I remember frantically looking for good books when we began our adoption process with the girls and I felt like the resources available for information on older child adoption was scant. I wasn’t even given many ideas from my agency and so I felt a bit unprepared.
I did read some material, but I have to admit that I read it with some skepticism. The one book I did read about older child adoption before the girls came was “Adopting the Older Child” by Claudia Jewett. Quite frankly this book scared the pants off me.
I think that is a problem with many people who are entering into adoption – we don’t really want to know the possible reality. The problem with that is if we come home with a child who has some fairly serious issues we may want to give up. This isn’t what we signed up for! we may say. I have heard too many sad stories of disruptions (if you aren’t in the adoption world, this means that the family has the child for a period of time and wants to give them back). It often seems like the family isn’t even giving the placement the time to know what the outcome will be. Adoption must be entered into realistically and with resolve to see it through.
Our agency for Levi’s adoption is Journeys of the Heart and although I think they are a bit overboard on their education requirements 🙂 I have appreciated a few of the books they required that we read.
One of those is “Our Own, Adopting and Parenting the Older Child” by Trish Maskew. It is full of useful information for a first time adoptive family. She asks and answers the questions that are in your mind when you enter into the unknown of adoption. She even states the questions and fears that you will find flooding your heart and mind once you finally meet your child. Let’s face it, adoption is not easy. We have to be honest and talk about the feelings we have and the problems that we face. We can’t be afraid of these issues that we may or may not face when we bring our child home. We make a committment to these children – to love them and give them a home and security – FOREVER. We have to be realistic about that process. This is a book that EVERY family thinking of adopting for the first time should read. I found my copy at my local library.
Another one of the books I recently started to read is called, “Parenting Your Older Adopted Child” by Brenda McCreight, Ph. D. She has a list of challenges for the adoptive parent and then a list of strategies to overcome those challenges. I think it is very good information. A few of the challenges are:
A belief that love is enough to heal the child and maintain the family.
Unrealistic expectations about your child’s abilities.
Unrealistic expectations about how soon after the placement you will feel like a “family”.
One statement she makes that I really think is key is that we need to emphasize commitment over love. Adoption is a commitment to a child. Here is a quote from her book:
“Emphasizing commitment, rather than love, is a key element to long-term success in an adoptive family. The feeling of love can be elusive to parents during times of prolonged stress and unrewarding parent/child relationships. Our child, too, may find it easier to love us at some stages rather than others. Still, if commitment is a sacred and articulated value within the family, then your child will learn from you how to hold on as the adoption relationship undergoes the twists and turns of family life.”
Adoption isn’t getting a puppy from the humane society to see if it will work out. I don’t mean to be flippant, but I am distressed when I hear about a family who wants to disrupt an adoption after one month. Either these people were not properly educated beforehand or they were living in a fantasy world. Adoption has no place for either of those scenarios.
We do not choose the child that is born to us do we? We have no control (or very little) in what their health will be, what their personality will be, what their struggles will be. We don’t look into getting rid of them as soon as the going gets tough. We must have the same amount of desire to make things work for our adopted children as we would for our biological children.
Sorry, off my soapbox now.
A MUST READ book for understanding the mind and heart of a child you are adopting who has come from a “hard place” (author’s term) is The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis. This book is absolutely wonderful. I cannot say enough about it. She has practical help for disciplining these kids and it works! You cannot expect to discipline your adopted child in the exact same way that you have disciplined your birth children. I had to learn that lesson.
Another wonderful book that addresses the sometimes complicated issue of attachment is Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray. I read this book before the girls came, but really want to read it again. As I have found with other books, it is just different to read them now that I have experience. My eyes are now open and I resonate with what is being said and I am much more eager to hear what they have to say.
There were a couple of books I had to read on transracial adoption. I wrote a post about one of those books (Inside Transracial Adoption) if you want to look it up. If you are adopting a child from another culture – whether or not they have different color skin from you – you should read some books on this topic. I was shocked at my lack of knowledge in this area. I live in a white world and didn’t know what it is like outside of it.
If you have read a book on adoption that you think is a “must read” please leave me a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say! Remember – knowledge is power.