Daddy, please send mommy to find me! After years of gut-wrenching struggles, almost a half a million in adoption expenses, months of separation, hours and hours of pleading prayers on our knees and silently in our hearts, this was it, and there she was. The Gathering is the account of an incredibly courageous woman.
The Gathering is the story of a mother, with the support of her husband and children, who searched for her missing children in the jungles of the Marshal Islands, the poverty-choked country of Vietnam, and the corrupt country of Haiti. The Gathering is a story of a family that fought and struggled to find their children in the U.S. through private adoptions and state foster-care systems. The Gathering is an incredible story of faith, hope, and miracles. This is their story.
What disappointed you about The Gathering?
As an adoptive parent and researcher, I enjoy reading widely on the topic of adoption. Even mediocre books often offer something new to learn. However, this book was a disturbing exception. Though I have nothing against large adoptive families (quite the opposite), the mother in this situation did not seem to have a healthy reason for growing her family. The title is apt, as she seemed interested mostly in ACQUIRING children at nearly any cost. Her husband even used the word "obsessed" at one point, which could not have seemed more accurate. She appeared to get an adrenaline rush from seeing her family grow, from the international travel, and from casting herself as a martyr.
But my least favorite aspect of the book was their take on religion. Again, I have nothing against Christian families or authors, but these parents seemed to use God as an excuse to do whatever they wanted. When they felt guilty or weren't getting their way, they said that God would speak to them and tell them it was fine. This happened several times throughout the book. There was also just a great deal of preaching in the book, along with much general repetition. Without this, the book would have been a quarter the length.
Not all aspects of the story were negative, of course. Some of their children are disabled, and so would not have had a good chance of finding any other family. They seem to genuinely love their children and want to do their best for them, even if they left me as a reader questioning their choices.
Please keep in mind that I do not know these people personally and cannot judge them as such. But from the content of the book, I was left feeling not uplifted, but concerned. I saw this as both a poorly written book and a poor example of a positive adoption story.
Would you ever listen to anything by Annie Laurie and Brian Richardson again?
What didn’t you like about Annie Laurie and Brian Richardson ’s performance?
Professional speakers should have been used, but in general, the book was just poorly written, so it would be difficult to improve with an audio performance.
What character would you cut from The Gathering?
What did you love best about The Gathering?
I loved this book. I loved the way this couple prayed and talked to God. They prayed for specific things, and when they did not receive them they didn't stop praying or quit, instead they prayed for something a little bit different - hoping that God just wanted something a little different than what they wanted.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Gathering?
The first really memorable thing that was shared after they adopted four children they had really worked hard to adopt was, "Why would God answer our prayer?" Answer, "Because we're His children." If God is the father of your life, you can have the same hope that He will tend to your prayers.
What does Annie Laurie and Brian Richardson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Both Annie Laurie and Brian have what I would call soft-spoken voices. I listened to their story mostly at night, but it was not awkward because their voices are continually hopeful and soothing. Their narration made it even easier to imagine them adopting 19 children and taking care of them with joy.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Yes, but I don't want to spoil any part of the book for any future listener.
Any additional comments?
Annie Laurie and Brian believe that God sometimes speaks to people directly. I know not every Christian believes this, but I hope they will still listen to the book because this couple and their family loved God and the people they came into contact with, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we all need more examples of that.
First of all, if you are intolerant of religious people, this is not the book for you. Often times the authors refer to asking God for direction, the whispers of God/children, and how they have been strengthened and have grown in Godly ways through their process of raising their 5 biological children and adopting so many more. The heart of the book centers on their frustrations and disappointments with the foster care system and their ultimate triumph when they complete their very large family.
It's a good book, but sometimes hard to relate to someone that had 5 kids by age 25, "knew" what God had planned for her, and sometimes would go to extreme lengths but other times had to walk away - if only for a time - from children with which they connected. I was drawn in by the struggle with the "4 little ones" and the adoption of their 5 children from Haiti.
If you are tolerant of, or are a very religious person and you are thinking of adopting, especially if you have some bio-children of your own, this would be a good read - especially if you are struggling through the common setbacks of adoptions.