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When Joel Comes Home
Illustrated by Jim Fowler

This book began with a title. Our friends up the street were off adopting a baby - Joel. He was a big topic of conversation, and in the weeks they were gone, I began any number of sentences with, "When Joel come.... we'll take him this toy, see what he looks like, offer to babysit," etcetera. After a while, I realized that "When Joel Comes Home" sounded like a book title. We had adopted one of our children, so adoption is a topic dear to my heart, and I was excited when this story of a child's eager anticipation began to take life.


As I started writing, I realized that most of the adoption stories I'd read seemed to have been written for the child who's been adopted. I liked that the focus of this one is the eager child waiting for arrival of someone else's newly adopted child. I hope that this perspective helps people remember that adoption is an event that changes and enriches the lives of many, and that this book is seen as a joyful family story to be enjoyed by all children, not solely adoptive families.


One of my favorite things about this book is that there are so many people I love in it. Jean and George, the names of the adopting parents in this book, are named for our close friends who adopted six children years ago (I grew up with the older ones). The children named in the airport scene are all Juneau kids who've been adopted, and then, of course, there was Joel who finally arrived! Best of all, the people on whom my husband Jim based the illustrations are people in our hometown with a family connection to adoption -- parents, kids, siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles.


Children often ask me if this is a true story, and I tell them that the parts of the story are true, but they are put together in a new way. Children like to see the photos of my own family's arrival back in Alaska after adopting our daughter in Colombia and to hear about my older daughter being the first child to hold our young friend Zoe when she arrived in Juneau, a newly adopted baby. "When Joel Comes Home" is kind of a patchwork of real life events, and it's one way stories can be made.


Out of print.