December 2015 Book/Film Reviews

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All books purchased by clicking the link in our review will give AFTH a small donation from Amazon.com.  If you are interested in purchasing one of the books in our review please consider buying it through our link to amazon.com.

levels of opennessHow Open Should My Adoption Be?: Levels of Openness In Adoption (Guide to a Healthy Adoptive Family, Adoption Parenting, and Open Relationships Book 3) by Russell Elkins – This short 50 page book is packed with a lot of really important information.  Russell Elkins adopted two children and has a very open adoption with both of his birth parents.  How these relationships developed is different and you can learn through their mistakes how to navigate these difficult and emotional relationships.  The only shortcoming of this book was the continuous references to his other books and how you should read them.  Which I admit are all great books I just wish he didn’t feel the need to advertise in each of them for the others.

The gems in this book touch on social media, extended family, and the importance of communication.  Another really important piece to be aware of is how the 1st year after adopting is often much more stressful than you expect, becoming new parents, establishing that new relationship with the birth parents and with each other, lack of sleep, fear of disruption, and the invasion of social workers who have to check up on you until finalization can all put a lot of strain on what is already a very emotional time.  So maybe lower your expectations of what this year will look like and take it moment by moment.  Also very important is his section on the time in the hospital.  Respecting the birth parents time with the child in the hospital and remembering that this time belongs to them and isn’t your time to start parenting. You may have a lifetime to do that and they have the very short period of time spent in the hospital, respect that.

This book can be read in an hour but it is one you may want to keep around to reference when things come up.  He has some really great ideas and some really profound insight.  I appreciate the short length of this book because it wasn’t overwhelming amounts of information and gave lots of food for thought.  Amazon.com price $2.99 (Kindle) $ 5.99 (paperback)

half a world awayHalf a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata – This was a great book that really got into the head of a 12 year old boy who was adopted at the age of 8 from Romania.  Jaden is having a hard time adjusting to his new home, he is angry with his birth mother, wants to love his adoptive parents but struggles with it.  He is sad he had to leave Romania and is angry with his adoptive parents for taking him away but also knows that they love and care for him.  He struggles with attaching and loving them expecting them to betray him.

Ms. Kadohata was able to really get inside the head of a boy struggling with attachment, the different emotions building up inside him and allows you to see things from his perspective.  When the family travels to Kazakhstan to adopt another child Jaden’s feelings really rise to the surface as he believes he is not good enough and that is why his adoptive parents want another child.  His insights into the orphanage children and baby they are adopting is poignant and touching.  He relates to them, he knows what it is like to live in an orphanage.  He knows what it is like to feel hopeless.

Beautifully written Ms. Kadohata has really strongly developed characters and a great story that has you really living in Jaden’s skin.  You want him to feel, you want his wall to crack, and you feel his pain as he struggles with it.  This would be a great book for anyone adopting an older child either through the foster care system or internationally as Jaden’s character is very easy to relate to.  amazon.com price: $7.99 (PB) $7.49 (Kindle)

ApprovedForAdoptionDVD-FApproved for Adoption (English Subtitled) –  Jung was adopted at age 5 from Korea to a family from Belgium.  Told in animation, family film footage, and recent footage from a trip Jung took after 40 + years back to Korea.  This is Jung’s life.  Trying to fit in but always feeling foreign.

Jung struggled with fitting in from a young age.  He didn’t like associating with other Korean adoptees that were in his home town, not even his adopted sister who his parents also adopted from Korea. After a grave illness that took him to the hospital did he start to realize how much his adopted family loved him. Although it wasn’t until he finally took himself to Korea that he realized he didn’t need to look anywhere else for his mother because he had a mother that loved him in Belgium.

This was a very eye openning film that really brings home how often adoptee’s feel the pain of abandonment even years afterward.  They need to somehow come to terms with it in order to feel free from it.  It also really emphasizes the need to feel a connection to one’s birth culture. Jung shunned his culture but it was his families responsibility to try to reconnect him to it.  It wasn’t until he finally connected with another Korean adoptee who introduced him to a Korean family that he finally started to realize his connection to being Korean.

This film was very well done and brings a lot of emotion to the surface. Free on Amazon.com with Prime membership 

 

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