Baby Zoey: Our Search for Life and Family by Olivia Chiong

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I recently read Baby Zoey: Our Search for Life and Family by Olivia Chiong, a parenting memoir about Olivia and her wife Irene’s quest to create a family. They face one bureaucratic obstacle after another, from acquiring sperm to naming their daughter, in pursuing their dream of having a biological child.

Baby Zoey is a skimming over of a series of chronological events, rather than a true and literary memoir. Many of the passages in the book were previously published on Olivia’s blog, where she writes about life with Irene and Zoey. But, no matter, because Baby Zoey is an important book. It serves as a guide to other parents who may be considering the same journey, and reminds readers what “pro-family” in Singapore really  means and how citizens might work to change that.

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On Saturday, I attended the launch of the book at Trehaus.

There, Olivia said that one of the the reasons that she wrote Baby Zoey is because she has the privilege to do so, while other families do not. She described a culture of fear in making one’s family situation public, and the love and support (emotional and financial) that she had to make this book happen. She also indicated that her next project would be a series of children’s books set in Singapore featuring protagonists with “alternative” family structures. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: children need books that offer them opportunities for them to see how others go through experiences similar to theirs, to develop strategies to cope with issues in their life, and spark a sense of pride and validation. I can’t wait to see these books, Olivia!

When an audience member asked whether the book would be available in the National Library, the book’s publicist guffawed. However, he and his colleagues suggested that members of the public request that their branch librarians purchase it for circulation. In the meantime, Baby Zoey is available now in all major bookstores and via Epigram Books.