[Book Review] Adoption Parenting

Susan Freivalds reviews Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections, a compilation of advice for adoptive parents from over 100 contributors.

Cover of Adoption Parenting

EMK Press; 2006

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I was skeptical about a book written by over 100 authors who had been recruited from the Internet. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Adoption Parenting full of helpful advice from those who have been there and done that. The articles are engaging, and the writing is generally good. The advice is grounded and reflects an up-to-date understanding of how children and parents experience adoption.

Organized by topics such as food, language, and discipline, this book is not meant to be read straight through. Rather, its helpful as a reference volume, letting you turn to specific chapters as questions arise.

The most successful chapters are those in which the topic is addressed by an overview article and complemented by practical sidebars. The Sleep chapter, for example, offers a general article by an experienced adoptive parent, accompanied by several tip boxes on everything from swaddling to recommended recordings of lullabies. The result? A comprehensive look at how adoption might affect a child’s ability to sleep through the night. One of the sidebars urges adopting parents to ask their child’s caregivers not just about sleep and daytime feeding schedules, but about nap and night feeding patterns—and to stick to that schedule during the child’s first days at home. But this chapter also illustrates one of the books flaws. It’s almost completely focused on international adoption. Moreover, the chapters focus is squarely on children who were institutionalized, even though nearly one-third of all international adoptees were fostered before adoption.

Savvier editing could have removed some of the references to intercountry adoption and helped the authors generalize from their own experiences. Much of the book’s sound advice is equally applicable to children adopted domestically, but I worry that domestic adopters may be put off by all the talk about international adoption.

Adoption Parenting, edited by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae, Ph.D. is a worthwhile addition to any adoptive parent’s library. After all, sometimes it only takes one tip to justify a book’s purchase. Almost 20 years later, I’m still grateful for the book that informed me that some babies are comforted by energetic movement rather than slow rocking—it was exactly what I needed to pacify my screaming infant daughter. With thousands of tips in this book, you’re sure to find the one you need, too!


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