adoption babies book reviews Infertility kids

I Love Russia because Russia Gave Me You… To Sing Frogs

I don’t often accept books for review mostly because I don’t prioritize reading time, but I couldn’t say no to this one. At the beginning of the year I resolved to read one book a month and when I received the email offering a signed copy of To Sing Frogs, a Memoir about family and international adoption by author John M. Simmons, I realized I had begun three books already this year and finished not a one. I thought if nothing else, this would force me to finally read a book before year’s end… but on so many levels, this personal story really spoke to me. When I received my copy in the mail, I jumped right in.One of the first things that really stood out just a few pages deep, was the author’s tone. Simmons’ honesty reads more like a personal diary or blog even, with occasional bitter rants and raised fists of furry, making the memoir a roller coaster of a ride to read. It was simple and direct, filled with and fueled by true emotion, sometimes so difficult to read I wanted to quit and others with tear-filled eyes. I flipped each page thinking something horrible was just about happen. They were so sure of their fate at times, every page turned awaited a blow that would devastate them and their future family.

photo courtesy of Aunt Peaches

With his descriptive locations and detailed settings putting me directly into the driver’s seat visually, I had a true sense of what Russia was like through his family’s journey of international adoption, as well as a look at the sad Russian orphanages filled to the brim with abused and neglected children {which I’m fairly positive is not too different from orphanages or the foster system here in the States}.

How on earth could you just choose one child to save when so many needed loving parents and families of their own? Adoption for most children in the system is just a hope, a dream, a prayer that is never answered. This was not only a recurring theme throughout the author’s journey, but a motivation that propelled the Simmons family to help as many children as they could possibly have the means to do so, or as many as Russia would allow.

I’m not sure how to really describe the book without giving the story away, which is the last thing I want to do. I would have been quite upset knowing one single thing about the finality of their journey before I had a chance to find out on my own. When the book arrived I immediately glimpsed the photo section and had to keep myself from jumping ahead to glance through them! I didn’t want ANY spoilers. Though when I finally reached the section I must have spent a good 30 minutes inspecting the photos and putting faces to all the names I’d been reading about and come to love. {It was fun visiting the author’s Facebook page as well and getting to see the Simmons family now.}

If you know our personal story and six year struggle with infertility, then you’d be silly to think that we haven’t considered adoption… and international adoption more specifically. U.S. adoptions {we’ve heard} are far more invasive than they are in other countries, and so we thought a child in need of a home here is no different than a child in need of a home globally. Since we’d also heard horror stories about international adoptions and had no clue of either process first hand, this book was helpful on many different levels, as well as a great story to read.

In the Fall of last year, my husband and I met with someone as a first step, intending on beginning the process of adopting a child from Russia. Not a month later, all of our adoption thoughts were put on hold while we bought our first home, but we’d planned on revisiting the subject once we were settled in the coming months. In the mean time, Russia closed its doors to American adoptions {December 2012}.

We had just begun the adoption discussions again when I was offered this book. And now after reading it, I have a difficult time thinking it’s not the road we will embark on.

For me this book did many things. Not only did it give me a glaring insight on Russia and the skewed adoption process, but it reminded me about the significance of coincidences, moments in time, being in the right place at the right time, and how life leads you in the right direction if you just let it. It’s often only in retrospect that we remember these moments, but if we’re aware enough to see them unfolding right in front of us, it makes every little thing monumental in a meant to be kind of way. In the book, Amy, John’s wife, has unfaltering faith in God and their religion, but John questions it every step of the way. As someone who’s not religious but who once was, I actually really liked seeing both sides of the coin because I could relate to both. Additionally, a book that is too religious is a bit of a turn off, so this dichotomy kept me reading until the end.

* I loved the significance of the butterflies throughout.

Though this book has not been released yet, you can pre-order it on Amazon here for it’s publication date of early June. You will be happy to know that the author is donating all profits from the sale of To Sing Frogs to the Ele Lembra Foundation.

Title: quoted from page 279

* First photo courtesy of Aunt Peaches
* Second photo was taken with my iphone from the photo section of the book.



Maegan Tintari

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.

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