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Big Steps for Little People

by Celia FosterJessica Kingsley; $19.95

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Celia Foster and her husband, Chris, wanted to "make a difference," so they chose to become adoptive parents to older siblings. Adam and Luke came to the (aptly named) Foster family after moving from their struggling biological family and through several foster homes. Foster writes about their journey, and offers parenting advice, in Big Steps for Little People: Parenting Your Adopted Child (Jessica Kingsley; $19.95).

The Fosters are self-described optimists who make the boys their priority and remain committed to them, even as they face adjustments. In the first chapter, Foster vividly describes what being "taken into care" feels like to the child. The reader feels the sense of disorientation and loss that the child experiences. It is with this history that her children come to the family and, over time, learn to trust and love their new parents.

Foster is a firm and loving parent who believes in structure and rules. She does what she feels is best for her boys, while acknowledging that each parent must make his or her own decisions. Many of Foster's helpful suggestions meld the practical and the emotional, such as her list of games that encourage bonding. For example, sit a young baby on your knee and rock her while maintaining eye contact. With a toddler or older child, paint each other's faces or play with Play-Doh.

By the end of the book, the boys have been legally adopted. The reader cheers for this family and all that they have accomplished, and applauds the author's generosity in sharing her experiences and offering hope to other families.

Reviewed by Joyce Laudon, a member of Spence-Chapin's adoption counseling team, who's worked with adoptees and adoptive parents for nearly 30 years.

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