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Cross-Cultural Adoption

by Amy Coughlin and Caryn AbramowitzLifeLine Press; $18.95.

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Written by two adoptive moms (with a foreword by Rocky Bleier, a former pro football player and the adoptive father of two girls from Ukraine), the first 60 pages of this slim volume provide a good starting point for preparing family and friends for your international adoption. Aimed at busy friends, neighbors, teachers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who may not have time to read longer, in-depth books or attend adoption workshops, Cross-Cultural Adoption poses common questions and provides brief but balanced answers. The authors caution that "simple answers to complex questions are never the whole story. That being said, they offer those outside one's immediate family tools to avoid blunders and hurtful statements that appear to question the adopted child's link to her new family.

The first section focuses on kid-friendly answers to some of those questions, providing simple answers for the young child and more complex ones for older children (or adults). Even some of the simple answers may be too complex for very young children, but they can serve as a basis for your own, more streamlined explanations.

The second section provides a list of dos and don'ts for adults. As adoptive or prospective parents, we spend months, sometimes years, educating ourselves about adoption before our children even arrive. It's easy to forget that those in our circle of family and friends don't. While we all hope that Great Aunt Mabel knows better than to tell our new child how "lucky" he is, the authors realize that the reality may be otherwise. They wisely include the basic (don't introduce her as "adopted") along with the not-so-basic (treat prospective adoptive parents as you would expectant parents).

The last 80 pages provide overviews of the history and economy of the top-10 countries from which U.S. parents adopted in 2003.

Reviewed by Jan Spauchus, a freelance editor and adoptive mom-to-be.

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