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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Tender, Beautifully-Illustrated Adoption Book Just Right For Birthmother's Day

(Image from Amazon)

Amidst all the cards, flowers, candy and hoopla surrounding Mother's Day, another holiday quietly slips by. You may not even be aware of the fact that today is Birthmother's Day. We, in the adoption community, celebrate these women who first loved and nurtured our children. The decision to place a child for adoption is never, never an easy one - the women who selflessly choose a better life for their offspring deserve a day of acknowledgment.

It's only appropriate, then, that I use today to talk about Once Upon A Time: An Adoption Story by Ashley Hansen Bigler. After Bigler adopted her daughter, she searched and searched for the perfect picture book to read to her at night. She wanted a story that mirrored her little girl's experience, explained how difficult it is for birthmothers to release their children into the arms of another, and reassured kids that adoption plans are orchestrated by a loving Heavenly Father who cares deeply about his children. No such book existed. So, Bigler decided to write one herself. The result is her first book - a tender, beautifully-illustrated picture book about the wonder of adoption.

Written in question-and-answer format, the book is a conversation between a little girl and her mother. As the child asks about the adoption process, her birthmother, and the day she was born, the mother describes all the pain, excitement, joy and sacrifice that are part of adopting a baby. Each situation is different, of course, and the story reflects a very basic adoption. Still, it shows the many sides of the experience - the physical ("Mommy wasn't able to make a baby in her tummy, and we were very sad."), the emotional ("She [the birthmother] loved her baby very much") and the spiritual ("We just knew you were in Heaven waiting for us," "We prayed every night asking God to help us find a way to bring you home," etc.). While it has a religious bent (Bigler is LDS), the story is appropriate for all children.

I particularly loved the illustrations. Amy Hintze uses live models to create soft, lifelike paintings. The emotions that go along with an adoption are clearly expressed on the faces of everyone in this book. My favorite illustration is actually on the last page of the book - once you see it, you'll know why :)

Amazingly, there aren't a lot of adoption storybooks on the market. Once Upon A Time helps fill the need not only for adoption books, but for stories that reflect the spiritual components of building a family. Even if you want to leave God out of the equation, this book shows how difficult, joyous and loving an adoption can be. It helps adopted children feel unique and special (in a good way). In fact, when my 8-year-old (biological) daughter read it, she sighed and said, "I wish I was adopted." Children ask me questions about my baby's adoption all the time - if I could, I'd give each one of them a copy of this book so that they could understand what it's all about, so they could comprehend the wonder, the miracle, the absolute blessing that is adoption.

(Readalikes: Letter of Love from China by Bonnie Cuzzolino and Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis)

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: G

To the FTC, with love: Ashley Hansen Bigler generously provided me with a copy of her book. Thank you!


To the woman who brought my amazing daughter into this world and to all of the others who bore children only to place them into the arms of another -- Happy Birthmother's Day!

If you are pregnant with a child you cannot raise, please consider adoption. You can find a wealth of information about adoption on the Internet - It's About is a particularly valuable resource. For more information about birthmothers, read my friend Tamra's very moving story here.


  1. Thats a beautiful post and also directed at some people who really deserve it.

  2. Awesome post. This book sounds great!


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