Things I Want Most: The Extraordinary Story of a Boy's Journey to a Family of His Own

Richard F. Miniter, Author
Richard F. Miniter, Author Bantam Books $21.95 (273p) ISBN 978-0-553-10933-7
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Sue and Richard Miniter's nest had recently been emptied of six children when they came across a program looking for experienced parents to provide a home for abused children. After going through training they were paired with a boy, or more precisely with a file, and two things jumped out: (1) ""the child... was a sociopath"" and(2) a piece of notebook paper with the words The Things I Want Most: A family, A fishing pole, A family. Those simple words allowed the Miniters to put aside their deep-seated reservations and plow forcefully ahead with the adoption of a severally emotionally disturbed 11-year-old boy. Mike, in and out of mental institutions, foster care and group homes since his mother beat him unconscious when he was three, screams obscenities often and loudly, he prefers his pants to the toilet, and he won't listen or follow authority (he adamantly believes he should do no work). On his first day of school the Special Ed teacher calls Mike ""the most disturbed child"" he's ever seen. The Miniters, however, are determined to raise Mike like their own children: with structure, guidance and a good deal of tough love. Clearly meant to be uplifting, this lacks some of the self-doubt and grimy reality of Ann Kimble Loux's The Limits of Hope: An Adoptive Mother's Story (1997). Miniter can be heavy-handed, and the writing is often earnest (lots of exclamations!) and somewhat repetitive, but the book's strength lies in the story of a dogged persistence in the face of a child who physically refused to be loved. (Sept.)
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