Up until now, potential adoptive parents began their domestic adoption process being thrown to the metaphoric wolves. After carefully selecting an adoption professional, they were almost immediately sent forth to battle their own internal demons and return with a calling card a Dear Birthmother letter upon which the success and timeliness of their adoption often rested. For many, the pressure and anxiety is intense when writing about yourself, intimately and truly? Most find this an overwhelming task.
Nelson Handel s new book, Reaching Out: The Guide to Writing a Terrific Dear Birthmother Letter, fills this crucial gap in the educational process for domestic adoptions. It comprehensively details the process of creating a strong and effective outreach letter and it does so in an entertaining, delightful, and pressure-reducing way.
The book begins with an orientation to the birthparent s perspective toward adoption, and proceeds methodically to discuss all the component parts that make up the typical outreach letter. It looks at the various letter forms commonly employed, investigates each subject area thoroughly, and provides plenty of step-by-step techniques for writing and revising (this last is a procedure that should make it much easier for those prospective adoptive parents not accustomed to extensive writing). Throughout, Mr. Handel projects the philosophy that authenticity, honesty, and heartfelt speech give prospective parents the best chance of connecting with like-minded birthparents and thus completing a successful open adoption.
This is the second book most prospective parents should read after whatever adoption process self-education they complete and the first that begins to grapple with their personal experience of the journey to forming an adoptive family. Most will find Mr. Handel s knowledge and approach immensely useful. But the real value of the text perhaps may lay in the positive mental approach to adoption it projects. In the guise of orienting almost parents to the letter-writing task ahead, Reaching Out stealthily challenges and corrects many of the negative preconceptions, stereotypes, fears, and self-consciousness they often bring to the adoption table.
An adoptive parent himself, Mr. Handel also brings his skills as a professional journalist to the task. He shows equanimity in areas where adoption professionals disagree but doesnt shy away from taking stands on certain subjects, from birthmother infantilization to the overuse of exclamation points (dont you just hate that!!) found in many birthmother letters. Overall, he establishes a friendly relationship with the reader, maintains a jovial and supportive tone, and injects a good measure of light humor that keep things moving and makes for an enjoyable read.
Reaching Out accomplishes all it sets out to do, and a good measure more. It should quickly find its way into the established canon of domestic adoption literature, and on to the bookshelves of most adoption professionals.
-reviewed by Carole Lieber Wilkins, M.A., M.F.T. --ASRM Mental Health Professionals Journal
Composing a Dear Birthmother letter was the hardest writing assignment I've ever faced. Self-administered Pergonal shots seemed less daunting. But my husband and I had reached a crucial point where our goal and our endocrinologistís werenít the same anymore. He wanted a pregnancy; we wanted a child. It was time to move on. So I sat down at my computer and typed: "Dear Birthmother," I felt doomed.
At the time, the only available resources were general guides to open adoption. They were excellent overall, but we needed more handholding for this particular task, more specific examples. Now there is Reaching Out: The Guide to Writing a Terrific Dear Birthmother Letter, by Nelson Handel. Newly published in paperback, this guide is also available as an e-book for the electronically minded.
Handel writes clearly, thoughtfully, and with a sense of humor, gently cajoling prospective adoptive parents away from common errors of wording and tone. With loads of examples and step-by-step instructions, Reaching Out will help you present yourself, your partner, your home, and your hopes in the best possible light. Writing that "Dear Birthmother" letter may never be enjoyable, but with Handel's encouragement and advice, you can give it a good shot.
-by Amy Klatzkin, a contributing editor to Adoptive Families. --Adoptive Families Magazine
From the Publisher
It's hard to write about yourself, and even harder to reveal yourself to strangers. REACHING OUT takes the fear out of the process. It helps you to know your audience, clarify your goals, and have confidence in what you are doing.
You don't need to be a great writer to write a great Dear Birthmother letter! REACHING OUT is a toolkit for self-expression that almost anyone can use.
No two Dear Birthmother Letters are alike, and that's how it should be. Every letter should be unique, individual, and personal to the family writing it. REACHING OUT provides tips, strategies, and ways to tap into the sort of personal material that makes a letter special.
CONTENTS INCLUDE: * The "10 Golden Rules" of Dear Birthmother letters * Easy strategies for writing authentically, and from the heart * Common mistakes and how to avoid them * Tons of examples, samples, and styles to spark your imagination * Secrets of selecting photographs that work * Detailed discussion of each subject area * Step-by-step writing and revision techniques to help anyone write well * What birthparents look for in a good letter * Tips for writing with your partner
Heres the hard sell stuff, if you need some convincing:
Its action oriented... REACHING OUT is direct, informative, well-organized, and to-the-point. You'll be able to get right to work writing or improving your letter.
It's comprehensive... REACHING OUT condenses into one resource the knowledge it takes most people months to learn, giving you a leg up on the process from the very start.
It will help you revise ... Writing begins with rewriting, but that's the most difficult thing for most people to do. REACHING OUT is filled with practical examples of how to analyze and revise your drafts. It can also help you improve a letter that's already written.
It's inexpensive ... If you use one idea from the book, and it shortens your wait one day, is it worth it? I know you'll find it an invaluable aid. If you don't, I'll be happy to give you a full refund. Just drop me an email. The address is on the book.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.