Adoptive parents bond over bond

National Adoption Awareness Month celebrated at Princeton Public Library

By: Marjorie Censer
   Roughly 20 parents and children gathered at the Princeton Public Library on Saturday to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month with a story and discussion from Mary Zisk.
   Ms. Zisk — author and illustrator of "The Best Single Mom in the World: How I was Adopted" — is an adoptive parent herself. Her 14-year-old daughter, Anna, sat in the audience as Ms. Zisk told those gathered how she first decided to write and illustrate the children’s book.
   She said she felt like something was missing in her life, but she thought it was related to her career. While watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show about finding fulfillment in life, Ms. Zisk said she realized she wanted to be a mother.
   "Oprah said, ‘You have to figure out why God put you on earth,’" Ms. Zisk said. "I thought, ‘To be a mother.’"
   At age 42, Ms. Zisk adopted 3-year-old Anna from Russia. Six years later, she authored the book.
   She said she’d always wanted to write a children’s book — since she herself was an adolescent — and finally had time after she lost her job. Out of work, she wrote and illustrated the entire book, even incorporating specific details from her own experience.
   Ms. Zisk showed the audience a doll she had brought to Russia to give to Anna when she adopted her. The same doll appears in the children’s book.
   The book also filled a specific need. When she wanted to find books to read to Anna, she couldn’t find any about adoption that featured single parents. So she wrote her own.
   The story, which Ms. Zisk read to the audience Saturday, features a girl telling the story of her own adoption.
   "And I know she really is the best mom in the whole wide world," the book concludes.
   Janie Hermann, a librarian who organized the event, brought her adopted son — 3-year-old Alex — to the event. She said she’d like to have an annual event at the library to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month.
   Alex "is the light of my life, and I want to spread the word about adoption," Ms. Hermann told the audience.
   Fellow adoptive parent Susan Sternberg — owner of Alphabet Soup Books in Lawrence — also came to Saturday’s reading and discussion and brought a selection of books for attendees to purchase.
   Ms. Zisk showed audience members the dummy copy of the book as she first imagined it. Though she had prepared it as a horizontal book, the publisher — Albert Whitman & Co. — preferred it as a vertical work. She showed the original copy, marked up with pink notes attached to all sides of the book.
   She said it took roughly nine months to prepare the book, and Ms. Zisk has no immediate plans for a new one — it just takes too much time.
   "If I get fired again, I’ll get to do my second book," she joked.