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The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1442217386
ISBN-10: 1442217383
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Editorial Reviews


Holden’s debut is an insightful, heartfelt exploration of open adoption, an evolving arrangement that has been growing in popularity over the last 20 years. Her endorsement is personal; she has two children from open adoptions and maintains that openness helps heal adoption’s split between a person’s “biology” and “biography”. She references open adoption as a “process” that encourages high-functioning relationships between birth parents, extended family members, and adopted parents. Open, honest, age-appropriate dialogue with adopted children about their biological background is stressed. Part one addresses basic information about open adoption, including common terminology, benefits as well as challenges, ethical concerns, choosing a professional to help navigate the process, dealing with the grief of infertility prior to adoption, and ingredients for a successful open adoption. Advice on how to incorporate, and set boundaries with, birth parents and extended birth families are included. Part two emphasizes the child (adoptee), and helps children respond to insensitive questions from others. Foster, international, and donor situations are also detailed. Anecdotes from birth parents, adoptive parents, and adult adopted children are included, establishing rapport between readers and real-life families. Holden skillfully covers many bases, including potential “bumps in the road,” offering appendices and resources for further guidance. (Publishers Weekly)

Written with input from her daughter’s birth mother Crystal Hass, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole is both personal and dispassionate. A primer for open adoption, Holden's book is full of personal anecdotes from her own life as well as others living open adoption. Lori isn’t an expert, a social worker, or a psychologist. She’s a mom and super-connected blogger with two children on the brink of young adulthood, both of whom have sometimes on-again, off-again relationships with their birth parents. . . . The book offers practical tools to help adoptive parents make decisions about everything from embarking on an open adoption to opening a closed local or international adoption. She gives concrete how-to’s on managing visits (use the in-law test), talking to the public about your adoption (educate, use humor, ask a question or say it’s private), handling difficult subjects and feelings with your kids (depersonalize the situation), and coaching your kids on how to handle comments from peers (choose whether to share, walk away, educate or say “it’s private”). . . . The meat of the book is devoted to families living open adoption, which is where the book really shines. There are helpful sections for pre-adoptive parents wondering how to enter an open adoption, families in difficult or challenging situations with birth parents (common in foster care adoptions, closed adoptions that could be opened and international adoptions on the brink of openness. (Focus on Adoption)

I would highly recommend reading this book if you are waiting to adopt or if you are in an open adoption and looking for more guidance or information. Holden walks the reader through adoption – from the beginning stages, to the new relationship stage between the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents, to a relationship that will grow as time moves on. Holden and Hass share their views on what makes their adoption work and also share the views of others involved in their own open adoptions. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption is a great book and should be used as a tool that can offer advice, anecdotes, and knowledge to anyone navigating their way through an open adoption relationship. (Our Story: A Blog About Open Adoption)

The personal stories are by far the most interesting part of the book. . . adoptive families will find a lot of helpful information here, including basics like questions to ask while exploring adoption agencies and tips for putting together a photo album (the book that a birth parent looks through to choose an adoptive family), and meatier stuff like the key ingredients to making an open adoption relationship work. ... Adoptive and birth families should prepare themselves for the rigors of relationship, and this book offers valuable tools for navigation. (New Rhythm Project)

I feel that this book would be an invaluable resource for either side interested in open adoption information. I especially liked the stories from Lori’s and Crystal’s personal experiences. I marvel at how they make their relationship work, both between themselves and with the daughter they share. (Generation Fabulous)

You know we love a good new adoption book, and “The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole,” is at the top of our list. . . . Add it to your list! (Abby's One True Gift Adoptions)

A great read with real-life lessons from birth and adoptive parents, written by adoptive mom, Lori Holden and birth mother, Crystal Hass. (Adoptimist)

It’s a fabulous read. I encourage everyone to buy it, and read it. (These Are The Days)

This is a useful, thought-provoking book that is written in the same humorous, friendly, approachable voice that you'll find on Lori's blog. I also appreciate the dual perspectives of both adoptive mother and birth mother on the same topics within the same context. Filled with personal stories and real-life examples, it's a book that current and prospective adoptive parents are sure to find very beneficial and challenging. It’s also a rich source of conversational fuel that will spark some great discussions. (Christian Family Adoptions)

The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption is a positive and inspiring book that will touch your heart as well as provide you with persuasive, practical and useful ideas. (GIFT Family Services)

Not only is Lori Holden an acknowledged thought leader in the area of open adoption, she is also truly beloved by the men and women who look to her for guidance, humor and balance when considering this route for themselves. Her book will be cherished by many and inspirational to all. (Corey Whelan, patient advocate and author, The American Fertility Association)

Here, at last, is the book many adoptive parents have been clamoring for, as they grapple with the questions, “What is open adoption?” and "Will it work for everyone in our family constellation?" Using real-life examples and a gentle, intelligent approach, Lori Holden and Crystal Hass answer with a reassuring "yes."
The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption helps readers understand that open adoption is a mindset, one that moves from thinking the adoptive/birth family relationship must be "either-or" to trusting that it can be "and." If I ever doubted the wisdom of open adoption, I finished the last page a believer. This book deserves a place on every adoption bookshelf.
(Jessica O'Dwyer, author of Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir)

This is one wise book. Sure it’s full of the practicalities of open adoption—the whys and, most useful, the hows, but it is the spirit of this book that truly shines. It is this spirit of openness- Lori calls it the heartset/mindset that ultimately needs to guide us as parents. I’d love for this to be read by every adoptive parents and expectant parent at the beginning of the adoption journey.

I especially liked the practicalities of how to mesh extended families in an open adoption, what to do when one child in the family has more contact with their birth parents than another child in the family, and the realities from the child’s perspective of the push-pull of having another family “out there”. But ultimately, I liked the focus on “adopting the heartset of openness” because it is what our kids need. “Adoption creates a split between a person’s biology and his biography. Openness in adoption is an effective way to heal that split and help the child become whole.” Amen!
(Dawn Davenport, host of the top rated national radio show- Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility, executive director of Creating a Family)

Lori Holden's book opens with a simple yet poignant snippet of conversation with her young daughter in the car. It's about her daughter's loving feelings toward her birth parents. Holden generously invites us into her mental tai chi process ("Don't take this personally…") leading to her wise responses. If this book were just a series of such glimpses it would be a treasure. But it's so much more: a tapestry of instructive real-life insights together with the latest research and philosophy, all aiming to "de-freakify" open adoption. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption covers what this adoptee wishes my parents had known, and beyond. The definitive post-modern guide to enlightened adoption. (Marcy Axness, PhD, parent coach and author of Parenting for Peace)

Just as a panoramic photograph changes your understanding of a physical landscape, Lori Holden's panoramic book on open adoption will change the way you understand the family building landscape. By bringing in all voices in the adoption triad, Holden simultaneously holds everyone's hand and fills in the advice that has been sorely missing from the universe before this point: how to live well all the years that come after the adoption. Adoptive parents, birthparents, and children have all been asked to partake in a situation without a guidebook, and in doing so, stumble blindly sometimes through difficult conversations and emotional interactions. Holden's book smooths the road between all people in the triad, giving them a space to walk between one another in order to have easier interactions. (Melissa Ford, author of Navigating the Land of If and the infertility website, Stirrup Queens)

While many books focus on the mechanics of adoption, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption stays focused on the well-being of all involved. While this should be mandatory reading for anyone who has ever uttered the words, 'just adopt,' all readers will come away as smarter, more understanding family members. (Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority)

This fine book offers an honest look at the inner workings of open adoption with all its challenges and delights. Holden skillfully writes with the voice of experience, a voice seasoned with the gentleness of her heart and honed by frank discussions with countless other participants who share her determination to do adoption in a manner that honors children. Those who long to see adoption done in a big-hearted way will be encouraged by her hospitable words. (James L. Gritter, MSW, author of Hospitious Adoption)

The adoption community needs more resources to offer to families – birth, first, adoptive – all the REAL families – that intersect and interact through open adoption. This book offers real, tangible, useful information that parents anywhere on the continuum of openness can make use of as they navigate through their adoption experience with their child. (Rebecca L. Ricardo, LCSW, executive director of coordinators2inc The Lifetime Adoption Resource)

About the Author

Lori Holden was named a Top 10 “Must-Read Mom” by Parenting magazine and was honored at the annual BlogHer Conference. Her articles have also appeared in Parenting magazine, Conceive magazines, andAdoptive Families magazine Her blog, LavenderLuz.com, has been listed by Adoptive Families Circle, Circle of Moms, and Grown in My Heart websites to be one of the top adoption blogs. She is a monthly contributor to MileHighMamas.com, a Denver Post site. In addition, Lori has written for The American Fertility Association, CreatingAFamily.org and Kaiser Permanente’s Partners in Health magazine. With Crystal, her daughter’s birth mom, she teaches classes on building a child-centered open adoption.
Crystal Hass has taught about open adoption with Lori Holden at Colorado Free University and at adoption agencies.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 1 edition (March 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442217383
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442217386
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole" is Lori Holden's first book, born from listening to hundreds of people living in adoption -- adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and adoption professionals. Lori was named a Top 10 Must-Read Mom by Parenting magazine and was honored at the annual BlogHer Conference in 2010. She also had an article published in Parenting and in Conceive magazines at that time.

Her blog, LavenderLuz.com, has been listed by Adoptive Families magazine, Circle of Moms and by Grown in My Heart to be one of the top adoption blogs.

Besides Parenting, Pathway 2 Family and Adoptive Families magazines, Lori has written for The American Fertility Association, RESOLVE.org and Kaiser Permanente's Partners in Health magazine. Lori has spoken at BlogHer conferences about Adoption/Loss/Infertility (ALI) issues about authenticity in writing. She is a columnist at the Huffington Post and for MileHighMamas.com, a Denver Post site.

Lori has lived in Japan and in the Middle East, and currently lives in Denver with her husband, Roger, and two children. Her daughter, Tessa, and her son, Reed, continue to teach her every day.


For more information, please see Lori's regularly updated blog, LavenderLuz.com or email her at Lori@LavenderLuz.com.

Lori is available to speak at book signings and adoption agency gatherings, as well as at adoption-oriented conferences as a speaker or keynoter. See Listen To Your Mother Show clip at http://youtu.be/j3KRFolP1Uk

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lori Holden's first book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, is a welcome addition to the adoption "bookshelf" for pre- and post-adoptive parents as well as adoption professionals. Written with her daughter's birthmother, the author uses her personal experience with open adoption to offer a new way to look at openness in adoption. This is not just about letters, photos, and/or visits with birthfamily - this book suggests an approach to emotional openness, even in families for whom contact with birthparents may be neither possible nor advisable.

The book is well-written, personable, and filled with illustrative stories from bio- and adoptive parents that bring to life the various strategies as well as potential pitfalls to the process.

A must-read for any prospective adoptive parents, this book will also be a resource for those already parenting by adoption, as well as professionals, who will surely incorporate these ideas into their adoption education practices.

-Debbie Schwartz
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I know from personal experience that the author is an expert on this subject. She is someone I would look to if I had any question about this topic! Written in a easy to read manner, the book flows and keeps the reader invested in such an important topic. From love to the practical realities of life, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption is a must have!
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My trouble with having star-studded so many previous Reviews is that when I REALLY want to give five stars to a work, there's no room for me to move up: no sixth star and no option to add exclamation points, unless it's to the Review title, which I did.

I don't know how any author could offer more on this topic without reaching out too far and losing focus. There's something in Lori's book for every point of light in the open adoption constellation. A grandmother on the birthfamily side? She talks about your role. A resistant birthfather who comes around (or doesn't)? She swings the telescope your way. All possible contributions to the center of this universe -- the child -- are charted. Yet, she knows how dynamic all networks can be and she offers plenty of practical and even spiritual tips to make your own way.

While Lori is super-positive and optimistic, she doesn't gloss over the bumpy currents all navigators of open adoption are bound to experience. Like all big families, interactions with all members are uneven across the lifespan; but clearly, Lori knows that. She even gives letter-writing ideas to open up an adoption that has been closed by either the birthfamily or the adoptive family.

Having spoken in glowing terms about this book, please know I don't agree with everything Lori seems to embrace (to me, prospective adoptive parents do not belong in any room of the hospital). But I have the feeling I could have a cup of tea with Lori and she would hear my concerns with the same open mind she has greeted and discussed other conflicts of opinion in her book.
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This is a rare and special book that makes a strong case for openness in adoptive parenting. Lori's approach is both pragmatic and philosophical. She gives many reasons, both practical and based on research from what society has learned from the closed adoption era, why taking an open approach to adoption just makes good sense. "Adoption creates a split in a person between his biology and biography," Lori begins. "Openness in adoption is an effective way to heal that split." Lori provides a roadmap to foster openness, both for adoptive parents and first parents. She provides guidance on choosing an ethical adoption facilitator/agency (key to all involved) to providing easy to follow techniques to maximize honest and clear communications between all parties to personal and helpful first-person stories from adoptees, first parents and adoptive parents. I particularly enjoyed Crystal's insights (she's the first mother of one of Lori's children and the co-author) which were honest, witty and full of common sense, and provided a good counterpoint to Lori's narration. It's unusual for a book to provide two sets of perspective of the same events, but this fits well with Lori's approach, which is full of empathy and mostly asks everyone to wonder how we would feel in someone else's shoes, whether the child (of main importance to everyone involved) or an adoptive mother or first mother. "What you can expect when you open your heart and mind to a reasonable relationship with your child's other parents is a better chance at long-term happiness and wholeness for you and for your child," says Lori. Mainly, I was really impressed by how this approach is designed to provide the best love and care possible to the adopted child. Highly recommended for those thinking about adoption (either as first parents or adoptive parents), those parenting after adoption and those who have friends and family who are parenting after adoption.
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I recently began to research adoption as an option to build a family. I had a lot of fears about adoption based on the little I knew of it. After reading this book the picture of what open adoption is became more clear. I have clarity as to the challenges that open adoption brings and how to address them. The fears I had are now replaced with understanding and clarity. I learned of the importance of having a strong relationships with birth/first parents and how a child only benefits from it. The input that Crystal provides is a value to the reader to see the prospective of the birth/first parents. Adoptive parents benefit rather than suffer from a relationship with their child's birth/first parents.

The strength of the book is the open heart of the author that the reader feels in the writing. I can't say enough good things about Lori, her work and her personality. Every adoptive parent should aspire to be as kind, open minded and selfless as Lori.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested or involved in adoption in any way.
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