Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Club: Megan's Birthday Tree

     Open Adoption Bloggers now has a book club!  Our first book to read and discuss was a sweet picture book, "Megan's Birthday Tree" by Laurie Lears.  All participating bloggers sent in discussion questions and we are each answering some of those questions in our blogs.  If you would like to read more, on March 6th you can go to  Heather will have a list of links to all the participants for this round.  You will find my answers below  -Because we are still in the middle of our move, I had to keep my answers a little shorter than usual.  Happy reading!

     Synopsis of Story (from cover of book):  "Megan is adopted, but she and her parents keep in touch with her birth mother, Kendra.  Every year on Megan's birthday, Kendra decorates the tree she planted when Megan was born and sends a picture of it to Megan.  Megan cherishes this Birthday Tree, for it ties her and Kendra together:  But one day Kendra writes that she is getting married and moving to a different town.  Will she forget Megan, without the tree to remind her?
     Discussion Questions:

  • Megan's birth mother planted a tree when she was born, and decorates it yearly to remember her birth. Do you have something special that you do to celebrate your child's birth or adoption?
  •      We have not adopted yet, but I really like this idea.  Kid's think in the concrete so I can see how having something tangible to represent the adoption would be very helpful.  I also like how the tree grows with Megan. 
         Traditions help us to feel connected.  My good friend shares her children's birth stories with them each year on their birthday and they love it!  Since I like to write, one thing I plan to do is write our children's birth/adoption stories (and my husband can illustrate them)-We can bind it into their very own personalized picture book. 

  • Do you think this book represents a realistic view of what open adoption might look like? How does the book and/or your own personal experience with open adoption correlate with what Ms. Page writes as a forward?
  •      I think the book represents open adoption well.  Open adoption, like all relationships, grows and changes over time.  I think the author did a good job of conveying Megan's fears and emotions as well as her love for her birth mother Kendra. 

  • In the story, Megan struggles with the fear that her birthmother will forget her if she no longer has the Birthday Tree to remind her. What fears have you struggled with in your adoption journey? What helped you overcome those fears?
  •      Because we have been waiting a long time, the biggest fear we have had to struggle with is 'will it really happen for us'?  Our faith has been a constant source of hope for us.  We believe God has a plan for our life and we know that His plan is the best.  We have also been blessed with wonderful friends and family that encourage us when we have a rough day. 

  • While the birthday tree was used to decorate and celebrate Megan's birthday in what other ways do you believe the tree was important to Megan and her birth mom?
  •      I think the tree is a good symbol of life and growth...the tree grows right along with Megan.  Also the tree represents Kendra and Megan's love for each other- it grows and changes over time, but it is always there. 

  • This book focused on the ongoing relationship between Megan and her birth mom, allowing insight into the complexity of that evolving bond, rather than simply being a sort of expected re-telling Megan’s birth and adoption story. As an adoptive parent, how would you respond to your child’s questions about Megan and her birth mom if your kid's relationship with their birth mom or birth dad is not so open or positive?
  •        Kids need honesty and the truth, but it sharing it at an age appropriate level and with tactfulness and grace can go a long way.  I think the most important thing to emphasize is love.

  • In Megan's Birthday Tree, Megan's adoptive parents were present at various points, but tangentially. Did you pick up on this? Does your response to the background role the adoptive parents played say anything about where your family is in your adoption journey?
  •      Surprisingly, I didn't pick up on it much while reading the book because I was so caught up in the story.  For this story, I thought it was appropriate for the adoptive parents to be a little in the background as it focused on Kendra and Megan's relationship.  I do appreciate that the adoptive parents were portrayed as supportive and were not threatened by Megan's relationship with her birth mother.  I think a little bit of jealousy (on both sides) is probably a normal part of the process.  But as the open adoption relationship matures and grows, hopefully the trust and comfort level grows as well. 

  • The book was categorized by the publisher as one of its "issue books," dealing with "children's problems and special needs." Other books in the series address topics like autism, epilepsy, and stuttering. What do think about a book on open adoption being characterized that way
  •      It does bother me a little that the book is listed as an "issue books."  This perpetuates the myth that adopted children are "broken" and "mal-ajusted."  Adoption is a great way for families to be formed!


    1. I really liked the portrayal of the adoptive parents, too. Supportive, loving, and present, but not at all the focus of the story.

    2. I enjoyed reading your answers! Like Heather, I also liked the portrayal of the adoptive parents! :-)

    3. I too liked the portrayal of the adoptive parents. I also love your idea of writing and illustrating your children's birth/adoption stories. That will be a gift they will treasure forever!

    4. Thanks for your thoughts on this book! We, too, are a pre-adoptive family (pre-homestudy paperwork stages) and as we try to imagine the future, we hope that we can have as trusting a relationship with our child's birthmother as Megan's parents did. I'm sure this nervousness will get better over time, and that we'll be more comfortable--especially as we get to know our child and his/her birthmother and her family.

    5. I like how you suggest that the tree is a symbol of life, growth and love -- always changing but ever present. perfect!