Book Review: The Red Thread by Ann Hood


I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read yet another fictional book about adoption. Some of the recent portrayals I’ve looked into have seemed overly dramatic in order to make for a good story line. However, a friend who has been part of my support system through my three adoptions read this book and highly recommended it. She said it gave her great insight into why birth mothers may place their child for adoption. Then I read an excerpt of the book in a recent issue of Adoptive Families magazine it sounded intriguing. Late one night I decided to pick up the book and only read a few pages. It was 2 AM and 165 pages later when I forced myself to put the book down in order to get some sleep. I happily completed the novel the next night.

The basic story of this book involves six couples using an adoption agency, called The Red Thread, to adopt a child from China. The couples are followed from their initial orientation with the agency through their trip overseas for their daughters. The basic steps of the adoption process are glossed over, yet the emotions which arise during them are not. The stress of the homestudy, the worries of whether they made the right choice, the anxiety of waiting to hear news of a referral, and the fear of being a new parent are all covered. As an adoptive parent I could easily relate to feelings from each of the couples in this book.

This story would be interesting to anyone, whether or not they are or have pursued adoption. It forces the reader to open their mind and accept that you don’t need to be infertile to adopt, adoption is not right for every couple, and the reasons for a baby to be abandoned overseas are not simple.

Circumstances for Abandonment

What I loved most about this book is that it incorporates different point of views. My favorite parts of the novel are when you hear from the Chinese birth mothers and find out how their baby girls ended up at an orphanage. It is easy to find stories from U.S. birth mothers and read what their reasons were for placing their child for adoption. It’s not easy to find these stories about the birth mothers from overseas. The information about them is very limited, dependant on the country. With China, in particular, the baby’s story usually begins with them being discovered by strangers in a public location. Often no knowledge of the baby’s birth family is ever known. In The Red Thread, we learn the baby’s stories from even before conception and follow their unpredictable journey to an orphanage.

Yes, this is a fictional story. The author, Ann Hood, did adopt from China so she understands the adoption process and the emotions involved. On her website she recounts how she was motivated to write this story when contemplating her daughter’s first five months of life, prior to being abandoned in China. She says that she wants the reader to understand that there are circumstances, which we cannot fully comprehend, that lead to a baby being abandoned.

Supporting One Another

The perspective of the potential adoptive parents is also covered. They all come to the decision to adopt for different reasons. Their reasons varied from wanting to save a child, to infertility, to fear of passing on poor genetics. No matter what brought them to the world of adoption, it’s obvious that they share a common bond in the adoption process and can help one another on their journey.

At my monthly adoption support meetings, I see a collection of potential adoptive parents similar to those in this novel. Some are already parents, some have children from previous marriages, some have had multiple miscarriages, and some are infertile and choose not to pursue any medical treatment for it. It’s always fascinating to me the road which brings people to adoption. It’s even more fascinating that all of these people graciously give and gain support from one another, all in the pursuit of adopting a child. It’s almost magical to see people from very diverse backgrounds share their emotions and their knowledge with one another. I could see similarities to my meetings as I read in this novel whenever some of the characters lent support to each other through their adoption journeys.


Why is the novel’s adoption agency called “The Red Thread?” The book’s prologue says the following:

There exists a silken red thread of destiny. It is said that this magical cord may tangle or stretch but never break. When a child is born, that invisible red thread connects the child’s soul to all the people –past, present, and future—who will play a part in that child’s life. Over time, that thread shortens and tightens, bringing closer and closer those people who are fated to be together.

Whenever I hear someone’s adoption story, whether domestic or international adoption, I believe that something, either God, Karma or whatever you believe in, had a role in bringing that child and their adoptive parents together. I didn’t believe this until I adopted my first child. Then I finally believed the other adoptive parents who had told me that once I adopted, I’d know in my heart that my child was meant to be with me. Maybe the Chinese tale is correct and there is an invisible thread that connected me to my children before I even knew they had been conceived. If so, I am grateful for this destiny.

This novel’s title, “The Red Thread” is very appropriate as it tells how these potential adoptive parents are fated to their choice of adoption, to the Chinese birth mother of their future child, and to each other in the adoption community. This red thread is definitely stretched thin during their hard times but in the end it always brings them together with the child that was meant to be theirs.

Have you read this book and agree with my positive review of it?

If you are an adoptive parent, then can you see a “red thread” in your child’s adoption story?

Danielle I. Pennel

Three Yellow Roses

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Red Thread by Ann Hood

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