What Makes A Family?

In our mothers house.PolaccoAs an adoptive parent, an adoption coach and a writer on adoption issues, I found In Our Mother’s House by renowned author, illustrator Patricia Polacco exceptional. As is probably obvious from the title, the story focuses on a/n (adoptive) family with two mothers. Readers searching for stories that include LGBTQ families will appreciate this upbeat and poignant tale.

Written as a flashback from a now-adult adoptee who recalls some treasured and delightful memories of her childhood, In Our Mother’s House focuses on the positives, on how families can look different but still be about the love and care that connect them. Lesbian parenting is not the focus of the book; it is the backdrop. The story concentrates on the warm, supportive and “regular”  family that the children and their two mothers shared. Love, tolerance and joy thread throughout.

While most of the neighborhood characters welcome and embrace this unique family, one does not. Polacco makes the point subtly—the children wonder why Mrs. Lockner grumps at them whenever they meet her. The mothers concentrate on reaching out to neighbors (all of them) to create community.

The illustrations include a dazzling array of diversity. Many lend themselves to further exploration of cuisine, language and neighborliness, etc. Although the story is about a family formed through adoption, it doesn’t concentrate on adoption issues, makes no mention of the emotional struggles that adoptees often face nor does it mention birth parents, etc. In Our Mother’s House is a sweet, feel-good book about the wondrous blessing of a loving family. Great book!

And Tango Makes Three in a Family That Is Not Like Others

tangoAs adoptive parents we thoroughly understand that families come in a stunning array of sizes, colors and combinations. We work earnestly to help the world to see and accept our families as legitimate. It is important for us to support all different kinds of families, to help spread understanding and respect for parents of every shade and stripe.

And Tango Makes Three is a charming book that presents a sweet story of “family as different” but still very much a family. On the flyleaf of the book is this quote: “In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.

While its characters are animals, its message  of kindness and tolerance rings true for humans. Tango is a chinstrap penguin who lived in the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, New York. His mother had more babies than she could raise, so Tango was placed with other parents. The metaphor for adoption will be obvious to children who are adopted. It will appeal to all kids because they like to know that parents are always going to be there for them to rely on.

Back to the story line. Remember, this is based on a actual events. The zoo keepers deliberated carefully and finally chose parents to care for and incubate the egg. They selected a bonded pair of males–Roy and Silo–to be the new parents for the unhatched egg. They developed into nurturing parents who successfully hatched Tango and cared for him exactly the same way the other penguin parents cared for their babies. In one way Tango’s family was quite different from the other penguin families: he has two daddies. But in every other respect, Tango’s family was just like all the others. The story line

The message of tolerance and inclusion in the story is clear but not overbearing. The overarching tone is one of caring, kindness and connection, of seeing families loving and being loved. The beautiful pastel illustrations by Henry Cole create a soft, dreamy backdrop for a tender story.