Adoption Books for Adopters

A lovely follower on Twitter , a prospective adopter, recently asked if they could pick my brains…Realizing my perspective came from two directions as both an adopted adult and an adopter of my gorgeous little man. I guess I can offer some insight fairly unique to the process of adoption. It really is a mine-field so I was more than happy to be asked and obliged…. Here goes…
Big one first “Should I read The Primal Wound?” I mentioned it to our own SW & she said it was very heavy & directed me more towards Dan Hughes books instead. 

I spent a long time studying reviews and reading exerts of The Primal wound but have resisted reading it myself. One day I might but for now these are my thoughts…
 
My first instinct is that it is a fairly emotive and for a prospective  adopter a pretty  discouraging read … for an adoptee quite likely to trigger!
 
I also believe it is actually aimed more towards the Adoptee than the adopter. However I am not sure it offers particularly healing advice. My opinion only so for those trolls of Twitter-land who believe otherwise ce la vie and that’s cool
One review on The Primal Wound was by a relinquishing Birth Mother. She wrote that she felt punished by the book. That review alone stopped me from grabbing a copy on audible. No one needs to read that….it’s unfair and disparaging of this and other BM who really have no choice, including my own and let’s face it are providing us with a special gift.It is true that as adopters you are giving that child a loving home and that’s the only thing the SW and workshop bumf bangs on about. One of my blog posts details exactly how much the child is bringing to the party and I think this should be more of a focus during the assessment process.
 
That said be careful with some of these books as they are often simply one person’s experience and if in this case that is a negative one the book gives only one side of the process.
I do think reading as much as you can is a good idea and will list some books I read..
 
Not to brag but I am told in good faith that my own book is a good reference for both adopter and an adoptee…mainly due to my honest detail about the emotional impact of adoption on the whole family…
My own journey may help you understand what’s to come and prepare for it.
 
Black Sheep Sweet Dreams, Adoption Journal by Black Sheep

 
 
Dan Hughes books are good, but there are others..It is possible that local authorities are lazy and find one author ,share it and spread word he’s the best..don’t buy his books..find his videos for free on U-tube, that’s what we did,saves fortune traumatized children of 6+ only if that is the age profile of who you are adopting. If you are adopting a baby  look for books relevant to adoption of a baby.
 
In the adoption assessment training, we sat through a whole afternoon talking about autism and physical disability, knowing it was at that point irrelevant. The adoption assessment tends to paint a very negative and bleak picture of adoption. It tends to ignore the positives and the reward.
 
I like this book…

Creating Loving Attachments Parenting Confidence by Dan Hughes

It’s more neutral ..Dan’s books are mainly about dealing with trauma which you have to weigh up how much trauma and how best to treat it for your child.
 
For example…a child removed at birth (Trauma #1) then placed in foster care (Trauma #2) then adopted after how ever long in foster care (Trauma #3)
On the surface trauma can be well hidden until it is triggered down the line, regardless of the age at which they are placed. An older child will carry trauma unseen for years before a trigger kicks off reaction.
 
I bought many books during the adoption assessment ,read very few to be fair but had them on the coffee table when SW came over lol…the ones I did read were my choice and not theirs…I’m awkward like that
 
I read An Adoption Diary by Maria James.
Hubby actually made the effort and read it too. He commented how badly written it was..Ill admit I found it bitty and negative but as with my book, it was personal to the author.

 
The Adoption by Anne Berry. I actually read this before we decided to adopt and only cos my mum had it in her book club…I felt it was good read..and I liked the fact it wasn’t a predictable ending
 

 
I also bought Related by Adoption…suggested as good for prospective Grandparents …recommended by our SW for our very negative Mother in Law. Not sure it changed her views at the time but my boy won her heart soon enough.
 

 
Worth finding some books on attachment, especially if you’re planning to adopt toddler or older. Also if you have other children already,  get books introducing them to adoption…like Toddler Adoption..
 
Toddler Adoption by Mary Hopkins-Best
 

 
We also bought Welcoming a New Brother or Sister Through Adoption to introduce the reality of bringing home a new sibling to our other children

A book the SW highly recommend was in reference to the amphibian brain. It explains some of the likely behaviour your adopted child might display and explains why. I definitely suggest investing in this book as you can refer to it again and again
The Science of Parenting Adopted Children: A Brain-Based, Trauma-Informed Approach to Cultivating Your Child’s Social, Emotional and Moral Development

 
Your individual circumstances will differ but we also gave our daughter How I Became a Big Sister, Dave Moore
As a way of telling her her wish had come true and of course there is one for Big Brother available

Other books I sourced for my own interest: Split at the Root: A Memoir of Love and Lost Identity
 

Philomena, by Martin Sixsmith. I loved both the movie and the book and suggest both equally poignant

p> 

I am also a big fan of Nicky Campbell so decided to give his book a try too…it was a bit long winded but as I’ve met him personally I found it interesting to imagine him reading in to me in his own voice!

Blue Eyed Son , Nicky Campbell

And for my baby boy….as its important to introduce him to the idea hes truly loved by his new family

 
The I Love You Book

A Blessing from Above (Little Golden Books (Random House)

I wished for You: An Adoption Story , by Marianne Richmond

Now onward with the questions I was asked…

Question

Do you think that nature & nurture can have equal footing for children who are adopted? I am not adopted, however my cousin is & her & my Aunt are two peas in a pod, I guessing that’s maybe unusual?

I always believe nature and nurture are not exactly on an equal footing and can be identified as two distinct processes in raising a child. For example , if a child has trauma from a early life experience it is less likely to be as receptive to nurture in the first instance as a child from no trauma. My understanding of nurture is that it is about supporting a child’s needs surrounding it with love and ensuring protection from rejection and more trauma. Nature is not necessarily exclusively down to genetics but to upbringing through shared dynamics , only partly due to biology. For example;. My mother is often told how much I am like her , based on mannerisms and foibles and sense of humour etc yet this would be seen as a nature trait but it cant be as my genetics are opposite. Therefore we are alike due to habits I’ve learned via Nurture but differ due to ingrained genetic traits I came with from my BM. It might make more sense reading the chapter Nurture V Nature in my book.
Shared interests and knowledge will become common ground and hence your cousin is so alike her mother. My little man has been with us a year and is so like all of us humour, temperament etc and its adapting to environment that does that..cheeky as you like and even laughs at his own farts, exactly like his Daddy!!
 
A lot of the adoptees who I follow have felt their differences very keenly between themselves & their adoptive family & it’s been very upsetting for them. I wonder if it’s possible to help a child to feel those differences less somehow? Looking from both sides could you see a way to help do this or do you think the differences too great between the child/ren & the adoptive parent?
 
OK firstly I want to warn you that many of the adoptees you and I follow on Twitter have not opened their accounts to spread joy and cheer…they use the forums to vent and blame their lives decisions and outcomes on being adopted. I’m not saying everyone adopted does this but there are many and actually they do piss me off .
They don’t even accept a balanced view from adoptees who have had positive experiences because they don’t want to consider they were just unlucky!? I’m not belittling I am just saying be sure to seek out the opposing view for balance.
 
The issues or demons I carry are only in part due to being adopted. Some are developed over time , often by others’ behaviour towards how I live my life as an adopted adult. It is often an easy cop out to blame adoption as the root course to all lifes’ problems.
Many blame adoption itself entirely as if it is some voodoo type thing that has blighted so many lives.
 
That is basically , and I say this without respect, Bullshit!
 
In fact I will tell you my story in brief…I was adopted in the late 60s , an era steeped in racism and bigotry. So very unconventionally, I was adopted by a white family with two natural boys ..I had the best upbringing my parents could give me, great education and as much love as I needed to become the person I am now. I differ 99% from all of them.( the 1% is our name!LOL). I am confident (on the surface, of course I have wobbles underneath) a doer and a risk taker. They are all introvert, reluctant to take a risk and lack confidence. Going back to the question above, this is my NATURE as it is pretty much 80% same as BM.
 
How can anyone know if their child will be like their parent even in natural children? 
 
Basically you cant!! I do know I am like both my AM and my BM in different ways for both…I’m not 100% unlike my siblings too, based on shared experience of our childhoods. 
I love a half sisters ad my half brothers already after a relatively short time (BF side) simply because its already clear we are so alike..
 
My point is your child will be your child, like my boy is as much mine as my natural girl, they are like sponges…soak up every last thing they see… he’s potty trained in a week! he’s mimicked his sister from day one and takes direct instruction from us all like he’s twice his age…a very advanced toddler…
 
He’s not biologically of my DNA but to anyone looking at our family he’s quickly morphed into all of us.
 
Do you think Adoptees always feel different from the families that raise them?
 
I do agree with this statement BUT its no bad thing if that makes sense. Its true we differ in many ways but are very alike in others and that’s normal. I know natural children who differ so much from their families too and again it rarely matters..
Thankfully my own husband differs almost 100% from his and that is good as we wouldn’t stay together if this were not the case 🙂
 
As a foot note of advice:
Don’t let the negative Twitter Twats (not my lovely Twitter buddies of course, they know who they are!) make you feel you are doing anything other than an amazing thing. I am proud to know you and we’ve never met! As an adoptee I try to focus on what I had/have and not what I might have had , mainly as it would have been shit and my BM would be inclined to agree . Read between the lines when you see negative on there ..had they been naturally raised by birth family they may still have negative shit to say then too..its the GIG effect (Grass is Greener effect) and not fair on people who don’t know where or what they came from..Paints a picture that’s one sided you know? I have admired many posters then they jump on a positive adoptee (like me) without knowing anything about their background or where they may have been raised had they not been adopted. Trust me, sadly its not a bed of roses now I am an adopted adult, but everyone’s story is different
 
I am a firm believer that adoption itself isn’t the problem, how the adopter and the adopted person accepts it is potentially the problem.
 
 
Hope that helps…..
 
Lots of love
Black Sheep xxx

 

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Attempting to survive my late-discovery adoption and the two tiny humans I created with humor, honesty, and weekly therapy sessions.

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