4 Books for Adoptive Families (& Those Who Love Them)

Adoption is a key theme in Nicole Baart’s latest novel, You Were Always Mine (Atria, October 2018)—perhaps unsurprisingly, given her own family has grown through adoption. Nicole is the mother of five children from four countries and co-founder of the nonprofit One Body One Hope. She is also the author of eight previous novels, including Little Broken Things (Atria, 2017) and The Beautiful Daughters (Atria, 2015). As November is National Adoption Awareness Month, it seemed like the perfect time to share Nicole’s list of essential books for adoptive families.

 

When my husband and I began adding to our family through adoption over 12 years ago, our only desire was to welcome a child into our home and shower him with all the love we had to give. We were naive about the many facets of adoption and how our family story was about to become very complicated. Well over a decade later, with five children (three of whom were added to our family through international adoption at four months old, six years old, and fourteen years old) we have walked a long journey from hubris to humility. We humbly accept that we had much to learn—and still do.

Adoption, particularly international adoption, is an intricate puzzle that cannot be easily explained. Every situation requires a careful examination of the pitfalls and possibilities in the life of each child. UNICEF estimates that there are 153 million children worldwide who are orphans, a heartrending statistic. Yet this problem is complex and requires a multi-tiered solution, of which adoption is just one part. All of this is especially significant in our country’s current political and social climate, and has made our family deeply feel the weight of raising multicultural children. It’s a huge responsibility. But we believe, heart and soul, that we are made for community; for life with each other across social, economic, racial, and ethnic lines; and we are, and always will be, better together. My heart is for families, whatever they might look like, and for ethical adoption that provides for the well-being of at-risk children and their birth mothers/families. It’s a drum I’ll beat until the day I die.

Adoption is messy and beautiful. It always begins with loss, but it is my hope that each adoption story is awash in love. It is my great privilege to parent children from different backgrounds and cultures, and it’s a task I undertake with great love and a desire to help my children thrive. If you’re considering adoption or know someone who is, these excellent books that can help inform your journey. Add them to your list of required reading, and you won’t be disappointed. —Nicole Baart

 

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung

Chung’s deeply moving memoir is a must-read for any adoptive family. Chronicling her life as a Korean raised by loving, white adoptive parents, Nicole turns an unflinching eye to issues of racism, exclusion, family, and belonging. Her story about growing up as a transracial adoptee in a sheltered American town is at times heart-wrenching, but never bitter. Adoptive families will find themselves in the pages of this beautiful book, and find hope for the journey as they continue the process of healing.

 

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis

The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family, by Karyn Purvis

This book is, hands down, the most practical, comprehensive, valuable piece of literature we’ve read on attachment in adoption. Purvis (who passed away in 2016) is widely acknowledged as one of the most respected child advocates and a trailblazer in attachment therapy. Her Institute of Child Development champions a process called TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) that gets right to the heart of an adopted child’s deepest needs. Parenting children from hard places is difficult, but Karen offers hands-on advice that is simple but profound—and will help adoptive families navigate the effects of early childhood neglect, abuse, and trauma.

 

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, by Sherrie Eldridge

In this book, Eldridge sensitively and honestly mines the complex emotions of adoption from the relatively unplumbed depths of adopted children’s perspectives. An adoptee herself, she seeks to inform adoptive parents about the many questions, fears, and unique issues their children face. Relying heavily on case studies and interviews, Eldridge paints a tender but realistic picture of the life of an adopted child—and how parents can better understand, provide for, and love them. Although this book may be hard to read at times, it is so important that we give voice (and listen!) to the children whose lives are so profoundly impacted by adoption.

 

The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

Neuroscience has proven that children from hard places often have “stress-shaped brains”: minds that have been neurologically impacted by the effects of early loss and trauma. Sometimes dealing with deep emotions and our children’s inability to process the way they feel can be completely overwhelming. The Whole Brain Child is not specifically a book about adoption, but its fresh, practical ideas are helpful all the same. Understanding how our children’s brains are wired is essential in finding loving, compassionate ways of helping them deal with their emotions.

 

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