the vietnam war had consequences

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but you wouldn’t know it from reading kristy & the mother’s day surprise, babysitters club book #26.

kristy books continue to not really be my favorites…though, as kristy books go, this one wasn’t too objectionable. mother’s day is approaching, & kristy & the other members of the babysitters club (save for half-orphan mary anne) are struggling to think of really good mother’s day gifts. plus, kristy’s mom & watson are acting really weird at home, gushing over the kids even when the kids are being obnoxious, asking what the kids would think of having another sibling around. kristy’s mom denies being pregnant when sam asks her point-blank, but the kids don’t know why she’s asking about new siblings if she’s not knocked up or planning to be. this stretches the limits of my credulity a little bit. surely these kids know about adoption? charlie is 17 years old. it can’t be a brand-new foreign concept for him. although it’s also a big question mark to me as to how watson & mrs. thomas manage to go through the adoption process without the kids catching on, & get assigned a child in less than a year. i guess doing an international adoption (from vietnam) ostensibly sped up the process, but…

…okay, here’s another bone to pick with this plot. watson & mrs. thomas adopt emily michelle from vietnam. but as far as i am aware, vietnam stopped allowing americans to adopt vietnamese babies during the war. in fact, the united states had very strained diplomatic relations with vietnam until the mid-90s, & this book was published in the mid/late-80s. when saigon fell, it was accompanied by what some scholars of international adoption call “the last baby drop,” before supplies of vietnamese babies to american families dried up amidst fears that the babies were not really orphans at all, but were actually children that were stolen from struggling vietnamese parents. much as is the situation with haitian adoptions post-earthquake.

i don’t claim to be an expert on any of this shit. just throw it on the teetering pile of inconsistencies that plague the babysitters club book series & back to your regularly-scheduled recap.

okay, so, kristy has the bright idea to give the moms of stoneybrook a day off from parenting as a mother’s day gift. she pitches it to the other sitters & they think it sounds great. claudia discovers that a carnival will be in town the day before mother’s day when she sits for jamie newton. the sitters decide to issue special invitations to some of their best clients (including their own moms in situations where they have younger siblings) & recruit stacey to come down from new york city for the day & help with the project. they decide that each kid can do three things at the carnival, will bring a bag lunch that they will eat at the playground afterward, & that wind-down time at the pikes’ will be provided, where kids can make mother’s day cards. the babysitters will recruit the fathers to provide transportation & child care to very young siblings to young to go to the carnival. mr. pike volunteers to look after marnie barrett, a tragic child of divorce whose dad was mysteriously written out of the series after buddy went to a diner with him in book #5. all i remember is that his name was hamilton, or “ham” for short, which is the best nickname ever.

of the 29 kids invited, 21 can make it, so each sitter is responsible for three kids. there is an amazingly lengthy passage in which the sitters try to create “groups” for each sitter to look after, complete with color-coded construction paper necklaces. there’s also a weird part where they are brainstorming clients to include, & mary anne suggests jenny prezzioso, & kristy responds, “ew, ew, EW!” it’s kind of nice to see kristy acting like a 13-year-old, with babysitting charges she dislikes, but that still seems like a really mean response to a prissy 4-year-old, you know?

so, the mother’s day surprise goes off with nary a hitch & it looks like the book is going to be really dull. but then when the thomas-brewer clan arrive back home at the mansion, watson & mrs. thomas drop their bomb: they’re adopting a two-&-a-half-year-old little girl from vietnam & will be meeting her at the airport tomorrow. her name will be emily michelle, even though she’s two & a fucking half & probably already has a vietnamese name that won’t be a bitch & a half for her to pronounce. gotta love transracial adbuction, amirite? everyone is psyched, except for andrew, who is worried about losing baby of the family status. kristy steps in to parent in mrs. thomas & watson’s absence & makes him feel better.

the next day, the kids make a banner & cookies to welcome emily michelle home, & kristy weirdly invites over the BSC members. why don’t any of the other kids have friends that want to meet the new sibling? emily michelle is asleep & misses their big welcome, but kristy waxes poetic on how her presence will knit the halves of their family together into one big happy blended family, la la la. ugh.

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