Guest Author - Book review by Karen Ledbetter
I now know that all of the emotions I experienced way back then were very common for new adoptive parents. Of course, I managed to cope, but having this book available would have made coping a lot easier.
Instead of romanticizing adoption, as so many books do, the authors of this book realistically discuss actual issues that adoptive families face, especially the emotional aspects and situations leading to post-adoption blues and/or depression, as well as coping strategies.
The first part of this book discusses the expectations that so many new adoptive parents have of themselves and the common emotional reactions when those expectations are not met. These reactions include withdrawal, anger, and denial.
The second part is dedicated to an adoptive parentís expectations of his/her child and the common reactions when these expectations are not met. Realistic coping strategies are discussed for parents who experience the reactions of anger, sadness, panic, sublimation, denial, and/or avoidance. This section also discusses a childís emotional needs and ways that parents can help their adopted children cope with their emotions.
Part 3 discusses positive ways that adoptive families can cope with the expectations of others. This fully discusses dealing with friends and family members who may be either positive or negative about the adoption. Coping strategies include understanding that your friends/family may have different views regarding adoption, setting boundaries to protect you and your children, as well as communicating your specific needs to friends and family.
A chapter is dedicated to facing the expectations of birth parents. With open adoption so common today, the information in this chapter is quite valuable. First of all, the authors note that the most appropriate place for a birth parent to discuss his/her grief is with a counselor instead of with the adoptive parents. In working through the adoption process with birth parents, adoptive parents may experience such emotions as anger, guilt, and resentment. I vaguely recall experiencing all three in the first year after becoming a mom, not necessarily directed specifically toward either birth parent, but with the adoption process in general. Suggested coping strategies include respecting the adoption plan, communicating honestly with birth parents, not making promises you cannot keep, realizing that open adoption arrangements are constantly evolving, and respecting birth parents.
Iím guess that all adoptive families have experienced the craziness and ignorance of societyís expectations and thoughts regarding adoption. The authors of this book suggest ways to deal with intrusive questions and ignorant comments from those who are absolutely clueless about adoption.
There are also certain expectations among adoption professionals. Prospective adoptive parents may expect their adoption professional to prepare them for any challenge that they may face. This may or may not occur. Will your adoption professional be supportive and helpful when challenges do occur? Many are. We had one who was not. Prospective adoptive parents expect their adoption professionals to be competent and ethical. While most are, there are a handful that are not. The authors suggest ways to discuss post-adoption depression with adoption professionals, how to advocate for the rights of each member of their adoption triad, and facing a disrupted adoption without guilt.
One chapter is devoted to adoptive fathers and the emotional issues that they face, along with coping strategies.
The husband and wife authors of this book, Dr. Karen Foli and Dr. John Thompson, are adoptive parents themselves; and through the book they offer adoptive parents the understanding, support, and coping strategies that they need to overcome post-adoption blues. I recommend that every prospective adoptive parent purchase a copy to read before adopting, and for future reference after placement