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Adoption Book Club

Posted Apr 07 2010 3:56am

Okay, so today is the big day.

Today, is the launch of the Ultimate Adoption Book Club. This time around, we read The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis.

Here are the participants who should be posting their impressions of the book sometime today:

My questions and answers follow below.

1.       Did you enjoy reading the book? Why or why not?

I did enjoy reading the book. I don’t really like the game of football, so reading about the sport in such detail was a challenge for me.

2.       What did you think about the portrayal of adoption, particularly teenage transracial adoption in the book?

There were times when I was a little uncomfortable with the adoption storyline. At certain points, I started to think that Michael Lewis had a very sensationalistic writing style, on the other hand, I think that he is a good storyteller and definitely kept me engaged. I can see why the story, particularly his version of it, would lend itself to a screen play.

3.       Do you identify with Leigh Anne Tuohy?  If so, in what ways to you identify with her? And, if not, in what ways does she rub you the wrong way?

If I identified with any part of her, it would be her desire to help others and, perhaps, her inability to walk away from injustice. In many ways, I think she is much braver than I am and in many ways I think she is pushier than I am and I can be pretty pushy.

I think that transracial adoption has some special challenges and the book doesn’t really deal with them in any depth. And I wonder if, at any point, the family thought about the magnitude of what they were taking on by taking Michael into their home or if it really did unfold in such the organic, practical way their story is portrayed in the book.

I think about the home studies, the finger printing episodes,  the lawyers, the information sessions, the adoption classes, the social workers and all of the things that I, and other adoptive parents have had to endure in order to adopt a child, whether it be a new born or teen, and I didn’t see any of that in this story. So , I believe, it’s a rather unique story.

4.       What do you think about Michael Lewis’ description of Michael Oher’s ‘natural athletic ability’? For example, in chapter four, entitled “The Blank Slate”, Lewis writes about the “boy’s freakish physical gifts (p. 76). Later in that chapter, he writes about “the trouble with Oher as a football player was…he didn’t exhibit the anger of his breed (p.80).”

I was really annoyed by some of his language choices. I kept trying to suspend my disbelief but it was difficult. I think that his tone was condescending if not downright racist at times. ‘ I think that whenever you refer to someone as other than ‘human’ either as a ’superhuman’ or a sub-human, it robs that person of their humanity, which is why, ultimately, I think his word choices with regard to describing Michael’s talents were  often’ unfortunate.

5.       At one point, when the Oher’s are being investigated by the NCAA, Lewis writes, “Michael Oher might never be sure of Sean Tuohy’s deeper motives. But he could be sure of this: Pops was funny(p. 223)!” What do you think motivated the Tuohy’s relationship with Michael? Did you ever doubt their sincerity?

I actually didn’t think about it, until the part in the story when the reader learns about the investigation.  When I read about it, I thought to myself, ‘huh, I guess that’s a plausible explanation for their interest in him” but, ultimately, I’m not that jaded. I believe that they wanted to help him. from the beginning and that is what motivated them.

6.       Are you a sports fan? and did you appreciate reading about the evolution of the game of football. Why? Or why not? I sort of talked about this my first response.

No, I didn’t really enjoy reading about football, but I guess it integral part of the story, and that the game of football is an important player in Michael’s life, so it has to be there. 

8.       In what ways do you think that Lewis’ approach to race and class is successful ? And in what ways do you think it falls short?

As I said earlier, the book is entertaining.  I, however, spend a lot time thinking about race and class issues, so I would have enjoying reading more analysis in the story, though I understand and respect that fact that the author choice not to do so.

Lewis is successful because he has a very matter of fact approach to his story telling, which helps to normalize a story which is not normal or commonplace by any stretch of the imagination.

9.       What impact, if any, does Michael’s story, his success, and the success of The Blind Side, have on people’s perception of foster care and adoption? Particularly teenage, transracial adoption?

I don’t know the answer to this question. I think that it chips away at people’s biases but it seems like such a larger than life fairytale that I’m not sure how most people will process it. I don’t know if people will connect the dots between the Michael Oher story and the average teen age transracial adoption they may encounter on the street.

10.   Does it surprise you that Leigh Anne and Sean decided to adopt Michael after they learned they could not add him to their children’s trust fund? Leigh Anne says, “I wanted to make sure Michael got a third of what we had if something happened. And [after speaking with our attorney] I just said, ‘Well, this is just ridiculous.’” They hired a lawyer and soon became Michael’s legal guardians.

I don’t know if it surprises me but I think it’s a beautiful thing. Who knows what would have happened to Michael if the Tuohy’s hadn’t taken him in. And I know that a lot of people are skeptical of this rich white family’s intentions but at the end of the day, they helped to make his a self-sufficient, independent, successful young man, and that what every parent wants for their child.

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