My husband and I are planning to adopt locally. If we were going to instead adopt internationally, We Adopted You Benjamin Koo by Linda Walvoord Girard would be on my bookshelves to read to our future child. We Adopted You is about nine-year-old Benjamin Koo Andrews who, according to the dedication, shared his thoughts “in order to help other adopted children”. Readers learn about how Benjamin was adopted by American parents, what adjustments adoption involved, and how being from Korea had an extra impact on Benjamin.
Let’s start with how Benjamin was adopted. Benjamin doesn’t know when his real birthday because his mom left him on the step of an orphanage in Korea. As Benjamin succinctly explains, “The orphanage was trying to find parents for each baby, and far away in America, my mother and father were waiting and hoping a baby could be found for them.” To prospective parents, the orphanage sent photos and descriptions. Once Benjamin was matched with adoptive parents, they had to fill out paperwork. They also had to send money to pay for a lady to bring Benjamin by airplane to them. Finally, the day arrived when Benjamin’s parents got to meet him. Even then, the process was not completely done! When Benjamin turned fourteen months, his parents had to take him to court to finalize his adoption.
Next let’s turn to what adjustments adoption involved. As Benjamin writes, “When I was little, I didn’t think about who I was; I was moving too fast most of the time…. I felt part of a family.” Even when his parents talked to him about adoption, birth parents, and Korea, it didn’t mean anything to Benjamin. He felt like everyone else.
Then one day Benjamin’s feelings changed. In second grade, Benjamin was combing his hair, when suddenly he realized that he was Korean. From this point on, Benjamin’s nationality had an extra impact on him. His looks became to matter and so he began to ask questions about his birth family. Benjamin is direct and honest about his experiences, which is one of the best parts of his story. He shares how he started to feel angry, because other kids knew their biological families but he never would. As he grew older, he also encountered strangers who asked nosy questions and peers who tease him as if her were “an alien from the moon”. All these situations bothered him, but he had supportive adults who helped him know how to respond.
Although We Adopted You Benjamin Koo is most applicable to those wanting to learn more about international adoptions, it also captures emotions common to all adopted children. For example, one time when his mom made a rule, Benjamin got mad and told her, “I”m leaving…. I’ll find my real mother, and she’ll be nice to be!” Linda Walvoord Girard also adeptly balances a serious and humorous tone, making this an enjoyable book for anyone.
My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.
How would you rate this book?