Friday, October 18, 2013

Book reviews for a beloved PAP

I don't know what is wrong with our blog - I can't seem to format anyting - so this all runs together (sorry). I really want to blog on events, update pictures ... tell about Lauren's birthday, gotcha day, our fall break.... all the things of family -- but I have no time!! I do however, love helping other PAPs... so per request from a beloved PAP - I'm posting about adoption books we've read. It was actually easier for me to pull some of this info. from our service plan document - so here is goes.... We loved reading all these books in preparation for Lauren - and let me tell you -- each one just increased our knowledge and anticipation for our little girl's arrival. Family of Adoption by Joyce Maguire Pavao This book was very helpful in it describes various issues and challenges based on the age of the adopted child. We particularly liked the discussions on the birth mother, the need to know they were born a normal birth like every other human. The family tree discussion will certainly be helpful when that issue comes up in school. Similarly the discussion on daydreaming was particularly interesting and helpful. The urge to search discussion and ideas for how to describe the birth mother (by not using the typical explanation, “you birth mother was very young and very poor”), seemed to be quite helpful and logical – although was not obvious to us before our reading on this topic. The characteristics of an adopted child were quite helpful as well…to allow us to understand when issues of anger or intimacy, or fantasy may come up as she grows and matures. It seems as the truth is the key concept of the book throughout the various stages of their development – truth, respect, and understanding. 20 Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge All of the 20 things are profound; here are the items that spoke to us: Grief and loss may surface into anger towards the adoptive parent. This helps us to understand when behavior issues arise; we likely are dealing with grief. Yet Eldridge also says firm and loving discipline is needed to reassure Lauren that we can handle her. This appears like a very delicate balance between being able to recognize grief and loss…and also the idea of control and challenge of boundaries. This will be something we will need to work together on to determine what we are dealing with. Also the fear of abandonment is one that we will have to be mindful of – we anticipate either a pleaser or someone trying to push us away to test our love and see if we will reject her. While clearly we’d rather have a pleaser, but we know that even that has its challenges, we just want to build self-esteem and validate all that Lauren is so that she feels safe and secure in who she is and can be free to make mistakes and be herself. Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall Inside Transracial Adoption is like an encyclopedia for adoptive families. It comes with so many issues it’s difficult to summarize here. The primary themes are the normal stages that children of color go through when adopted into a white family and also the importance of providing your child of color with real, meaningful relationships with people that are like them. This involves the family understanding to live multi-culturally, being deliberate in bringing multiple races into the family circle of friends, and also looking at the world through your child’s eyes and equipping them for their future in this society. There were so many helpful tips, examples, ideas, thoughts… one of particular is to “not worry about being perfect and doing everything right …our own security about being good enough will provide security to our child”. This resonated with us, because we do want to do things right by Lauren, and want to give her all the nurture and self-worth possible – so we have to be careful about over doing it, or worrying about whether we are doing all the right things. At some point we have to pray for discernment, seek advice from others, and trust our instincts. This is really a fabulous book that we are sure will serve as a reference tool through the years as challenges come up. Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray The personal vignettes included on various family situations encountered by adoptive families proved particularly insightful, as you want to know how the theories and concepts are integrated within the family. The therapist peering down the throat of a young girl and stating “I see a good heart down there” moved me. The author appears to have a solid grounding on practical techniques and good insight on adopted children’s issues…and how best to approach them. The developmental stages will be very helpful to us as we proceed with evaluating Lauren’s child development stage, and where we need to begin our parenting to help her complete that stage so she can progress to the next one. This book shall be a good reference for many years as we look for advice and approaches to best parent our adopted daughter. Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best We learned several helpful insights from The Weaver’s Craft. In summary, here are key points we gathered from the book: For discipline: use physical redirects by leading a child away from undesirable behavior; utilize referential speaking, speaking about the child within earshot to others praising the child; state positively and concisely what you want from the child – such as sit quietly in your seat versus don’t be doing something On transition: work on transition objects, including toys, sheets, blankets and even toothbrushes; smell may be important so don’t wash prior to them being taken; offer to replace the items with new ones. Could be a significant part of the transition process. We are planning a few things of transition – we plan on sending the orphanage a photo album of our family, Lauren’s room, our van – and her car seat, etc… Then we also plan on bring toys when we arrive at the orphanage… one set to play with her during short visits two days before we take her with us. We plan to leave the toys at Bal Asha – but also have an identical set in our hotel, so when we do take her with us, they same toys will be at our hotel, and we won’t be faced with bringing her a few toys and then taking them away… plus it is a way for us to donate to the orphanage. We are not planning many, many toys…just a few interesting learning toys, blocks, stacking cups…typical things that 2-3 year old children enjoy. Hopkins also suggests taking pictures of her care givers, honoring them, etc… of course this will also be a key item for her Life Book when we return home. On language: Lauren will likely stop speaking for awhile while she “regroups” and begins acquiring English; it may be several weeks or months before she begins speaking to us, depending on where she is developmentally. Hopkins suggests testing for developmental delays may be best later, after she has time to adjust; she may be affected by environmental conditioning, including institutional conditioning On Developmental stage: Hopkins suggests knowing the child’s developmental stage is important; child may exhibit self-comforting behaviors (self-rocking, sucking on her own body parts) to soothe herself; may have given up on adults soothing her so she attempts self-care; may resist being fed; may need to regress toward infant dependency to transfer dependency on newly adoptive parents; very important to have caregiver give permission to Lauren for transition to adoptive parents On Play: Hopkins suggest play is an important developmental method for toddlers; activities such as mud, sand and finger painting all encourage creative play; use the “stop/start” game to allow toddler sense of mastery of when to begin/end involved play; page 158 provides ideas on toys to encourage development at age-appropriate levels; work toward child directed play in which the toddler uses their imagination, such as playing with dolls and dress up; stimulation can be done through a baby swing if the child is an infant or small enough; very good to have that rocking motion while standing in front of the swing so they can smile and demonstrate involvement On Structure, Rituals, Family: Hopkins suggests structure and consistency are essential to the adoptive toddler; important to shown consistency as toddler may have come from chaos before; discuss upcoming events ahead of time; don’t led toddler wake up to unfamiliar/strange people: work to tell them if this will occur ahead of time; work toward consistency and constancy by “a place for everything and everything in its place” for toys, shoes and other important artifacts; incorporate rituals and traditions into the family, such as special foods, celebrations of culture, “brother-sister” day celebrating the adoption into the family, and other events; limit interaction with others the first few weeks; family should bond with adopted child; Our Own: Adopting the Older Child by Trish Maskew Many insightful things were gathered from this book, in summary the following were new take aways: Maskew suggests that independence and dependence might be in conflict with each other; child may demonstrate very good behavior the first few weeks and then regress; may also regress in language as she begins to learn English—may enter a quiet phase until she speaks more English Some tips on bonding: Tips – Building Attachment  Read a bedtime story every night  Have family meetings  Put on kids’ music and clap to it  Have a new family portrait made early on  Have fun together  Rock the child to sleep  Put up any valuables so as not get broken  Establish set routines  Change bad behaviors over time and not all at once  Let housekeeping go and focus on child  Find opportunities to touch  Exercise together Parenting Your Adopted Older Child by Brenda McCreight This book was very well laid out with practical tips on dealing with a wide variety of issues. It seems to cover a wide array of topics in a succinct manner. We really liked the family identity chapter and ideas for creating a strong sense of family. The chapter on play was interesting, because it never occurred to us that our daughter may not know “how” to play given limited resources in an orphanage (this was certainly the case with Lauren – no knowing how to play). I guess we assumed that in that setting, there would still be toys and interaction among children, that the children would learn the concept of play. We recognize this may or may not be the case with Lauren, but it’s nice to know in advance this may be the case – so we know the importance of possibly needing to slowly teach her to play. It seemed the book wrapped up with a concept we believe is crucial to a successful transition with Lauren, and that is the concept of creating a sense of belonging. Actually, the book put it as moving the child from a sense of aloneness to a sense of belonging. It seems that many of the disorders described in the book (ADHD, etc) are generally found in all children, not necessarily only in adopted children….and the concept of attachment, bonding, etc… we fully understand how this occurs as an infant, but we question if this is a life-long issue, as families allow children to retreat to a bedroom only to play video games or watch TV, while parents work overtime or focus on their own desires. For us, we pray that our family values and traditions set us apart from some of the things of the world that seem to pull families apart. Raising children well must be a high family priority and deliberate in many actions. So the creation of a sense of belonging can only be accomplished by a structured environment that is loving, open, consistent, and a high priority to the family as a unit. Letters from Motherless Daughters (although a heart-breaker - really good for understanding loss and trauma) Although many letters are from daughters that have no mother as a result of their death, there are also several stories of abandoned daughters. These are particularly pointed and as one daughter wrote, “I think that it’s harder to be abandoned by your mother than to have her die. Death is final, and you know in your heart and soul that your mother is never coming back. When she just leaves, you always have hope that one day you will be reunited.” Although this is really hard to accept, Lauren will always wonder about her mother, as this book describes, many times in her life she will long for her mother, such as her wedding or birth of her own child. There are times and events throughout her life in which she will be particularly sad that she is unable to share them with her birthmother. We must acknowledge and validate that sadness, knowing there is nothing we can do to make this hurt go away. – a great website for all things Indian