16 chapters of love 

THE life stories of 16 adoptive children who were welcomed into the home of Pat and Bert Howard have been recorded in the soon to be launched book What Colour is Love? 

Pat Howard and husband Bert have been described as the pioneers of overseas adoptions in Australia.

The children, which included four sets of siblings, arrived at the Howard's Newnham home from Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Fiji, Vanuatu, and Mauritius as well as other parts of Tasmania. 

``Every child deserves a family,'' Mrs Howard said. ``There shouldn't be any child without one.''

The book is divided into more than 40 chapters detailing the lives of each child, including the Howards' biological son Shane.

Heath, for instance, arrived in Tasmania in 1975 from war-torn Vietnam in a GI shoe-box weighing just 2 kilograms.

He was not expected to live. 

Wanna and Soonee arrived in 1978, aged 8 and 6, and were orphans living on the streets of Bangkok in Thailand.

Mrs Howard, who fought authorities to adopt the sisters, said they were the stateless children of American soldiers whose ``prospects in Thailand [were] limited to becoming prostitutes at the age of 10 or 12''.

And La Toya and Jean-Pierre, who arrived, aged 9 and 6, from Mauritius after their mother died, were extremely malnourished, so much so that Jean Pierre could barely walk. 

La Toya Walker, who is now married with two children, nominated Mrs Howard for the Barnados Mother of the Year in 1996.

``She has given me a life that I would never have dreamt possible,'' Mrs Walker said. ``I probably wouldn't be alive [without her]..

``The book is great, I have two boys and they always ask `Why is your mum white?' It will explain things.''

What Colour is Love?  is authored by Mrs Howard and Linda McKenzie, and started because Mrs Howard always wanted to write the life stories of each of her children.

``They never got finished,'' Mrs Howard said. ``I didn't have much time for life books.

Linda McKenzie said she helped write the book because she wanted to find out how one person could have so much love, compassion and selflessness.

``Each child has a story to tell,'' she said. ``Pat and Bert fought very hard, and paved the way for a lot of other Australian families to adopt from overseas.''

 The self-published book will be launched at Green Bean Cafe in Launceston on March 23.

To order a copy of the book email whatcolourislove@bigpond.com or visit Facebook page What Colour is Love?

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