A Gift for Little Tree by Colleen D.C. Maequez and illustrations by Masako Dunn.
This book is written as a parable. At first glance, one might think this is a book about an apple orchard. But a second read shows a beautiful adoption metaphor woven throughout.
This story opens up introducing readers to a farmer, who lovingly cares for the apple trees in his orchard. As a result, the trees produce apples of all kinds that can be used for many purposes.
However, there is one tree who is not producing apples, although it desperately longs to. This tree helps you experience the sense of longing, uncertainty and grief many adoptive parents feel in their journey to grow their family.
There is another apple tree who worries her branches will break due to the amount of apples that are produced. We talk to many birth mothers in our office about their branches beginning to buckle under the pressure of caring for other children. Birth mothers share how difficult it can be providing for their emotional and material needs – much less any of their own needs. While this is not the only motivator to place for adoption, other family obligations rank among one of the most common given reasons for placing a child for adoption. This metaphor reminds us of the strength of birth mothers, that they carry a great load. They are able to put the needs of their “apples” before their own needs. Through their pain, their children can all flourish and grow.
These two trees come together and help to create a harvest. Adoption brings two families together. Both families have important roles and resources to create and nurture a life. Both families need each other. In some adoption stories, birth and adoptive families never meet face to face but their bond is still there. This book does an excellent job at illustrating this bond and connection between birth and adoptive families. Both families are apart of the adoptee’s family tree.
The book was written and dedicated to the author’s two children, and her two children’s birth mothers.
In closing, this book is recommended not only for it’s gorgeous illustrations and flowery words. It’s recommended because it describes the reciprocal relationship between birth and adoptive families that need to be understood to understand adoption. Both “trees” have an important and needed role that we celebrate as members of the adoption community.