Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Martian Child, by David Gerrold (author), Scott Brick (narrator)

Blackstone Audiobooks, ISBN 9780786174270, May 2006 (originally published June 2002)

This is a fictionalized account of David Gerrold's adoption of his son, at the time an eight-year-old boy who had been "in the system" since birth, and had averaged one placement a year over that time.

Having decided to adopt a child, and having cleared the first challenging hurdle of being approved as a potential adopter, Gerrold attends an event that sounds rather like a setting he's more familiar with--a science fiction convention, but with a really, really different focus, both in programming and in the "dealers' room." It's not a dealers' room, of course, or a an exhibit hall, as those from different hobby or professional backgrounds might label it, but an opportunity to meet with representatives of various agencies, and find out something about the children they are trying to place.

At one of these tables he sees a picture of Dennis, and makes the fateful decision that this boy--ADHD, possible fetal alcohol syndrome, considered "difficult to place"--is the boy he wants to adopt.

One of the first things that Dennis's case worker tells him is that Dennis thinks he's a Martian.

The process of adoption is slow and deliberate, starting with regular visits to Dennis's current group home, leading to day visits at Gerrold's house and outing together.

The next step is supposed to be an overnight visit, but just days before what should be their first overnight, Dennis's case worker calls David and tells him, essentially, that he has to decide Right Now, because the group home the boy is currently in is closing, and a new placement has to be found for him. And there are no new placements for this very difficult child; his next stop is an institution.

Gerrold has been delaying a formal decision, but he's committed, and after a few moments of hesitation he says so. The exciting, challenging, stressful, alarming, rewarding process of convincing a scared little boy so alienated he thinks he's from another planet that he has a home, a family, a place to belong has begun.

I found this a charming, touching story. Recommended.

It was adapted as a movie in 2007; this is the trailer.

I borrowed this book from the library.

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