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All About Adoption

By Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata; illustrated by Carol Koeller American Psychological Association; $14.95/$8.95

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How did you find me?
What does adoption mean?
Where did I come from?
Would you send me back?
Will you always love me?
Why was I adopted?

These are typical questions from adopted children, questions that may stir up lots of feelings. All About Adoption was written to provide the answers for children ages 4 to 8 who were adopted at any age and from anywhere. The book helps kids identify the complicated, sometimes contradictory, emotions connected with adoption.

Marc Nemiroff, Ph.D., and Jane Annunziata, Psy.D., clinical psychologists who specialize in families and children, are adept at writing for and about children. Their matter-of-fact language validates kids’ feelings and lets them know that it’s OK to feel happy and sad, angry and glad, even at the same time.

Children this age often have an incomplete grasp of adoption. Fortunately, Nemiroff and Annunziata cover points that are often overlooked—with a delicate touch. They explain that children have a birthfather as well as a birthmother. (It’s astonishing how many young adopted kids don’t know about that first father!) They also talk about adoption’s two beginnings: one when the birthparents make their adoption plan and the other when the adoptive parents decide that they want to adopt a child.

Even as they recognize the joy of a new adoptive family, the authors acknowledge the feeling of dislocation that newly adopted children often experience. Their straightforward approach dispels the myth of instant “bonding” in a nonthreatening way. “Babies’ feelings go up and down too,” they explain. “That’s because babies also have a ‘getting to know you’ part of being adopted.”

At the back of the book, a Note to Parents summarizes how children this age think and feel about adoption. Skip the “practical tips” and read Attaching in Adoption, by Deborah Gray, instead.

Reviewed by Amy Klatzkin, Contributing Editor to Adoptive Families.

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