Adoption Conversations: What, when and how to tell.

Author:Macrae, Sheena
Position:Book review
 
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Adoption Conversations: What, when and how to tell Renee Wolfs BAAF 2008 242 pages 12.95 [pounds sterling]

For adoptive parents and adoption practitioners alike, opening the dialogue to 'talk adoption' with adopted children can be complicated. Especially for adoptive parents, emotions, a desire to protect the children from past hurts and even parental 'baggage' about the children's lives pre-adoption may unhelpfully intervene. Renee Wolfs's book is therefore a most desirable tool for adoptive parents and practitioners, covering just about every age, stage and type of adoption conversation that preteen adoptees may need and which, implicitly or explicitly, the children may demand that we join.

Wolfs is a communicator by profession and an experienced adoptive mother of children adopted from abroad, so a refreshing plus is that the book is designed for 'adoption conversations' that pertain to both domestic and intercountry adoptive families. This author expertise will be welcomed by the intercountry adoption community for whom there are few accessible parenting manuals.

Adoption Conversations is a comprehensive distillation of the work of many adoption experts, yet very much presents a personal overview of the key areas to cover when looking at the questions to be asked and answered in adoption conversations with adopted children. For those concerned that a book written 'simply' by an adoptive parent for adoptive parents may be light on research, Wolfs includes a useful bibliography as well as citations from authoritative adoption practitioners and academics. These buffer practical 'snapshot scenarios' by the author and other adoptive parents that highlight the issues under discussion. However, parents and practitioners would probably have been served better by more direct on-the-page references to the body of writing and research that underpins how the book is structured. Without this, it risks being seen as 'merely' one parent's view and not the helpful expert-referenced tool it is.

Is this a book to dip into in a crisis or one to read and digest? How should users tackle it? Wolfs suggests that initially the whole book should be read--but beyond that it is designed as a guide to pull out when parenting 'around' difficult adoption conversations that leave adopters gasping for a friendly hand. There are eight major chapters. These cover parents' and children's experiences of adoption, 'telling about being adopted', handling difficult...

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