Book club Monday-20 things adoptive parents need to succeed-chapters 2&3

(For more info on the book we are reading, click HERE. All passages with page numbers are from Sherrie Eldridge's book, 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed. To read our discussion on Chapter 1, click HERE.)

Well, I have to say that I wasn't impressed with either of these chapters. I guess most of it felt like a rehash of things we learned in our pre-adoption training hours. Sort of obvious and not the "aha" kind of things that I was hoping to read.

In Chapter 2, she discusses life after adoption. Of course we have tried to imagine the changes that our children are experiencing. And yes, we find ourselves in a very new situation now that our children have come home. Duh.

The six common statements about adoption were interesting. I have wondered/feared many of those things before and sort of felt they were my dark secrets. The chart on page 31 was helpful, where she has the statements and how they might be interpreted and neutralized. And although they seemed very simplistic, I found myself coming back to them over and over.

Statement #1 (adoption produces irreparable wounds for the adopted child) is something that I've especially feared. I don't believe anything is irreparable and one of my personal mantras is "history is not destiny." I don't want LM's adoptive history to define who he is or how he lives his life. I know it will affect it. But it doesn't have to define it. I have heard many adoptees use their adoption as an "excuse for dysfunction" as Eldridge writes, and that is something I worry about.

Statement #3 (adoptive families are just like biological families) We are and we aren't. Sometimes I long for the seeming simplicity of biological families. No wondering if the child is attaching or not. No worries about the big questions they will have about their past. You get the idea. But Eldridge's suggestion of how this statement might translate to parents stopped me dead--"I can't share adoption-related challenges with anyone. I must be happy."

I didn't realize I'd been feeling this way until I read it. People expect us to be happy. And we are. We finally have what we've been waiting for. But there are parts of it that aren't always happy and people don't want to know about that. I hesitate to share those frustrations/challenges/insecurities with people because I don't want to come off as ungrateful.

The best thing about this chapter was the inclusion of this great quote by Charles Swindoll. It was a good reminder to trust my gut about what's right for us.
"Not all advice is good advice--not even when the one who gives the advice thinks it's the right advice. Sometimes it is given in all sincerity, but it is still faulty."

In Chapter 3, she discusses the mixed feelings. Yeah, we feel conflicted. Who doesn't? There are definite ups and downs to creating a family this way, just as there are ups and downs with a biological family. Mixed feelings are just part of any relationship and growth. Adoptive families aren't any different in this respect (at least my in my experience thus far).

I didn't answer any of the discussion questions because I thought they were sort of ridiculous and obvious.

What was your take? Is anyone else out there besides Sarah, Elizabeth and Yvonne??

Next week I'm going for another two chapters...4 & 5.


  1. Just wanted to say that I'm not reading the book (have sort of distanced myself from some of the preparation right now), but I'm reading and enjoying your entries. Thank you for writing them!

  2. Hi, I am not reading it either, but I am now considering if I should buy it. Or else I will wait until you finish and tell me it is worth buying! I did like the bit about "I can't share adoption-related challenges with anyone. I must be happy." Reminds me of people telling me after our referral "You must be happy NOW" as if we were never happy before or else they think the pain of infertility is going to disappear because we now have a child waiting for us.

  3. I found that this was a good book to borrow from the library, but didn't think I would read it again and again (unlike her first book, which I thought was a good resource). I'm again commenting without the book in front of me (see - I have to get it back from the library!) but I wanted to comment on the statement about not sharing anything about the adoption experience, because of fears that you sound ungrateful. THIS is one of the best reasons to belong to an adoption group. Because sometimes it is hard to say things to others (I also found because I didn't want someone to put a black mark against my child because they are adopted so I don't always share the challenges in raising our children) BUT I have found it is much easier to have these conversations with other adoptive parents. They don't automatically dismiss notions that a certain behavior has nothing to do with them being adopted, and also don't distance themselves from our children because they aren't like others expect them to be. I have found a lot of freedom in friendships with other adoptive families because I feel I can talk more freely.

  4. I totally agree with you Yvonne. After reading her first book, which was very informative and really gave me some great insights, I had high expectations for this book. So far, it feels like a B-rated sequel.

    And you are exactly right about the adoption support group too! I do feel so much more open with other adoptive families. I guess like many other major things in life, people just can't really understand it unless they have been through it. And because we are discussing our children, I find myself being cautious about what I say. I don't want people to think he's a freak or abnormal. Because he's a perfectly normal kid going through big things. So happy we have a wonderful support group with FTKA and hope that others are able to tap into a good group as well.

  5. The six common statements are ones I'd all been hit with pre-adoption. The ones I was most drawn to? #3: Adoptive families are just like biological families. I was so convinced that #3 was true, with the exception that adoptive families have to fill out paperwork that bio families don't. Once we brought our child home into our blended family (biological son), it became so obvious that growth by adoption is such a different animal. I wish I had questioned this assumption more. At the same time, there are many ways that bio and adoptive families alike. #6: Parents who adopt are heroes. I hate, hate, HATE the "she's so lucky" statement for reasons you are already aware of. At the same time, I have so much respect for all the consideration, research and extra work that so many parents in the adoption community put into adoptive parenting. I won't say that all adoptive parents are "heroes," but I think many of them are pretty awesome.

    I'll agree that Chapter 3 is kind of lame. But I think that parenting always comes with crazy mixed feelings, and adoptive parenting adds just a bit more spice to those emotions (or that has been the case for me). FTKAs have been great for parenting support and just for building identity as an adoptive family. But I'm so glad to live in a city with therapists that specialize in adoption issues, because some of these feelings I just want to work through on my own.

  6. Man, can I relate to that stance of always having to appear grateful and happy. No one wants to hear that it isn't rainbows and roses all the time. It ripped me to shreds inside keeping this secret when I had initial bonding issues with our son. It still hurts looking back on it.
    Now our son, who is quite insightful in many ways, asks me many speculative questions about his lost family and I just keep answering the best I can and keep those communication channels open.


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