(For more info on the book we are reading, click HERE. All passages that are quoted are from Sherrie Eldridge's book, 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed. To read our discussion on chapter 1, click HERE. For chapters 2 & 3, click HERE.)
It's been a tad quiet out there, but I'm gonna keep on slogging through this book. And I have to tell you, it ain't easy. I totally LOVED Eldridge's first book and learned a lot when I read it. But I am finding this book 1) feels like a rehash of our adoption training, and 2) seems to be more about her personal experiences as an adoptee than a guide for adoptive parents.
For example, she went on and on in chapter 5 about how to tell a child that they were conceived in a rape. And lo, guess what. She was conceived in a rape. Yes, traumatic to find out. And yes, I'm sure this passage spoke to many people who have children with this painful history. But if you are going to write a book that largely documents your own adoption experience, why not call it something like, I don't know, "My adoption experience"?
And throughout the book she continues to refer back to her website. If I wanted to read her website, I would (and I sometimes do). But I bought her damned book. So please put whatever is relevant in the book.
Sorry to sound so bitter. I'm really not. Just disappointed. And frustrated. And waiting to get to the good stuff in this book. But mostly disappointed.
So chapter 4 was a total waste to me. The Big Picture. Who the hell can ever understand the big picture of our lives, regardless of whether you are an adoptive parent/person or not? She breaks down different phases we might encounter in our adoptive parenting journey, but none of those phases were new insights for me, and I'm assuming most adoptive parents already know this stuff too. But I guess there could be some folks that don't.
The poem on page 52 (that was not cited with an author's name) gave me a little food for thought. Here's a few exerpts:
"If I live with secrecy,
I will learn to obsess about the unknown.
If I live with denial of adoption's complex emotions,
I will learn to suffer silently."
"If I live with parents who have unresolved grief and loss,
I will learn that they are disappointed in me and I must take care of them.
If live with parents who are not concerned about my missing history,
I will learn that my past and beginnings are not important.
If I live with parents who are not comfortable about the subject of adoption,
I will learn to shut down my emotions and become defensive when asked if it's an issue."
Chapter 5 had me thinking a little bit more. Of course, she advocates telling your child they are adopted from day 1. We totally agree with that too. But the question of how much adoption talk you have on a daily basis is something we are trying to figure out for our family. I know some families talk about it all the time. And because LM is on 13-months-old, we really aren't having any two-way discussions on the matter.
We do tell him adoption story during snuggle times, and tell him how happy we are to be his parents, and talk about where he was born and all the people who have loved him (birth mother, foster family, etc.). Some of this he might be absorbing. Probably not though at this point. It's more about us getting comfortable in talking about these things with him.
But how much is enough? And how much is too much? The author seems to advocate a high amount of adoption-related conversation. She cites examples like "I wonder where you got your love for Mexican food. Could it be from your birth mother or father?" and "Your voice is changing, son. I wonder if it's happening to you at the same time it did with your birth father. Do you ever think about him?"
I get that questions like these can open the door to adoption talks with your child. It lets them know that you are there for them, and willing to discuss those topics. But those type of questions also seem to constantly point out you are adopted. So how much is too much?
I know we'll find our way as LM gets older and we start answering his questions. And the amount of conversations we'll have on this topic will fluctuate as he ages and goes through different stages of understanding. What works for your household?
The most valuable thing I got out of chapter 5 was a tip to a few books that sound like interesting reads.
Talking with Young Children about Adoption by Mary Watkins and Susan Fisher.
Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child's Lifestory by Susan TeBos and Carissa Woodwyk
Since these chapters are short, and I want to get this book finishes, tackling 6-9 for next Monday.
As always, please comment, respond, share!