In the early days of Mini’s placement with us, we did little gentle bits of work with him about different family make-ups. We used several children’s books to introduce the ideas of adoption and living with people who look different, but then when he started to have some issues around difference, specifically between himself and our birth daughter, we were advised to pull back on this, and just answer questions when they arose.
Just recently Mini’s been talking a little more about adoption and families and so I was pleased to receive a copy of Anne Braff Brodzinsky’s Can I tell you about Adoption? This is a recently published guide for friends, family and professionals, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. It follows the story of Chelsea and two of her friends who have been transracially adopted, and is billed as a tool for encouraging discussions for families, teachers and professionals working with adopted children.
After having a very very quick read to myself the day it arrived, I put it to one side whilst I got the children ready for bed.
“What’s that?” asks Mini.
“Oh just a book that came in the post, do you want to try to read the title?” I warily say.
“It says Can I tell you about Adoption? mummy, can we look at it?”
“Of course sweetheart”. Now at this point I’m wondering whether it’s really the right time to read this, is it going to cause problems with bedtime? Will he stay awake with worry? But he’s asked, and I said yes, so we do…
What I found great as a parent is the way that this book is so clear, but feels like it’s written in the voice of a child. It meant that Mini could understand the language, enjoyed some of the images, and he could identify with it. At 6 (but 7 soon he reminds me), he’s perhaps a little younger than the range this book is aimed at (the back of the book says 7+) but as we read through the story – as told by the character Chelsea – it opened up some conversations and Mini asked questions that were appropriate and interesting, and in a way I suppose it gave him permission to ask us questions that have obviously played on his mind, but he’s perhaps felt unable to talk through with us before. I’d like to think that the book has prompted him, but that his increasing maturity has played a part in the careful wording of his questions.
Another aspect of this book that I found interesting and helpful is the challenge that the main character presents to the child – that of becoming an adoption ambassador and spreading the word. For Mini to do this would mean telling others that he is adopted and I don’t think he’s ready for that yet, anything that would single him out as different would be a source of embarrassment and shame for him, but we talked about helping other children and people understand more about adoption and he said it’s something he’d like to do when he’s older. So again, it’s opened up something for us to talk about that I might not have been able to easily do before.
I have no doubt that we will read this book again and again, and I hope that each time Mini feels just a little bit more comfortable about asking us more detailed questions. And I’d certainly recommend it as a great conversation starter for adults if they’re unsure where to start.
Can I tell you about Adoption? is available via Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Disclaimer: We received this book for free in return for an honest review.