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The Limits of Hope: An Adoptive Mother's Story Hardcover – July 29, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press; 2nd Printing edition (July 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813917107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813917108
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,784,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Adopting a child is an act of love. When that child is no longer an infant but has a history of abuse and neglect, integrating it into an existing family is a challenge. Loux tells the story of her family's decision to adopt two sisters removed from their alcoholic biological mother. The adoption agency refused to provide any history of the children's birth parents, though both girls had major psychosocial and genetic problems that caused great stress for the adoptive family. This personal account tells of Loux's attempt to raise these girls along with her three biological children. Unfortunately, it is full of self-pity and guilt. The most interesting part is the conclusion, where she suggests alternatives to traditional adoption for the care of troubled older children. Gregory Keck and Regina M. Kipecky's Adopting the Hurt Child (LJ 10/1/95), which offers practical advice for adoptive parents in this situation, is a more useful book. An optional purchase.?Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

An adoptive mother's agonizing account of her efforts to parent two troubled siblings. Loux (English/St. Mary's Coll.) challenges the notion that a nurturing environment can overcome genetic temperament and early deprivation. After giving birth to three healthy children, she and her husband decided that they would like to give a home to disadvantaged children. Dissuaded by the prejudices of their parents from embracing a biracial or Asian child, the Louxs adopted Margey and Dawn, three- and four-year-old white children from a local Catholic agency. From early on, the girls were unable to integrate successfully into the Loux family. As youngsters, their impulsive and erratic behavior impaired their ability to function in school or in any social context. Impetuous and reckless, both girls wrought havoc on the lives of the Louxs and their other children. As Margey entered her teens, she turned to drug abuse, lawlessness, and indiscriminate sex. She now works as a prostitute to support a drug habit and--despite stints in and out of jail--is, Loux says, ``much happier with her life than [when] she was living with our family, and probably happier now than in any of the scenarios I wanted for her.'' Dawn, too, left home early and is currently grappling with her young husband to raise two developmentally disabled children with minimal financial resources. Their mother contends that her harrowing experiences in raising ``hard to place'' children, whosebackgrounds were shielded from her, are far from unique. Loux questions the wisdom of adoptive policies that do not prepare parents for the realities of raising high-risk children and goes so far as to propose that children like Margey or Dawn might do better if raised in group homes. A forceful and disturbing memoir, but the reader doesn't get a full damage report on Margey's and Dawn's impact on the author's marriage and biological children. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ann Kimble Loux's book, The Limits of Hope, is the story of her adoption of two girls, ages three and four, after she and her husband had had three biological children. It will no doubt be read by many people in many different ways. Some will come away with a sense of outrage at a system that would place children with a traumatic history with a family and fail to convey to them any of that history. Some will be outraged at the lack of preparation the family had prior to taking on the challenge of raising two such damaged children. Some will be shocked at the apparent inability of an upper middle-class family, with highly educated parents, to get access to appropriate information and services they needed for their children. Yet others will be heartened to read of a family that stuck with their difficult children, when so many such adoptions are disrupted (i.e., the adoption fails and the child is back in "the system").
At the time when Ms. Loux adopted her daughters, it was common thought that even children with traumatic histories would be fine as long as they were given some stability and love. It was also common practice not to disclose to the adopting family any confidential information about the children's prior life. This has changed. We now know that early childhood trauma is not something that will just heal itself (for most children), and prior to the adoption of older children, comprehensive information about their backgrounds and histories is given to the adoptive family. However, much of what Ms. Loux has to say about her experience is still relevant. More and more, older and older children are being placed with families for adoption. It can be a lifeline for those children - but the families need to understand what they are undertaking. Ms.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Major on September 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In many ways the authors eperiences are scary in their simularity to mine. My wife and I adopted two little girls, age 4-5 at the time, from the county after taking months of parenting classes and being given access to all the information that the county had available.... Still we had no realistic idea of how difficult it was going to be and how radically our lives would change. It was like trying to heard cats, they were extreamly impulsive, rebellous and raged at us for everything wrong in their lives, often including physical abuse of us and our house. A few years later we had an unexpected biological child who is in most ways just the opposite of J n L and things really got lively, runnaway, theft, drug and alchol use. At about age 14 we borrowed enough to send the eldest from a mental hospital to a behavior modification program in Utah. She spent about 1.5 years there, it did not make her a "model Child" but did change the direction of her life. Upon her return she made a serious suicide attempt and my wife, declaring she had had enough, took the youngest child and left me with the two adoptive teenagers.

At about this time my mother in law loaned us a copy of "The Limits of Hope", it was a real eye opener for me because her eperiences were so simular to ours. I did not reach the conclusion that a group home would be better for them, we had tried that with the oldest, she just ran away at will from them like she did us, but it did help me to understand that it is not realistic to expect them to be like their younger sister and to try a different direction.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a parent whose experiences are similar to Loux's I was grateful beyond words that someone has had the courage to publish a story like the ones I hear in whispers about "my friend, my sister, my cousin" who has experienced a troubled adoption. I mean the stories where there isn't an upbeat ending about the power of faith, or hope or unconditional love. Why do I hear so many of these stories and see so few in print? It's time that people who have spent countless days and nights and dollars in a fruitless quest to reach a troubled child be heard and believed and not blamed. Thank you Ann Kimble Loux.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lisalita on November 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is very disturbing. It is certainly disturbing in the way it was intended to be, as it details the problems experienced by a fatally idealistic family and their two adopted daughters who came from a background of abuse and neglect. One must, of course, condemn the fact that the family was kept in ignorance of the girls' problems. This is explained as a product of the time, in which everyone involved in adoption is described as believing that a loving family is all that is needed to heal even the most severely abused. Now such secrecy would be criminal; 30 years ago it is still an indication of inexcusable ignorance on the part of all the adults involved in the process. The truly disturbing aspect of the book for me, however, is the attitude of its author, the girls' adoptive mother. Although she claims her daughters and the rest of the family were abused by the system, she seems not to see the significance of her own failures. She admits much that must be painful to admit; for example, she sees in retrospect that the two newcomers were always seen as separate in important ways from her already-formed family of two parents and three children. Does she understand how truly awful that must have been for the girls, how lonely it must have been always on the outside, how terrifying to encounter expectations they couldn't possibly live up to? The insensitivity of the mother to her daughters' problems is mind-boggling, never mind that it happened 30 years ago. With all allowances for the difficulties she encountered trying to parent these troubled children--and I would not try to minimize that--she still falls short in understanding that they are the true victims.Read more ›
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