Big Steps for Little People: Parenting your adopted child.

Author:Brown, Julia
Position:Book review
 
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Big Steps for Little People: Parenting your adopted child

Celia Foster (2008) Jessica Kingsley Publishers 216 pages 12.99 [pounds sterling]

Celia Foster has produced a book that is likely to top any adoptive parent's list of useful publications and will also prove extremely useful for professionals involved in helping or preparing adopters for the task of parenting.

It sets out to provide an 'insider's guide' to parenting adopted children, 'drawing on the hard-won wisdom gained through her own experience of the adoption process and beyond' (cover note). Celia Foster tells how she and her husband, Chris, adopted their two sons, aged seven-and-a-half and nearly six at the time of placement. The anecdotes she shares take the reader through the highs and lows of becoming a family, the immediacy of her experience shining through, and striking a chord with any adoptive parent or professional who has ever dealt with neglected and emotionally harmed children. She adds the benefit of hindsight, reflection and her subsequent learning to provide a really comprehensive insight into the behaviours typical of such adopted children, and suggests a toolbox brim full of strategies to assist in dealing with them.

The excellent forewords to this book, written by David Howe and Dan Hughes, are glowing in their endorsements, highlighting the book as 'not so much a story of adopting two young boys ... but more about how Celia and her husband ... faced and dealt with the challenge and joy of parenting two brothers who arrived with so many needs' (Howe, p 11). The author pulls no punches in describing their family life 'with unflinching clarity' and with 'great honesty and humour' (Howe, p 11), leaving the reader encouraged and inspired by the hard-won successes achieved through their empathic and creative parenting.

Dan Hughes rightly describes this book as 'a treasure for foster and adoptive parents and professionals who work to assist them' (p 13), and the 'jewels' within include the 'loving step', 'dumping sessions', 'time in' and the various charts ('o'meters') for measuring self-esteem, feelings, safety and effort. The author 'integrates knowledge about both the "fire fighting" and the "underlying issues" which need to be present if the interventions are to be helpful and lasting' (Hughes, p 13). She describes, in helpful detail, the various ingenious ways in which she and her husband help their sons to discover their strengths and...

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