Duling, Gretchen A. Adopting Joe: A Black Vietnamese Child.
Rutland, VT: C. E. Tuttle Co., 1977.
The following is from the inside front and back covers of
Adopting Joe: A Black Vietnamese Child:
Joe arrived at Kennedy International airport from Vietnam half-dressed and frightened
to death. The Dulings and their adopted daughter Jenny arrived from their New England
home nervous and full of questions: What would their new son be like? How had the
tragedy of war affected him? How difficult would be the transition from orphanage to
family? Would they be able to deal with the inevitable adjustment problems —
both theirs and those of their son — accompanying their adoption of a three-year-old
black Vietnamese from the other side of the world? Adopting Joe by Gretchen
Duling, is the heartwarming story of how all the Dulings successfully coped with these
problems (and other, unexpected difficulties) during Joe's first year in his new home.
The story of that first year is an enchanting romp with Joe Duling as he discovers a new
world and changes from an insecure and suspicious three year old to a spirited and happy
four year old. Joe's mother takes us shopping for Joe's first pair of shoes — a
total disaster; we're there when Joe discovers snow for the first time, at his first
Christmas; and we suffer through his bout with thunder — a particularly frightening
experience for him. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Joe's journey is the gradual
unfolding of his trust in others.
Adopting Joe not only tugs the strings of everyone's heart, it provides valuable
information on transracial and transnational adoption, from both the parents and the
child's poing of view. Gretchen Duling has spent countless hours culling information
from every source available — including other parents of transracial children.
She has consulted doctors, theologians, child psychologists, and friends in an effort
to understand her son's problems and those of her family. Included in Adopting Joe
are some Vietnamese recipes guaranteed to please any palate, a medical guide by an
authority on diseases common in children from tropical areas, and an indispensable
reading list compiled by the Open Door Society for adoptive parents. Mrs. Duling
also provides an outline of the extensive procedures involved in transnational adoptions.
Anyone contemplating adoption should read Mrs. Duling's story. It's a chronicle of
the common problems "instant" families face, and how one family solved most
Gretchen A. Duling has been involved in community activities for most
of her adult life. Her activities include serving for a time as president of the Open
Door Society — Friends of Children (Vietnam) for her home state; organizing
various groups and events in universities where her husband, Denny, has taught;
raising funds for a choral group she managed; and, through her church, participating
in a program for minority people in the midwest. She holds a master's degree in music
education and is currently a music teacher, high school advisor, mother, wife, and
community organizer. She is also the author of Teddie Goes to the Hospital,
an activity booklet for hospitalized children. Mrs. Duling and her family live in
New England, where Mr. Duling teaches at a major university.