A needed resource for parents of children with severe feeding problems (for whatever cause, not just adoption) that is nonetheless a slog to read.
TheA needed resource for parents of children with severe feeding problems (for whatever cause, not just adoption) that is nonetheless a slog to read.
The author seems to have a lot of experience and excellent ideas about creating a healthy food cycle/ relationship. However, she is overly dependent on one source and tends to take a long time to say what she wants - something that is less tolerable when in the throws of difficult parenting. Case studies seem to weigh it down instead of illuminate. It was good enough that I have recommended to other adoption parents.
This is the kind of book that you remember and recommend because you haven't seen anything else on the topic, yet wish there was something more approachable for exhausted parents trying to their best by kids with significant challenges.
Goodreads readers, anyone aware of a better resource?...more
Xinran has written a love letter. It is written from the heart of China to all her adoptive daughters that are spread throughout the world. Like all lXinran has written a love letter. It is written from the heart of China to all her adoptive daughters that are spread throughout the world. Like all love stories, beauty, pain, self-sacrifice, commitment, endurance, separation and reunification are all themes. Xinran pierces the veil of Chinese women, illuminating the complex realities of the one-child policy, abandonment, adoption, social relationships, poverty and survival. It is a difficult read, full of harsh realism. It is not a book you "like" as much as a book that changes you and explains hard truths of our world.
Being based on Xinran's first person research and presented as a powerful first person account, the work is necessarily limited. Because Xinran left China (a prerequisite for publishing such a bold and forthright picture of China), the book focus' on babies born in the 90s. By the 2000s, Xinran was living in the West and the social welfare system in China was changing to introduce new themes (disabled children, boys, etc) as the thousands of healthy girls were placed at younger ages. Almost all children adopted from China during this time were girls, and Xinran's interviews focus' on their mothers, creating work concerned with the lives and stories of women. Father's perspectives and sons adopted from China will be able to infer, but not directly identify with the testimonies presented. Finally, Chinese adoption is presented as the transfer of *babies* from one culture to another, thus placing children adopted at earlier ages outside the scope. I am including these parameters not to censure Xinran's work, but to help potential readers understand what the pages contain, ascertain whether or not they are in the target audience and adjust their expectations accordingly.
"Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother" is an absolute must-read for daughters adopted from China and their families, particularly those born in the 1990s. Adoptive sons from China also benefit from having this record of why their lives took a drastically different turn than expected. And finally, those seeking understanding of the social and welfare dynamics at work in Chinese adoption services. I can only hope that a brave and talented writer will emerge from China to give clarity to adoption in the 2000s and generations beyond, as Xinran has so helpfully done for this generation.
This quirky and disjointed book contains a good idea for Chinese adoptive kids. The Three Names are a wonderful and whimsical way to talk about a chilThis quirky and disjointed book contains a good idea for Chinese adoptive kids. The Three Names are a wonderful and whimsical way to talk about a child's identity. The unknown name from birth mother, the Chinese name from orphanage and the American name from adoptive parents. The story also features the child making a poster of each name with a small symbol (a very do-able home project).
While these CONCEPTS would easily generalize to children adopted from other locations, the story somewhat limits the application to Chinese girls adopted as infants.
But perhaps the biggest liability is the illustration style, which is a bit strange. I like the dreamy feel of some of the pieces that represent unknown parts of the story, but the American settings feel awkward and dated, making them difficult to relate to contemporary children looking for peaceful belonging. The Chinese scenes seem positively ancient and lack any reflection of modern Chinese city life that many children come from today.
Finally, the book continues these strange juxtapositions through a final section that challenges readers to make a journal or scrapbook about themselves. Maybe it will appeal to children more than to me, but the strengths of the story in bringing out good discussion about the mysteries of an adoptees early life and the melding of China and America were lost in illustration for me.
It's too bad because the three names idea is compelling. This is one of those books that I wish could be taken back and redone more effectively to broaden the audience and provide children some serenity in which to discuss these difficult themes.
3 Stars. Okay as a supplement, but not a primary resource. ...more
This book was mentioned on an adoption blog, and I remember reading it years ago. Doss' active faith lived out through rainbow adoption remains an insThis book was mentioned on an adoption blog, and I remember reading it years ago. Doss' active faith lived out through rainbow adoption remains an inspiration to me. The story stayed with me, but the title got lost. Happy to be reunited with a classic and looking for a copy for my library....more
A Passage to the Heart: Writings from Families with Children from China by Amy Klatzkin (Editor) A review by email@example.com
The story of a liA Passage to the Heart: Writings from Families with Children from China by Amy Klatzkin (Editor) A review by firstname.lastname@example.org
The story of a life is precious. The value of this book lies in it's multifaceted approach in illuminating the many stories of families that have adopted from China. As with all compilations of limited distribution publications, some articles are better written than others, but the shear volume of perspectives is wonderful.
Perhaps it would be helpful to those considering this book to know the section headings. In order of presentation, they are: - Ready & Waiting - The Adoption Journey - Settling In - Health & Development - Adoption after Infancy - Single Parenting - Perspectives - Culture, Language, Identity - Race Matters - Going Back - Adoption, the Lifelong Journey
The articles were compiled in the late 90s, at a time when most children adopted from China were girls under the age of 10 who were adopted as infants. Our adoption story will be much different, but I found it relaxing to simply read of others who have walked a similar road and mine a few pieces of gold throughout. I wouldn't recommend this as a PRIMARY resource on adoption, but it is a wonderful supplemental for anyone engaged in the endeavor of adoption from China whether parent, child or supporter....more
Julius Lester tackles a topic not usually seen in children's books. The effort is admirable, and I WANT to enthusiastically recommend it, but it justJulius Lester tackles a topic not usually seen in children's books. The effort is admirable, and I WANT to enthusiastically recommend it, but it just doesn't settle well with me.
He makes the point that race isn't completely define someone, and that we are all made up of many different stories, many different parts that all make the whole of 'who someone is'. This part is done well. Although I realized that he doesn't allow any leeway for someone who has parts of their story missing (don't know relatives, adopted, etc).
Then he spends a the rest of the book talking about race specifically, which seems to undermine his previous efforts. Even though he is emphasizing race is not all there is to his identity, the focus upon it instead of the other aspects of his story, makes it a BIG DEAL. In the end, his solution is for us all to take off all our clothes and skin and see that we are the same. Call me crazy, but my precocious child would consider taking off his skin if not warned otherwise!
The drawings are colorful and interesting but at the same time weird and unsettling, especially at the end of the book where he discusses taking off our skin.
I can see that it could be used to start discussion, but overall, I was disappointed....more
After reading Deborah Gray's Nurturing Adoptions, Keck and Kopecky come out with a bang! This is a straight-shooting pair who does not mince words inAfter reading Deborah Gray's Nurturing Adoptions, Keck and Kopecky come out with a bang! This is a straight-shooting pair who does not mince words in their frustration with psychologists.
Keck & Kopecky also have a unique position in expressing consistent support of and respect for the parents that enter into what they know will be challenging adoptions. Rather than dwell on their limitations as necessitating assistance, Keck and Kopecky point out that these parents were functioning well before they adopted. They seek to encourage and strengthen parents as the pivotal day in day out support for hurt children.
This book is also extremely practical for parents in the trenches. Short chapters includes idea lists for practical implementation of suggested strategies with disclaimers for parents to discover and utilize the strategies that work for them and their specific children.
I am looking forward to revisiting this book after our placement for ideas in how to address the specific concerns we encounter. The more I write about this book, the more I like it! Highly recommended....more
Parenting the Internationally Adopted Child: From your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years by Patty Cogen, copyright 2008
Books on how to parentParenting the Internationally Adopted Child: From your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years by Patty Cogen, copyright 2008
Books on how to parent adopted children often have the same weaknesses as general parenting books. They are personal works that detail an individual, or parenting team, or counseling team, approach to the hard labor of raising children. As such, they are limited by the the personality and experience of the practitioners. Additionally, works by therapists particularly seem to suffer from a "expert" condescension that is difficult to transcend.
Taking this caution in mind, Patty Cogen's book is a solid addition to the material available on adoption parenting. Her approach is narrative in nature and a strength is the outline and encouragement for parents to engage their children in telling their adoption story throughout their growing up years. She recommends parents address the trauma of adoption by continually guiding the child to integrate their experience into their own identity. This is a style that is comfortable to me personally, and fits well within our pedagogical framework.
Practical tips such as "The Three Photo Story" (pg. 75) and "The Four Questions" (pg. 77, and returned to at each developmental stage) are helpful in revealing a path upon which parents can walk (repeatedly) with their child as the child's thinking develops on the road to adulthood. Her terms "Parent Juice" and "Magic Circle," while somewhat juvenile for parents and older children, are well explained so they can be incorporated, even if you don't use her nomenclature. I also liked the attachment games she outlined such as Parent on a Leash (pg. 100), Mirror Faces/ Bodies, Pop Cheeks (pg. 106), Funny Sounds/ Funny Faces (pg. 106), The Bean Bag Game (pg. 112), Facial Exploring (pg. 114), and using the "If you are Happy and You Know It Song" for exploring emotions (pg. 117). There were many other ideas, but some were rather obvious (Ring around the Rosey, Duck-Duck-Goose, Peekaboo, etc.) or just didn't appeal to me personally (such as the Goodbye Song).
I liked the 'based in research' feel of the opening section, but some of her assertions seemed a little too convenient (how would you test that?) and she did not uniformly provide references. While some researchers and their protocol or technique are mentioned specifically, nonetheless there are many assertions, where the reader is prevented from further research (through lack of citations) and must trust her interpretation of the data.
Like most therapists working with children, she advocates juice boxes and eye contact and teaching through play and play through teaching, though I just could not get the hang of the Suck-Swallow- Breathe routine that she seems to find essential.
I particularly liked her idea of "family age" as both a way of understanding the length of time during which your child has been exposed to your parenting and family culture, and a way of contrasting an adoptive child with a biological sibling.
Two huge weaknesses of the book were distracting to me throughout the reading. Cogen has chosen the ubiquitous "composite of many individuals" approach by creating 5 children and their family settings. I suppose this would be expected given her narrative bent. While she does a fairly good job maintaining the individual nature of each profile, the reader cannot escape the omniscient narration of the therapist herself. When the families do something "good", we know this is simply the therapist using a schemata to promote her ideas, and when the families do something "wrong" or get stuck and consult her, the therapist is once again aggrandized. All of the families find her help essential to their triumphant parenting, and the stories wrap up so very neatly - a fact she even takes pains to confess in the later chapters on teens. This is a LONG book, at 416 pages, so I suppose SOMETHING was needed, but these superfluous stories also add to the length. If they were designed to sweeten the medicine, it didn't work for me; I still found the book LONG and I found the scenarios rather annoying. In addition, I imagine that if I consult the book for future reference, the yada yada will be a stumbling block to locating the information desired. Also, it should be noted that a limitation of Cogen's scope as a therapist is a focus exclusively on her client. Therefore, she doesn't engage sibling relationships (either bio or adopted) or birth order, and her adults are inexperienced parents (though she does make some weak attempts to present one or two as more adept).
The second weakness of the book is a complete lack of examination of the weaknesses of the narrative approach. Throughout the book, I kept thinking about "False Memory Syndrome/ Therapy". Cogen advocates "telling children their story" and not making up details, but ASSUMING details based on their behavior. This theme emerges in Chapter 7, "Providing a Framework for Fragmented Memories" and continues throughout the book. While she does say, "We constantly hear our children's ideas and feelings, and we need to attend to and trust their responses to our suggestions. A blank look means you are off track. A smile or nod means you have hit he nail on the head" (pg. 75). While this outline is consistent for ALL communication with children, warning lights flash in my head regarding the way this is applied to the backstory of adopted children. "For example, when meeting your child for the first time, or during the subsequent hours and days, you can comment, 'It's easier to sleep (or keep busy) than to look at a strange, new face. I bet when you have that stunned look on your face, you are wondering where all your familiar caregivers and other children went" (page 75). My first concern is that it seems easy to jump to projecting false stories, emotions, and integration on a child *so that the adult can feel more comfortable that they are providing guidance*. For example, if a parents suggests a child was traumatized in a certain way in an orphanage and the child responds, I'm not sure it is part of that child's life narrative. Are they reacting to the horror that *happened* to them? Or the horror that it *could have happened* to them? Or the horror that this *does happen to children* somewhere in the world? Also, children have a narrow perspective. A child might interpret regularly missed meals as abuse, when the reality may be the orphanage had frequent problems with financial support or food supply (due to war, famine or politics) and the child was simply unaware of these obstacles, but nonetheless *applied* the emotional response to himself (I did something bad on the days we didn't have food). I think children need to integrate their experience at their own pace. There is an amount of mystery to that process that we will not be able to overcome. Cogen never examines this tricky balance, and that makes me concerned *she is unaware it is there*. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she may simply avoid these dangers of the narrative approach because it comes naturally to her, but this is a severe deficit in teaching others these methods.
Another concern I have about a weakness of the narrative approach was highlighted by Cogen's endorsement of Sherry Eldridge's book "Twenty Thing Adoptive Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew." You can read my review of this book elsewhere on Goodreads but suffice it to say, I do not view it highly. I think Eldridge's cultivation of adoption victimhood is a frightening example of where this guided narrative can lead to bad outcomes. There are all sorts of biological kids that struggle with identity, addiction, and outright rebellion. Parents need to get at the heart of these matters and it is all to convenient (for both parents and therapists) to blame adoption trauma. This thread continues throughout the book as Cogen explains behavior after behavior that we already encountered *with our biological child* and that I have discussed with other parents of biological children. There are also numerous stories of people who overcame difficult starts, and either used these challenges for motivation to triumphant achievement or prevented these challenges from defining their identity. Cogen's empathy can go too far (as well as her advocacy to avoid 'high expectations of adopted kids'). I'm not saying we should weigh our kids down with unrealistic expectations, but embracing victimhood is also too far on the other side of the bell curve. We want to raise victorious children, who are challenged to connect to others in healthy ways, and to embrace a life of purpose and value that goes beyond where they started.
In conclusion, while I prefer the narrative approach and found valuable ideas in Cogen's work, a discussion of the pitfalls of the style, and how to avoid them, would give clarity and credibility to Cogen's ideas of how to guide an adopted child to success as an adult. ...more
Deborah M. Gray is a trauma counselor who shares her methods in this book targeted at therapists. These kind of books are a lot like parenting books.Deborah M. Gray is a trauma counselor who shares her methods in this book targeted at therapists. These kind of books are a lot like parenting books. Each author shares the techniques that work *for them.* Their personality is a significant aspect of what works for them and replication of the expertise of a successful counselor or parent is unlikely. The best one can hope for is to find a few ideas or strategies that one can incorporate into their own counseling/ parenting.
If we lived local to Ms. Gray, I think we would consider going to see her, but as we do not, reading this book was more of a general exposure to the issues and concerns of children who have experienced trauma and neglect, as well as the characteristics of families in which these children are successful.
Things I learned: 1) Ms. Gray progresses from the big picture to techniques to family resilience skills. She also suggests that some learners may want to read the book in reverse. In hindsight, I think I may have benefited from the alternate path.
2) Establishing secure attachment is necessary before addressing trauma. Working through both these issues requires a slow and steady methodology that breaks the matter down into steps. These steps help the child to assimilate specific concepts/ memories/ grief/ self-control issues in a gradual manner to the point they are able to regulate their physical and emotional responses. Ms. Gray seems particularly adept at this process, but it is not something that is greatly articulated (probably because it comes naturally to her).
3) Ms. Gray links mental health with learning the ability to self-regulate and emphasizes that successful parents need to be able to self-regulate in the face of their children's outbursts or shut downs. Every parent gets overwhelmed, and when they do, they need to have strategies for how to get back to a regulated state. Ms. Gray writes in a nurturing and moderated tone, and makes suggestions for how therapists can maintain this peaceful state.
4) One of the things that bothered me is occasionally Ms Gray demonstrates a condescending or dismissive tone toward parents of the children she is attempting to help. This is, unfortunately, common among psychological professionals, and was a disappointment to me. She also criticizes other psychologists for failing to handle trauma and neglect appropriate. To me, these comments indicate this therapy is more of an art than a science and should be interpreted as such. While these lapses of negativity are not common in the 500+ page book, their departure from Ms Gray's otherwise moderate tone is noticeable.
Overall, the book made a solid contribution to a general understanding of the issue. Ms Gray's gentle and nurturing tone was easy to read. However, I did feel it was a bit long, and often seemed to be heavy on abstracts and low on concrete methods. I think it was conceptually helpful, but I'm not sure it will be concretely memorable.
A collection of tender meditations and Scriptures on the topic of adoption. I made me realize how tired I am, which drained all motivation to finish,A collection of tender meditations and Scriptures on the topic of adoption. I made me realize how tired I am, which drained all motivation to finish, so I didn't. I noticed that it hasn't aged well and focused on domestic adoption of infants which in the contemporary adoption context is one of several paths for orphaned children to join families. In the end, I think I like the IDEA of the book better than the execution of the meditations. Nonetheless, I hope to return in the future. ...more
This clever book uses the practiced eye of an artist to celebrate differences in skin color. A child and her artist mother are discussing how to mix tThis clever book uses the practiced eye of an artist to celebrate differences in skin color. A child and her artist mother are discussing how to mix the color brown. Mom's reference to 'finding the right brown' leads to a walk through the neighborhood during which they discuss the 'right brown' for different skin tones. Skin tones are also compared to food to give kids another reference point. For example, "Sonia is a light yellow brown...Just like creamy peanut butter."
This is an excellent book, and I am thrilled to own it as part of our collection. We will be reading it for years to come! Highly recommended....more
This colorful book uses an engaging style to present illustrations of different cultures and people from around the world. The theme of the book is thThis colorful book uses an engaging style to present illustrations of different cultures and people from around the world. The theme of the book is that all people are the same. We all have the same longings, pains and struggles, no matter what we look like or where we live.
Though this book completely ignores the spiritual component of men, it nonetheless illustrates two Biblical truths. 1) We are all equal, on the same standing before God; and 2) "The blood is the same" no matter where we live, what we look like or what language we speak. ...more