Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reading about Adoption #1

It all started a few years ago. We were having difficulty conceiving and starting to think more seriously about adoption.

I had so many fears and concerns about many aspects of adoption, and knew I needed to learn more. So, started reading books about adoption. These books have been so helpful in answering questions, calming  fears, equipping me for the future, and giving me a real life perspective on adoption.

This is the first in a series of book reviews on adoption. Hope you find something that might be interesting to you!

I'm starting off with three of my favorites:

1. Hypothetical Future Baby by Claudia Chapman.
This is the most recent book I've read. It is an adoption memoir written by an Australian woman, living in England, who is adopting twins from Ethiopia. It was endearing, gut-wrenching, and funny all at the same time. The author shares her difficult experience of infertility and the roller coaster of foreign adoption. She and her husband traveled a tough road to bring home their children. She is so open and candid about her experiences, that I felt like I was having a cup of coffee with a dear friend.

The author's writing style is tongue-in-cheek hilarious. No joke! I think one of the best ways to cope with infertility treatments, and the mountains of adoption paperwork, is to have a sense of humor and laugh at yourself. The author does just that, while also incorporating her faith in a non-preachy way.

For example, the back of the book lists questions the author wrestles with: "Were my friends this obnoxious before they had kids? Will the social worker notice if I only vacuum in the middle of the rooms? Does God really hate me, or does it only feel that way? And, most importantly, will anybody find out that sometimes, I pretend my cat is a baby?"

I also learned that adoption in the U.K. involves even more red-tape and bureaucracy than in the U.S. Ugh. The author and her husband were required to have a certain number of childcare hours caring for pre-school aged children, and be interviewed by an adoption panel (yikes), as part of the approval process. As the author put it, "For the first time in my life, I wish I lived in America, where home studies take a few weeks and adoption panels do not exist" (pg. 41).

This book was helpful and entertaining (and not just for those considering adoption). I hope you'll read it and let me know what you think!

2. Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent's Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children, by Rachel Garlinghouse
Mike and I are considering openness to transracial adoption. We both grew up, and currently live, in a mostly White area, so transracial adoption is one area in which I feel particularly ill-equipped. Family and friends tell me that they think black babies are so cute (and I agree), but those babies grow up to be black men and women. If we are a black child's parents, I want to make sure that we provide the support, mentors, and resources they need to become confident adults. If we adopt transracially I know our adoptive family will stand out. That means questions. I want to be prepared to speak in confidence and in a way that honors my son or daughter.

This book was an amazing resource in my humble opinion! It was written by an adoptive mom with two black daughters. The chapters discuss preparing for transracial adoption, hair and skin care, answering others questions, creating a support network, and discussing adoption and race with your children. I really appreciated the author's caution about sharing two much information with others about your child's adoption story or history. That story is your child's to tell.  Just because someone asks doesn't mean I am obligated to tell (for a "chronic over-sharer," this is something I will need to be really deliberate about!).

My favorite part of the book is end of each chapter. Each chapter closes with questions for discussion ( maybe for you and your spouse?), practical application tips to illustrate the topic, and resources for BOTH parents and kids (books, magazines, movies, etc). I know I will use the resource lists in this book over and over (and over) again.

3. Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It. by Dr. Ray Guarendi
Growing up my mom used to listen to Dr. Ray Guarendi give parenting advice on Catholic radio. My hubby loves listening to Dr. Ray now. Dr. Ray is a Catholic psychologist who is known for his practical, no-nonsense advice to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. I knew he had a lot of kids, but it wasn't until I started reading this book that I found out that all of his 10 children were adopted. Wow! I guess that gives him some credibility, when it comes to talking about adoption.  

I wrote more about this book in a prior post, but wanted to include it this series of reviews, because it's just that good!  The book covers several helpful topics, such as different ways to adopt, home studies (the process whereby a couple is approved), how to talk about adoption with your child(ren), answering questions from family, friends and people at the grocery store, open adoption, transracial adoption, special needs adoption, birth order, discipline, and costs. He addresses issues in a practical, entertaining, and often humorous way. 

For example, regarding the potentially unknown, or even known, background of the child, Dr. Ray says: "Genetics maybe the foundation of the road, but Mom and Dad are driving the bus. The kids sit in separate seats, but the bus is going in the same direction. Once more, 'You can't know what your getting.' Absolutely true, no one can, be it with a birth or an adopted child. Much of the genetic world lies beyond our control, even understanding. Yes, there may be more unknowns in the histories of adoptive children, but how and where those unknowns become known is the big unknown. If one wants certainty in life, having a child is not the place to start" pg. 45.

I've come to realize that I will probably be reading about adoption for the rest of my life. Thankfully I don't think there will be any shortage of books on the topic. I hope to post my second set of reviews soon.


  1. I hope someday we can pick up these kinds of books and start the whole adoption process. Thanks for putting this list together!

  2. This is so helpful - thank you! I've only read #3 on your list and agree that it's very good. Thanks for your comments on the other ones and I look forward to seeing more reviews!

  3. Great recommendations! I've read 2 & 3, both because you recommended them to me months ago, so thanks for that! They were very helpful, as you said. Now I'm interested in that first one, Hypothetical Future Baby. I think I read her blog, so I bet I'd love her book. Thanks!

  4. wow! these all sound amazing! i read a great book on adoption when I worked at an adoption agency but i think it was more of a memoir than a practical guide. I believe it was called The Lost Daughters of China

    1. I like memoirs, that looks good. I didn't know you worked at an adoption agency!?!

  5. thanks for sharing these resources. I hadn't heard of the first two!