- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Bergin & Garvey Trade; 1 edition (July 30, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0897896912
- ISBN-13: 978-0897896917
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past 1st Edition
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“[A] clear and helpful guide for parents and others who work with adopted children. How to gather information about the birth family and how to present that information to a child in age-appropriate increments are lucidly explained. Suggested techniques are detailed and explicit, taking into careful consideration the life stage of the adopted child, including adolescence. Each chapter concludes with questions for readers so they may apply information to their specific case--a helpful device. This excellent book deserves a place in public libraries because it advocates a constant policy of truth to remove the vestiges of shame and secrecy from adoption.”–Library Journal
“This well written book would be a fantastic resource to any adoptive or foster parent considering whether to, or how to, tell their child about their early history.”–Youth In Mind
“Beautifully assists adoptive and foster parents in unraveling the mysteries that can cause so much pain for adopted persons--as children, adolescents and adults--and their families. With sensitivity and remarkable insight, Keefer and Schooler skillfully tackle the hard issues with which foster and adoptive parents struggle in deciding to tell and telling their children their true histories. It is an indispensable resource, combining a rich understanding of the psychological complexities of adoption with straight-forward guidance that foster and adoptive parents will treasure.”–Madelyn Freudlich Executive Director The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
“There is a great need for this book and I feel the authors do a wonderful job of giving clear guidelines and examples that adoptive parents can follow to explain even the most difficult of adoption-related circumstances to their children. This book gives parents the concrete tools they need to share information openly and honestly in words their children can understand. Adoption has gone through such a transition over the past 10 to 20 years, and the situations that the children are coming from is often so much more complex, parents need this type of guidance and support. For adoptees, accurate information and facts about themselves and their past are critical, this book gives parents the input and direction they need to build healthy communication and relationships. The authors have given a great gift to the adoption community--this book is a must read for all adoptive parents.”–Betsie Norris Executive Director Adoption Network
“Finally, a book which talks about telling adoptive children the WHOLE truth! Keefer and Schooler do an excellent job of presenting just why the truth--with all of its details--can help heal the hurt child. Adoptive families will find this book helpful as they struggle with how to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with their children. It will help them avoid deceiving their child about his or her past. A must read for parents of traumatized children.”–Gregory C.Keck Psychologist Founder/Director of the Attachment of the Bonding Center of Ohio Coauthor of Adopting the Hurt Child
About the Author
BETSY KEEFER is a Training Consultant for the Institute for Human Services in Columbus, Ohio, where she has been instrumental in the development of adoption training curriculum for professionals used nationwide.
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I would like to update my previous review. I've read this book front-to-back a dozen times now, and though I still find it helpful overall, the more I read it the more I am disturbed by little pieces here and there.
--My biggest gripe is that there are 3 elements to this issue and only 2 are fully covered. (1) understanding the need to tell the whole truth to your adopted child, (2) learning how to tell the child painful information in the most helpful way, and (3) helping the child deal with the painful information s/he has learned. This book almost completely omits #3. For example, the book gives great importance to learning the child's birth background and genetics, because the child will feel this has a great deal to do with how the s/he will turn out, but never covers how to help children realize they are good people even if their birth parents committed bad acts (murder, rape, drug addiction, etc). It seems very obvious that telling children this information may lead them to believe "if my birth parent was bad, I must be bad too." How do you help a child overcome this feeling? After reading this book thoroughly many times, I still don't know; the book implies that once a child knows their entire background, that will be enough to make them feel whole.
--Parents who fear that providing info they know will hurt their children are all described as having selfish motives, such as being controlling, mean, secretive, or inept. Hello, do you think some parents might be trying to shield their child from pain because they love them (whether or not they are "right" to shield them)?
--Adopted children are all described as having holes in their hearts because something is missing, but parents who try to protect their children from feeling this pain are seen as almost evil. It makes it sound like adopted children will have it bad either way, which is very depressing and I think inaccurate. From reviews I've read on other adoption books, such as the "The Primal Wound," there are adopted people who already feel healthy and whole. I feel this book comes from a similar place as that one, so if you disagree with that one, you may not like this one.
--Adoption is described as the only relationship that creates a loss to both parties. That is overdramatic and ridiculous. It is infertility that creates a loss, adoption of a child is a huge gain, always to the parents and almost always to the child. All children are a blessing, and not every parent who adopts is infertile. I don't know any adoptive parent who's not immensely thankful to have their child. And it is much better for a child to be adopted into a healthy family than remain in an unhealthy or abusive one. Gain/gain
I liked this book because it recounted the experiences of real families. The families who shared their stories experienced a broad range of joys and challenges. This is far more reflective of the reality of the adoptive families I am close to. But I do know some adoptive parents who take the doom and gloom books as the God's truth and subject their kids to various therapies that I think only establish that being adopted is inherently problematic. Families are families, whether they are formed through birth, adoption, or some of each. They are imperfect. Kids are individuals. Yes, there are issues to anticipate and address with adoption, and this book deals with those. But adoptive families are real families, and I much prefer this balanced approach to the topic of relating to and understanding the needs of adopted children over the books that suggest that there is more pathology than simply individuality and normality in adoptive families.
I would recommend this book to parents who are adopting and to those who have adopted. It serves as a good reality check and antidote to those that dwell on the traumas of adoption.
They key point here, something most psychiatrists apparently have yet to learn, is that adopted children from the youngest ages frequently and actively wonder about their birth parents, and often conceptualize circumstances that cause serious acting out. During their teen years especially--a time of emotional upheaval even for kids raised in their biological families--adopted children experience a wide range of feelings that must be dealt with. There is no way for parents to successfully take their children "around" their natural grief, the authors note. The only way to handle it is to help them "through."
This, of course, is contrary to traditional thinking. "Oh just forget the past," relatives may say. Don't listen to them. Adopted children need to find out who they are, and even though they most likely never met them, they have love and concerns for their birth parents, feelings that the best adoptive parents will help them digest and manage.
Schooler describes the various levels at which adopted children may conceptualize their origins, depending on their age. And anger can be a big factor particularly during the middle school and high school years. Not dealing with these fantasies and feelings is a prescription for disaster. So is dealing with them in an insensitive or unthinking way.
The message is plain: share everything you know with your adopted child, as soon as you know, with as much respect for the child's feelings as you can. You cannot erase their pain. You can only help them cope with it. And in this way, help them grow into productive young men and women in their own rights.
A fabulous resource, which all adoptive parents, all pediatricians, and all mental health professionals, should study.