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Jessie Mei Mei
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Jai-Mei was the child Sharon Guest and Stuart Neal had always wanted and, following a protracted adoption process, they excitedly travelled to China to collect her from an orphanage. Jessie was the perfect 18-month-old child - gregarious and funny and easy to love. But, from the beginning, Sharon suspected something wasn't quite right about Jessie. She was too serious and immobile and learned quite slowly. When they adopted Bi Bi, another Chinese baby, Jessie's behaviour worried them so much that they sought medical help only to find out that their beautiful daughter had a degenerative condition that meant she would be lucky to see her twelfth birthday. What happens next is the all too common and shocking story of how a country as rich as Australia fails to provide assistance to families in need. The bureaucratic silliness of government departments and their systematic inadequacy supporting high-need children and adults leads to extreme actions on the part of their exhausted families. Jessie Mei Mei will break your heart with its frank, honest and surprisingly funny account of how one family managed. But in the end it is a story about kindness and the power of love to overcome all.
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