Adopted children have a range of specific needs as a result of their backgrounds. These are described by Sherrie Eldridge in her book "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" (Dell Publishing).
As an adoptee and an adoptive mom, it had been for many years my opinion that people wrote adoption books with the main objective of making money or becoming an 'expert'. I have seen a few really good ones over the years, and quite a few bad ones. When the following book crept across my review-table years ago, I barely gave it a glance, mentally classifying it as more rubbish about how adopted kids are particularly messed up.
Oh, how time can change our thinking! Some of my kids are older now and we have walked through their developmental changes, their yearnings, their wonderings. That search-for-self can be so very painful, but does it always have to be? And must every child agonize through it alone? I was wrong about this book. I have recognized that it is a useful guide to parents, and I want to give it my highest recommendation today.
Each month I will review one or two books that are think are the Good Ones. They will not all be newly published. Some, like this one, will be re-visited and given the proper review that I now know they deserve. In fact, in the review department, I have more books than I can possibly read. If you are a good writer and are experienced with reviewing, please contact me and I'll be glad to have publishers send samples!
Excerpt from Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
By Sherrie Eldridge (Dell Publishing)
The special needs of adopted children as expressed in the child's words:
Educational Needs :
- I need to be taught that adoption is both wonderful and painful, presenting lifelong challenges for everyone involved.
- I need to know my adoption story first, then my birth story and birth family.
- I need to be taught healthy ways for getting my special needs met.
- I need to be prepared for hurtful things others may say about adoption and about me as and adopted person.
I need help in recognizing my adoption loss and grieving it
I need to be assured that my birth parents' decision not to parent me had nothing to do with anything defective in me.
I need help in learning to deal with my fears of rejection-to learn that absence doesn't mean abandonment, or a closed door that I have dome something wrong.
I need permission to express all my adoption feelings and fantasies.
Validation Needs :
- I need validation of my dual heritage (biological and adoptive).
- I need to be assured often that I am welcome and worthy.
- I need to be reminded often by my adoptive parents that they delight in my biological differences and appreciate my birth family's unique contribution to our family through me.
- I need friendships with other adopted persons.
- I need to be taught that there is a time to consider searching for my birth family and a time to give up searching.
- I need to be reminded that if I am rejected by my birth family, the rejection is about them, not me.
Spiritual Needs :
- I need to be taught that my life narrative began before I was born and that my life is not a mistake.
- I need to be taught that in this broken, hurting world loving families are formed through adoption as well as birth.
- I need to be taught that I have intrinsic, immutable value as a human being.
- I need to accept the fact that some of my adoption questions may never be answered in this life.
It would be wonderful if there were an outline...a course-book that came with every human born or adopted into each family. Many of the things above, such as 'I need to be assured that I am welcome and worthy', could be used with any child, anywhere. It is a gift of the greatest value to give your child the knowledge that they belong somewhere, they are wanted and cherished. I highly recommend this book, and hope you will learn from it, as I have. Perhaps a little bit later than I should have, but that is the benefit fo life: It gives plently of second chances.
Adoptee and Adoptive mom of five, Editor of RainbowKids.com Adoption Magazine.