This is a children’s book, written by an adoptive mother, as though she were a birth mother making the decision to place her child for adoption. Honestly, I feel like I could end the review there. You can already predict how this story plays out.
The Very Best Thing for TJ follows a baby’s growth in utero while his mother decides what the best thing is for him. The book ends at placement, and then there is a journal with prompts to write out your child’s adoption story. I’d assumed the book was written by a birth mother and that the journal was geared towards her thoughts on pregnancy, placement, and adoption. The prompts are open-ended enough that a birth parent could fill them out, but with the author’s use of “we,” they seem subtly geared towards adoptive parents.
This isn’t a book I intend to share with my daughter, because the author’s pro-adoption biases clearly show through. For example, it’s definitely a pro-life book, with some subtle religious mentions. One page discusses how, with abortion, “ . . . he wouldn’t live anymore. He would be gone forever.” I’m not a fan of pro-life adoption books, not because I’m against pro-life or for pro-choice, but rather because adoptees shouldn’t be made to feel grateful that their birth parents chose not to have an abortion. And, I don’t want to get into what abortion is with a young child, who is the target audience for this book.
The mother in the book also, in choosing adoption, takes into consideration childless couples. “TJ’s mommy had important decisions to make. She remembered that sometimes people can’t have children . . . ” The fact that hopeful adoptive parents exist should not be what pushes a woman into considering placing. I know that type of coercion occurs, but I’m not going to bring a book into my house that caters to it.
It does demonstrate the difficulty of the decision to place, and how much TJ’s birth mother loves him. Some of the illustrations are lovely, as well.
At the end of the day though, this isn’t a book I’ll be keeping in my home. Adoption is a complicated issue; I don’t think it will serve my daughter well to read books that favor the adoptive parents’ narrative, especially books posing as being from the birth parent’s perspective.