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on June 19, 2005
I am now an adult. I was adopted as an infant. This is the first time I have seen in print many of the feelings of loss and abandonment being given up created in me. These are really feelings that should be experienced, experiences that should be grieved. The author advocates for openness about adoption, which I think is the solution: Don't pretend there wasn't an abandonment (even if it was for good reasons) and don't hide adoption like it is something to be ashamed of or over-do the opposite by labelling the adoptee "special."

The weakness of this book, as others have written, is that it dwells on the negative. There is a lot of good that comes out of adoption. It is probably the most important good thing that has happened to me to help make me who I am today. And most adoptees are like me in that they are accepted into loving families who are open about the adoption and do the best they can to make it day by day.

The author at times seems to be overly dramatizing the loss that adopted children feel. But this is likely intentional. This is, afterall, a book about what adopted children wish their adoptive parents knew. I *do* wish my adoptive parents had known that the feelings of loss and abandonment would be there... I wish I could have put words to what I was feeling earlier and to have known that I was not the only person to have such feelings, that I was, oddly enough, normal. We all dealt with it, but it would have been easier for me (and I would have been a more pleasant child) had we known to expect this issue instead of waiting for me to discover it myself while exploring my anger and seeming unwillingness to get too close emotionally to anyone.

So I recommend this book for adoptive parents and those considering adoption. That said, it should not be read or considered in isolation. Adoption is a positive thing that can change a child's life much for the better. Listening to the author's explanation of what an adopted child feels should not make anyone afraid of adopting; rather, it should help them recognize what their child is experiencing. For, as the author says so nicely, the child is going to experience the loss whether the adoptive parent knows it will happen, believes it will happen, wants it to happen, or not. Like so many other painful things in life, understanding and coping with being given away by one's mother at birth can make the adopted child a stronger, more empathic individual. Failing to do so can make him or her angry, unhappy, and generally disgruntled. Much better to deal with the issues than pretend they don't exist.
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on April 17, 2000
As a prospective adoptive parent AND adoptee, I found this book to be helpful in emphasizing some of the communication issues in adoption. This book emphasizes regret and loss on the part of the adoptee -- feelings that as an adoptee, I do not feel strongly about. I believe reading this book as an adoptive parent may give good insight into concerns and feelings, but as an ADOPTEE, I want prospective parents to know that my experience has been positive and happy -- therefore do not let this book discourage you. I found some interesting parallels to my life in this book, including hating birthdays and some of my actions growing up. I believe adoption can be more positive than the portrait the author paints. Readers can, however, use some of the communication suggestions the author makes.
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on March 25, 2009
I would have given this book a ZERO star rating if it was possible. I am an adoptee (very happy to be one--I love my parents!) and am in the middle of the adoption process myself. I found this book to be absolutely awful. I agree w/ the other 1 stars reviews that say this book is overly dramatic and overly negative. I will be speaking out often to tell any social worker or adoption agency to be very careful when they recommend this book to prospective adoptive parents. If this book is suggested to anyone----it should be with the clear message that SOME adoptees might feel some of these feelings..... but this book, in my opinion, is more of a 'worst case scenario' in how adoptees feel. It is the 'extreme' and not the norm. I kept thinking: PLEASE speak for yourself! DO NOT speak for "all adopted children". Another adoptee reviewer went as far as to say she kept wanting to tell this author to 'shut up' and as awful as that sounds....I have to agree. I felt the exact same way. And I kept reading w/ an open mind and tried and tried to 'hear her out" so to speak. I am opposed to the title because it implies all adoptees feel this way. It would be more appropriate to call the book something like "20 things some adoptive children MAY feel and would like you to know" but that is much less catchy.
It would be wrong to invalidate another adoptees feelings---they are his or hers alone. But they SHOULD NOT be applied to ALL adoptees! And this book does that. It is important for all adoptive parents to be aware of the (possible) struggles or issues that an adoptee may face. Key word is "may" face. Not everyone has such a painful adoptive experience. I certainly didn't. If you are thinking about adopting---and you choose to read this book (honnestly---I would STRONGLY advise against it) just know this is not how ALL adoptees feel. The adoptees I know do not feel this way. And I second another adoptee reviewer who said "your parents are the people who raised you"!!! I couldn't STAND this book. This is my first and only book review---I felt compelled to write this review in support of potential adoptive parents who are reading this book and getting a very inaccurate and depressing picture of adoptive families! I think there should be more books about positive adoption experiences....but the thing is....people who are happy to be adopted (like me) are too busy living their life like any other person. We don't "feel" adopted. We just feel "normal' so it would not occur to many of us to write a book about adoption!
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on August 16, 2006
I am a 38 year old adoptee and adoptive parent. I was adopted as an infant, as was my own adopted daughter. As others have pointed out, this book is clearly both overly negative and overly dramatic. I would like to add that following the advice of the author could even be very harmful to your adopted child. In particular, I was taken aback by the author's suggestion that you should essentially tell your child that he or she must have unresolved grief issues and help him or her uncover them. That is just plain wrong. Please understand that it is entirely likely that your child, especially if he or she was adpoted as an infant, will never have any significant feelings of loss or grief. DO NOT CREATE THOSE FEELINGS OUT OF SOME MISGUIDED EFFORT TO HELP YOUR CHILD "UNCOVER" SUPPOSEDLY SUPPRESSED FEELINGS. In my own experience, I have always known that I was adopted and that I have been loved by my parents. I simply have no negative feelings regarding my own adoption. None. However, if my parents had read this book when I was a child and decided that they needed to tell me that I must have those feelings and we had to find them and focus on them, I undoubtedly would have needed years and years of therapy.

The advice in this book might have some helpful relevance to those who are adopted as older childen. However, for those adopted a infants, what you should do is tell them early and often that they are adopted and loved. Let them know that you are always available to talk with them about any feelings or questions they might have. If they have questions, answer them matter of factly. Do not burden them with negative feelings that they probably do not have and will never develop.
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on June 27, 2009
Full disclosure: I was adopted by my parents when I was four months old. I always knew I was adopted and my parents later had a biological child just over three years after they adopted me.

Sherrie Eldridge's book says a lot about her own mindset, but there is not a lot of rational examination about adoption.

Ms. Eldridge believes that adopted children are victims who suffer an injury that never heals. These victims must be treated like victims. If they do not realize they are victims, they need to be indoctrinated into feeling their victim-hood. It's analogous to the guilt and victim industries that have thrived with regard to race, gender, socio-economic status, disability, disease, etc. Just like any industry, the individual circumstances are unimportant and inconsequential compared to the social template which Ms. Eldridge seeks to apply. Ms. Eldridge wraps her opinions in the pseudo-science of the adopted baby's primal experiences which supposedly haunt the psyche of every adopted child for the rest of their life. She offers no evidence to support this view, but it is clear that it reflects her personal perspective.

I'm sure there are adopted children who share Ms. Eldridge's perspective, but there are a lot of us who do not. I won the lottery when my parents adopted me. I know that there are two people who will never fail to support and love me. Among people I have met, that kind of unconditional love is extremely rare regardless of ties of blood or love/friendship.

I guess my point is that I do not consider myself to be a victim. I think that individuals are not preordained to react in a certain way to any given circumstance, such as adoption. I have not seen any evidence to suggest that primal scars haunt my subconscious.

In conclusion, this book is a great insight into the emotional baggage of Sherrie Eldridge. It has no relevance or value to those contemplating adoption or dealing with the challenges of raising an adopted child. Save the money for something a little more objective.
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on July 24, 2010
This book is obviously written by a very wounded adult. My husband and I have raised 29 foster children and an adopted child. I am a child psychologist and the head of a school for young children. I have some experience in this field.

This author begins her story reflecting on her poor relationship with her now deceased adopted parents. She says that they were wonderful people who never understood the tremendous depth of her grief over losing her birth mother at the age of 2 days. She goes on to make several suggestions to adopted parents about things that they can do to assist their adopted children in never experiencing the life-long agony she has experienced. Here are just two of her suggestions:

1. She suggests that it is most healthy and prudent to teach an adopted child early on that they have an ACTUAL HOLE in their middles that can only be filled with an arduous journey through the grief of losing a birth family. She actually suggests having your young child draw themselves to scale on a large piece of paper and then ACTUALLY DRAW a hole right in their middles. This hole is their loss. The adopted parents are to tell the child that the hole can only be filled by grieving their birth families.

2. She also goes on to compare the adopted child to an amputee. She suggests that parents raising an adopted child should see them as missing a limb- she uses an illustration of an amputee runner struggling and struggling to win a race against runners without prosthesis (this in and of itself is more disrespectful to the adopted child and the amputee than I can even state here) and treat them as though they are fundamentally unable to do OR be all that a biological child can do and become. This is wrong on so many levels. She suggests that parents of adopted children always look at their children through that lens and treat them as the lesser, broken selves that they are.

What in the world?

I suggest instead that the child always be a part of a conversation about their entire family- birth, adopted, chosen, whomever. There is loss and reward in all relationships. If a child is raised by people who see them as damaged and lacking and not-whole, grief will be a life-long experience. If instead the family see the child as whole and complete and the birth family as an extension and a hope for a future relationship, the child will likely see the same. Joy is completely lacking in this book. It is like the author sees the adopted child and adopted children as STUCK in this never quite right relationship. I am, quite frankly, sad for this author and her very warped world view.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. I do however, recommend some additional counseling for the author. This book is destructive in my eyes.
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on September 19, 2005
Sherrie Eldridge means well: she wants to help adoptive parents do a better job of parenting their adoptive children. But Eldridge has written a deeply-flawed book that cannot be relied upon regarding either its descriptions or prescriptions.

The first problem is that Eldridge makes sweeping statements about how adoptees feel and what adoptees need from their adoptive parents without, however, supporting her claims with any scientific research, either her own or others. On reading the many claims Eldridge makes in her book, I kept wanting to ask: how do you know this? She never tells us.

At most, Eldridge offers annecdotes from her own experience and that of other adoptees. But we have no way of knowing whether these experiences fairly represent the experiences of most adoptees; whether they were selected because they support Eldridge's views; or whether, in talking with other adoptees, Eldridge "found" just what she was looking for.

Another problem is the absence of any serious comparative perspective: how, for example, do non-adopted children experience and cope with the loss of a parent? Or, let's consider a major theme in Eldridge's writing: the idea that all adoptees suffer a loss that must be grieved because, having lived for nine months in her birth mother's womb, adoption removes the infant from the only environment she has known. Well, birth does that to all of us: we all are expelled from the Eden of our mothers' wombs; all of us are cut off from our pre-natal environment.

If the pre-natal experience is as important as Eldridge wants us to believe, then the "loss" involved in being born should be universal. It thus becomes essential to understand the effects of that experience and to distinguish them from the effects of adoption as such. Eldridge fails to address this issue.

I'll conclude with a much smaller example. One that, however, illustrates the problem I had trusting Eldridge's judgment and reliability. One of the works included in her bibliography is "The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales" by Bruno Bettleheim, whom Eldridge identifies as "German author Bruno Bettelheim" (p. 75), and, subsequently, as "renowned psychologist and author Bruno Bettelheim" (p. 77).

What's wrong with this? First, Bettelheim was born and educated in Austria, not Germany. Second, he did all his work in the United States (and so might be described as American), to which he came in 1939 as a Jewish refugee from Nazism (so that simply calling him "German," even if he had been born there, would have been misleading). Third, Bettelheim's reputation as a psychologist was exploded at least two years before Eldridge published her book: a widely-reviewed biography by Richard Pollak ("The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim"), exposed him as a fraud.

That Eldridge cannot properly identify Bettelheim and that she relies on someone so discredited substantially undermines my confidence in her knowledge and judgment.
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on March 19, 2008
I couldn't finish reading this book because I felt like I was being brain washed. Yes, I am adopted. Yes, I understand that some people have difficulties raising adopted children and dealing with all the issues that come with adoption; but this book was so negative/dramatized/and over thought that I had to stop reading.

This is my problem. I don't like people telling me or hypothesizing how I feel; that I suffer from abandoment issues, identity probelms and struggle with trusting or emotionally attaching myself to others. I don't like it that adoptees have these tags on them and are made to feel different.

I wanted to tell the author to shut up. I love my life. I love my parents. I wouldn't and couldn't have chose anything better.

So maybe you need this book, maybe you like this book but it is definitely not for everyone.
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on January 15, 2003
Before we adopted our son, I picked this book up in my quest for information on adoption. I was curious about all parts of the traid, especially the adopted child's perspective.
I found this book to be very negative in portraying adoption. I read some of it to friends who had been adopted at birth and they thought it was pretty far fetched and extreme.
It sounded as if the author had a not-so-good experience growing up adopted, and believes that all adopted children will have the same experience. I agree with the other review that many of the problems and issues she described from her own childhood I had in mine and I was not adopted.
She doesn't seen to be very positive about adoption and that certainly comes through in the book. I actually felt bad when reading the book -- bad that I would put a child through the hurt and sadness that her book portrays. Again, in talking to adult adoptees, I was told the book was not an accurate description of their experience at all... It sounds as if the author's seemingly negative adoptive experience was unique and not the norm.
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on August 11, 2014
1) This book is based solely on the author's personal experience, which she projects onto all adoptees. There is no science/research to back up her claims. At the end of the day, this book is a bunch of anecdotes, glued together with quotes from actual experts.

2) This book sends a poor message to adoptees, encouraging them to be defined something over which they had no control: the circumstances of their birth. She claims early on, for example, that "the pain of adoption is not something that happens to a person; it is the person." What? Seriously? Who is Eldridge, or anyone else, to tell adopted kids how they should feel about being adopted?

3) This book uses adoption to explain everything, and does not account for any other influences in a person's life. Eldridge uses adoption to explain an entire range of what's probably pretty normal adolescent behavior, from acting out to doing well. In one of the more laughable lines in the book in fact, she states that adoptees can "repress the pain through achieving."

4) This book contains bad advice. There are times throughout the book when the author advises parents to force issues on their kid(s). I agree with her that open dialogue is a good thing, but sometimes it feels like she's advising the parents to dredge up things that the kid may have already worked through and does not need to be reminded of. For example, the book advises parents to initiate a conversation about birth parents on a kid's birthday by asking "I wonder if your birth mom/dad are thinking about you." That seems instinctively wrong to me as it implies the kid is or should be thinking about their bio parents, and it implies that the birth parents aren't thinking about the kid.

5) This book is hard to swallow. I got the impression that the author used adoption as an excuse for everything she ever did in her life. She was adopted when she was 10 days old by loving, stable parents. I have several friends who were adopted as infants into very good homes and, guess what?, they're fine and don't blame every bump in the road on the fact that they were adopted.

6) This book ignores that bio kids may have some of the same issues that adopted ones have, or need many of the same things. For example, she states that adopted children "need to be reminded often of their strengths, competence, and intrinsic worth." No kidding - but so do all children.

7) This book is extremely dated. The author was born in or around 1940, when adoption and infertility both carried a lot of baggage that they simply do not today. Additionally, this book is premised on closed adoptions, which is hardly the default today. This book also makes birth fathers seem irrelevant; they are rarely mentioned.

8) This book makes two of the most irritating assumptions in the world of adoption: that adoptees are adopted as infants, by couples who are infertile. Those of us who adopt older kids by choice are not the intended audience. If that is your demographic, don't waste your money like I did. She does mention older kids as adoptees occasionally, but only as asides (which is offensive in and of itself).

9) This book is extremely repetitive. Not only are the ideas repeated, but the actual language is too at times. For example, on p. 54 of my edition is the sentence: "If satisfaction occurs, trust grows. Gratification includes food, touch, eye contact, movement, or any kind of stimulation by another." Fast forward to p. 70 for the following: "[A child's] expectation is that he will receive gratification: food, touch, eye contact, movement, or any kind of stimulation from another. If gratification occurs, his trust in the caregiver grows."

10) The author cannot write. In addition to being repetitive, the author endlessly quotes the same experts (whose books I wish I had read instead), and does one of the most hackneyed things an author can do - provides Webster's dictionary definitions for words we all understand. She does this, for example, with anger, to bless, shame, fear, and integrated. I got destroyed on a high school English paper for quoting the dictionary; I'm surprised to see so much of this in a published work. Then again, the book really does feel like nothing more than a bloated checklist.

Eldridge is no clinician, no therapist, no expert, and no writer. She's adopted herself, but that hardly gives her standing to tell other adoptive families and their children what to do and how to feel. I hated this book.
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