I have a new mother and a father. I call my father Daddy. I call my mother Wanna. I call her that in secret because she Wanna be my mommy. She can't. They mean nothing to me. I know their names, I know how many papers they signed to make me their daughter, but those papers mean nothing. I don't have anything else to say about them right now.
These words from the opening pages of An-Ya and Her Diary, a young adult novel by Diane Rene Christian, stopped me cold. An-Ya, an eleven-year-old girl, recently adopted from China, calls her new mother Wanna? At the time, it was more than my adoptive mama heart could bear so I turned off my Kindle and didn't return to An-Ya's story for about three months.
Recently, however, something prompted me to revisit An-Ya, and I'm glad I did.
Eleven-year-old An-Ya is one of China's abandoned babies. She was found in a box along with a blank book. Printed on the first page of the book was her name, An-Ya. For years, An-Ya fantasizes about the day her birth parents will return to the orphanage for her and her diary, now her most precious possession. She keeps the diary blank, waiting for the day she can fill it with her story's happy ending.
But An-Ya's birth parents never come.
Instead, eleven-year-old An-Ya is adopted by American parents. She is their second child. Her younger sister, three-year-old Ellie, was adopted from China as a baby. The presence of Ellie in An-Ya's story provides a great contrast, showing how older child adoption is, indeed, very different from infant adoption.
Once in America, An-Ya begins to record her journey in her diary, and the words she writes paint a real life picture of international older child adoption. We watch An-Ya's family struggle. We cheer them on. And the unique value for adoptive parents like me, is that the story is told from An-Ya's perspective
An-Ya and Her Diary is a real jewel, and in my opinion, a must-read for any parent considering an older child adoption. Because adoption looks very different when viewed through the eyes of the adopted child.
Diane Rene Christian, an adoptive mother herself, resists the urge to neatly tie up all the loose ends in An-Ya's story, and the book closes with An-Ya and her family very much still in process. But they've all come a long way, and as I turn the last electronic page, I am convinced that An-Ya is going to be OK. I'm pretty sure she's even warming up to Wanna.
At this time, Amazon Prime members may borrow An-Ya and Her Diary free on Kindle. And in the future, I hope to review An-Ya and Her Diary: Reader and Parent Guide, a collaborative work by a group of professional adult adoptees.