Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Book Shelf: 2 Children's Books for Adoptive Families

On my continued quest for quality adoption books for adoptive families, today my client turned dear friend Brandy will be sharing a few she recently found for her daughter. You can read more of their journey to their daughter here and check her and her friends as they blog over at Cherokee Chix. In the meantime, check out a few of the books their family has been reading...

I have discovered a couple of things as our family dove into the world of adoption. One, it isn't nearly as easy or even glamorous as it looks on the back side. And two, just like every woman has her own birth stories, every family that adopts has a unique adoption story. The path through adoption is varied and emotional.

As I have searched for children's books on adoption, these points have become even more clear. A children's book often encapsulates thoughts and stories in a very succinct and heartfelt manner. You can see this in the following books...

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis, Illustrated by Lauren Cornell

Age Recommendation: 2+

Theme: A story about adoption and the importance of a loving family.

Synopsis: This book is told from the perspective of a roughly 6 year old girl who was adopted at birth. She asks her parents to retell her the stories from the night she was born - the phone call saying she was born, the flight to go meet her, descriptions of what she looked like and how perfect she was, the first time she took a bottle from her adoptive parents, when they brought her home, etc.  

All in all, this is a capture of a very true to life moment when your child comes to you and asks to be told how wonderful and special their appearance in the family is. I love that aspect of this book. I love how this book tells the details and moments of a special time. It shows how children can create their sense of identity and worth. 

However, there were a couple of things about the book that caught me as well. One, like I mentioned above, this book is specific to a domestic, at-birth adoption, involving a family struggling with infertility and even specifically a young birthmom who wasn't able to care for her child. This is definitely a real and possibly common scenario of adoption, but it is also definitely not the only scenario.

My second "hmmmm" thought about this book is that there are aspects and phrases that would be a bit graphic for me to use with my child. The copy of the book I read is a toddler board book, and so I took my age appropriateness cues from that. However, it mentions mom and dad in bed together "curled up like spoons" and there is a drawing in the book that could lend itself to fun anatomy questions. (Note: My husband read this review before reading the book, and expected something worse on this count. It may not be as bad as my first impression!) This book, in my opinion, would be great for under 2's or over 6's - at an age where it doesn't all connect or an age where real conversation and explanations are more appropriate. That being said, it is a good adoption book. There are phrases that capture the moments of meeting your child very well. The overall feel of the book is sweet and fun and identity shaping. 


Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark, Illustrated by Patrice Barton

Age Recommendation: 2+

Theme: The story of one baby’s journey from her birth parents in China, who dream of a better life for their daughter, to her adoptive parents on the other side of the world, who dream of the life they can give her.

Synopsis: Different from the book above, this book deals with international adoption, specifically from China. The pictures are beautifully painted. It speaks of a Chinese family having a baby girl and not having the resources to properly care for her but wanting desperately for her to have a good life. Out of that knowledge, the birth parents knew that it would be best for the little girl to be adopted into another family. It speaks of the adoptive mom and dad waiting and hoping and watching and preparing for the day their baby would come to them. It shares about the beautiful beginnings of the new family once the precious little girl finds her way to her adoptive parents.

All the way around, this book is beautiful. It is written in a honest and kind manner. Both the birth family and the adoptive family are depicted with honor and love. Love and concern for the child are the primary motivators for both families. I love that! For any family that has adopted internationally, this could be a fabulous family book!

My only other thoughts concerning this book are these: I love that the dad is included in both the adoptive and birth family. Dads can often times be left out in family stories of any kind, and I love that that role is included positively in both families. Being a Chinese international adoption story, the book does have a bit of an Oriental feel to it. That is awesome for families with that storyline, but may need to be explained to other children more thoroughly. And along those same lines, the actual process of international adoption is framed within sweet, mystical language. Where the first book is almost too fact oriented, this one can almost gloss over the process of adoption and make it feel like it requires less than it does.

Both books are excellent in their own ways, telling about adoption in loving and real ways. And like I said at the beginning, there are so many different routes and stories to creating a family through adoption. One is not better than another, but knowing up front which way the book will go can be helpful for both the child and the parents.

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