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A Resource for Those Considering Adoption

October 8, 2014

Following is a book review on The Whole Life Adoption Book by Jayne E. Schooler and Thomas C. Atwood; article written by Amy H. We offer this and several other adoption books in our new Lending Library.

The Whole Life Adoption Book is a general resource that provides an overview of the entire adoption process and what life is like with an adopted child. It explains every aspect from all sides—the birthfamily, adoptive parents, their extended friends and family, and most importantly, the child. It is a helpful resource with information anyone interested in adoption should know.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section focuses on the adoptive process, specific situations that might be unique to some adoptions, and helpful information for successful adoptions. For instance, many families come to the decision to adopt after years of infertility and loss, and they need to heal and recover before walking down the path of adoption. This book does a great job of preparing families for this process, which can be long and emotional with no guarantees or set timetables.

This section also explains the different types of adoption available and provides excellent information to help families choose the best option for their unique situation. There is information as well on intercountry adoption, including how to best navigate that option and helpful tips to deal with its challenges.

Finally, this section takes a look at transcultural adoption and raises helpful questions for adoptive parents to ask, challenging them to make sure they are truly ready for this decision. It offers suggestions for how families choosing this option can bridge the cultural gap and allow their children to explore their own cultural identity.

The second section covers the introduction of an adopted child into a new home. It challenges couples to consider their motivation and expectations for adopting a child and explores characteristics of a healthy adoptive family. The authors also take a look at preparing children who are already in the home, as well as preparing friends and family.

The third section looks at communicating to children about adoption and realizing that parent and child views might be different. One focus is attachment, and the book does an excellent job of making this topic relatable and understandable to the reader. It looks at both what can get in the way of adjustment and strategies for managing its challenges.

The last section focuses on the adopted child growing up and how to handle adolescence, including when children want to get to know or find their birthparents. It breaks down different developmental stages for a child and what behavior and questions to expect at each stage, as well as how to answer their questions. This section includes a chapter on several crucial issues that might develop for adolescents.

The book concludes with a chapter that focuses on creating a nurturing family. It shares what all children need, but focuses on the specific challenges for adopted children.

As I stated before, this is a great place to start exploring adoption. It covers all the basics well and provides some explanation for almost anything that would be involved. With that information, I have been able to determine which areas I need to explore in greater detail, and now I know where to direct my reading needs.

One area where I knew I needed more direction is how to communicate with my future child about adoption. My husband and I knew this would be something to be shared early in a child’s life, but we had no idea how to go about it. This book offers great information on how to do this, and I was encouraged to explore more resources on that topic—and be creative. I loved the concept of creating a Life Book to communicate with your child from the very beginning. That is definitely something my husband and I plan to create when the time comes, and we look forward to adding to that book throughout our child’s life.

Another great thing I appreciate about the book is that there are “questions for small groups” at the end of each chapter. These questions encouraged my husband and me to further discuss each chapter and opened up a good dialogue about aspects of adoption we hadn’t thought about. It showed us that we were on the same page in many areas but that there were also topics we needed to talk through in this process.

The Whole Adoption Book shows that adoption is a lifelong process and that every stage brings new challenges, but it also shows how to successfully work through those stages to have a healthy family.

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