- Paperback: 235 pages
- Publisher: Child Welfare League of Amer (November 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 087868770X
- ISBN-13: 978-0878687701
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,332,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lifegivers: Framing the Birthparent Experience in Open Adoption Paperback – November, 1999
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I could relate so well with the first chapters on the stereotypes & taboos, it had me making so many sticky notes and shedding plenty of tears, I knew I was going to buy it. I also felt the chapters dealing with the birthfamily's reasons to give a child into adoption, their grief, ambivalence & regret were all well done, even though not all the situations applied to me.
I really liked how the author explained the term ‘lifegiving’ as more than a once in time event. He makes the case that lifegiving is a continual role, even as daily parenting is, and it made me feel more assured in the idea that my daughter will always find me and my contribution to her life important.
The chapter on finding the 'holy grail' was odd. I understand the reasons not to include specifics of how roles will play out since everyone's situation is different, but I had hoped to see something along the lines of how I always thought of myself as acting like an aunt figure in the family, even though we are clearly more closely related.
This book, while helpful to revisit my ever changing feelings surrounding the loss of my daughter, was geared towards adopting parents more than the birthparents. For example, I found it interesting that there was a chapter for birth-families 'dragging their feet' and not wanting involvement while the adoptive parents were interested; but then there was no chapter for what to do when the adoptive family announces their 2/3 year old "doesn't want to see you anymore" and then ignores every letter, every invitation sent since. What 2yr old _doesn't_ say an emphatic NO to every suggestion, especially when she can sense her parents 'secretly' approve? I can understand birthparents not wanting to continue the relationship, for if they feel the adoptive family is negatively treating them, it can be torture and almost a relief to have contact cut off. And then there's the guilt that follows when you can't stand to see the parents, but still desperately want to have a relationship, however small, with your child. So for adoptive parents reading this, do take all the suggestions on how to encourage the relationship with the ‘birthclan’ to heart. Oh, if only i ever received a Mother's Day card, after the many I have sent them... little things can mean so much.
My specific issues aside, I would have given this 5 stars if another chapter was added to give affirmation that I was doing everything 'right' in my pursuit of a relationship and openness in the face of an adoptive family that isn’t communicating whatsoever. I would have appreciated any possible ideas of how to enter into a real relationship again as much as open adoptive parents are in finding ways to bridge connections to families that are avoiding them. As is, the one chapter about how the adoptive family could approach a disinterested party was a little bit helpful if thought of in general terms and gave me a little comfort in continuing my efforts.
Overall, it was refreshing to see things regarding the birthfamilies experience so kindly explained and not have it be offensive in any way (at least for me, & outside of the birthmother title-but that’s hard to get around & I understand), to have my issues and feelings validated for once: so many books about adoption do not provide this, much less the people in my life. So thank you Mr. Gritter. I am happy to have purchased this book 4x over, and I will look into purchasing others by this author.
As a birthmom, I read this book when my birthdaughter was about 8 years old. It helped me articulate some of my choices, my grief and my goals. The wisdom in the pages of Lifegivers does an excellent job educating the public about just who we are and why we've made our choice. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
I see now that reading this book helped further allow my healing process. Thanks, James!
My favorite part of the book comes at the end, with the simple list of ways adoptive parents can honor and respect their child's birthparents. My least favorite part is the description of grief; parts of that chapter didn't strike me quite right. I think Gritter should have relied more on the words of those of us who have actually gone through the grief.
But he did listen as he was writing the book: I was fortunate enough to read this book in manuscript, and offered my suggestions on how this book could be even more "true to life." Other birthparents did the same, making this, I think, an essentially reliable guide to our feelings and desires.
In the end, the message is simple: both sets of parents love and want what's best for the child. And when both types of parents work together in a true open adoption, beautiful things can happen.
Still, I am glad I added this book to my collection; and will be adding more of Jim Gritter's book as well.