Category Archives: Adoption Books

October 2016 Book Reviews

2016-AFTH-book-reviews

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.

thicker-than-bloodThicker Thank Blood: Adoptive Parenting in the Modern World by Marion Crook – Author Marion Crook is an adoptive parent to two sons, using her experiences this book gets to the heart  of parenting in today’s world.  While there are other books out there that are similar its always good to have reinforcement of some of these tips, feelings and experiences.  While much of this book relates to adoption of older children there are some things that are still the same such as fear of birth parents, and addressing issues of abandonment with children.

Ms. Crook is from Canada so many of the organizations and agencies she refers to are not relevant to the US, the US may have something similar but the names are not the same. I did feel that some of her advice was a little judgmental or skewed when it came to birth parents. Overall however this is a good book that has some great advice and a well researched information.  Amazon.com price $18.15 (pb) $17.24 (kindle)

images (98)99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Choosing Adoption by Robert & Jeffrey Kasky – This is a quick read with some good information about legal risk, termination of parental rights and what expenses you can and can’t pay for with regard to potential birth parents. There is information on special needs adoptions, future contact agreements, and surrogacy as well.  While much of the legal information varies from state to state and these authors are in Florida its a good starting point.  You may want to check with your agency or attorney to see what the regulations and laws are in your state. Amazon.com price $14.97 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

99-dos-and-donts99 Adoption Do’s and Don’ts by Russell Elkins – This is a short book packed with a lot of great advice. In fact we liked it so much that we at Adoptions From The Heart have started giving this book out to our clients! This book is really geared toward adopting infants through open adoption directly from the hospital.  The advice is easy to read, and the book is only about 50 pages long.  These are things we really want all prospective adoptive parents to know. Great book Amazon.com price $5.99 (pb) $2.99 (kindle)

Adoption and Back to School

Back to school means new friends, fun projects, and of course lots of learning. Despite the excitement of this time of year, it can also be a nerve racking one for adoptees and their parents. If your child is old enough to understand the concept of adoption and its role in their life, you might start to wonder if and how to go about discussing adoption with their teachers and classmates.

“Will my child be made fun of?”

“What if there is a family tree project in history class?”

“Will their teachers understand how to be inclusive to all types of families?”

“How will my child react if his or her friends and teachers don’t seem accepting or understanding of adoption?”

These are all questions you may be asking yourself. However, there are many great resources and ideas for you and your child to utilize. After all, you want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible so they can learn as effectively as possible.

Prepare your child

Talking with your child is the first step you should take in preparing them for back to school. Answer any questions they may have themselves and then discuss possible questions others may ask them. The answers you arm your child with depend on what makes sense for your family, but below are some questions you can expect other kids will ask…

  • “Who are your real parents?”
  • “Why did your real parents give you away?”
  • “Where did you come from?”
  • “Why is your skin a different color that your mom’s?”
  • “Do the parents you have now love you like my mom and dad love me?”

These questions can be tough to answer even with positive adoption language. With unknowing children, it can be even worse. Prepare your child for what they may hear and how they can answer when they want, in a way they are comfortable answering.

Connect with their teacher

The first thing you can ask your child’s teacher for is a curriculum and/or summaries of lesson plans. Let the teacher know your family’s situation and go over the planned classwork with them. If and when you see potentially exclusive lessons to “traditional” families, offer up some ideas to welcome everyone, including your little one.

Some projects you may see in the classroom to discuss with your child’s teacher are…

  • Family tree
  • Timeline projects
  • English or Art biography assignments that involve
    • Illustrating your family
    • Writing a story about your family
    • Etc.

Click here to find more adoption friendly versions of these long held school projects.

You may also consider speaking with your social worker or attorney on educational materials you can provide to your child’s teachers and administrative staff.

Get involved in the classroom

Offer your personal experience and expertise and get involved in the classroom. Many teachers will have parents come in as a guest for story time. Offer your time and read an adoption related story. Check out some great ones here. Contribute to your child’s career day by asking your social worker or attorney to come in and talk about adoption and what they do to build beautiful families like your own!

Talk with other parents

Take time to introduce yourself to other parents in your child’s class. If and when you feel comfortable telling them your experience with adoption, be willing to tell them more about adoption in general and answer questions they may have. If the parents know and understand about adoption, it will glean a positive influence on their children.

When you’ve found other parents who are understanding to your family dynamic, try setting up play dates. Your child can make a new friend and you can have the peace of mind knowing the family will make sure both children are as comfortable as possible!

Paint a picture for other parents. They may be step parents, single parents, an interracial couple, have multiple religions in their family, or other non-traditional dynamics. Explain that adoption is just like their family. It’s “non-traditional,” but it’s just another way to build a wonderful family in a loving and happy home.

Celebrate adoption!

Schools are often looking for volunteer and community service opportunities for students, their families, and faculty. Suggest some local events and fundraisers through adoption agencies like the Adoptions From The Heart Paper Heart Project, or Find Her Footing 5K , which includes a kids dash!

You may also want to talk to your child’s teacher about celebrating your little one’s adoption day at school, similar to a birthday. Offer to come in and explain to the class what an adoption day is and bring in a special treat.

Understanding and celebrating others begins with you and your child. Encourage your child to be welcoming to all of their classmates and open to all different types of people, just as they hope their classmates will accept them.

 

No matter what steps you may take to help your child with back to school, the most important aspect is their ability to learn and grow. Make sure to check in with your little one and ask about their day and what they learned. School can be tough for any child. Parenting a child having school difficulties isn’t easy either. Reach out to your agency and social worker for more resources and specific thoughts on how to help your child thrive in school.

10 Helpful Adoption Books for Parents and Children

Understanding the concept of adoption may be confusing for many children to understand. While it is important for caregivers to provide information and support when necessary, they may not have all the answers themselves. Here is a list of books and resources that can provide information and experiences from other adoptive parents about their adoption processes and also help children and teens to better understand the adoption process in age appropriate and engaging ways:

 

For Caregivers:

  1. The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting: The Small Stuff, The Big Stuff and The Stuff In Between by Sally Donovan1  

In this unofficial guide to adoption, award-winning Columnist Sally Donovan shares hilarious stories drawn from her own life experiences. Donovan offers fun and savvy advice on how to handle the everyday trials and tribulations of being an adoptive parent – from feeling like you aren’t “good enough” to dealing with anxieties and meltdowns, to feeling strong enough to protect and nurture your child(ren). This guide offers a compassionate and refreshing take on parenting that seeks counteract with more serious and dense adoption manuals.

2. Attaching Through Love, Hugs and Play : Simple Strategies to Help Build Connections With Your Child by Deborah D. Gray 

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Written by therapist Deborah D. Gray, This book offers advice to parents who have difficulties forming bonds with their children – whether they are dealing with adoption, divorce, or other difficult situations. Dr. Gray uses techniques that are proven to help children bond with their caregivers- such as holding close eye contact or stroking your child’s feet or cheeks- and explains why maintaining routines is essential to helping children attach. This book not only offers insight as to why children struggle to attach, but is filled with positive, easy-to-use ideas that will help you to respond to difficult behaviors and meltdowns, as well as provide long-term strategies to assist with developmental skills as your child grows. This guide will give you warm and fun advice that will help you to enjoy the act of bonding with your child.

3. The Adoption Club Therapeutic Workbook Series By Regina Kupecky

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Although this book is originally intended to be used as a guide for youth counselors and therapist to help children explore their feelings and behaviors surrounding the complex issues of adoption, this series of books can also be useful for adoptive parents. This set of 5 books is designed to help children navigate their feelings and behaviors while addressing emotional and psychological challenges adopted children often experience.  These workbooks offer helpful ways for children to have fun while learning about themselves and their feelings.

4. Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections by Jean Macleod and Sheena Macrae

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This book acts as a “what to expect” guide for adoptive families and offers helpful advice on how parents can meet the emotional and developmental needs of their adopted children. . Adopted children tend to come from loss, whether that loss is from loss of a birth family, loss of culture, loss of language etc. This guide seeks to address these issues and make parents more aware of how to navigate them. Some core issues that are touched on include: sleeping through the night, discipline and attachment, FASD, trauma and PTSD, sensory integration, speech and language delays, learning issues, food issues, racial differences etc. With 520 pages of information, this book is not intended to be read completely through in one sitting, but instead to act as a reference guide when you are seeking information about issues surrounding adoption and how it affects your child.

5. Talking With Young Children About Adoption by Mary Watkins and Dr. Susan Fisher

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Many adoptive parents advocate for starting the conversation about adoption with their children at a young age and discussing the topic of adoption freely and openly. However, there are limited guidelines that exist for parents to prepare them for the various ways in which their children may respond to conversations surrounding adoption. In this book, two adoptive mothers who are a clinical psychologist and psychiatrist, offer insight into how children react to adoption, whether it is through verbal expression or physical expression (such as through play and personal interactions), as well as provide personal accounts from families who tell in detail how conversations with their children panned out.

 

For Children & Adolescents:

  1. Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth by Diane René Christian & Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman, PHD

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This book is comprised of thoughtful and inspiring letters written by a global community of adult adoptees and adults who were fostered that are addressed to the upcoming generation of adopted and fostered youth. The mission of this collection is to help adopted and fostered youth to feel assured in the fact that there is an entire network of people who have gone through what they are currently going through, and that there is someone out there in the world who “gets them”. Parents can read letters from this collection to younger children, or gift this book to preteens and young adults.

2. In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories by Rita J. Simon

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This book is a collection of interviews conducted with black and biracial young adults who were adopted and raised by parents who were white. The author combines the stories of two dozen individuals who come from a diverse range of religious, economic, political, and professional backgrounds, and questions them on how their experiences affect their racial and social identities, intimate relationships, and lifestyles. The book also touches on the history and legal issues surrounding transracial adoptions.

3. Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis Written for young children,Tell me Again About The Night I Was Born

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is told from the perspective of a young girl as she urges her parents to tell her the story of her birth and adoption and reminisces over the details of this event; this book is a great bedtime story for young children, and gets them thinking about ways in which they can connect with and appreciate their own adoption stories.

4. Why Was I Adopted? By Carole Livingston

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One adopted states that they received this book as a gift from their parents in grade school and still find the information to be relatable and relevant 15 years later. This book of illustrations depicts various forms of adoption, providing explanations for emotions that are often felt during the adoption process, and encourages open lines of communication between parents and adoptees.

5. Adopted Like Me by Ann Angel

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This book is for children aged 8+ who have been adopted. Many people may not be aware of the famous inventors, musicians, and athletes who, just like them have been adopted. This book reintroduces famous names such as Bo Diddley, Nelson Mandela, and Marilyn Monroe etc. as adoptees and shines the light on the fact children who have been adopted have the same amount of potential and opportunity to pursue their dreams as anyone else.

Back to School Tools for Adoptive Parents

The summer is coming to a close and that means it is time for the kids to head back to school. As a parent, you might be curious about ways to make sure your child’s classroom is an accepting environment for their adoption story and we wanted to give you some of the tools to ensure a safe and happy school year!

Back to School
Communicating with your Child’s Teacher

Write a letter to your child’s teacher

Your child’s teacher could greatly benefit from a brief explanation of your family’s background and this will give you an opportunity to make it be known that you are available as a resource for their classroom. You can even provide the teacher with the correct language to use when discussing adoption in the classroom setting. Children might ask questions and arming your child’s teacher with the right responses is invaluable.
Q: “Where are Julia’s real parents?”
A: “Julia’s real parents are the parents who are raising him, Matthew and Caroline, who pick him up from school each day. She also has birth parents who gave birth to her.”
Q: “Why didn’t Julia’s first family want her?”
A: “They probably wanted her very much but weren’t able take care of any baby at that time. Julia’s birth parents wanted her to have a family to love her and take care of her forever.”
Q: “Where is Julia from?”
A: “She’s from Pennsylvania. She was born in China, but now she’s a U.S. citizen, like you.”
Q: “Does she speak Chinese?”
A: “No. Julia came to the America when she was a baby. She was not speaking any language at the time just like most babies.

Educate the school’s faculty

While you are in letter writing mode, consider reaching out to the school principal or the parent-teacher association suggesting an adoption training session for staff. Some open adoption agencies, like Adoptions From The Heart, offer educational courses for families that could be attended by your child’s teacher or the school faculty.
Adoptive Families outlined five viral points for education professionals to understand (you can communicate these in your letter):

  •  Adoption is an open and natural topic in your family. Teachers should not be afraid to discuss it or to answer students’ questions.
  •  Children born in a different country are not experts on the language or culture of that country.
  • There are neither real families nor fake families. Adoptive parents are parents like any others.
  • Genetics can be taught without requiring students to trace their nuclear family’s roots.
  • Parents of all types will appreciate more inclusive versions of “star of the week,” as well as autobiographical timeline and family tree projects.

Navigating tough assignments with your child’s teacher

Like we mentioned above, more inclusive versions of classic school projects are better designed and you can discuss and present your child’s teacher with multiple options for the entire class, not just your child. Adoptive Families provided yet another great list of more inclusive projects that you can share with your child’s teacher:

  • Family Tree: Students can draw themselves on the trunk of a tree and someone whom they love on each branch, regardless of biological or adoptive relationships. Or they can place names of adoptive family members in the branches of a tree and birth family members in its roots. Using a house metaphor in lieu of a tree allows flexibility to incorporate all members of a child’s family.
  • Timeline: Instead of starting with their birth dates, children can cite memorable events from each calendar year they’ve been alive; older students can create a timeline that includes a national or world event from each year they have been alive.
  • Star of the Week: Request that students bring in photographs of themselves from a year or two ago, rather than baby photos.

Class Room Activities

Read or Donate an Adoption Storybook to the Classroom

Read an Adoption Storybook

Stories are a great way to introduce new topics to younger children. You can simply read to your child’s class during their regular story hour time or consider giving an adoption presentation which we will explain further. We review popular adoption books on this very blog, our most recent post has some great suggestions or feel free to bring your child’s favorite!

Give an adoption presentation

Give an Adoption Presentation

This is a creative way to explain adoption to your child’s classmates. Adoptive Families suggests you explain adoption in a general way, rather than tell your child’s particular story. Using dolls or other props will help non-adopted kids relate.
Here’s their simple, parent-tested presentation to use as a model:

  • Bring in one of your child’s dolls or stuffed animals. Tell everyone her name — Sandy, for example — and let each student hold her.
  • Ask the kids to help complete two lists on the blackboard: “What babies need” (bottles, food, clothes, hugs, and so on) and “What parents do” (feed, clothe, change, hug and kiss, and so on). If the kids don’t say “bring babies into the world,” add it to the parents’ list.
  • Tell them that Sandy’s birth parents brought her into the world, but that they realized they could not do all the other things parents do.
  • Tell them that Sandy’s forever parents wanted to do all those things for her, even though they didn’t bring her into this world.
  • Finish by explaining that Sandy has two sets of real parents — her real birth parents and her real forever family — and that she needs both to be who she is.
  • Don’t forget food! End your classroom presentation with a snack.

Staying Involved

Throughout the school year, you can make sure to keep adoption in the conversation. Here are some suggestions for you to explore!

  • Educate other parents who might want to talk to their children about adoption
  • Spearhead a community service project during National Adoption Month
  • Donate a packet of materials for educators at the school

Are there other ways that you stay involved in your child’s school? Let us know in the comments!

Additional Resources

https://afth.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/a-teachers-guide-to-introducing-adoption-in-to-the-classroom-in-4-easy-steps/
https://afth.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/adoption-in-the-classroom-back-to-school-edition/

May Book Reviews 2015

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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.

ReunitedReunited: An Investigative Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life’s Greatest Family Mysteries by Pamela Slaton with Samantha Marshall  – Imagine if you had no history to your life other than what began when you entered your adoptive home? You have no access to past family medical history and no idea of your ancestry or heritage.  You have no one in your immediate family who looks like you or acts like and your family history is a blank slate.

We all hope our parents or caretakers provide for our basic needs with food, clothing, and shelter, make us feel safe and secure in our environment, and provide love and a sense of belonging so we can strive to fulfill our purpose in life. But what about the part of our past that travels with us and is unknown? As humans we have been provided the brain power to reason and think beyond the daily tasks at hand and we have a need to understand the history of our lives and those who have come before us.

This book takes you on a journey that will expose raw feelings and emotions of the life-changing events of a closed adoption as the author attempts to help her clients uncover their past before adoption.  As I once learned from an adoptive mother, Dee Paddock, “Adoption is JOY and SORROW….always being woven together in this tapestry we call FAMILY.  Children of adoption may have issues around separation, loss, abandonment, rejection, and identity….that birth children in intact families DO NOT HAVE”.

What boggles the mind in this book is how the author, Pamela, an adult adoptee, has put her heart and soul into helping others on the journey when she was not able to fulfill her one wish of making a connection with her own biological mother.  She puts all her heart and soul into helping total strangers who are now her friends for life when she travels with them as their guide to help them make a connection to their past.

There is a very popular show on PBS called, “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Professor Gates understands this strong desire for each of us to find and understand our history.  Pamela Slaton has faith in the power of the connection between human beings and she does everything in her power (and sometimes she may get some divine assistance) to help individuals make that connection to their past.  She genuinely cares and is respectful and feels a strong sense of responsibility for the well-being of her clients.

When her searching clients feel a sense of defeat, betrayal and loss, she LIFTS THEM UP because she knows first-hand what loss is all about and she provides dignity and respect even when the outcome is not successful. She is in search of the TRUTH for all her clients.

Clear your calendar when you pick up this book because it is a page-turner and you will not want to be interrupted.   If you have anything to do with the world of adoption, genealogy, or searching, this is a MUST-READ.  amazon.com price $6.99 (PB) Kindle Price $9.99

The Pea that was MeThe Pea That Was Me: An Embryo Donation Story (Volume 3) by Kimberly Kluger-Bell – This was a cute little story about embryo donation – there are other books in this series that just change how the family came together, IVF, sperm donation, egg donation etc…. This book does a great job of describing where babies come from and how a family can grow from embryo donation.  Using a pea family the author tells the story of how babies are made, and how another pea family donated their embryo to another family.  My only issue with the book is that the author states that an egg and a sperm make a tiny baby pea – which could cause a little bit of confusion.  Maybe if she had just left it as a tiny baby that would have been better. Either way book could be helpful in explaining embryo donation and is recommended by several embryo donation programs. amazon  price $11.57

double dip feelingsDouble-Dip Feelings: Stories to Help Children Understand Emotions by Barbara Cain – This book helps children understand that it is possible to feel two ways at the same time.  Feelings are complex things and when children have conflicting feeling such as when they are dealing with moving to a foster home or to a new adoptive home from their biological home there can be excitement and sadness.  This book can help facilitate the conversation on having these conflicting feelings and that being perfectly normal.  Nice illustrations and easy to understand text.  Amazon price $9.72 (pb) $5.02 (library binding)

TerribleThingA Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes – Sherman Smith saw a terrible thing and he tries really hard to forget about it but it just makes him angry, gives him nightmares and makes his stomach hurt. When he finally starts talking about what he saw his life becomes better, his nightmares go away and he realizes he isn’t as angry.

Research has shown that children who have witnessed violence or trauma are actually affected as strongly or worse than the primary victims. Children who have experienced trauma or witnessed violent deaths can be helped by talking to a parent, teacher, or other adult about their experience. This story can help children to talk about things that are bothering them.  Maybe their terrible thing isn’t is different or not as bad as Sherman’s but if its keeping them up all night or making them unhappy if they share it and talk about their feelings they will be more likely to move through it.   Amazon price $9.16 (pb) $13.26 (HC)

April Book Reviews 2015

2015 afth book reviews

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.

conquering chaosConquering Chaos by Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra – I loved Catelynn and Tyler’s very real story of adoption on MTV.  It wasn’t sugar coated, you saw the pain. the hardship, and the strength it took to place their baby for adoption.  This book covers their earlier years and a little of the adoption journey.

Tyler definitely doesn’t hold any punches and tells things like it is.  Their childhood was not all sunshine and roses and their story could have turned out very differently.  The pregnancy seems to have been the wake up call they both needed to get their lives on a different path and break the cycle of addiction, teen parenting and dysfunction in their families.

With the support of only one parent each and the other set actively fighting against them, they managed to make it through a very difficult decision and seem to have gone on to help others.  They give speeches about their struggles and their time on MTV has helped bring new awareness to adoption, the adoption process and how it is not like it was years ago.  It also helps to dispel a lot of the myths surrounding adoption and the rosy or sometimes downright nightmarish way adoption can often be portrayed in film and on tv.

I liked this book but I wish it had been more.  While it gives a good insight and perspective into the lives of birth parents and reasons why they made the decision they did it didn’t give me enough about what has gone on since.  Yes they finished high school but that’s about all I know.  I wish it had given me more on how they have pulled themselves out of the situations they were in.  Did they go to college? I know they aren’t married yet are having an other baby, how long has it been since they placed their daughter for adoption?

I also found the book to be a bit repetitive in places.  Each chapter has an introduction, the story from both Catelynn and Tylers perspectives and then a conclusion which is just a summary of everything that was just said which could have been eliminated and made the book flow a little better. All in all though I think that this is a good read for anyone who feels they are stuck having to repeat the past or is starting to notice that they are on their way to repeating a cycle in their family that has been passed down for generations.  There is hope, there is a way out.  It may not be easy, it may not feel comfortable but it can happen. amazon.com price $15.47 (HC) kindle price $9.99

garbage bag kidsThe Garbage Bag Kids by Virginia Jeffers – Virginia Jeffers has been a foster parent for over 30 years.  These are some of the stories of the children she has taken in and helped to heal.  While not every story has an ending that is known Virginia did the best she could in the time she had to help teach those children in her care that there is love in the world and they are worthy of it.

Each story is deeply touching, and if you ever wondering how or why people choose to become Foster Parents these stories will give you a glimpse.  The abused, neglected, and often forgotten children whose lives are caught up in the foster care system need people like Virginia and her husband who are willing to open their homes and their hearts, even if its just for a short time to these children in need.

No child should have to experience the pain of having to pack their things in a hurry (often in garbage bags because there aren’t suitcases available) be escorted by strangers to a new place and told that you are going to stay with these people for an indefinite period of time, yet this happens every day in the US. At least there are people out there who try to help these scared children find light and love in a world that hasn’t been so great to them so far.   amazon.com price $7.16 (PB)

wonton and chopstickWon Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw -This is a fun little book about Won Ton the cat whose owner brings a puppy, Chopstick, home. Won Ton is not thrilled at all with the new addition and feels very displaced by his arrival.  He finally realizes that they have some things in common and that maybe this dog isn’t so bad.

This book is the 2nd in the Won Ton series and is written in Haiku. I’m not quite sure why this book was listed under adoption other than it does explore the feelings of getting a new sibling and how siblings don’t always look the same.  This may be a good book for families adopting for the second time.   amazon  price $13.49 (HC) Kindle edition $9.99

my family your familyMy Family, Your Family (Cloverleaf Books TM – Alike and Different) by Lisa Bullard – Filled with fun illustrations and talking points on each page, this book discusses different types of families and how not all families look the same.  Some have kids, some don’t, some are divorced and have step- parents and step-siblings, some children are adopted and don’t look like their parents, some have 2 dads, some are bi-racial, some are loud, some are quiet.  No matter what type of family you have there is something special about yours.

This is a great way to help children understand the wonderful diversity we have in the world and the different ways families are created and the different ways they live.  One isn’t better than the other they are just different.  Amazon.com price: $6.99 (PB) kindle edition $5.59

March Book Reviews 2015

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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.

tummy mummyThe Tummy Mummy by Michelle Madrid Branch -This is a gentle introduction into adoption and birth parents that many families may enjoy.  It has a very calm and relaxed feeling to it that I’m not sure I can attribute to the illustrations or the writing. The story isn’t one of my favorite and I think there are better books our there for children explaining adoption but given that there seem to be so few books that involve birth parents this could be a nice addition to your library.  amazon.com price $11.67 (HC)

breakwater_bay.jpgBreakwater Bay: A Novel by Shelley Noble –  This is a fiction book that focuses on adoption and a mystery surrounding a woman who learns that her mother isn’t her biological mother and that a pregnant teen washed up on a beach and begged her family to care for her daughter. Its a story of what does family mean? Is it who gives birth to you? Who raises you? Or maybe a combination of both. This was an engaging story but it is fiction. Unlike most of the other books reviewed here this book is purely for enjoyment purposes and not meant to really teach anything or help raise an adopted child however it does do a good job of allowing adoption to shine and not be made to seem less than.  It is definitely adoption positive even though the legal issues in the book made me want to scream. If you are looking for a good beach read that will engage you and speak to your adoption heart than this is a good chick lit book. I doubt many men would find this an engaging read but I am always happy to be wrong.  amazon.com price $11.97 (PB) kindle edition: $3.99

bird _crystal_chanBird by Crystal Chan – Bird is a middle school grade novel by first time author Crystal Chan.  Jewel was born on the day her brother, Bird died. His real name was John but Jewel’s grandfather called him Bird and after he jumped to his death from a cliff pretending to fly Jewels grandfather hasn’t spoken and her family is steeped in grief and despair.

On the eve of her 12th birthday Jewel leaves the house late at night to climb a tree and look at the stars.  In the tree she meets John, a young African-American boy who was adopted by a white family.  Jewel thinks it’s weird that she met a boy with her brother’s name in a spot out near where he died but the two become good friends. Jewel’s father doesn’t trust him though.  He believes that John is an a duppy (spirits trapped on earth who cause trouble) who has come to cause more trouble in their family. He goes out of his way to keep John away from his family.

John is visiting his Uncle while his parents get ready to have a baby.  Which brings up many feelings of abandonment, his adoption, and anger in John. While the drama going on in both children’s lives at first appear the same by the end you see how very similar their concerns are.  Jewel lives in a house that hasn’t let go of the grief and sadness of losing their son, and John believes his parents don’t really want him now that they are having their “own” child.

This is a beautifully written book and a well thought out story that really touches on what it means to feel different, how children view the world around them and how we are all connected and can help each other to be whole.  Many books deal with identity and parent and child relationships but Bird is on a completely different level. Bird is a compelling story about values, traditions and relationships that redefines what it means to be a family, I loved this book.  amazon  price $7.99 Kindle edition $10.99