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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: The Baby in My Mardi Gras King Cake

If you don't live in New Orleans, Louisiana, you might not realize that today is Mardi Gras.  The holiday has been celebrated annually in the city since the 1800's.  While the colorful parades and parties that typify the event have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, the spirit of Mardi Gras lives on.  You can read all about it here.  Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic pays homage to the holiday by featuring book covers in Mardi Gras colors:  purple (represents justice), green (for faith), and gold (for power).  Since I've never experienced Mardi Gras for myself, nor do I really care to (a wild party for me is cuddling up with not one good book, but two), I'm going to go a little rogue with my TTT list today. 

On a Sunday back in 2008, my husband and I boarded a plane bound for New Orleans.  The beautiful baby girl we were about to adopt had just been born in the area and we were looking forward to getting her on Monday.  We had planned to spend Sunday playing tourists in NOLA, but then we got the surprise news that we could get our baby a day early.  From then on, the only sight-seeing we did in Louisiana was in a hospital and a hotel room. 
Adopting our sweet little girl was an incredible, life-changing experience.  I don't think it's a coincidence that it's a Mardi Gras tradition to bake a small baby toy into a king cake.  Whoever gets the slice with the trinket inside gets good luck and prosperity for the year.  We found our baby in Louisiana; since she has been nothing but a treasured blessing in our lives, we definitely feel like we were given the lucky slice!  

In honor of my daughter, I changed today's TTT list from Top Ten Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers (in honor of Mardi Gras) to Top Ten Books About Adoption.  I'm going to split my list into five that I've read and five that I want to read.

Before we get to that, though, I want to encourage you to join in the TTT fun.  It really is a good time and a great way to support this wonderful book blogging community that we all love so much.  Just hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for details.

Top Ten Books About Adoption   

Five I've Read:

1.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery—This book, which is one of my all-time favorites, features the mistaken adoption of a young orphaned girl by an aging brother and sister.  Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert intended to adopt a boy so they would have someone to help on their farm.  Although fiery Anne is not exactly what they had in mind, they soon find themselves thoroughly charmed by their irrepressible new daughter.

2.  How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr—This beautiful YA novel is probably the best book I've ever read about adoption.  It hit me in all the feels, let me tell you!  The story revolves around two teenage girls—one whose grieving mother decides out of the blue to adopt a baby and one who has agreed to place her unborn baby with the family.  As the birth grows nearer and nearer, the three women (each of whom has her own agenda) must figure out how to understand each other, trust each other, and, ultimately, decide what's best for one tiny human when all of their hopes, dreams, and goals are on the line.  It's a lovely read.

3.  The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman—I read this middle-grade novel earlier this year and loved it.  It's about Imani, a 12-year-old bi-racial girl who was adopted by a white Jewish couple when she was a baby.  As her bat mitzvah approaches, Imani begins researching the story of her adopted great-grandmother's WWII escape from Luxembourg while also secretly trying to find her birth parents.  It's a sweet, engaging tale about one girl's heartfelt search for her "real" identity.

4.  A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley—This memoir tells the fascinating story of the author's adoption from India by a white couple from Australia.  Although his adoptive home was full of love and acceptance, Saroo felt an intense, burning need to find his birth family in India.  The fact that he was able to locate them with so little information to go on is nothing short of miraculous.  This is an incredible book, which was made into a touching film called Lion.

5.  Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda—Another beautiful novel, this one tells the parallel stories of two mothers.  One is a California pediatrician who is devastated when she finds out she is infertile.  The other is a poor woman in India who knows she can't afford to keep her newborn daughter.  When the American decides to adopt a baby from an Indian orphanage, their stories converge.    

Five I Haven't:

1.  All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung—Chung's Korean parents placed her for adoption when she was a baby.  Adopted by a white couple and raised in a sheltered Oregon town, Chung experienced the pain of racism and feeling out-of-place in her mismatched family.  Her memoir, which talks about her experiences with transracial adoption, sounds like an intriguing and illuminating read.

2.  The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson—I'm not sure how much adoption actually features in this novel, but it still sounds like a good read.  It's about a Black engineer who returns to the dying Indiana factory town where she grew up.  As she digs into her past (including adolescence, when she was forced to give up her baby), she discovers some shocking truths.

3.  The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans—This non-fiction book sounds absolutely heartbreaking, but also totally fascinating.  It's about the history of China's one-child policy, which led to numerous adoptions of female Chinese babies.

4.  Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt—This memoir is about a foreign woman's experience as a volunteer in a Chinese orphanage.

5.  Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata—Adopted Jaden thinks he's an "epic fail."  No wonder his parents are traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt another baby!  When they all arrive at the orphanage, they discover "their" baby has already been adopted.  As the family attempts to choose another on the spot, Jaden makes a sweet new friend and comes to some realizations about himself and his family.  

There you go, five books about adoption that I loved and five I plan to read.  Has your life been touched by adoption?  Is it a subject you enjoy reading about?  Which books have you loved on the subject?  If you did the Mardi Gras prompt, which book covers did you choose?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!


  1. Aww, what a lovely story! I have multiple relatives who were adopted through the foster care system. They've brought so much joy to the whole family.

    My post:

    1. That's awesome! There are SO many kids out there who need loving homes - I'm glad some of them landed in your family :)

      Thanks for stopping in, Lydia!

  2. What an amazing connection you have to the city, Susan!

    1. For real. One of these days I need to visit the city and actually take in the sites!

      Thanks for coming by, Tanya!

  3. I wish that I could like this post a thousand times. So beautiful and such a wonderful thing to adopt a child!! My sister is adopted at an older age (11) and it was not easy... but worth it! Anyways, I love all these books too! <3

    1. Aw, thanks! The experience, for us, has been absolutely wonderful. I know that's not the case in every situation, so I feel especially blessed that ours worked out so well. It takes a special person to adopt an older child, so kudos to your sister. I'm glad it's been worth it, even if it has been tough.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leslie!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! Adoption has been a lovely experience for us.

      Thanks for stopping by, Ellie!

  5. What a wonderful post Susan. A lovely story that has turned out happily and will always give you great memories of Mardi Gras, even though you didn't celebrate in a raucous way. I will definitely be checking out some of these books. Great post.

    1. Thanks, Carla! We actually weren't in NOLA at Mardi Gras time, but I still feel connected to the city and MG always makes me think of New Orleans. Someday, I need to actually explore the city!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carla!

  6. What a nice tribute to your adopted daughter!

    1. She has been such an amazing addition to our family! I was really nervous about adopting, but it honestly couldn't have turned out better.

      Thanks for stopping in, Harvee!

  7. Heck, Susan! You have me shedding tears over here. Such a beautiful story! How have I not read any of these! I did read Cynthia Hand's The How and the Why, which was a really beautiful story about adoption.

    1. Awww ... you sound like me! I can't even think about adoption without getting teary-eyed - that's how near and dear the subject is to my heart :)

      I've never heard of THE HOW AND THE WHY, so I'll definitely check it out. I love adoption stories.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  8. What a wonderful personal story! I LOVED The Secret Daughter and have The Kindest Lie on my TBR shelf.

    1. THE SECRET DAUGHTER is a great book! I just realized that I haven't read anything else by the author and I have no idea why not. I'm going to check out the rest of her books right now.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

  9. Such a beautiful story. And what a wonderful list.

    1. Thank you! Adoption has been a wonderful blessing in our lives. I know it doesn't work that way all the time, but for us, it has been amazing.

      Thanks for stopping by, Cheri!

  10. What a beautiful, heartwarming story! Thank you for sharing that with us. 🥰 I have never really been one for classics, but my sister read (and loved) Anne of Green Gables. I watched the movie Lion... it was a good movie! The Secret Daughter sounds really good - I will have to check it out. :) Happy TTT!

    1. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES is a really fun read. Just be prepared for LOTS of description. Montgomery describes EVERYTHING. Once you get past that, though, it's a wonderful book full of great characters.

      Lion's good, isn't it? Brierley's story is just incredible. I heard him speak at a conference once and it was even more amazing to hear him talk about what happened.

      Thanks for coming by, Maya!

  11. Aww, I like your twist on the topic and thanks for sharing your NOLA and adoption experience with us.

    1. You're welcome :) It's fun to look back at how the adoption came together and how much it's blessed our family over the years.

      Thanks for stopping in, Zezee!

  12. Splinters of Scarlet also features adoption, and it is marvelous!

    1. Does it? Now I want to read it even more! I loved the author's first book and I've been excited to read SPLINTERS OF SCARLET. Just haven't gotten to it yet.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, T!

  13. I love this story, and the spin you put on this week's topic to make it work for you. :)

    - Jana (That Artsy Reader Girl)

    1. I often spin the topic to better suit me :) LOL.

      Thanks for stopping in, Jana!

  14. This is such a sweet post:-) I love this story and you'll always have wonderful memories of New Orleans and Mardi Gras:-)

    1. Anything Louisiana will always remind me of my girl! One of these days, my husband and I plan to go back there with her and really look around since that wasn't possible the first time around :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tammy!

  15. Replies
    1. You have to throw in a cute baby or animal every once in awhile to make everyone say, "Awwww," right?

      Thanks for stopping in, Ronyell!

  16. Aww I absolutely LOVE your twist this week. This is such a sweet post, and I'm so glad you and your hubby were able to adopt your daughter! Sure makes Mardi Gras all the more special, doesn't it?

    How to Save A Life sounds absolutely amazing! Just the blurb is giving me all the feels.

    1. It's fun to have a special connection to Louisiana, even though I feel like we haven't really been there since we didn't see much of it! LOL. Oh well. Another time.

      I really love HOW TO SAVE A LIFE. I hope you do, too, if you read it.

      Thanks for dropping in, Sammie!

  17. I was not expecting to cry happy tears while reading a TTT post, but this is just such a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

    1. Aw, thanks! It was a lovely experience and *mostly* smooth as far as adoptions go :)

      Thanks for coming by, Suzanne!

  18. This was so sweet. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story <3

    1. Adopting is stressful and scary in so many ways, but once you have that baby in your arms, you know it's been worth every second! And my girl really is the sweetest :)

      Thanks for stopping by, Anneliese!

  19. This was such a beautiful post! Congratulations on your adoption, and for all the fun memories I’m sure you’ve had since then! ❤️ I recently bought The Kindest Lie, and I’m excited to read it!

    1. Thanks! It's been 12 years since the adoption, but it feels like just yesterday in so many ways. Babies grow up way too fast :(

      I'm excited about THE KINDEST LIE, too. The plot summary is sort of vague, so I'm interested to see what kind of book it turns out to be.

      Thanks for coming by, Anna!

  20. loved your take on this.. only read Anne of this set and love(d) it.. I have had Secret Daughter on my bookshelf forever and yet to read it..
    I have watched The Lion and it was a truly heartwarming story.
    I have now added a couple more to my TBR

    1. Brierley's story just amazes me. I can't believe how much work he put into finding his parents and that he actually found them. Incredible!

      Thanks for stopping in, Lady in Read!

  21. Thanks for sharing your story, that is so lovely.

    I've read "Anne of Green Gables" (who hasn't?) and "The Secret Daughter" but none of the others. They all sound soooo interesting.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT earlier.

    1. I find adoption stories endlessly fascinating! Always have.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

    2. You're welcome. I can imagine that you find them even more interesting after you adopted yourself.

  22. Such a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing - wishing you and your family much happiness!

    1. Thank you, Denise! It has been a happy 12 years with our little girl, who's not so little anymore :(

      Thanks for stopping by!

  23. That's a great post and thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Susan!

    I haven't read any of these books but I'm sure they'll touch the readers' heart in so many ways.

    1. I think so, too! There's just something so moving about adoption, isn't there?

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Melody!

  24. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it! And a nice twist on this weeks topic.

    1. Thanks! I don't always love cover prompts, so I often twist them to a topic I'm more interested in :)

      Thanks for stopping in, Louise!

  25. Adoption in books is such an endearing plot point for me -- regardless of whether or not I enjoyed the book.

    Thank you for sharing this list! Definitely going to check out some of these.

    1. Good point! I'm always drawn to books about adoption, but that doesn't mean I'm going to love them all. The subject is so near and dear to my heart, though, that I can't NOT find it moving.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting!

  26. Great idea of list! It made me think of The Language of Flowers, which focuses on the foster care system:

    1. I haven't heard of THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. I'll definitely check it out. We didn't adopt from the foster system, but I know plenty of people who have. It makes such a difference for those kids and families!

      Thanks for stopping in, Emma!

  27. Wow! I was literally smiling reading this post,Susan! Thank you for sharing!! And your TTT list has such wonderful collection! I had seen the trailer for Lion but often forget that it was a book before so definitely want to read that one soon. Again thank you for sharing!!! 💖💕🥺

    1. Aww, thanks! Remembering those early days of our daughter's adoption makes me smile, too :)

      You should definitely read the book. The movie was good, but I think you have to read the book to really appreciate the tedious process Brierley went through to find his Indian family. It's incredible!

      Thanks for coming by, Kitten!


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