Adoption Books | Review of Awakening East by Johanna Garton

Awakening East allowed me to step inside the world of international adoption - and feel like I'd made a new friend.

Kenna Shumway October 15, 2016
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My son was placed into our family when he was 14 months old via a domestic adoption. My experience with international adoption sits at about zero, with my only exposure being friends of mine who have adopted internationally. Listening to their stories always leave me in awe of all they go through to bring their children home. The years of planning, cutting through red tape, insurmountable expenses, and piles of paperwork . . .  all for these little ones. So, when given the chance to read “Awakening East,” I took it immediately.

awakening eastThis memoir takes us on Johanna’s journey as she and her husband, Ernie, decided to move their family to China, the birthplace of both of their adoptive children, for a year. She gives the reader an inside look into her life’s adventures, which includes the adoption of her two children, Will and Eden, from China. Memoirs can be tough to read, but Johanna’s writing style hooked me from beginning to end. She wittily describes the culture shock associated with moving halfway across the world while lovingly talking about her children in a way every mother, adoptive or not, can identify with. Reading her book felt like visiting with her over scones as the nearest coffee shop, yet somehow being transported into her life to experience everything firsthand.

Johanna and Ernie made the move to China while their son Will was nine and their daughter, Eden, was four. Both Will and Eden were adopted from China, Will from an orphanage and Eden from foster care. While in China, Johanna and Ernie dived deeper into the circumstances of their children’s earliest days, before their adoptions. This was no easy task, physically or emotionally, yet Johanna moved through the challenges her family faced with poise and patience.

There isn’t a doubt that Johanna has done an incredible service to her children by embarking on this journey East. One day, the information attained and the strong connection she has created with the homeland of her children will prove invaluable.

This book allowed me to step inside the world of international adoption, a step I wouldn’t have taken otherwise. Even if you aren’t an adoptive parent, this book will keep you hooked with stories of traveling abroad, love, and courage. I highly recommend “Awakening East” to anyone and everyone. 

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Kenna Shumway

Wife. Adoptive mom. Writer. Photographer. Endometriosis survivor, infertility warrior & adoption advocate. Rock star on weekends. Currently calls Ohio home with her pharmacist husband and their ginger son. Read more from her on her blog.

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