(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.