[Book Review] Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding and Appreciating Their Journeys

Debbie Riley reviews Parenting Adopted Adolescents, a book by Gregory Keck, Ph.D. about the challenges and delights of raising a teen adoptee.

Parenting Adopted Adolescents cover

NavPress; 2009

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Dr. Gregory Keck, coauthor of the widely acclaimed Parenting the Hurt Child and Adopting the Hurt Child, has again entered the lives of our families to create Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding and Appreciating Their Journeys. It’s an insightful, important book—at once a classic—providing parents with a rich exploration into the journey of raising their teens, and bringing to our field a kind of resource that is missing from our shelves.

Keck synthesizes years of clinical experience working with children from difficult beginnings. Taking a relaxed, conversational tone, he uses straightforward dialogue to break down the complexities of adolescent development and the challenges facing parents during this stage. His well-researched strategies will help families ensure positive outcomes in the teen years and beyond, no matter what those challenges might be.

Parents struggling with problematic behavior should pay special attention to “Facing Frustration.” Keck helps us recognize the fruitlessness of “inflamed interactions,” and teaches us how to foster interactions that strengthen family relationships. Say your son has been texting for hours. Rather than threaten a loss of privileges if he doesn’t stop, Keck suggests asking him to stop texting so you can do something together as a family.

In “Stories of Hope,” there’s a piece by the author’s son, Brian, adopted at 16, which sums up why this book should be read by prospective adoptive parents: “Being adopted has meant everything to me. I remember someone having asked my dad why he would adopt such an older child. His response was that a child needs a family not just for adolescence but for his whole life.”

The journey may be arduous at times for both parent and child. But this message of hope and healing—and the author’s conviction that one is never too old to join a family—is resonant, and it assures us that we’re paving the way for a successful future.

Reviewed by DEBBIE B. RILEY, M.S., CEO of The Center for Adoption Support and Education, and coauthor of Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens (C.A.S.E).

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