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Reviewed by Sandy Masia for Readers' Favorite
The Search for Mother Missing by Janine Vance tells the story of international trans-racial adoptees Janine and Jenette Vance who grew up, despite the prejudice, believing they were fully American. It’s only at the age of 25 that they discover they have got green cards, not actual US citizenship, despite having lived in the country practically their entire lives. It is this statelessness that brings the issues of their origins to the fore. Previously the twins had avoided the issue, believing it would seem ungrateful or disrespectful to their adoptive parents. They had been told they were found in a box on a street corner in Seoul and nothing more. Now in their early thirties, they journey into the motherland for an international conference of Korean-born adoptees where they hope to learn more about their culture, their background and find their family. It’s here on their trip that they experience the shady dealings of the international adoption agencies and other eye-opening and life-altering experiences.
The Search for Mother Missing has a lot of strengths. Janine Vance went for something more well-rounded. When issues of great pain and suffering are discussed they never come across as overwhelming, as you would expect when issues as serious as these are at the center of a book. This was a brilliant choice; to be informative without being exhausting. It helps a lot that Janine’s writing and her entire organization of this book is so welcoming, easy to follow and heart-warming. She draws you in quickly and you identify with her. It is this sense of effortlessness and the hope of the story that really makes this book gripping.
The Search for Mother Missing answers some question in a very satisfactory, insightful manner that will make you see the world of international adoption differently. Those questions are: what’s it like to be a trans-racial international adoptee? Do the benefits of international adoption outweigh the costs, and vice versa? What rights should the child, biological parents and adoptive parents have? What sort of protections are necessary? When is adoption appropriate? These aren’t easy questions and Janine Vance doesn’t give easy answers either, but they are honest and thoughtful answers nonetheless. I highly recommended this book, if not for its candor, for its uplifting story.