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At Home in This World

A China Adoption Story

At Home in This World . . . a China Adoption Story by Jean Macleod. EMK Press; 2003, ISBN 0-9726244-1-4.

Reviewed by Mark Wickersham

Jean Macleod’s At Home in this World was an “Adoption Day” gift for my youngest daughter at the start of her third grade year. It’s a beautiful book, both in its literary content and in its delicate watercolor illustrations. Although the 30-page book is recommended for those who are ages six to nine, the story is thoughtful and mature. I feel that older children and their families would benefit from reading the story as well. I recommend At Home in this World to young girls and the families who adopted them for several reasons.

MacLeod starts with an introduction where she mentions how she adopted two Chinese girls. We briefly hear about the keepsake album filled with “Adoption Day” pictures and all of the video footage capturing the first days of becoming a new family. The author then mentions the positive aspects of her daughters’ lives prior to adoption and acknowledges the importance of their Chinese families. It’s so valuable for families and adoptees to read about the efforts made by the author to help her children know their roots.

At the start of At Home in this World, we are introduced to nine-year-old Lily, one of Macleod’s three daughters. Lily explains how she is like the reader and is learning more about herself every day. There are aspects of her life she can’t explain, but she proceeds to simply share what she knows—how she was found, the feelings she wrestles with, what she’s been told about life in small town China, and more. Lily ends her story explaining that she’s not a little girl anymore. She talks about what her life is like today and how she’s thankful to be from two places—China and America.

The content of the book will cause young readers to ponder life and why things are the way they are. I suggest those who purchase the book read it first before giving it to a child and then perhaps read it along with the child. I can’t imagine a young girl reading this book and not having questions that would require an adult to answer.

The last couple of pages of the book are dedicated to helping young adoptees better understand how Lily was able to know so much about her life in China. Macleod guides children who’ve been adopted with with the following recommendations …

  • Ask your parents how you behaved during the first year you were adopted.
  • Conduct an Internet search about your birthplace with your parents.
  • Look at your referral picture and other pictures showing the first years of your life after you were adopted.
  • Discuss how you were found and what your orphanage was like.

Perhaps tough conversations will result from this, but they’re important conversations that families shouldn’t deny their adopted children. I appreciate how the author sees that. She has shown me I need to do more to help my own children know their past, and for that, I’m grateful.

Image credit: IMG_1600 by nik_donna via Flickr.
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Mark Wickersham

Mark Wickersham

Mark Wickersham is the middle school principal at Evansville Christian School in Southern Indiana (United States) where his wife, a 19-year Middle Kingdom resident and ESL instructor, corrects his grammar. Mark taught in Indiana and South Korea before serving as a coach, teacher, or principal in China for 13 years. …View Full Bio

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