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Brothers and Sisters in Adoption

by Arleta JamesPerspectives Press; $30



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Arleta James, a clinical therapist at the renowned Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, has created a rich resource for any parent or professional who is invested in adoption. Sibling issues are the focus of Brothers and Sisters in Adoption: Helping Children Navigate Relationships When New Kids Join the Family (Perspectives Press; $30), and topics like preparing waiting siblings and discussing difficult details are explored in depth. But the book's scope extends beyond the title. James offers a wealth of information for the entire continuum of adoption, from the initial considerations (Are we the right family for this child?) to the wait to post-placement.

Adding a child to a family is never a seamless transition, and James offers realistic advice to help parents prepare for all the challenges they'll face--transferring an older child's possessions, maintaining a sense of routine for the children already at home--while assuring sensitivity and respect for everyone involved. 

There's a chapter on dads--what they may be thinking, the roles they play, and the incredible impact they have on our children. One section explains how children's grief varies at each age, and how parents can help them heal past trauma, as well as how siblings can learn to understand what their new brother or sister has experienced. Perhaps the book's most important contribution is its view of joining a family "through the eyes of the child." In one exercise, James helps the reader imagine what the child (or sibling) might be feeling, thinking, or expecting. Becoming aware of what it would be like to be taken somewhere new or foreign can deepen a parent's understanding of the child’s experience.

Ms. James writes with empathy and deep passion for what the child, and every member of the family, experiences before, during, and after the adoption process. The book is a must for those seeking knowledge and tools for creating strong, loving families.

Reviewed by JoAnne Solchany, Ph.D., a Seattle-based therapist, an assistant professor of nursing, and an adoptive mother of two.

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