Preparing for Adoption
Publisher Website: http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781849054560
Published: Oct 21 2014
As someone who very recently adopted, books about adoption and the adoption process have been high on my reading list these past couple of years. Some have been good, some not so good, and some just good on one specific aspect of the process or of being an adoptive parent. One thing that was seemingly missing from the literature was a straightforward book about the period between being ‘matched’ and your child/children moving in. I certainly looked high and wide for anything that would make the ‘introductions’ process clearer, whether book or article, and have to admit I didn’t find much that helped me personally.
As a result I was interested to read Julia Davis’ new book, Preparing for Adoption, as it seemed that it might be a candidate to fill that void, even if it possibly came a few months too late for me and my partner.
The book sets out to provide prospective adopters with a framework to navigate the introductions process and beyond and to make sure they do so in an attachment focused way. To that end the opening chapters discuss the ideas around attachment theory, trauma and loss and how adverse experiences may have impacted on your child’s development and understanding of the world. As a prospective adopter you will no doubt be familiar with these concepts and ideas by the time matching occurs, but a brief reminder here is no bad thing, especially as it gives context to the rest of the book.
The book then goes on to discuss the preparations for the child joining your family: yours, your family and friends, and of course the child’s, as well as how to marshall your thoughts and actions in relation to attachment and trauma to try and make it easier for you to meet your child’s specific attachment needs. It stresses how important it is to know and try to understand as much of your child’s history as possible and to learn to use that history as a positive in the process of creating a sense of safety for your child in your home and family.
It’s great stuff. Davis is a Child and Family Therapist at independent voluntary adoption agency Adoptionplus, who in addition to adoption placement also offer specialist therapy services and training. It is clear that she is bringing her own experiences to the table in this book.
What this book really gets right, is that, whilst at times prospective adopters can get a bit overwhelmed by the process, books on the subject do not need to add to that feeling. Davis tackles each stage in a practical way by stating what possible issues they are, by providing real life examples – stories of children and adoptive parents, and then by identifying an appropriate attachment based solution.
Davis also recognises that when you are in the process as a prospective adopter you can become a bit brain dead and unable to organise your thoughts in a totally coherent manner, especially when it come to knowing what questions, or types of questions you should be asking at different levels of the process. To this end, Davis provides a number of useful checklists / types of question you should be asking foster carers, social workers, and other people that have had a role in your child’s life to allow you to get as complete a picture of your child as you can. Most of these are obvious when you read them on the page, but believe me, even thinking of obvious questions can become challenging when you’re actually involved in the process. Similarly it provides a great overview of the type of things a child’s Life Book should contain and how best to approach using it with your child.
Similarly, I also really liked the What am I really thinking? section, where she stresses the importance that potential adopters don’t ignore or feel bad about some things during introductions ,whether it be though the awkwardness of sitting in someone else’s home – foster carers – as you try and bond with your child, wondering if they’re judging your every move, or just being worried that you don’t ‘love’ your child on sight.
As a newcomer to the role of adoptive parent I partly wished I’d had this book six months ago. That said, I still found it useful and for anyone who has been approved or is already in the matching process this should be on your must read list. Practical, readable, wonderful: Davis has written an excellent book, indeed it’s one of the best books on any aspect of adoption I’ve read. It’s succinct and too the point without ever watering down its key messages. Ideal reading for prospective adopters and adoption team social workers alike. Highly recommended.