Heart Picked with Love
I recently was lucky enough to speak with author, Sara Elizabeth Neal Crutcher, about her first children's book titled Heart Picked: Elizabeth's Adoption Tale. Crutcher, who, herself, was adopted, gets candid about this project, as it hits close to home for her. Crutcher, while researching, found that there isn't much literature that caters to African-American families who adopt. Noting this obvious absence, she sought to fill it.
The messages conveyed in Heart Picked are ones that can be applied to relationships between most: love, understanding and clear communication. What makes this particular read special is that Crutcher is straight-forward about the importance of love and choice--characteristics that are much more important than biological connections. She is also deliberate in her portrayal of the protagonist's family and, in that vein, was sure to pay close attention to skin color, shade, a modern portrayal of a working mother and a father who is active in his child's life. Crutcher spoke on how sometimes adoption is never spoken of in Black families, and, after reading this piece I see it as a perfect response to that practice. Some may see it as shame, others may see it as fear, but either way Crutcher is direct in how a family can handle tough situations.
Heart Picked shed light on aspects of adoption while also incorporating social and familial issues. This book, in Crutcher's words, is a tool for adopted children to feel good about themselves and how they feel about adoption. I would add that it is also a tool and guideline for how we speak about adoption and portray the practice. The scariness and lack of understanding that is sure to consume the psyche of an adopted child is one that adults could most certainly learn from. This perspective is embedded throughout the book and is one that should inform how we interact with children who are going through difficult situations.
Heart Picked conveys meaningful messages, is well-thought out themes and should be shared among children and adults far and wide. Overall, it teaches us that it is important to understand that "love is what truly makes a family".
Wrapping up the conversation, I had to ask her what makes Black girls fly (including the Black girls in the book!). To this should had even more to say,
"It’s just in our nature. We’re so powerful in our own ways. If we band together, we can do anything. There’s not much you can tell us that we will just accept...There’s nothing really that we can’ t do."
National Adoption Day is held every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. To find out more about Sara Elizabeth Neal Crutcher and her first project, visit heartpickedwithlove.com. Crutcher intends to create a collection of books that discuss adoption within Black households and we're looking forward to reading every one.
Ruth Jean-Marie is a graduate of New York University where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Global Affairs. Dedicating her life to the alleviation of misery around the world, her greatest goal is to become a superhero. Her interests include fashion, equality for women and Black people--that real equality, not the surface level stuff, traveling around the world and writing. She's excited about life and intends on living it. She also has a mild obsession with shoes, shopping and sharing her opinion. You'll hear all about it. Follow Ruth on Twitter at @lesocialnomad and on Instagram at @lesocialnomad and @toharrietwithlove.