Title: Instant Mom
Author: Nia Vardalos
In Instant Mom, Nia Vardalos, writer and star of the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, opens up about her 10-year struggle with infertility (including 13 rounds of IVF) and her journey towards becoming a mother. She shares her story with her classic humor and raw emotion, and as Rachel Dratch quoted on the back cover, you will “laugh and cry on the very same page.”
Parts I liked best:
I love how her humor and personality shines through in this book. She talks about her life growing up in Canada and how no one in Hollywood quite knew what to do with a Greek actress. She talks candidly about how agents told her she was “not pretty enough to be a leading lady and not fat enough to be a character actress” (pg.24).
I love that she included a “How to Adopt Index.” She writes, “I have met people whose hearts ache to be parents, who don’t know the ways to adopt. Studies have shown that worldwide there are as many prospective parents as adoptable children. But some people think they don’t have the financial means to adopt. Numerous people can’t find credible information on how to adopt” (pg. 3). As the spokesperson for National Adoption Day, and through this book, she works hard to get information out to those who are searching for it.
My favorite part of the book is when she describes the days surrounding her becoming an Instant Mom. She describes going to meet her daughter for the first time. As she and her husband are walking in she sees the group of social workers with the little girl. She writes, “The little girl turns and looks at me. At me. And she smiles. Everything goes quiet. I hear nothing at all. All I think is, ‘Oh, I found you’” (pg. 83-84).
Although they let the social workers know they want to adopt her, they are legally required to wait 24 hours before giving their response. She describes it being hard to say goodbye. She says, “She has not spoken one word all day but now turns to me with a small wave and quietly says, ‘Bye, Mommy.’ No one moves. Everyone heard it. No one can make eye contact. The car drives away, and Ian and I stand here for a long time. I say, ‘Did that just happen?’ and Ian says, ‘Yep’” (pg. 87).
I love that she works to change the stereotype and stigma that surrounds foster care and adoption. She writes “In truth, I’m telling you all these stories to dispel the myth that adopted kids are damaged. There is nothing done that a lot of love can’t undo. Someone once asked me if I think adopted children have abandonment issues. My answer is yes. We all do” (pg.218). It is clear from her book that she is not saying love is all it takes. However, just like any parent would, she and her husband loved their daughter completely, even through the hard stuff. They also sought appropriate guidance and resources, and through that their daughter was able to learn to trust.
How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother:
As an adoptee myself, I always love hearing the stories of how adoptive parents and their children come together. Nia’s struggle to become a parent was balanced with her personal faith that she knew being a mom was something she was meant to do. It is a beautiful reminder, especially on those hard days, that I also know this is what I am meant to do, and I love it. Through her story, as well as my own experience as a foster/adopt mom, I have also seen how being a mom and loving a child is not limited to those who give birth. We can all be “mothers” to our nephews and nieces, to our children’s friends, etc. To paraphrase the popular saying, it takes a village and we can all support and encourage each other and those around us.
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