I know I left you all hanging as far as Leo’s surgery, so I want to reassure you that it went well and Leo is recovering very well. My current plan is to post updates on him at 3, 6, and 12 months home. I know I told people I wasn’t going to keep blogging, but I realized I had a few more adoption related posts that I wanted to write.
When Matt and I started thinking about adoption, we only knew one family who had adopted. We had a lot of questions, and we didn’t know where to start. There were so many resources available, that it was overwhelming. Maybe some of you have followed along on our journey and you are at a similar place. You’re thinking, “Well, we used to think about adopting, but we don’t even know where to start.” Since November is National Adoption Month, I thought it would be a good time to make a post of my favorite resources. I’m not an Amazon affiliate, so when you see a link for a book, it just takes you to an author interview or a page that allows you to read an excerpt.
The best place to start is to read a few adoption memoirs. I had no idea this was a whole genre. These are easy to read stories of one family’s adoption experience. I generally found myself getting a little irritated by them because many of the authors had a tone of self-congratulation for how great they were for adopting, or spoke very disparagingly of their child’s birth country. It is hard for me to take someone seriously when they write about how changed they were by the poverty they witnessed when they follow it up by four pages of complaints about hard beds and the lack of air conditioning. With that complaining on my own part out of the way, here are my two favorite adoption memoirs:
No Biking In The House Without A Helmet by Melissa Faye Green is laugh out loud funny. While Melissa and her husband are probably not your average adoptive couple since they adopted mostly boys and older children, everyone can enjoy her humorous look at her large international family. She doesn’t shy away from reality though, talking about her difficulty in bonding with her first adopted son, the challenges of “virtual twinning” when they adopted a son the same age as a son already in the family, and even religious issues such as sitting down with the two older Christian boys they were considering adopting from Ethiopia and explaining that their family was Jewish. Melissa will really make you feel that adoption isn’t just for the super parents, but is something that even the average parent can do.
If you are an NPR fan, you’re probably familiar with Scott Simon of All Things Considered. He wrote a book called Baby We Were Meant For Each Other. Simon writes the story of he and his wife’s adoptions from China, but he also includes the narratives of several other families so that a wide variety of adoption experiences are included. Simon adopted back when adoption from China meant healthy infant girls, so keep in mind that his experience is not going to be typical of today’s China adoptive parent.
After you’ve read those two, you’re probably ready to start looking into more specific adoption information. The resource I’ve found most helpful is Creating A Family. I listened to hours of podcasts from Dawn Davenport. I started with podcasts on how to decide whether foster, domestic, or international adoption was the best fit for us. I listened to a podcast on adopting when you already have biological children, toddler adoption, and how to consider which special needs to be open to. While we were waiting to bring Leo home, I listened to more specialized podcasts such as language development in internationally adopted children, feeding issues and nutrition in adoption, and bonding with your child while still in country.
I also highly recommend Dawn Davenport’s book The Complete Book of International Adoption if you decide that international adoption is the best fit for your family. Davenport is very systematic in taking you through the various factors to consider. She includes lots of narratives from adoptive parents, and I love that she always includes an even amount of pros and cons on issues like deciding if you should take your child(ren) with you on an adoption trip. Because this book is older, some of the country information is out of date but most of the information is very helpful, even if you know that Russian adoption is closed down for Americans.
When you’re starting to get really serious about sending in an application to adopt, it’s time to start looking at some resources for when adoption doesn’t have a happy ending. All of the children who are available for adoption have experienced loss and many have endured abuse, trauma, malnutrition, and prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol.
When parents in online adoption groups are asked for book recommendations, Karyn Purvis’ The Connected Child is always mentioned over and over again. Karyn writes about her work with children “from hard places” and she is always in demand as a speaker at adoption conferences. Her Empowered To Connect website is a wealth of information, with many videos and articles. I appreciated the science heavy information in The Connected Child which explained how things such as prenatal drug and alcohol exposure, trauma, or malnutrition cause chemical changes in the child’s brain. She gave many ideas on how to work through challenges, and many of them were very simple such as offering the child chewing gum because chewing reduces stress.
EMK Press is another website with many good articles available. They offer a free ebook called Realistic Expectations which many adoptive families have found helpful.
While you are educating yourself about adoption, you might want to listen to the experiences of adult adoptees. I review two films and link to a few other resources in this blog post.
I know that many people feel that international adoption is financially out of reach for their family, so I wanted to leave you with this article from my agency which shares the stories of three families who used a variety of means to afford to adopt. The article includes links on the adoption tax credit, as well as grants which are available. There are many resources which make adoption affordable, especially when you consider that the international adoption process takes between 1 and 3 years, depending on the country, so don’t let cost scare you away from international adoption!