Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: Addition by Adoption

Kevin Hendricks and his wife, Abby, began the adoption process in August of 2007. They wanted to expand their family, there were an abundance of children who needed families, and apparently Abby didn't relish the idea of another pregnancy (they have a biological daughter Lexi) - so they submitted all their paperwork and began the wait.

While they waited they went about life as normal - Abby went to her job as a teacher, Kevin worked from home, did full time daddy-duty, and used a variety of online venues to share it all. If you are a part of the online world (which you must have some place in if you are reading this blog!) you may have experienced the joy of connecting with others through the mulitude of online social networking possibilities.  Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc have become ways to not only keep up with folks you know - but a way to make new connections.

If my own experience is any indication, one of the quickest ways to make online friends is through the sharing of a mutual interest, cause, or passion. The Hendricks family's story encompasses all three. First came the interest in adoption. Once that process was underway, Kevin was inspired to participate in a number of causes including spending a night being homeless and shaving his head! These all evolved into a passion to do whatever they could to help make a difference in Ethiopia. Because in Kevin's own words, "As much as we love Milo (their adopted son), we want his brothers and sisters to be able to stay with their families in Ethiopia".

So why write a book comprised of Tweets, instead of just telling the story in a more conventional fashion? I don't know - but I liked it! Of course, I also carry on conversations with about 3-10 people a day on Twitter. And most of those are people that I have never even met in real life! But I've met them through similar interests or mutual admirations and I enjoy sharing my day with them. I also enjoy seeing little snapshots of their musings, rants and lives. So, reading a book written in Twitterific style wasn't too much of a stretch for me!

If you are not a Twitter fan, no worries! The entire book isn't just tweets - Kevin fills in the background of the story at the beginnning of each chapter so that we can better understand the concept of his tweets. And overall, Kevin's writing style is easy to enjoy - clever, ironic, and written like a Dad. His descriptions of daughter Lexi's daily antics are both hilarious and heartwarming. My favorite Lexi fact?
Lexi is obsessed with W’s. She just spotted one on the back of a magazine and tried to tickle it. “Tickle W! Tickle W!”
There are also funny accounts of their dogs, daily life as a work at home Dad, and reports of reaching milestones in their adoption journey. But here is when I knew that Keven Hendricks' book, "Addition by Adoption" won me over completely. (In fact, after reading the following tweets, I went online and purchased a copy of the book for myself despite having the PDF copy for free.)

Sandwiched in between this tweet on January 9th:
"Loving the surprised looks on Lexi’s face when I burst into her room while she’s supposed to be napping."

And this one on Janurary 15th:

Trying to coordinate Lexi’s naptime with a business conference call. This is a doomed endeavor.

Is this one:

Trying to reconcile my faith and the staggering difference between my wealth and the incredible poverty throughout the world. Too heavy. (January 13th, 2008)
This is exactly what life is like - well, its a lot like what my life is like. Not the kids and the adoption part neccesarily, but the crushing awareness of how devestatingly difficult life is for some people - especially when my life is so relatively sweet and easy in comparison. I felt like there have been times where my Twitter feed or Facebook status could have read the exact same way.
I'm going to be really honest here and hope that the words I write make sense to those of you reading. It wasn't that long ago that I didn't really understand this truth about adoption. That for every child who finds a new "forever family", there are thousands that are not and never will be adopted. And I'll admit that I was someone who only saw children living in an orphanage and didn't give much thought to the reality that those children have parents, siblings, and extended family out there in their countries. Parents who probably did not have much choice about living in poverty, or being infected by an epidemic virus, or having to choose between giving up their child or letting them starve to death. I really can't explain why, when reading this verse in Bible, so many only really see the "look after orphans" part and don't really pay much attention to the "widows in distress". Or why we even focus on that verse so much when there are so many other times in the Bible where God commands us to care for all of the poor, sick, and needy. But I know that for many people, myself included, that was how adoption was viewed for a very long time - especially in international adoption.

But now that I have begun to really see the big picture, due in large part to my online blogging/tweeting community, it has been hard to reconcile my love of adoption with my painful awareness of those left behind. I'm not okay with the idea of closing down adoptions until the problems with adoption are all sorted out - there are too many children who will suffer to go this route. But for everyone to say they are "doing their part" by adopting a child or two really only serves our own desires.

So, reading about how Kevin has embraced the pursuit of a better future for his son's country of origins is both relieving and inspiring. I think at this point we must continue to work both ends of the issue - children need to be adopted right now but we need to simultaneously working towards improving the conditions that are leading to thousands of children sitting in orphanages all over the world.

Kevin doesn't claim to have all the answers or solutions - and neither do I! But he is trying to figure it out and doing his part by donating $2 of the sale of Addition by Adoption to charity: water with the goal of building a well in Ethiopia. Not just any well, an actual specific well in Ethiopia! This well, which costs about $5,000, is just one step - but I think its a good one.

Want to join in the fight to "look after orphans AND widows in distress"? Want to celebrate the awesome communities of people who are getting together here, on the World Wide Web, and making a difference? Want to read a clever, funny, sweet, and thought provoking story about a family coming together from different sides of the world?

Buy Addition by Adoption

And if you'd like to do all those things, but really can't spare the 9.99, no worries! For the first time ever, I am having a giveaway on my blog! From now until Thursday night at midnight (Eastern Time) you can enter to win a copy of Addition by Adoption! Here is how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post!
2. Tweet about this giveaway! (OK, I'll let you post it as your facebook status too!)
3. Post about the giveaway on YOUR blog!

Leave a comment back here with the link to your tweet, facebook status, or blog so that I know how many times to enter you! (I moderate comments so don't worry if it doesn't show up right away!) This is for a good cause folks! Even if you don't win the book, hopefully more people will buy it and that well in Ethiopian will be built in no time!

Let the fun begin!

You can read Kevin's blog here: www.kevindhendricks.com
You can follow him on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/kevinhendricks


  1. Here is my comment. I'll link it to my blog and my facebook as well!

  2. I tried to post a comment, but it disappeared! I like your blog. My daughter linked to it and she has good taste. So I've linked to it too.

  3. +1 This actually sounds like a really interesting way to read a book! How fun and interesting. :)

  4. +1 Tweet Tweet! http://twitter.com/ash_hoffenberg/status/13792741486

  5. +1 Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/AshHoffenberg?v=wall&story_fbid=125458984137908&ref=mf

  6. Thank you. It's touching to see the responses and awesome to see you narrow in on the idea of working towards kids not needing to be adopted. That's huge.

  7. Readers should know that many agencies that do adoptions in Ethiopia (and other countries) support or sponsor the kids that won't be adopted.
    ina, not anon.

  8. COMMENTING!!! Howdy! I'll tweet it, too!

  9. Sounds cool!!!Going through a situation-if we had space we'd become legal guardians to 2 children but.. :(

  10. Beautiful idea! Tweet tweet.


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