The Martian Child
Tor, Sep 2007, $6.99
In California, David wants to be "a dad". However, he has a slight obstacle about the size of the Sierras, as the adoption system still leans heavily towards potential fathers with wives; as a gay person the chance of a female wife is somewhere near zero if that high. Still he works his way through an obstacle course that should be adopted by the White House to keep Congressman Waxman bewildered and frustrated. Finally he finds a picture of the child he decides he wants to adopt.
The caseworker explains that eight-year-old Dennis is a “problem child” with plenty of issues ranging from hyperactivity to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to Emotional Abuse having been abandoned by his alcoholic biological mom as a baby, Physical Abuse as part of his eight foster homes, etc. In other words this child was at the point of “hard to place” meaning “unadoptable”. Learning that Dennis insists he is the offspring of Martian might pose a problem if his Red Planet relatives show up with giant alien slugs (parking is at a premium). This is the account of the first two years together as father and son adjust to being a loving family unit in spite of a system that insists both the dad and son are losers.
This reprint of a fictionalized account of a true adoption is moving and poignant, but readers will wonder why Mr. Gerrold did not provide a true account as THE MARTIAN CHILD is based on a real adoption as iare the earthquake events between the dad and son. Still the author makes a strong argument that with love, tolerance and persistence as the pair goes through the Tuckman phases of groups forming, storming, norming, and transforming, a deep bond can overcome seemingly impossible problems; all it takes is a Job-like patience.