Monday, April 12, 2010

Adoption Books for Children

I recently read three more children's books about adoption and have decided to add two of them to my personal collection. (in addition to Over The Moon which my daughter loves!)

Two great books about adoption geared towards children in early childhood are:

God Found us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren


I Wished For You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond

Both of these illustrated books feature animals as the main characters who discuss with their adopted little ones how their families were created through adoption with an emphasis on the joy the parents felt when their child was able to join their families.

Both of these books also address issues of adopted children not necessarilly looking like their adoptive family which I think would be especially helpful for children who have been adopted by a family of a different race.

In I Wished For You, the adoptive mother's simple yet wise answer to her child's question about not looking like each other is
"Some families look alike, and others don't. 
All families are different. 
What makes a family is their love for each other."
Here is another simple and yet very touching explanation that Mama Fox gives to Baby Fox in God Found Us You when he asks about his birthmother:

"I think she prayed like crazy that you would be safe, Little Fox.
I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her." Mama's voice got all whispery.

"I came then? To you?"

Mama nodded, happy tears in her eyes.  "You came then.  When God found us you, you made me the happiest mama in the world."

Adoption Books For Older Children:

I've been wanting to find some books about adoption for older children and sadly, there was only one that I could find at my local library which was over twenty years old (copyright 1986).

If anyone has some recommendations for books about adoption geared towards chlidren in middle to older childhood please tell me!

Here is the summary for Adoption is For Always by Linda Walvoord Girard:

"Although Celia reacts to having been adopted with anger and insecurity, her parents help her accept her feelings and celebrate their love for her by making her adoption day a family holiday."

The main character in this book is a little girl named Celia, who is probably about eight years old. Although Celia's parents have told her from the time she was very little that she was adopted and "hadn't grown inside her mommy but had grown inside a lady called a birthmother" Celia hadn't fully comprehended what it meant to be adopted until now. With Celia's new understanding of what it means to be adopted she begins to struggle with feelings of confusion, betrayal, anger, and sadness.

Needless to say, I had a hard time reading this book but I read it anyway.  But there was one part in particular that made me cringe:

"Do all birthmothers love their children?" Celia asked her teacher, Mrs. Thomas.
"I think your birthmother loved you, "Mrs. Thomas said.  She seemed to know just what Celia was thinking.
"How do you know?" Celia asked.
"She had to love you in order to give you up," her teacher said.

Okay, I think I know what Celia's teacher meant by what she said, but it was the words she used in her response that made me very tempted to take a pen and cross out the words "give you up" and write "place you" or cross out "up" and replace it with "a family". 

give you up place you       give you up a family

Birthparents don't "give up" their children!  (If you need any further clarifications regarding my feelings about adoption terminology refer to this post or this post. )

Despite the negative phraseology, the sensitive subject matter, and the outdated pictures, I appreciate the fact that there is a book out there which addresses issues a young child might have regarding their adoption- especially perceptions of being unwanted by their birthparents.  [In this book, the little girl wondered if her birthparents hadn't kept her because she had been a bad baby or an ugly baby.  Of course, this book was written when open adoptions weren't as prevalent as they are today, so some of those issues could be minimized or resolved through open and honest communication in an open adoption.]

Still, it is painful for me to think that someday my daughter may face abondonment issues or may say to me "You're not my REAL mom!" which is basically what the little girl in this book tells her mom to make her feel bad as she sorts through her feelings of being adopted.

BUT . . . As an adoptive parent I need to be prepared to accept any feelings my daughter may have in the future regarding her adoption.  I think it's crucial for all members of the adoption triad to respect the feelings and perceptions that other members of the triad might have, even if they don't necessarilly understand or agree with differing feelings and opinions.

Some examples: Do I know what it's like to be a birthmother? No. As a foster parent I know what it's like to care for a child for an extended time and then have to say goodbye to that child so I may be able to sympathize with the grief and loss a birthmother experiences, but I can never have truly empathize with what a birthmother has gone through as I have never been faced with an unplanned pregnancy, carried a child in my womb, become attached to my baby, and then been faced with the difficult decision of placing or parenting.  Unless I have experienced that I have no right to say "I know how that feels." OR to make judgments on how a birthmother should feel or what would be best for her and her baby.

Similarly, I have no right to tell my daughter or any other individual who has been adopted how they should or shouldn't feel.  As an adoptive parent it's difficult for me to hear people who were adopted make comments like "Despite being raised in a loving home, I still struggle with issues of abandonment and my identity."  My first instinct is to say, "But you shouldn't feel that way! Don't you know how much your parents love you?" But then I have to take a step back and remind myself that everybody is entitled to their own feelings.

1 comment:

Karine said...

this is an area I haven't thought about. What books might be out there for children about adoption. Thanks for bringing this to my attention :) I do think there needs to be a book out there with the right wording... PLACED is very important to have in place of gave.