Tag Archives: book

Book review: Who We Are and Why We Are Special

41f9T8JRdQL._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_When I first received ‘Who We Are and Why We Are Special, The Adoption Club Workbook on Identity’ by Regina M Kupecky, I was initially sceptical, says adoptive mum Kay.

Why? Well, most of the books I have read about and around adoption have been weighty, literally, or anecdotal.

So my expectation was that this book would be the same.

Identity and adoption? This is a big and knotty question!

Surely this demands a book the size of an encyclopaedia or a series of books?

This book appears slim and plain. The typeset reminds me of 70’s pamphlets and the illustrations are so simple I think I could have done them myself. Added to this is the subtitle: ‘workbook’.

Yikes.

Suffice to say I wasn’t looking forward to reading it, despite feeling very excited to review a book for The Adoption Social.

Guess what though? In this case you really can’t judge a book from its cover…

Like I said the title invites us to consider identity and how this makes us different and special. That’s a big ask for an adult, but this workbook is aimed at the ages 5-11. My next reservation is how on earth one book can hope to address and engage such a wide age range.

On the first few pages we’re introduced to the members of the ‘adoption club’ whose characters are drawn, both literally and figuratively, in a simple way. There’s no embellishment here just simple sketches that help to highlight them as different and special, but what holds all of them together is that they are touched by adoption in some way.

It’s an apt reminder that adoption has so many faces, ages and back stories. Being a heterosexual, married, white, middle class adoptive mum of two young white siblings, I have been known to forget that not everyone shares my experience of adoption and that my route is only one of many. So it was useful to think again about how inclusive adoption can be.  Mixed race families, single parents, and same sex parents, children with special needs or disability, overseas adoptions, transgender parents, open adoptions… Steve Jobs, who started Apple, is adopted. I didn’t know that, did you?

The best thing about the book is that none of it reads like tokenism, just a really nice personification of these different sides of the process. Like much of the writing in this book, it is matter of fact, easy to read and understand. So as much as it’s aimed at 5 – 11 year olds I didn’t find it patronising. Actually quite the opposite, after reading this book I came away inspired to use it with my children and, surprisingly, myself.

The idea is that identity can be seen as a jigsaw of many pieces and the book leads us through a series of open questions, examples of how this affects a particular member of the adoption club, with space to write our answers and ideas for reflection.

The questions and examples are leading but not prescriptive, there is plenty of space for the reader to engage at their preferred or most appropriate depth. For me, I wanted to think about the layers to my story/identity, like a complex 1000 piece puzzle of an intricate landscape. My four year old daughter was able to recognise and relate to two of the characters and their experiences. Most importantly, I think that when we re-visit the adoption club she will continue to add to her own jigsaw.

I loved the physical metaphor of an ‘identity jigsaw’. I’d love to do some work around this using big puzzle pieces, images, maybe even an outline of a child’s body to fill in.

I would really like to read the other workbooks as I think that they will help me to open discussions with my children in the future. I like the characters but most of all I like the idea of adoption being a club that we all belong to.

Many thanks to Kay for her review. Kay did not receive payment for this review, but has been able to keep the book.

Book review: Keeping Your Adoptive Family Strong: Strategies for Success

Today we have two reviews of the same title – so very many thanks to @onroadtoadopt and our anonymous reviewer for your posts on  Keeping Your Adoptive Family Strong: Strategies for Success by Gregory C. Keck and L. GianforteKeck-Soronen-Gi_Keeping-Your-Ad_978-1-84905-784-4_colourjpg-print

It is obvious when you start reading this book that the authors are American. However it is aimed at families who adopt children from foster care so has a lot of relevance to adoption in the UK where the vast majority of our children have experienced some level of trauma whether it be in-utero or while living with birth family in their early life. I found it a fascinating read and would recommend the book as a good introduction to adoption both in its joys and its difficulties. Both the authors are adopters themselves of children from the foster care system in the US. I am going to apologise now in that this review may seem impersonal at times – penalty of being an academic is that I am so ingrained to write reviews in one way it is difficult to adjust to a more personal way.

The authors talk from the Preface about the effect of trauma and how even moving in with their new family can be a traumatic experience for adopted children. One line that really struck me as such truth is:

“The bottom line is this: when parents and children approach adoption from opposite directions – when one sees salvation where the other sees disconnection – the already challenging journey becomes fraught with unnecessary twists and turns.”

The Preface does very much highlight the need for parents to look at the real picture and not to romanticise the concept of adoption as them saving the child. This book is honest about the level of challenges adoptive parents may face – giving examples of what children may have experienced before they came into foster care. The authors talk about facing up to reality without fear and give a set of what they call ‘keys to a healthy and functional adoptive family’:

  • Accessibility to honest, accurate information about the child’s background;
  • Willingness to recognise and accept things for what they are;
  • Support, compassion, and understanding from family, friends and mental health professionals;
  • The comfort that stems from knowing that other families face similar difficulties;
  • Confidence in the ability to succeed.

 

The first chapter covers the familiar (to anyone who has read much about adoption) ground of the effect of trauma on human development. In this chapter, the authors talk about the common diagnoses (in the USA) particularly concentrating on complex trauma and also the emerging greater knowledge about the effect trauma has on the developing brains of infants. They look at how adopters can be properly prepared for what they might face and how expectations can so much differ from reality. Throughout the book, real case examples are used to highlight what the authors are talking about which helps the reader understand what they are saying. In this first chapter the importance of attachment in helping with trauma is discussed as well as how critical it is that professionals help keep families strong after adoption.

The second chapter is entitled ‘An adoption checklist’ and discusses the things prospective adopters need to think about before adopting a child with potential trauma. It gives a series of questions that prospective adopters should think about and uses real life examples of adopted children’s behaviour to illustrate why the questions are being asked. To me this chapter is a good way to make anyone think about adoption and understand the potential issues.

In the third chapter, the authors discuss how you should prepare for an adopted child arriving in your home. This includes the importance of getting as complete a medical history as you can as well as the need for as much training as possible. They discuss the home study (which is part of foster care adoption in the US as well as UK) as well as the need to not be rigid in your thinking and be prepared to adapt to your child’s needs.

The fourth chapter is all about the potential for secondary trauma or in the authors words ‘trauma is a potentially transferable condition’. The authors discuss how existing relationships between parents, or with other children (birth or adopted) can be strained by the arrival of a traumatised child. They also discuss the need for the ‘right’ therapist who understands adoption and the issues it brings, and also what to do if it really does all go wrong (from an American perspective). This was an interesting chapter for me as I would love to adopt again but my husband is wary having seen the issues it can bring.

In chapter 5, the authors discuss what might happen after placement – how life can change and how to use your knowledge of what your child has been through to understand why they are behaving as they are. They look at how being truthful and honest with your child can be a powerful tool in the parental toolbox.

Chapter 6 addresses the question of blame and highlights the importance of not blaming the child, but remembering the (past) source of the problem and addressing the current situation in light of that knowledge. They also may the interesting point that life books tend to present the birth family with a very positive spin which can make a child wonder why they were ever removed in the first place. This raises the question of how we approach lifestory work and the need to be truthful within the child’s ability to understand.

Chapter 7 is very much addressed at the situation in the USA where even adolescents can and are adopted – but it still have some useful anecdotes and ideas on how to deal with situations that could be relevant to adopted teenagers in the UK. Chapter 8 is entitled ‘The Power of Optimism and Love’ and very much gives balance to what has gone before – it presents a series of stories from adopters and adoptees about what has worked for them as a family. They are a great read and give a very balanced view of adoption which does counteract the view readers may have got from this book up to this point which has much more seemed focussed on the negative/difficult side of adoption.

Chapter 9 again is very much about how adoption is worth it – how much it generally benefits the child. Yes struggles exist but there are many positives from adoption and even if the end result is maybe not what you expected going into the process it can still be a happy positive one. The final chapter is one where adult adoptees talk about how they feel about adoption. It is a real view onto the viewpoint of adoptees and how they see their life.

All in all I found this book a fascinating read and the use throughout of real case histories helps bring home the points the authors are making. It gives a real insight into what it is like to parent a traumatised child and indeed to be that traumatised child. Although the book is written from the American perspective it is one I would recommend to UK adopters and prospective adopters as giving a good viewpoint into adoption. You do need to persevere to get to the positive viewpoint – or do as I did and skip to the last 3 chapters first and then go back and read the book as a whole. There are useful tips and hints scattered throughout some of which I knew already from my reading and others I shall no doubt find myself using with our little boy.

Our second review is from an adoptive parent who wishes to remain anonymous…

When I was asked to review this book and was given the title, I expected it to be focused on post placement strategies for managing challenging behaviour and techniques for keeping parents mentally strong. However, the first half of the book is very much about preparing for adoption and it covers the impact of developmental trauma, questions about whether adoption is right for you, the information you will need to make matching decisions and much more. It gives a very honest view of what to expect when adopting a traumatised child. We are several years post placement and I found the preparation part a really good reminder of where my children have come from and why they were the right match for us.

The book goes on to look at post placement from the view of the child, the difficulty that parents may face with blame, the power of honesty and other challenges like parenting adopted teens. It has a huge number of real examples of challenging behaviours and tricky situations and full explanations of how these were dealt with effectively by real families. The key message is about optimism, whilst acknowledging that not all the struggles will pay off, they are a part of life and its how you face them that makes you stronger. At the end of the book there are a number of stories from adult adoptees about what it feels like to be adopted, their views on their birth family and adoptive parents and how they feel about their lives. They are a powerful insight.

The authors are American and therefore details about the adoption process and the foster care system differ from my experience but are none the less interesting and did not detract from the usefulness of the book in general.

Something I found very refreshing was the frequent references to sexual abuse. As the parent of a sexually abused child I have found it incredibly difficult to find any resources and was pleased for once to have my child’s trauma addressed equally alongside domestic violence and neglect.

Whilst writing this review and looking back at my sticky notes, I have noticed a whole lot more that I overlooked in the first reading and I can see myself returning to this book many times in the future.

Bits I found a bit tricky or challenged my beliefs:

In the section on developmental trauma it suggests that children relinquished by their parents with thoughtful planning and who haven’t suffered in utero or early days conflict or misery have no trauma, ‘we’ll call them the lucky ones’ it says.

The authors disagree with parents apologising for their own behaviour. This is something I’ve seen suggested in other books, where you might say sorry for losing your cool. The book suggests parents are admitting guilt, that they are in the wrong and states that ‘this is definitely not the message you want to give’. I am currently undecided on that one, I have apologised to my children in the past with the intention of repairing and modelling, but I’ve no idea what the impact was.

They also mention another technique I’ve used, ‘I love you but I don’t like your behaviour’. The writer challenges whether your child will understand this concept. If we are what we do then what message does that give?

Bits that made me laugh:

Technique for dealing with personal questions about you or your children ‘It’s none of your ******* business’.

Bits that helped me reflect:

After reading the section on the child’s point of view I thought about how I would feel if the doorbell rang now and a policeman took me to a car and drove me away to a new home, the first of several over several years, never to return or see my family, friends or possessions ever again. Does it make any difference that I am 40 and my child was 5? Do I have more to lose because I’ve known it all for longer? Would I suffer more? Would I have better capacity to deal with it?

Life story work is usually respectful of the birth family. Why is there a need to avoid appearing judgemental? For example a photo of my child and his birth father at his fifth birthday party (fictitious). A lovely family memory? My child’s memory might be more about how he came into the bedroom later that evening and abused him. How confusing would that be for my son that his life story book only referred to his father positively?

View regression with optimism. It’s the process of moving forward for my children. Remember that periods of plain sailing are temporary, acknowledge this to minimise your disappointment later.

Realistic expectations = balanced optimism = ability to provide consistent nurture.

New things I learnt:

A technique called prescribing the symptom, it’s about interrupting your child’s automatic thought and behavioural processes, so if your child likes to have a tantrum every time you need to go out, you would start with ‘I know you always like to have a tantrum before we go anywhere, so please start now so you can get it over with’. The theory is that they won’t want to do what you say and will respond with ‘well I don’t want to have a tantrum today’. You can then go on with ‘ok we are about to get into the car, are you sure you don’t want to have just a little tantrum’. I can see how well this would work with my daughter and how hard she would fight my suggestion whilst I smile and say ‘ok but you just let me know later if you change your mind’.

Derailing conflict by creating a shift in focus. I’ve already used this one, not so much with a conflict but with a situation that I had been trying to manage for several days and was escalating at an alarming rate. Earlier this week tensions were rising about school transitions. Lots of worries were surfacing and conversation was becoming a bit of a feeding frenzy about who had the biggest worry about next year. So I announced a surprise trip to a pizza restaurant, where, between mouthfuls of pizza, we calmly made our way through all 37 transitions worries (hugely helped by a large glass of wine for me). It was as much an effective technique for derailing my thought process as it was for theirs.

Many thanks to both reviewers who received no payment for this review, other than the copies of the book itself. Keeping Your Adoptive Family Strong is available here from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Book review: How Do We Feel About Adoption?

With very many thanks to @adoptingD for this review on How do we feel about adoption? by Regina M. KupeckyKupecky_How-Do-We-Feel_978-1-84905-765-3_colourjpg-print

(D is 8 and with us 6 years, placed at 2y2m. We are a family of 3 and D is very aware of his life story)

Having looked through this book before sharing with D we were anxious about what it might bring up for him but he was very willing to read it with us so we quickly got going with the adoption club. He was a little disappointed that it was fictional characters and one of his first questions was – are these people real so we can join the adoption club?

The characters tell their stories about why they were adopted and while these were varied they did not have reasons of neglect, abuse or birth parent illness so this could possibly be expanded on. Disabilities, siblings, kinship carers and single parents are all mentioned in relation to the adoptive families which can help to open conversations about there being all different types of families – did think that same sex couples seemed to be missing.

The workbook format was great in that questions were asked after smaller chunks of the book rather than all at the end which would have been overwhelming for everyone. D did not want to write in his answers as it seemed too much like homework for him but he really opened up when talking about the answers. The questions were very relevant and were definitely able to give us ways to focus on areas that are difficult to tackle outright. It also felt like we were not badgering him as it was the book asking the questions.

Midway there is a task to draw a pie chart about your feelings surrounding adoption and I think this was the most useful thing we took from the whole book. D was very keen to draw his and was pleased that mum and dad were going to do it too. He was very surprised at the feelings that we put on our charts and again this opened a good discussion about how we were feeling when he moved here. The pie chart showed it’s normal to have many feelings at the one time, that it was ok to be happy and sad about being adopted and that parents have lots of feelings too – not sure this was something D had considered before!

The book is aimed at 5 to 11 year olds but I would think that it’s probably more suitable from around age 7 as it could be a little daunting for younger and they may not get the concept of a pie chart. Parents may find it useful to guide them when talking to a younger child but of course each child’s ability is so different it would be hard to put exact ages on it. I think the book itself is a little expensive at £9.99 but most adoption guides are expensive anyway so it’s no different to the norm.

Overall we found it very positive and do think it’s useful for structuring those difficult conversations. It gives the child something to relate to and can allow them to deflect to how the characters would feel if it gets too overwhelming for them to think about themselves. It is also a tool that could be used again to see if feelings had changed or to revisit areas that had been found difficult. We would recommend tis to others trying to talk more about feelings surrounding adoption.

How Do We Feel About Adoption is part of a series of Adoption Club therapeutic workbooks, all available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers here.

@adoptingD was not paid for this review, but has received a free copy of the book in question.

Review: Facilitating Meaningful Contact in Adoption and Fostering

Today’s review comes from Jo Mitchell, an adoption manager and children’s therapist… and is on Facilitating Meaningful Contact in Adoption and Fostering, by Louis Sydney and Elsie Price.

Sydney-Price-Ad_Facilitating-Me_978-1-84905-508-6_colourjpg-printThis is a very comprehensive read which I felt was written in a concise, accessible and easy format that would be beneficial to social workers, foster carers, birth parents and adopters.

It starts out by tackling some of the consistent difficulties faced by all parties in adoption which upon first reading I was worried that the book may not then go on to address how we may take a different look at contact and it’s meaningfulness.

Of course I was heartened to be very wrong about this. Although the book is not definitive in saying whether contact is right or wrong, it provides a wealth of research that they carefully link with the promotion of creative and news ways to think about contact embedded in research and therapeutic intervention.

An ongoing issue in contact is the drawing up of such arrangements during what is a hugely emotive time where children become almost like ping pongs between the opposing sides and because someone once said it, plans are drawn up for toing and froing between different families that would make a well regulated adult’s head spin.

Although this book is considering in the main contact post permanency placement, it’s content, reference to research and links to theraplay for example in contact have the potential to play a hugely important role in the much earlier stages of contact. The implementation of their well thought out and considered ideas could where possible have significant benefits for children who have developmental trauma.

The case study on Page 100 (Steven) is a clear example where much better information could have been provided to Steven and his adoptive family much earlier in his life. The context of knowing this information about his birth mother latterly was a crucial and significant part of the story that had been missing for so long. It is testament to his adopters that their support and openness to knowing Steven’s birth mothers story was a vital part of her history that enabled Steven to gain a much better picture of his birth mum and therefore an improved understanding as to why her life deteriorated to the stage where she was unable to care for Steven appropriately. Sadly such information and on occasion a willingness to understand this can eventually lead to a placement struggling to survive the trauma that is played out by children who experience such early life adversity.

One of the areas of the book, which I found to be most useful and thought provoking, was the idea of video messages. Although Skype and face time are a common consideration of late in contacts, the concept behind a video message I found was a very powerful one. My own reservations about Skype and Face time are the use of this at times with very young children who are not able to understand fully how it can be that a person who they know is effectively inside a box and the impact of this, where are they etc?

The case study of Jodie on Page 10 was fascinating and the skill of the worker and the openness of the adopters, kept Jodie central to the decision making and their creativity in “adjusting” the context of contact enabled both Jodie and her birth mother to gain more from one another through a series of questions and a video message that continued direct contact was unlikely to achieve.

The layout of the book made it a very easy and accessible read to. There was a general acknowledgement of ongoing difficulties in contact, the pressures on local authorities to put contact plans together and a vast range of case studies that made this seem so much more real.

What was most refreshing was that within the book it consistently provided ideas, ways and paths through what is an undoubtedly contentious and fragile area of children and families lives. An excellent point that was raised was the rationale behind letterbox contact. All too often we have postbox files where either the birth parents or the adopters haven’t written, some since the beginning, and an often “roll of the tongue” approach is to say to the party still willing to write that it is best in the long run for you to write. What this book does very cleverly and without apportioning any blame is to urge you to consider that contact should be fluid from the outset. It asks us to think about who should be involved in making contact plans, who is best placed to put this together and who is there now and in the future to support those involved in plans for contact.

The reference to their work with birth parents begs the question as to why so often there is absolutely no service for birth families beyond the adoption order.

This book has given such food for thought in terms of what we do now and in the future and whether if we just stop to think more carefully and considered at contact. If we no longer see this as the tick box exercise it so often sadly becomes, then we have the opportunity to consider the true shape that contact needs to be for every individual child, potentially improving at every stage, every change, every review a plan that facilities, enables and enhances the lives of the children and the very centre of such planning.

This review is Jo’s own opinion of the book. We have not made any payment in respect of this post, however Jo has been able to keep the book reviewed.

Facilitating Meaningful Contact in Adoption and Fostering is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and available from their website.

Book review: A Place in My Heart

untitled (3)I was recently sent A Place in My Heart by Mary Grossnickle. It’s an illustrated book for adopted children aged 2-5 that addresses birth parents and transcultural adoption.

Charlie the Chipmunk is different to the rest of his family – he looks different, he’s smaller and his tail is different. Charlie is adopted, his adoptive family are squirrels, and he loves his mother to explain how he became part of his family.

One night Charlie realises that adoption means he has another set of parents – his birth mother and birth father. He sits and thinks about this for a long time, and the following day is spent wondering about what his birth family are like – what their names are, whether they are famous. Charlie doesn’t feel like playing, and instead he bites his brother, and spills his lunch.

Charlie’s mum sees that Charlie is struggling and does a little wondering of her own – perhaps Charlie has been thinking about his birth parents? She reassures him that it’s OK, and that they are probably thinking of him too.

Together Charlie and his mum explore hearts and love, and again, mum explains and reassures that it’s OK to have space in his heart for his birth mother and birth father. Feeling happier, Charlie runs outside to play with his family again.

I shared this hardback book with my 4 year old birth daughter who hears the word ‘adoption’ a lot, and know that her brother is adopted. It’s pitched just right for her and she LOVED the illustrations (by Alison Relyea-Parr). She has a simplistic view of adoption, but this book helped her understand that her brother has another set of parents out there, and that it’s OK for him to talk and care about them.
And at a time when she’s quite interested in who she looks like and why, it gently explained why her brother looks different to the rest of us.

My son is now 8, so this book is a little young for him, but I think if we’d had this book when he was young, he would have enjoyed the story even though he probably wouldn’t have related to the character. It explores big feelings that he wouldn’t have been able to acknowledge when younger.

A Place in My Heart is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers at £9.99.

Today’s review is by Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour. If you have a book, movie, tv programme or training course review that you’d like to share, please drop us a line at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com.

Book review: Keeping The Little Blighters Busy

This week I’m sharing a review of a book that is simply about occupying the children – not adoption related, but I hope it’ll be helpful never the less. (Oh, but you’ll notice that the author is an adoptive mum, which I didn’t know til I re-read the introduction for this review!).

It’s no secret that I like to have lots of activities to hand for the holidays. I use Pinterest (a LOT), I’ve used the great book How to get your children offline, outdoors and connecting with nature  and I have so many craft materials, Hobbycraft would be jealous.
So when my mother in law showed me a few suggestions of books that were along similar lines as How to get your children offline, I was keen to check them out.

CYMERA_20140804_210229Claire Potter’s Keeping The Little Blighters Busy is a wonderfully refreshing and original book of 50 things to do with your kids (before they’re 12 3/4). As much as Pinterest is fab, the pins are often the same project that’s been shared and reshared, with different interpretations of the original idea. This book is completely different, with new ideas, not variations on older projects.

The humorous title drew me in, as did the lovely Quentin Blake style illustrations. And the activities within don’t disappoint.

The book is separated into 10 categories – from Food Dudes to Chinwaggers, Hidden Treasure to Spicing up Everyday Life. And then the activities within include Jam Tart tray dinner, Ice-cubes in the bath, The wall of foam, The Unscary Scarecrow, Lickety Wallpaper, The straight line walk, An ‘unsensible’ pair of shoes and Lucky dip cooking. Each activity gives a rough age range that it would be suitable for, the whole book is aimed at approx. 3-13 year olds.

A few immediately caught my eye…
It’s Gone All Mouldy is a fungus farm project that I know Mini will love. Putting food in jars then purposely letting them go off!
The Witch’s Larder will suit my two down to the ground. Clearing out my larder is a boring (for them) job that takes me away from doing fun stuff with them – but how about getting them to rename the pots and tins that you put back into the cupboard? Mini’s already re-named the honey as ‘Bee Sick’, so I know he’ll be up for this.
Shruken Heads is in the festive section as a Hallowe’en activity, but I’m pretty sure we could do this any time of the year – turning apples into spooky hangings.

I found all the instructions to be clear and concise, with a bit of humour and mischief along the way. And in many of the activities the tips and twists are as good as the activity itself. There’s no gender stereo-typing. Even the husband agreed that he’d be able to enjoy some of these with the children…high praise indeed.

So, a great book to have to hand, helping you avoid the overcrowded soft play centre, or jostling for a good spot on the beach. Each activity is inexpensive, tried out on real children, and turns everyday routines and jobs into mini adventures. At £5.99 I think it’s a real steal too.

Today’s review was written by Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour, the book was paid for in full by her, and this review is her honest opinion. 

Book recommendations for older sibling

Today’s problem comes from an adoptive mum who wants to provide support to a new adoptive family…can you help?

A friend of mine (we met at an activity day where my husband and I found our daughter) has a books7 year old birth son and is currently in the midst of introductions with her 4 year old adopted son.

I want to help reduce the concerns and worries she and her husband have about their birth son and the huge transition this will be for him.

I was just looking for any book recommendations that they could use with their birth son to help explore his feelings and understanding of everything.

I have identified ‘Oh Brother’ already but any further books and/or advice would be great.

Book review: Let’s Cook Together

Today’s review by Vicki is a little biased…you’ll see why…

Let’s Cook Together is a recipe book published by Adoption UK. It includes 30 recipes, which have been submitted by Adoption UK staff, famous adoptees and adoptive parents, and a few adoption bloggers – including Sally Donovan, and The Adoption Social’s Sarah (The Puffin Diaries) and Vicki (The Boy’s Behaviour).IMG_20140430_195439

The important thing about this book, apart from all the fab recipes included, is that proceeds from the sale of it will be used by Adoption UK to ‘help build brighter futures for children unable to live with their birth parents’. And at just £4.95 who could resist?

The recipes are divided into four main areas – Mains, Desserts, Snack and light bites & Bakes and treats. So far I’ve tried the Apple, Pear and Raspberry Crumble, which is easy to follow and completely delicious, Toby’s Tasty Tikka Snack, which is gorgeous but simple, and my own Marshmallow Pops. But there are several more that very much appeal, and the children can’t wait to make the Rolo-Pretzel Turtles.

What I really like about this simple paper-backed A5 size book is that all the recipes are simple to follow, they’ve all been tested (and photographed beautifully) and there are many that will appeal to children including some they can get involved with making.

It’s well worth the fiver.

Available from www.adoptionuk.org

Book review: Adopted Like Me – My Book of Adopted Heroes

Today’s review comes from Vicki of The Boy’s Behaviour. Take a look at Adopted Like Me with her…CYMERA_20140423_203518

I recently received a copy of Adopted Like Me, by Ann Angel, illustrated by Mark Thomas. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. The information that comes with the book suggests it’s for children aged 8 upwards who’ve been adopted, their parents, teachers and siblings.
It’s a hard backed book with sleeve, 48 pages long, with gentle, soft looking illustrations.

Mini’s 7 and a few months, so not too far behind the suggested age, and so we sat down together to have a look…

The initial page, explaining a bit about how families come together is great. It explains enough about ways families become blended, without giving too much, there’s even a little explanation of closed adoptions and open adoptions. Mini seemed a little interested, but as we have a blended family ourselves (Mini’s adopted, Dollop is our birth daughter) and Mini knows a little of his past, it wasn’t anything new to him.

The premise of the book is that many famous and inspirational people were adopted too, and that you can grow up to be just about anything you want to be. This last part is a message we promote to both of our children – not adoption specific, to give our children confidence, hopes, dreams, and the ability to look forward.

As Mini started to look through the book, he could see the many wonderful careers that these people had and have. But I don’t think it’s ever entered his head that he couldn’t do any of those things because he’s adopted; I don’t think it’s ever entered his head that he couldn’t do any of those things at all.
In addition, he had never heard of most of the people included in the book and so didn’t find it particularly interesting or inspiring. None of them are likely to become his heroes. At 7, he still wants to be a cowboy, and he firmly believes that is what he’ll be…oh, and a daddy!

I personally found it very interesting to read about so many different people and their backgrounds and lives, but I would definitely suggest it’s probably for children at least age 10 plus, and particularly those who are lacking in self-confidence or having doubts about their abilities.

If you’d like to buy the book, it’s available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers at £11.99.

Book review: Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of “Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation: How Children (and Frogs, Dogs, Flamingos and Dragons) Can Use Yoga Relaxation to Help Deal with Stress, Grief, Bullying and Lack of Confidence”. It’s a wonderful book designed to help children deal with difficult issues using yoga relaxation.  The book is beautifully written; there is a delightful hint of humour that in no way overshadows the important and sensitive issues in the book.Ladybird's Remarkable Relaxation

The central piece is the story of the four characters: Frog, Dog, Flamingo and Dragon who all have individual problems and anxieties.  They meet Ladybird who, through a relaxation exercise, helps them to understand and find strength to overcome their issues.

Within the story is a yoga relaxation exercise that can be used on its own, anywhere, anytime.  I did this relaxation several times with my six year old daughter and she loved it.  You can tailor the script slightly using your own words, for example my daughter was very fidgety on one occasion so I added a few more words in about the Ladybird enjoying sitting on a still and calm little girl.

For those unfamiliar with yoga relaxation techniques, the author explains in very simple terms how to use the book.  What I like is that this can tailored for all age groups, perhaps changing the problems of the characters slightly to suit the children you are working with, whilst the relaxation exercise can be taught in different ways too.   I even used it for myself when I woke early one morning and couldn’t get back to sleep!

Today’s review was written by @adoptingsezz. She has not been paid for the review, although has received the book for free in return for an honest review.