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The Encyclopedia of Adoption, third edition

by Christine Adamec and Laurie C. Miller, M.D. Facts on File; $75



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When an author comes out with a new edition of a book, the question is always: Do I need it? In the case of The Encyclopedia of Adoption, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” Co-authors Christine Adamec (There Are Babies to Adopt, Citadel) and pediatrician Laurie C. Miller (The Handbook of International Adoption Medicine, Oxford University Press) have overhauled this excellent compendium, which presents more than 400 concise subject entries that range from assisted reproductive technology to open adoption to zero population growth.

Many of the new entries cover medical topics, including anemia and sleep disorders. A discussion of immunizations addresses adoptive parents’ most common fears about vaccines, and provides a catch-up schedule for children aged four months through six years.

While there’s no mistaking The Encyclopedia of Adoption for anything but a reference book, it has a decidedly human feel to it. A discussion of adoption etiquette, designed to be shared with friends and relatives, says, “If a couple is considering adopting a child, it is impolite to say, ‘You mean you can’t have kids of your own? How sad!’” A nearby entry, “Explaining Adoption,” suggests how and when parents should share information, and includes the practical piece of advice that parents figure out exactly what their child wants to know before launching into discussion. A young child who asks “Where did I come from?” may be looking for an answer like “Kansas,” not a detailed lecture about how babies are made.

Other topics are more predictable, but equally fascinating. From the section on statistics, I was delighted to find out that, at last count, more than 1.5 million U.S. children under age 18 had joined their families through adoption. Or perhaps you’d like to learn about adoption subsidies, identity, paternity testing, special needs adoption, or the termination of parental rights. It’s all here.

The authors set out their goals in their foreword: “We hope that the extensive information that we provide will give readers insight as to how adoption works in the lives of many people who are affected by it, and they will find this volume to be useful and thought-provoking.” Need I say more?

Reviewed by Lois Gilman, the mother of two adult adoptees and the author of The Adoption Resource Book (Collins).

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