Eight of us sat around a table at a Thai restaurant, enjoying delicious curries, as Bob Bergin regaled us with thrilling stories about antique hunting all across Asia. But this wasn’t just a social event — it was the monthly gathering of our Asian book club, and we were meeting with the author of our latest book, Stone Gods, Wooden Elephants. It was a particularly memorable meeting of a group that has come to have a multi-faceted impact on all of our lives.
Originally formed to bring together a group of people interested in reading about culture, history, and daily life in Asian countries, as friend invited friend, the membership began to skew toward moms who had adopted children from Asian countries.
We all have a better understanding of our children’s heritages and homelands after making our way through a variety of books about India, Thailand, Japan, China, Bhutan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, and the Philippines. And the book club has also become a valuable source of information and friendship. It has, in fact, become a support group.
Week after week, discussions about the featured book have led to talk about the concerns that we face raising our Asian-American children. It’s been wonderful to get feedback from other parents, in addition to the insights we gain from the authors. We’ve veered off into how we handled the family tree assignment or how we replied to a racist remark. And we often end meetings by passing along information about Asian films or cultural events in the area.
After a few attempts at cooking potluck Asian dinners amidst our busy work and family schedules, we now happily meet at a restaurant featuring the cuisine of the country we just finished reading about. Our book club meetings are truly mothers’ nights out, evenings of good food and intellectual stimulation.
This past year, our entire families have begun to socialize with each other. Many of our children are close in age and have discovered that they enjoy playing together. And we like giving them the chance to be with families that look like their own.
Although we choose the books we read a bit haphazardly, we have enjoyed them all in different ways. And we like to think that we convey to our children some of what we learn. One member noted recently that her children take pride in the fact alone that she belongs to a club devoted to reading about their homelands.