for me. Aside from that (and it didn't really detract as you know who he is and what he does when you pick up the book) it's well written and an easy read. I've even recommended it to Mr Spouse who is not a very fast reader.
(Bother - realised just now after the post had gone up I forgot to say, one of my favourite parts was his assessment of the alternatives for them as a couple - I paraphrase - apart from adopting a kid, they could carry on partying until they were old and sad, travel loads and bore everyone with their travel pictures, or collect antiques. I often feel that the alternatives for a straight couple - especially one who like us was done with partying long ago - are somewhat similar).
*Note - not my regular blogs - just the odd one I come across that seems a bit clueless so tend not to read again...