“For him, I would make our family an island in the vast, weeping waters of the world.” (Sarah Silverman)
The author, Susan Silverman, sister of comedian Sarah Silverman, is a good writer and a devout Jew (she is an ordained rabbi) who adores children. She and her husband, Josef Abramowitz, a political activist, have five. Although the book is primarily about adopting from overseas, it also informs readers of the details of an observant Jewish family’s life. Hebrew phrases and holidays line the book’s pages.
Silverman started out life as a worried young girl. She always thought when people left, they might die or never return. Her baby brother had unexpectedly died. Her parents divorced when she was a young teen. She held tightly to those she loved, afraid of being all alone.
After leaving home, she attended college, became a rabbi, married. The couple had three daughters, Hallel, Aliza, and Ashira, and lived in Boston. But Silverman wanted more children, and she wanted to adopt, preferably from another country. In fact, she wanted a rainbow of children, although the couple did stop after adopting two boys. She and another sister, Jody, went to the orphanage they had chosen in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and met their one-month-old boy, Adar. “Adar Daniel Abramowitz-Silverman… began transforming our lives from the moment we saw the first pictures of him.” The boy had received small gifts from them as well so he would have a small feeling of his new family. “This, for me, was not only a Promised Land – the gift of my new son – but also a kind of ground zero, a real-life incarnation of my lifelong fears: children who had lost everyone. I wanted to save them all,” writes the author.
Integrating him into the family was not terribly difficult; the girls were excited to have a new baby brother, especially one so exotic. Yet, as Adar matured, he began to question what his original name was, who his mother was, and why no one else in this family had the same color skin. For a while, he even hated his skin color.
While Adar was still young, Silverman and her spouse began to think it would be good for Adar to have a brother from the same country and of the same color. This time Silverman took their two oldest daughters with her to meet Zamir at the same orphanage.
Once their family is complete, they decide to move to a kibbutz in the south of Israel. “Life in suburban Boston had been wonderful in many ways. But it had been like the tablets [of Moses] without words – too heavy, and missing the kind of relationship with God that allowed for us to create as Her [she and her children always call God a woman] partners.”
This is a relatively quick read that would probably most appeal to those considering adoption or those wanting to learn more of Jewish faith and traditions. The book concludes with a short chapter, “The Global State of Adoption,” in which Silverman explains the facts and myths of international adoption.