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A Guidebook for Raising Foster Children

By Susan McNair Blatt, M.D. 240 pp. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey. $39.95. A Primer For Newcomers

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Dr. Susan McNair Blatt-a pediatrician and medical director of the House of Good Shepherd, a child welfare agency in Utica, New York-has written a useful, commonsense guide to foster parenting in the new millennium. A Guidebook for Raising Foster Children is for people just starting out as foster parents as well as those still only thinking about becoming care providers. The author covers a lot of ground, from the decision to become a foster parent to meeting the needs of medically or emotionally fragile children, infants through teens. She does not waste time recounting the history of foster care, nor does she offer criticism of the current system. Her book is for people who work within the system as it is. The overall tone provides a nice balance between specific advice and general child-centered problem-solving.

Dr. Blatt also acknowledges the rights of biological parents and explains how foster parents can help families of origin resume their places in children's lives. She gently advocates that foster parents get to know biological parents and to assist them directly, by example, with their children.

Since the book is a primer, it covers a lot of issues briefly. This is sometimes disconcerting. Two paragraphs on the feeding habits of toddlers seem about right, but two paragraphs on attachment disorders are inadequate to do much more than describe the problems. It is also surprising that, while the book discusses Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, it does not mention the more prevalent and more complex Fetal Alcohol Effect.

A Guidebook for Raising Foster Children offers nothing new for the experienced foster parent, but as a basic guide to newcomers, it is head and shoulders above the sparse material currently available.

By Julie Stevens, a family law attorney and a single parent with five domestically adopted children

Copyright 2001 Adoptive Families magazine. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

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