“I Wished for You” Fulfills Its Mission

by Luanne

Somehow Marianne Richmond managed to tell a story of adoption with lots of detail, but without being too specific.  In her picture book I Wished for You: An Adoption Story, Barley, a young bear, and his mother have a long conversation.  Barley asks lots of questions, and his mother answers all of them.  Mama’s explanation is based on her own reality.  Barley has clearly heard this story before, but relishes hearing it again.  It’s easy to imagine that he has come up with new questions since the last time he heard this tale.

He begins by asking his mother to tell him “’again how I’m your wish come true.’” She describes how she wished and wished for a baby.  She answers many questions, including why she wished for Barley, if his birth mother (who grew him in her tummy) wished for him also, if she wished for him during the day or only at night, and if she ever thought her wish might not come true.  Sometimes Mama tries very hard to remember, so the effect is that she is trying very hard to be honest with Barley.

Barley wants to know if she imagined him exactly as he looks.  She says, “’You, Barley, are more beautiful than I ever dreamed.’”  He asks what she did when she found out she was getting her wish.  Her description of shouting for joy and being hugged by her friends shows the details of adoption from the perspective of the adoptive mother, yet is general enough to fit most adoptions.  It reassures Barley how very much he was wanted. When Barley wants to know what she did when she first held him, Mama replies that she fell deeply in love with him.

Ultimately, he wants to know why they don’t look alike, and she explains that all families are different, that “’what makes a family is their love for each other.’”  At the end, it seems that Barley has had the satisfaction of hearing this part of his story yet again, as well as learning new specifics.  In her book, “Are Those Kids Yours?”, Cheri Register devotes a chapter to the importance of telling a child the story of his adoption over and over again.  I want to make clear that this book does not attempt to tell much about the child’s story that occurs before the adoption.

This book does touch on a religious viewpoint at one point when Mama tells her son that God found the perfect child for her.

The illustrations are rough pencil drawings, washed with pastel-tone watercolor.  They reflect a child’s early paintings.

As with many books about adoption, the emphasis is on the adoptive mother’s (re)telling of the adoptive story.  Unless you have an objection to the non-specific religious aspect of the book, this one does a good job of providing a comprehensive description of an adoption without being overly specific.  I can highly recommend this book.


  1. We have this book, and we both teared up the first time we read it. I hope that Wren likes it too when she’s older. It’s beautiful.

  2. I hope Wren will, too. She’s soooo adorable BTW!

  3. Lisa DeNike Ercolano says:

    This sounds like a lovely adoption book and I wish it had been published when my adopted daughter was little.

    • It’s very nicely done. What’s difficult is that every adoption is a different story, so other than ordering a custom book (which you can do) it’s nice to find ones that are detailed enough to be interesting, but still have enough flexibility to fit. And, of course, kids are more than able to grasp similarities without having to read only sameness, if that makes sense.

  4. What an amazing book! Is there something like this in the realm of step parenting?

  5. That’s a great question. I did a quick amazon search and 4 books came up; I haven’t read any of them. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=picture+books+stepparents
    When I taught children’s literature, I was always appalled at the villification of stepmothers, mainly because wicked stepmothers are such a big part of the historical body of European-based fairy tales.

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