“Forever Fingerprints”–A Legacy

eldridge.fingerprintThe wonderful adoption classic, Forever Fingerprints by Sherrie Eldridge is being reissued by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. An adoptee and a staunch advocate for adoptive families writes, who LIVES the adoption journey, Sherrie connects with adoptees’ hearts and validates their experience. Forever Fingerprints, a picture book serves a younger audience than Sherrie’s other books. Behind its simple story line, Forever Fingerprints models adoption-attuned* relationships. It speaks to child and parent. As an adoption coach as well as an adoptive parent, I know it is important for parents to clearly establish that adoption is a suitable topic for family discussion. While this may seem obvious, to children it is not. In the absence of expressed permission, kids will assume that adoptions conversations are off limits. They will fear that it might hurt their (adoptive) parents if they talk about their concerns, mixed feelings and sharing their thoughts about their birth parents. And so, many wrestle with heavy worries weighing down their hearts. Forever Fingerprints is an easy and enjoyable way for parents to talk about some of the “hard stuff” of adoption.


forever fingerprints 2Forever Fingerprints, captures a common moment in an adoptee’s life—being blindsided by a routine event that triggers a young girl’s awareness of loss or difference which results from being adopted. Specifically, Lucy discovers that her aunt is pregnant. Lucy is tickled to discover she can feel the baby move when she taps her aunt’s stomach. It is easy to see how this leads Lucy to wonder about her own birth mother. This story helps reassure Lucy that like all children, she too, was nurtured inside her birth mother’s body. And, just like other babies, she was born. Research has shown that many adoptees experience confusion around their origins. Some even imagine they were “hatched” or arrived by airplane. Forever Fingerprints presents offers a teaching moment that helps normalizes Lucy’s own origins. Parents can ask their children to share their ideas of their own birth. (Be prepared to be surprised by what they think!) I like how Eldridge has used fingerprints to establish both the child’s uniqueness as well as her connection to her birth parents.


I have shared this book with children who have no information about their birth parents and no possibility of communicating with them at adulthood. These children still have curiosity about and longing for connecting with their roots. They feel the weight of this void. Having the fingerprint link assisted them in feeling that they had a permanent reflection of their birth parents. In Forever Fingerprints, Lucy’s mother is attuned to her daughter’s roller-coaster emotions. Mom validates Lucy’s feelings and helps her to see several ways in which her birth parents exist within Lucy. This serves as a wonderful model for both parent and child readers. Parents have an example of how to handle the situations. Children have an example that it is both safe and reasonable to have questions and feelings. I recommend this book because it helps both parent and child. Families can easily replicate the fingerprinting activity.

fingerprint tree

On one of our GIFT Family Services retreats, we completed a similar project—a fingerprint tree. (View our creation at left.) Although very simple, we were all touched by the experience as we could see how each of our fingerprints enhanced the beauty of the tree. This is a wonderful metaphor for the value of difference. How boring life would be if we were all the same! Even the “finger paint” cover art supports the metaphor. Remember how much fun it was to slide your fingers through the cool, squishy colors? Why not join your children in creating a fingerpaint drawing? Perhaps it can be the cover for your child’s life book. “Forever Fingerprints” is available for preorder. Jessica Kingsley Publishers officially launches this new issue on Oct. 21, 2014. It will be available in both hardcover and Kindle formats.

sherry Eldridge

Sherrie Eldridge    Amazon Author page      Sherrie’s Website     Eldridge.20 things adoptees wish  Eldridge 20 things ... parents succeed Eldrdige Twenty ... Choices Eldridge Questions adoptees AskEldridge.Under His Wings

*Adoption-attunement—AQ—considers how adoption influences a child and includes:

  • Adoption-sensitive parenting techniques
  • Sound adoption language
  • Knowledge of the attachment process
  • Consideration of grief and loss issues
  • Respect for birth parents
  • Modeling healthy boundaries
  • Educating family, friends and teachers on adoption
  • Remembering that a child’s story belongs to him
  • Recognizing that adoption is a family experience
  • Encouraging playfulness and good humor as a family value
  • Integrating a child’s birth heritage


“A Place in My Heart” — an Adoption Truth

place in my heart As an adoptive parent and now as an adoption coach, I search for books that support adopted children and help them learn how adoption influences their lives. Many books have been written on the subject. How does a family identify the best books– especially those that address adoption from the child’s point of view.

Mary Grossnickle’s sweet story, “A Place in My Heart, is one great example of a story that validates the adopted child’s point of view. Charlie–a chipmunk adopted into a family of squirrels wrestles with the differences in their appearance. Adoptees commonly feel like they don’t quite fit so they will easily identify with Charlie’s struggle. He’s an endearing character, full of mischief and curiosity. His mother recognizes  the stress factors  that challenge Charlie and she responds in a supportive and adoption-attuned manner.  Parents also can identify with Charlie’s desire to be reassured that he holds a special spot in the hearts of those he loves. We all share this need for connection. This is especially true for adopted children which is why kids will respond to Charlie’s situation.

Mommy overtly acknowledges and encourages his thoughts and feelings for his birth parents. This helps helps Charlie to work through them. Charlie learns that he doesn’t need to hide or deny his feelings. Charlie doesn’t have to choose one  over the other; he doesn’t have to worry about being disloyal  or hurtful to his adoptive parents. Their hearts are large enough to hold  all of the people Charlie loves and all of the people who love Charlie. Mom designs a craft project so Charlie can own the important people in his life and place them in his heart. Together they realize that there is always room for loving relationships.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and in the important message of understanding acceptance and validation that it conveys. Alison Relyea-Parr’s pastel illustrations have a gentle, dream-like quality that reinforce the comforting tone of the book. Readers will want to duplicate the “Place in my heart” activity. Jessica Kingsley Publishers has presented us with another excellent book.

10 Awesome Reasons for Reading As a Family


Afro-American family reading a book in the living-room

10. Children learn language from hearing it spoken. Seems rather obvious, but this doesn’t make it any less true. The more words children hear, the more they know and understand. Changes in pace, inflection and tone help to set words apart so children can hear and understand them more efficiently.


9. Reading often means reading repeatedly. Again, this helps to reinforce and accelerate learning and comprehension. This is an essential foundation for literacy, an important life skill.


8. When you spend time reading together, kids learn that you value reading. This sets a great model for them to follow and lays the groundwork for a lifetime reading habit.


7. Your reading selections will reveal and teach your values. Choose stories that enlarge your child’s understanding of his world and his importance in it.


6. Read stories that show children facing a variety of situations and reveal many different solutions. This will expand your children’s problem solving skills, will encourage a willingness to risk failure and learn his way to success and mastery.


5. Share stories that reveal the depth of his cultural heritage as well as that of other people. Find stories that depict images that allow him to see himself reflected in the pictures as well as the content. This will enhance his understanding of his roots, his family, and himself.


4. Expose your child to stories that explore many cultures from around the world. Help him to grow into an empathetic, caring global citizen.


3. Read for fun. Find books that entertain and tickle the funny bone. It is essential to spend time having fun as a family and good books is one great way to do that.

2. Your time and attention are an essential priority to your children. When you interrupt your “To Do” list to share a book with your child, they get a clear message that they are important to you.


Drum roll please. And the TOP reason for reading together as a family is …


1. A good book shared in a parent’s lap creates a sensory memory—of being close, connected, and shared experiences. Relationships and attachment are strengthened in these shared, pleasant moments. They are the building blocks of family life, of a family’s history together. Positive experiences build resilience and help to rset the negative hits of daily challenges. Read, laugh and love as a family.






Ooops–an Oops-ortunity to Embrace the Beauty of the Unexpected

  beautiful oops posterBeautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg is a charming picture book that will delight readers of all ages. Its message resonates on many levels: mistakes offer unexpected opportunities to look at things with a fresh perspective. On the surface, the story is about seeing the art within an “error.” A spill becomes a snuggle of puppies. A smudge morphs into fish, etc. A tear, a fold, a drip, a scrap—all hold hidden possibilities of beauty and joy.

This secret gift, though less obvious, is more powerful because of the surprise. By pausing to explore beyond first impressions, as if by magic is beauty, laughter and surprise are revealed.
As a coach who works with adoptive families, I see another layer of meaning, one that is deeper and more important. Our kids often feel like a “mistake.” In their young hearts, they hear that their birthparents could not make space for them. (Kids often don’t “hear” that adult problems and lack of skills and resources are the pivot points, even when they are told this repeatedly. Instead, kids focus on themselves as being the problem.
When I read Beautiful Oops, I saw it as a wonderful metaphor for reframing, for helping kids see that the unexpected, unplanned or different, may in fact, be quite beautiful. Families have a chance to embrace this way of thinking in daily living. Parents can look for opportunities to highlight the gap between what was expected and what actually resulted: an off-center, candid photo can capture more truth than a perfectly staged shot; a meal may not look like the picture in the cookbook but still tastes delicious.

Kids study parents’ responses to such circumstances. This is how children learn to face situations in their own lives. Parents show them how to embrace the unexpected, laugh at errors and learn from shortfalls. Life is about learning, not perfection. Life—and more importantly, love– is forgiving, understanding, imperfect, and unconditional.

Feelings: Naming, Sharing, and Recognizing Emotions


Glad Monster.EmberleyAs parents, we focus lots of time and energy towards helping our children grow physically and academically.  We want our kids to be well and to do well. Emotional literacy is another important life skill that needs to be taught.

While this is not a common word floating around in our minds, it is a priority that benefits from intentional effort. All children must learn how to manage their emotions. The first step in managing feelings is to accurately identify them. This is more complicated than one might think.

Kids often mislabel their feelings. Frequently they express their fear or embarrassment as anger. When asked why they are so angry, often they are unable to answer. They may truly not know. By helping them learn to distinguish one emotion from another, we assist them in finding a way to respond appropriately to the need generated by the emotion in the first place.

Kids are challenged not only by mislabeling their emotions but also by an inability to read the body language cues of others. Whether it is an adult’s raised eyebrow or another child’s hands on hips, often times kids are completely clueless to the silent message such body postures convey. So, what is a parent to do?

Reading an engaging book together is often a great place to start. For kids 2-6, consider the fun book “Glad Monster, Sad Monster” by Ed Emberley and Ann Miranda. Part story, part toy, it is a book unlike any other I’ve come across. Told in clipped phrases, each page folds out to reveal a wonderful mask that embodies the feeling being described. Children can “practice” the emotions. (What kid doesn’t love hamming it up?)  As they demonstrate the feeling, kids can tell parents about the things that trigger emotions in themselves. Emberley’s vivid, signature illustrations match the intensity of a child’s big emotions.

Feelings to shareFive to nine-year-olds will enjoy “Feelings to Share from A to Z,” written by Todd and Peggy Snow, illustrated by Carrie Hartman. This is another winning approach to an important skill set. The illustrations are hysterical—and multicultural. There’s an alphabet’s worth of emotional range here. This book also leads to easy conversation that accomplishes important teaching moments.

Remember, kids learn best when they are engaged and having fun. Follow reading with a game. Here are some examples. Make faces and have children guess the feelings they express. Take pictures and turn them into cards that you can use to create a matching game. Use puppet play to further explore feelings.

When kids feel connected, heard, and able to share their feelings their ability to self-regulate improves. This emotional literacy helps strengthen attachments and improve recognition of attachment styles.  They are also more inclined to care about learning family values and guidelines. We all benefit from healthy attachments, especially in the context of adoptive families.