Books for first adoption discussion

A few months ago, Jon’s “girlfriend” at pre-school remarked that “Jon was darker than his daddy”, which prompted us to get ready for a discussion about Jon’s adoption.   We have been open with him — Jon has seen pictures of his foster family, of his sister, and has met a number of fellow Guatemalan adoptees.  However, it was time to explain how we became a family.  My wife found a number of books on Amazon; these two have worked best for us:

  • A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza — An instant favorite with Jon and the first we used.  Choco is an orphaned bird looking for a mother who will look like him in some way.  It is only when Mrs. Bear asks him “If you had a mommy, what would she do?” that Choco comes to realize that family is about fun, love, and compassion.
  • Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove — My wife read this to Jon for the first time last night.  He asked to keep it in his bed (next to the truck book, of course).  Rosie’s Family is the story of a beagle adopted by schnauzers (we’re probably biased by the dog theme).  It is very straightforward about difficult questions — Are you my “real” parents?  Why did my birth parents let me go?  Where did I live before?

Our limited experience is that the books that focus on the feelings of the parents and children are the most effective.  Some books are very specific about the people, places, and things of the adoption.  For example, they discuss going to the hospital, or talk about plane rides, and still others imply domestic adoption.  Choco and Rosie’s Family  don’t introduce plot elements that might confuse the child, especially during early discussions.  Besides, we have plenty of pictures and stories to tell Jon the real details when he’s ready.

Adoption and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome screening

A personal post…  Many of my readers know that we brought our son home from Guatemala almost three years ago.  This Science News article on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (here) reminded me of one of the most stressful times in the adoption process — checking to see if Jon was healthy. 

Sadly, many babies have been afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Russia is the most infamous for this problem in children, though it is common in many other countries.  Regardless of all the warnings received from agencies and social workers, adoptive parents inevitably become very vulnerable once they get in-country to bring home their child.  You’ve waited months and years to bring home a child and the anticipation is almost painful.  FAS or other chronic illnesses are especially devastating to first-time parents, who will struggle enough with the joys and challenges of raising a child.

Luckily, we had a local resource — Dr. Boris Skurkovich at Hasbro Children’s Hospital (http://adoptionsinternational.com/) — who specializes in reviewing medical records, photos, and videos for any hint of potential issues.  The International Adoption Clinic is a great resource even after you bring your child home.

However, even Dr. Skurkovich can’t help with the latest trick, scam, fraud, etc.  Now we’ve heard of cases where parents are shown a picture of one child.  When they get in-country, the child they asked to bring home looks just a bit different and just a bit sicker.  Of course, that’s because the child is different and is sicker.  But how do you say “No”?

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