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Adoptive Families Are Families for Keeps

by Lissa Cowan; illustrated by Stephanie HillGroundwork Press; $21.95; $34.95 with CD-Rom

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Tara, the star of Adoptive Families Are Families for Keeps, is moving from her foster home to an adoptive placement. Young readers can share her story through the coloring and activity pages (connect-the-dots, “Tara’s Word Hunt”). With my illustration and design background, I appreciated the charming black-and-white line drawings, as well as the cheery color cover illustration of sweet-looking Tara, who appears to be biracial.

Tara’s talks with her social worker, Simran, help her understand that her birthparents gave her some of their unique traits—“sparkling eyes, dimples, and talents…”—but she needs a permanent home and family. We also see Tara working through her sadness and anger about moving out of her foster home.

CD-Rom companion, “Tara’s Guide to Adoptive Families are Families for Keeps,” includes a charming Flash-animation introduction narrated in a little girl’s voice. The exercises follow the book’s storyline, prompting conversations about Tara’s and the reader’s situations. “I think that being adopted is going to be just fine,” Tara tells her friend, Peter, as the story ends. Here, the CD encourages adults to ask questions: “What does Tara think about her new adoptive family? How do we know she feels this way?”

Later, we’re encouraged to connect Tara’s story to the child reading it by asking: “Is your name changing? What differences have you noticed between your birth family, foster family, and adoptive family?”

"It was nice. I really want to color it,” was my nine-year-old daughter’s comment after I read the book to her. Her situation differs from Tara’s in that I was the foster parent who adopted her when she was three, yet we proceeded to have a lively conversation anyway, talking about her birthparents as she happily worked on the activity pages.

I hope social workers, foster parents, and anyone adopting or considering adopting a foster child will take a look at this sensitive, helpful book and share it accordingly.

Reviewed by Annie Kassof, a freelance writer, adoptive mom, and foster parent in Berkeley, California.

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