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Making Room in Our Hearts

by Micky Duxbury Routledge; $19.95

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In the past decade openness has become mainstream, and the vast majority of domestic adoptions are open ones. Even so, prospective adoptive parents and birthparents are often fearful when they first hear of the concept.

Making Room in Our Hearts: Keeping Family Ties Through Open Adoption answers the most common questions about the impact of open adoption, and how it affects the lives of everyone involved. Duxbury, a family therapist who specializes in adoption counseling, is also an adoptive parent. Her book opens with her own family's story, and maintains empathy and insight throughout.

Duxbury surveyed 150 families, but her book is not a compilation of data. Instead, it allows these families to share their perspectives and wisdom, their joy and pain; the stories communicate the great happiness families feel at "working together for the sake of the child" and the unwavering view that the adoptive parents are the parents. They also touch on complications that can arise from opening closed adoptions, and in open placements from the foster system.

The most convincing advocates for open adoption here are the adopted teens and adults themselves. Commenting on the question people invariably ask: "Are you confused about who is your real mother?," Josh, age 21, states, "Kids aren't stupid. I think I would be confused if my birthmother was not in my life." He adds, "My birthmother is not another parent. Your parents are your parents. My birthmother is really important to me—she is like a special aunt, but she is not my parent."

"Openness gives children the gift of possibilities, for now and for the future," writes adoption expert Patricia Martinez Dorner in her closing thoughts. "It is not a cure-all, but it creates the possibility for a stronger sense of permanence and identity." This book is important reading for everyone touched by adoption.

KATHLEEN SILBER, co-author of Dear Birthmother (Corona), is the associate executive director of the Independent Adoption Center in Pleasant Hill, California.

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