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.
Doug Linville was hired to be the Director of the Miriam Project in 1997 and he has been pouring his life and love into the adoption agency ever since. We sat down with him recently to ask him about what adoption means to him and what his heart and vision is for the Miriam Project. We think you’ll be encouraged and inspired by what he has to say.
If you had to describe what adoption means to you in one word, what word would you choose, and why?
How can I protect children who can’t protect themselves? How do we protect expectant/birth moms from the system? How do we protect birth fathers’ rights? How do we protect the adoptive families’ hearts?
Share some of your thoughts about the Miriam Project?
I always go back to the story of Miriam and Moses. I love the philosophy that every child has a purpose placed on his or her life by God. We help them find a forever family who will help them fulfill that purpose. We pray over every child. No placement happens by accident; it happens by God’s direction.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with adoption?
When the birth mom’s come back for their first visit with the child and the adoptive family. They can’t stop thanking the adoptive family for caring for their child; they have such a sense of peace. Also, those times when it has been just me caring for a child right after they have been born before the adoptive family can get there and I am protecting that child.
How about the most challenging?
There are three things. One is making sure the expectant/birth families know that we don’t sit in a place of judgment. Another is being with a birth mother as she grieves that loss. The third is being in the hospital and switching back and forth between two extremes: the joy of the adoptive family and the grief of the birth family.
Has adoption taught you any life lessons?
Adoption is such complete acceptance of another person that it helps me understand what it means when we are adopted into God’s family. Everything changes. Adoption has opened my eyes to see how everything changes, nothing is the same, and it’s a good change.
What misconceptions about adoption would you like to clear up?
Some people think we are only concerned about the baby and not the birth family; this is a major misconception. Another major misconception people have is thinking that a birth mom must not love her child and is making a selfish decision. That’s not true. Placing a child for adoption is a selfless decision made with the child’s best interest at heart. It takes a lot of maturity to make that kind of decision.
What is your vision for the future for Miriam Project.
I’d like to see us become more of a support community for those who have placed. I’d also like more people to know that there is a place where they can find help without judgment.
Do you have any advice for expectant/birth families and adoptive families?
For adoptive families, protect your heart as you step into the process.
For birth families, don’t walk alone. We will walk with you. We are here to help you make the best decision for you and your child, not to tell you what to do or make your decision for you.
The following story is shared with permission.
Dameon and Shontay were married in 2003. They hadn’t been married for very long when they became convinced that becoming parents was a part of God’s plan for their life together. They were so sure that they were supposed to be parents that they even picked out a name for their future child. You can imagine their joy when, in 2005, they found out that Shontay was pregnant. You can also imagine (and truly, if you’ve never experienced it, you can only imagine) their devastation when the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
Dameon and Shontay spent the next several years exploring and trying one fertility treatment after another, all to no avail. And then, much to their surprise, Shontay became pregnant by way of natural processes in 2008. Once again, however, their joy turned to mourning as yet another pregnancy ended in miscarriage. At this point they were both about ready to give up on their dream of being parents. With the encouragement of others, though, they continued to hold on to their vision of parenthood. Dameon and Shontay would often encourage each other by saying “God’s timing is perfect and what God has for us is for us!” This reminded them that God’s had a “panoramic perspective,” meaning that God saw the whole picture even though they could see one part of it. This kept them trusting in God’s plan year after year.
Sometime later, a friend of Shontay’s asked if they had considered either foster-parenting or adoption. At first, they where hesitant to consider the idea and then Shontay had lunch with and old college roommate who had adopted a child. After that meeting, Dameon and Shontay prayed together and made the decision to pursue adoption. When they started researching adoption agencies online they came across Miriam Project. It just so happened that they had decided many years previously that they would name their daughter Miriam. Dameon and Shontay believed that this was a sign and they decided that they would work with Miriam Project. They completed all of the necessary paperwork and home studies and submitted an adoption profile to Miriam Project.
Time continued to pass and it was beginning to look like adoption wasn’t working out for them either. Once again, they had to fight through feelings of disappointment and discouragement. Around that time, a friend of Shontay’s contacted her asking if she knew of anyone who was looking to buy a baby crib. At first Shontay was a little perplexed by this, especially because her friend knew the struggles they had been going through. Dameon and Shontay decided that they would take a step of faith and purchase the crib themselves and they began to pray for the child that would eventually sleep in that crib.
No more than eight days after buying the crib, Dameon and Shontay received a call from Brooke at Miriam Project. A woman who was facing an unexpected pregnancy had come to the Miriam Project because she believed that adoption was the best choice for her child. This expectant mom looked at Dameon and Shontay’s profile and knew right away that they were supposed to be the parents for her child. Seven weeks later, in January of 2014, this expectant mom gave birth a beautiful, baby girl named Miriam. Last month Miriam Project had the honor of participating in the adoption finalization of baby Miriam to her forever parents, Dameon and Shontay.
It wasn’t always easy or pleasant, but Dameon and Shontay persisted and they have experienced God’s wonderful faithfulness. Just as wonderfully, baby Miriam has been blessed with forever parents who will love and care for her all their days.
The Miriam Project exists for stories just like this. We are delighted to be able to be a part of God’s plan and we are committed to ensuring that every child within the reach of this ministry are embraced by healthy and loving families within the body of Christ, families like Dameon and Shontay.
Each year the Miriam Project runs several fundraisers designed to bolster our annual budget and enable us to continue working to accomplish our mission of ensuring that all children within the reach of this ministry are embraced by healthy and loving families within the body of Christ. One of our most successful fundraising campaigns is our annual Change for Children baby bottle drive. We have partnered with two local churches that have allowed us to pass out empty baby bottles to members of the congregation who then fill those bottles up with their spare change in the following weeks. A baby bottle full of coins usually contains between $15 and $25, although there are usually quite a few people who supplement the coins with cash or checks.
One of the families who regularly participates in our Change for Children campaign shared an inspiring story with us; we thought you might like to hear about it as well. Cherilyn and Jason and their two daughters Eyla (5) and Bailey (3) have participated in this fundraiser as a family for several years. Cherilyn and Jason use this as an opportunity to teach their children about adoption. They explain that sometimes a child may need a new mommy and daddy in order to be safe and taken care of, and that the baby bottles full of coins help with that. In previous years, Cherilyn and Jason simply gave their daughters coins to put into the bottles. This year, however, Cherilyn and Jason saw another teaching opportunity, so instead of just giving their daughters the money, they created opportunities for them to earn it by doing chores around the house. Cherilyn explained that both girls have been enthusiastically matching socks, folding laundry, and cleaning mirrors so that they can earn coins to put in their bottles. She said that they are so excited that every morning and evening they are asking for more “jobs” so they can put more coins in their bottles. Below are some photos are the girls completing “jobs” and filling their bottles with coins.
This year we have also introduced a Virtual Baby Bottle donation option for people who may not use cash or who may not be local but still want to get involved. For just $25 you can fill a Virtual Baby Bottle and change a child’s life. Our goal is to collect 100 Virtual Baby Bottles by June 1, 2014. Will you donate one?
We are excited to let you know the Community Service Council of Anderson a recently provided a grant to the Miriam Project in order to help us provide education for our adoptive families. We believe that education is one of the best tools for an adoptive family and we encourage the continuation of education during a family’s adoption journey. The funds from this grant have allowed Miriam Project to purchase books covering various topics of adoption which we will provide for our adoptive families in the form of a lending library. We have purchased six titles covering topics such as building a healthy adoptive family, multiracial adoption, things adopted children wish their adoptive parents knew, attachment in adoption, and various topics related to open adoption. The books we have available in our lending library are:
By: Kathleen Silber and Phylis Speedlin
Dear Birthmother discusses four myths of adoption as well as open adoption and it examines the perspectives of both adoptive and birth families. This open adoption guide includes actual letters between adoptive parents and birth parents, as well as letters between birth parents and their children.
Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents
By: Deborah D. Gray
Attaching in Adoption is geared toward current and prospective adoptive parents as a means to help them provide care and promote healthy attachment with their adopted child. The book describes what attachment is and how to improve it while looking at the potential effects grief and trauma may have on attachment.
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
By: Sherrie Eldridge
Twenty Things begins by looking at adoption through the eyes of a child and proceeds into the twenty things an adoptive child would want their parents to know. The content of this book comes from the insights of children, parents, and experts and it is written by a woman who was adopted herself. The book “gives voice to children’s unspoken concerns, and shows adoptive parents how to free their kids from feelings of fear, abandonment, and shame.”
Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children
By: Donna Jackson Nakazawa
Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? “outlines for parents how, exactly, to deflect the objectifying attention multiracial children receive.” This book covers how to talk to your child by age and how to respond when confusing or hurtful comments are made. “Drawing on psychological research and input from over sixty multiracial families, Does Anybody Else look Like Me? addresses your questions and concerns and provides invaluable parenting tools.”
The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building A Healthy Adoptive Family
By: Jayne E. Schooler and Thomas C. Atwood
The Whole Life Adoption Book serves as a resource for adoptive families as they navigate the questions and challenges raised during adoption. This book describes the adoption process and it prepares the whole family for adoption by outlining strategies for the transition, providing communication strategies, and helping children understand and process their adoptive story as they grow.
Lifegivers: Framing the Birthparent Experience in Open Adoption
By: James L. Gritter
Lifegivers “examines all the ways in which birthparents are marginalized” and fights for the case that “adopted children are best served when birthparents and adoptive parents work together to ensure that the birthparents remain a part of their children’s lives.”
Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of Lifegivers. If you would like to read and review one of these books for our blog, contact us and let us know.
Adoption can be expensive but we don’t think that cost alone should prevent anyone from pursuing adoption so we have put together a list of resources and ideas that can help make adoption more affordable. If you have heard of other resources or ideas, please be sure mention them in the comments below. By working together we can make sure that as many children as possible find their forever families.
GoFundMe is the #1 crowdfunding site for personal fundraising on the internet.
How it Works
With GoFundMe you are able to set up a personalized page for your campaign where you can share your story. GoFundMe makes it really easy to share your page with the people in your life. Donations can be made directly on your page and all donations will go directly to you.
How Much Does it Cost
It is free to set up your page and start collecting money. You’ll never have to pay GoFundMe directly, although they will deduct a total of 7.9% + $0.30 from each donation (5% goes to GoFundMe and 2.9% + $0.30 is for credit card processing).
Click here for more detailed information.
Pure Charity is another crowdfunding site although it is limited to certain types of charitable fundraisers. Fortunately, adoption is one of their supported causes.
How it Works
Pure Charity is very similar to GoFundMe in that users can personalize a donation page to receive donations. There are a few significant differences however. First, Pure Charity will work directly with your adoption agency and distribute the funds to the adoption agency directly. On the plus side, this means that, unlike GoFundMe, your contributors donations may be tax deductible. On the downside, that means that your adoption agency must be a nonprofit organization (Miriam Project is) and there are certain limitations as to what the money can be used for (right now donations can only be used toward agency related fees, however they are working on expanding this).
Additionally, the Pure Charity Rewards Network lets your friends and family shop online at their favorite retailers and a portion of the purchase price is deposited into their Pure Charity account. That is money that can then be donated towards your fundraiser.
How Much Does it Cost
It is free to set up your page however Pure Charity deducts 5% processing fee to cover credit card processing and other administrative costs.
Click here for more detailed information.
AdoptTogether is another crowd-funding site that is exclusively for adoption.
How it Works
AdoptTogether is similar to the previous two, however there a couple of significant differences. Adoptive families do create profiles, however all donations are considered donations to the Hoping Hearts Foundation (which means they may be tax-deductible). Instead of donations going directly to individual families, an independent board reviews grant requests as well as actual adoption expenses. The board then makes grant decisions. AdoptTogether’s goal is to meet or exceed every grant request, although it’s possible that a family could receive less than requested dependent upon the board’s decision.
Click here for more detailed information.
YouCaring is very, very similar to GoFundMe although YouCaring does not deduct any fees from the donations. Users set up an account with either PayPal or WePay, each of which have a small processing fee for credit card transactions.
Cards for a Cause is a fundraiser that provides boxes of 30 high-quality handcrafted and individually wrapped greeting cards with matching envelopes for a family or organization to sell. The boxes sell for $30.00 and the family or organization keeps up to $13.00 a box (that’s 43%). For more information, contact Sarah Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-479-5466.
Please share this with anyone who could benefit from the information. If you have any other suggestions or ideas be sure to comment to below!
Following is an adoption story from some friends of ours who have been through the process several times. Check out what they have to say!
Our adoption story is not our own. It was orchestrated and woven together by the Almighty! We are so very thankful for the gifts He has given us!
We have completed the adoption process four times. Four times in four years! Those four years, and the several years that followed, were crazy but oh-so-fun!
Our first adoption began with a quick match with an expectant mother. Within several months, however, it became clear this placement wouldn’t happen. After a few months of healing, we were called on a Friday and asked to adopt through the African-American program (which was our first choice anyway). On Monday, they called again. This time a precious boy had been born over the weekend and needed to go home from the hospital that same day; would we be interested? We accepted and we were thrilled to be parents! It was the greatest joy we had ever known!
Our first child was about 18 months old when we decided that we would get started on another adoption knowing that the average adoption process takes nearly a year. I remember the morning that my dear friend called me and I shared our news with her. I was sitting at the desk in my classroom before my students arrived when I told her “We’re adopting again!” She told me that her coworker and friend had just gone to an interview with an expectant mother at a small agency in Anderson, Indiana called Miriam Project and she suggested we look into it.
I called Miriam Project on my lunch break that very same day. My inquiry was met with excitement because we were open to adopting either an African-American or biracial child and the case worker had an expectant mother who had interviewed all of their potential families but still wanted to keep looking.
We met with her a few days later and on our drive home we received a call…we were CHOSEN! Six weeks from the day of the phone call we were awakened in the night with a call informing us that our brave, dear birth mother was in labor. We excitedly drove to the hospital. I will never forget walking into the room and seeing our baby girl for the first time, wrapped tightly in her first mommy’s arms. Her dark curls and golden complexion were breathtakingly gorgeous!
We spent the next few days loving on our baby girl and getting to know her birth mother better. What a privilege it was to meet and know the woman who selflessly carried this child for nine months. What a shared bond….both having a deep love that only a mother can have. What began as a gripping fear, the idea of having an open adoption and a relationship with the birth family, became one of the greatest blessings we could give our child. We are so thankful for the transformation God did in our hearts!
When our sweet daughter was 14 months old, and our son was 2 1/2, we received a call from a different agency asking if we would meet with an expectant mother who was due in a few weeks. That was a Thursday. We met her on Monday. I stayed up late that night completing almost every bit of paperwork. Little did I know, the birth mother would be in labor just a few hours later and the next day we drove to meet our second son!
Just 12 months after that, we received a call informing us that the birth mother of our first child was pregnant! So, just 3 months later, we welcomed another daughter into our home and family!
Each child has been and continues to be such a gift to us! We are so thankful for each one and for the women who carried them and who love them forever. All glory to Him from whom all blessings flow.