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A Wealth of Family: An Adopted Son's International Quest for Heritage, Reunion, and Enrichment (Family Success)

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Thomas Brooks

  -- Honorable Andrew Young, Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Former Mayor of Atlanta  'This international journey across cultures, races and continents will up uplift and edify any reader, regardless of background.' &nb … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: Thomas Brooks
Publisher: Alpha Multimedia, Inc.
1 review about A Wealth of Family: An Adopted Son's International...

Becoming a Citizen of the World

  • Apr 27, 2007
  • by
At age eleven, Thomas Brooks learned he was adopted and at first it shook his secure world. At age 25, while pursing his MBA, he decided to find his birth parents to complete the circle of his life. In A Wealth of Family, readers are treated to an international travel log and multicultural experience as we travel with Brooks in discovering his true roots.

Although Brooks was acclimated and culturally African American, he always suspected he might be of mixed heritage. When he received a document from the adoption agency, he was surprised to find that his mother was of Lithuanian Jewish background and his father was from Kenya. His parents had a brief affair while his mother was an undergraduate and his father was a graduate student at Penn State. After assuring his beloved adopted mother, Joan, that, no one would usurp her place in his life, he began to earnestly search for his birth parents.

Brooks grew up in a large extended family in the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania area surrounded by his mother's large family, the Lowrys. His parents divorced when he was four and he had little contact with his father. Brooks spent most of his growing years struggling with poverty because his mother was unable to work to support them. After a series of moves, they settled in Brighton, a white working/middle class suburb of Pittsburgh. After a rough start, Brooks began to excel in school, making excellent grades and was active in sports. He found himself fighting racism and stereotypes at time but preserved and was valedictorian of his high school class and going on to the University of Pittsburgh. Again, he applied himself to his studies and became immersed in a full college experience to include joining the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, a Greek Black organization and other clubs. He pursued engineering and then an MBA at the University of Maryland.

Because his birth mother, Dorothy, left contact information in his file at the adoption agency, he was able to quickly establish contact with her. Dorothy, who was living in England, flew to Houston, where Brooks was then working. They established a rapport and thereafter, Brooks flew to England and met his sister and three brothers. He was received with open arms and they slowly built a relationship, along with his grandmother, Maryan, Dorothy's mother, who was living in Pittsburgh. Dorothy wanted to meet Joan, but he realized it was a delicate situation and it would need more time for the two women, his birth mother and his adoptive mother to meet.

Brooks then took the steps to make contact with his father, Mboga Mageka Omwenga, which was much more difficult. In 1995, he and Dorothy made the trek to Kenya to make his paternal connection. First, they went on a safari to take in the beautiful country and then went on to Nairobi. All he had was a name and the fact that his father was of the Kisii tribe, according to a Kenyan friend in Houston. After a series of word-of-mouth connections, placing an announcement in the newspaper, and a few hits and misses, Brooks connected with his father's daughter, Margaret. She explained the father was out of the area but the two of them became acquainted. Brooks went back to Houston but thereafter started corresponding with his father. He went back to Kenya several months later finally met his father and was warmly received by the entire village and all his relatives, including his 100 year-old grandmother. He slowly established a relationship with his Kenyan family overcoming a few cultural challenges and miscommunications.

After his mother, Joan met Dorothy, the families seemed to blend and accept each other. Brooks came to love and appreciate having three families who all loved and supported him. His world travels served to broaden his understanding of different cultures and heightened his appreciation of his multiracial heritage. While he considers himself African American, he calls himself a world citizen. He learned to value the traits both his birth mother and father passed on to him, such as their intellectual ability.

Part memoir, part family history and genealogy, Brooks has written a memorable account of how race, culture, and family intersect while also recounting his own life lessons. He is a successful businessman living in Atlanta with his wife and family, mentoring inner-city youth and active in several social and civic organizations. There are many stories about bi-racial children but Brooks' story was unique in that it spanned three continents and melded three families to include a wealth of love, forgiveness and acceptance. This book is recommended for those interested in the topics of multiculturalism and adoptees seeking their roots.

Reviewed by Dera R. Williams
APOOO BookClub

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