In 1995, David Gerrold finalized an adoption process that would end up changing his life forever. As he would discover, however, there were many times ahead when the joy of single fatherhood would be tempered by a single profound thought: What the hell was I thinking? The Martian Child is a novelized portrait of Gerrold's sometimes exhilarating and sometimes exasperating experiences with his new son. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
Gerrold, a Nebula and Hugo Award winner, proffers this tale of adoption and fatherly love for the adoptive parents of troubled children. The quasi-fictional protagonist, David, decides that he wants to be "a dad" and initiates adoption procedures through the mind-numbing California bureaucracy. He stumbles upon a photograph of eight-year-old Dennis, a slight, blond boy abandoned by an alcoholic mother as a baby, who is approaching the age when placement is doubtful. Although David had not counted on having a "problem child" for a son, he eagerly embraces the idea. For about two years, he deals with being a single, gay parent of a child who insists that he is a "Martian," a common psychological defense mechanism used by abused and neglected children. The account moves quickly and somewhat sporadically and selectively through about 24 months of adjustment, doubt and finally acceptance of a situation that often has the potential for disaster, although no genuine crises are detailed. The biggest question is why the story is presented in fictional form. As Gerrold explicitly states, it is based on reality, and no point seems to be served in manufacturing details, except, perhaps, that it allows Gerrold to focus on the thesis that lavish applications of love, patience and understanding (along with a bit of medication) can overcome any child's difficulties and create a marvelous father-son relationship and a successful adoptive process. Because it doesn't thoroughly address such serious potential problems as Dennis's propensity for petty theft and violence, the resulting story is less than believable. Readers interested in the topic might better turn to the several nonfiction works available on the subject. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Makes me yearn for the day I can be a dad!
Posted February 11, 2010 by Matt , Victoria, British ColumbiaI loved reading this book so much and wished that it lasted longer! Being single like the lead character I can relate to wanting to have a family and kids, and now after reading this book everytime I'm with one of my friends who has kids, I wish they were mine! The son is charming and sweet even though at times he may be acting out. And it's nice reading how the father tries to sort out the issues that his new son has after being in foster care for 8 years with 8 different foster families. The child is desperate for a dad and through out the novel I think how I would aproach the situation the new duo are in. I heavily recommend this delighfully charming book and is one of my all time favourite novels.
June 15, 2003
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Excerpt from The Martian Child by David Gerrold
TOWARD THE END OF THE MEETING, the caseworker remarked, "Oh -- and one more thing. Dennis thinks he's a Martian."
"I beg your pardon?" I wasn't certain I had heard her correctly. I had papers scattered all over the meeting room table -- thick piles of stapled incident reports, manila-foldered psychiatric evaluations, Xeroxed clinical diagnoses, scribbled caseworker histories, typed abuse reports, bound trial transcripts, and my own crabbed notes as well: Hyperactivity. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Emotional Abuse. Physical Abuse. Conners Rating Scale. Apgars. I had no idea there was so much to know about children. For a moment, I was actually looking for the folder labeled Martian.
"He thinks he's a Martian," Ms. Bright repeated. She was a small woman, very proper and polite. "He told his group home parents that he's not like the other children -- he's from Mars -- so he shouldn't be expected to act like an Earthling all the time."
"Well, that's okay," I said, a little too quickly. "Some of my best friends are Martians. He'll fit right in. As long as he doesn't bring home any giant alien slugs from outer space."
By the narrow expressions on their faces, I could tell that the caseworkers weren't amused. For a moment, my heart sank. Maybe I'd said the wrong thing. Maybe I was being too glib with my answers.
The hardest thing about adoption is that you have to ask someone to trust you with a child.
That means that you have to be willing to let them scrutinize your entire life, everything: your financial standing, your medical history, your home and your belongings, your upbringing, your personality, your motivations, your arrest record, your IQ -- even your sex life. It means that every self-esteem issue you have ever had will come bubbling right to the surface like last night's beans in this morning's bathtub. And that means -- whatever you're most insecure about, that's what the whole adoption process will feel like it's focused on.