This was one of those books that I had no recollection of requesting when it showed up in my library holds, so I can't say that I had any expectationsThis was one of those books that I had no recollection of requesting when it showed up in my library holds, so I can't say that I had any expectations when I started. And with no expectations, it blew me out of the water. I ended up with a notebook taking pages and pages of notes.
While it's geared towards helping kids grow up mindful, you can't do that without practicing mindfulness yourself. This book makes a solid case for the benefits of mindfulness (with citations! Hallelujah!) and lays the groundwork for starting your own practice as an adult. It's not asking you to sit with a blank mind for 20 minutes, but instead gives practice ideas that you can do at a stoplight, or waiting for your coffee to brew. Very doable even if you have no extra minutes to spare.
I've been working it in when I can, and have had *major* improvements in my ability to fall asleep or back asleep. So the book was worth it for that alone.
I'm shelving this with my other foster/adoption books because I think these are especially good practices for children who have experienced trauma, and for the parents who are parenting the more, shall we say challenging, children.
I love this book so much! I read it to my 4 year old expecting a title about a gorilla finding a mom, probably due to the death of his birth mother. II love this book so much! I read it to my 4 year old expecting a title about a gorilla finding a mom, probably due to the death of his birth mother. I was not expecting such a great narrative for foster kids!
In this true story, Umande is born to Kwisha in a zoo, but Kwisha has had no examples of how to mother and is unable to care for him. Zookeepers intervene and act as Umande's mom, walking on hands and knees and trying to teach him to be a gorilla. When he's 7 months old, they try again to introduce him to his birth mother. Kwisha's very interested in Umande and loves playing with him, but again doesn't know how to be a mom to him. Eventually Umande is flown to another zoo where he is cared for by new zookeepers as he is very slowly introduced to Lulu. Lulu, "being a very experienced mom," is able to care for him.
There's no judgement of Kwisha and no negativity associated with her relationship with Umande. Everything is presented very factually, and I love how it shows how many people and animals were invested in Umande's well-being. I think could be a good book for a child who experienced foster care and perhaps was reunified several times before permanence, either back with the birth parents or with an adoptive family. ...more
No really, if you've read anything like the amount of foster/adoption/parenting books that I have you'll know IIt has in-text citations. ::drops mic::
No really, if you've read anything like the amount of foster/adoption/parenting books that I have you'll know I need no other justification for a 5 star review. But for those of you who haven't, I'll go ahead and justify.
First I should address that while this is a UK book that should not deter US (or elsewhere) readers. Aside from a very few UK-specific details, the information would be relevant to anyone in this situation. Second, this is a title focused on adoption from foster care. While infant and international adopters will still find a wealth of useful information, the primary audience here is parents adopting children from the foster care system. Which is excellent. There is far too little available on the topic.
Now truly, this is the book I wish I could have read before we became foster parents. It manages to walk the fine line between being realistic about the trauma and corresponding issues that the children may face, without making them seem impossible to parent. Books tend to leave me either feeling like love and hugs can heal the deepest wounds, or like no matter what your house will be burned down with you inside it. This book provides an honest, factual portrayal (that directly reflects our own experiences as foster parents so far), and includes parenting and coping strategies. Nothing is glossed over or just mentioned and ignored either. If Davis talks about the fight/flight/freeze response, she also talks about what part of the brain is in use, how it might manifest in a trauma-exposed child, and how you can successfully parent that child through their particular reaction.
I'd also say this would be an excellent read for non-adoptive foster parents. The early chapters on the effects of trauma on the brain are probably repetitions of information foster parents have seen in trainings, but I found the application of parenting strategies to these traumas to be clearer than anything I've had in an agency training. I also appreciated the real-life examples throughout. Additionally, the transition chapters provide a lot of useful information on all sides of the table (birth/foster/adoptive) to help smooth the experience as much as possible for the child, and I think would be good reading for non-adoptive foster parents.
Adoptive parents, even if you think you've read everything there is on bringing a new child into your home, I urge you to pick this book up and at least to read the chapters on transitions and introductions if nothing else. Those chapters are worth double their weight in gold.
This is a hard job. Don't do it alone. Pick up this book.
**I received a free copy of this book for review via NetGalley. The opinions are my own....more
The simple, generic language of this made it applicable to almost any situation. Regardless of how the family came together, the book applies. Great fThe simple, generic language of this made it applicable to almost any situation. Regardless of how the family came together, the book applies. Great for temporary (foster) situations or adoption, or even growth of a family by adding a grandparent to the home....more
It's silly and fun, and it shares the message that there are all types of families and that every type is ok. To my son anything in a book is the gospIt's silly and fun, and it shares the message that there are all types of families and that every type is ok. To my son anything in a book is the gospel, so I appreciate the message that our family (and anybody else's) is ok exactly the weird and wacky way it comes together....more
This book is an excellent overview for those considering foster care or those newly certified. The title covers a lot of the nuts and bolts of fosterThis book is an excellent overview for those considering foster care or those newly certified. The title covers a lot of the nuts and bolts of foster care, the types of things that we wondered about even after finishing the training and certification process. What are visitations like? What is it really like to work with the caseworker, the coordinator, the GAL and the family? How much paperwork do they mean when they say we have to document it all? (spoiler alert: forests of paperwork is what they mean.)
There's even a chapter on protecting yourself as a foster parent, which is more than what it sounds like. First and foremost, Degarmo emphasizes that you have to protect your family core by being realistic about the types of children you are able to parent in your home. If you lie to yourself here, you will strain yourself and your family, and if you do that you won't provide the level of care that these children deserve. But secondarily, you need to protect yourself from the big bad world by documenting, documenting, documenting. I was disappointed but not shocked to learn that foster parents are more than twice as likely as birth parents to be the subject of child maltreatment investigations. Most allegations are found to be untrue according to Degarmo, but foster parents operate under a microscope of scrutiny from the county/state and the biological parents themselves so allegations arise.
Particularly poignant for me was the chapter "When a Foster Child Leaves." I wish I had read it before our first goodbye.
The slim title doesn't go very in depth on any of the topics, which is why it's a great overview for those just dipping their toes in. ...more
This was such a disheartening read. The issue of child welfare in the United States is so complicated and layered that I find it hard to represent itThis was such a disheartening read. The issue of child welfare in the United States is so complicated and layered that I find it hard to represent it in the soundbite that most people want. The author does a great job of showing the multiple sides and the many places where the system, though well-intentioned, is failing the kids. We all know it's failing, but it was really interesting to see the exact breakdown of why certain rules and actions take place, and what the repercussions are. Beam follows several foster children throughout their time in the system, so you can see how these things play out in someone's life. As one interviewee said, "the basic tenants of foster care are good. It's the implementation that isn't working--and that's what causes the slow destruction of a person, a kid, as he goes through the system." I wish I could say that's not what Beam demonstrated, but "slow destruction of a person" is exactly what we witness throughout this book.
I really appreciated the examination of blood over bonding, which is something I have struggled greatly (I mean GREATLY) with as a foster parent. It's summed up pretty well here:
"At the core of this battle spun the core questions of foster care itself: Who decides the correct way to raise a child? Who makes the moves on the moral chessboard where a family's right to privacy opposes a child's right to protection from harm? And who should get to keep a child: the parents who nurse and tend him, or the parents who brought him into the world?"
Beam did such a good job representing both sides of the issue that I was alternately on the blood and then on the bonding side of the fence. I'm left right in the middle again, which is why this is such a fraught issue.
As a foster parent, I was both humbled by this book (how can you possibly think you can impact this kid's life when they've been through more than you've ever seen?) and inspired (one former foster child says that "you gotta rock with a kid, all the way." That we can do.)
I can't give this five stars because I would have liked to get a little more information about foster care outside of NYC. I realize the scope of the book only allowed Beam to go into such depth in one location, but I would have liked at least a contrast against foster care in another state, or perhaps in a rural or suburban environment. I also would have appreciated a "call to action." We wonder if we are doing kids a disservice by participating as foster parents in a system that is so broken. Or are we still helping in a something-is-better-than-nothing way? I want to know what I can DO, what action can I take, that can help change things. I came away from this book thinking the action needs to lie in prevention, in in-home services that take place before anyone is removed from their parents. So it did give me a starting point but I'll have to figure out on my own where to go from there.
I'd recommend this to anyone considering foster care, but definitely not as your first read on the topic or you'll never do it. ...more