Book Summary: No Biking in the House Without a Helmet

Title: No Biking in the House Without a Helmet

Author: Melissa Fay Greene

Basic Overview: After raising four biological children, Melissa Fay Greene and her husband decided to bring in, as they call it, the “ringers.” They adopted five more children from Bulgaria and Ethopia. In No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, Greene reflects on her journey to adoption, raising children (both biological and adoptive) and what it means to be a family. The book made me both laugh and cry. It broadened my understanding of adoption and reminded me once again of what a blessing it is to be a mother. Advisory: This book contains some profanity.

Parts I Liked Best: I really appreciated the honesty of the author. She talks about how difficult the process of adoption was and how she struggled with post-adoption depression syndrome. This was something I had never heard of but is common among parents adopting older children.

 As adults, our brains are pre-programmed to bond to babies. Bonding to screaming, non-English screaming toddlers is much more difficult. Greene felt like she had  completely ruined the dynamics of her family and their life together after their first adoption. But they all pushed through, and they ended up adopting four more times. Each time was an adjustment and a growing process, but as she says in the end, “By joining this family, through birth or adoption, family life was regained or enlarged, enlivened and enriched [for everyone].” (page 351)

The author’s accounts of visiting the orphanages in Bulgaria and Ethiopia were fascinating. The children there are so excited to get a family and the simplest things bring them great joy. It made me appreciate yet again all of the comforts and blessings that I enjoy.

There were a lot of funny stories included too. Like how Greene almost missed her best friend’s wedding to help with a pet gerbil’s labor and delivery or how one of their new adoptive sons fashioned spears out of sticks and could pierce a Frisbee mid-air. Greene treats all the ups and downs of tantrum-throwing toddlers, independent teenagers, and sibling rivalry, with a good dose of reality and a little humor.

How This Book Made an Impact In My Life, Especially as a Mother (or why I just really liked it): As I mentioned before, this book really made me appreciate what I have. It was interesting and refreshing to get a peek into someone else’s daily life and realize that we all have difficult times and wonderful times. I think the thing that stuck with me the most is how so many different individuals, with different cultures, backgrounds, languages, and personalities could mesh together with the common goal of being a family. It’s a lesson we all can learn from.


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