Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Book Shelf: A Place in My Heart

Stacey and Tim adopted their sweet daughter, Norah with the help of CAC and have an amazing story. Stacey shares a book they can't wait to read with her when she gets a little older about her adoption...

A Place in My Heart by Mary Grossnickle

Age Recommendation: 2+

Theme: For an adopted child, assuring them that it is okay to think about, talk about, and love their birth parents, too!

Synopsis: We received this book as a gift from Norah's birth mother to read with Norah when she is a little bit older. Right now it takes up a safe place on her bookshelf (anything NOT a board book is not safe in our toddler's hands!), and I can't wait to read it with her someday! It is a very special gift.

A Place in My Heart is the sweet story of a chipmunk named Charlie who was adopted. I enjoyed that Charlie was already aware that he was adopted (rather than his parents waiting to tell him until he asks). One day Charlie asks his mom why he doesn't look like his family, who are squirrels. His mom answers, "Well, you grew inside a different mother's tummy. She is called your birthmother. And you have a birthfather, too. You probably look like they do." Charlie's mom's answer is perfect - first, his mom does not give an imaginary description of where Charlie came from (i.e. "you grew in my heart," which is a sentiment I am personally not a fan of). She tells him the truth: that he grew in another mommy's tummy! Second, I appreciate that the author included both the birth father and mother in her story.

The rest of the book involves Charlie struggling with his feelings about his birth mother and birth father. He worries that it would hurt his mom and dad's feelings if he loves his birth parents, too. Charlie wonders if there is room in his heart for his birth family AND his "forever family." Charlie's mom picks up on his feelings by noticing his strange behavior (something that I think is important as an adoptive parent). She asks Charlie if he has been thinking about his birth parents. She reassures him that it is okay to think about them, to wonder about them. She even uses a hands-on activity to demonstrate how there is room in all our hearts for all the people we love by cutting out a paper heart and having Charlie write down the names of all the people he loves on it. He realizes that there is room in his heart for all the people that he loves - including his birth parents. 

My husband and I have an open adoption with our daughter's birth family. In this book, Charlie wonders what his birth parents look like. Does he look like them? Are they famous? Are they beautiful? This is the only way Charlie's story deviates from our personal adoption situation. We know the answers to these questions about our daughter's birth family, so she will never have to wonder. They are and will be a part of our life.

I had not heard of this particular book until it was gifted to us, and I am so glad it was. A Place in My Heart is a precious story that is thoughtfully written, and I highly recommend it!

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