Enjoying the Magic of Invention and Self-discovery

Rosie revereAndrea Beaty has created a spunky heroine in Rosie Revere, EngineerBehind the shrinking violet who fades into the background at school, Rosie is a visionary with big dreams of becoming a “great engineer” and the talent to match. She creates inventions from her vast collection of found “stuff.” Rosie Revere, Engineer does a fabulous job of capturing a young child’s creative delight and the immense pleasure they enjoy in sharing their creations with the people they love. (How many times have you heard a child chime, “Look what I made!” Remember their exuberance, their pride, their need to have your acknowledgement?)

As a young tot, Rosie proudly shares her inventions with family until the dreaded day that her uncle–gasp–laughs at her masterpiece. Rosie feels judged and belittled by his laughter. Despite Uncle’s reassurances to the contrary, she believes he’s laughing at her. In typical child-fashion, she generalizes from this one experience, is convinced she lacks talent, and is devastated. Fortunately, her drive to create is untamed but she decides not to share her inventions anymore.

“After that day [Rosie] kept her dreams to herself.” She’s lost her spark and sits in her classroom “not daring to speak.” Rosie hides her creations  until her namesake, great-great aunt Rose appears on the scene.(Adults will recognize her as an echo of Rosie the Riveter a cultural icon of World War II fame.) The two are kindred spirits. The elderly aunt confesses that she has an unfulfilled dream: to fly. Her aunt’s admission rekindles Rosie’s courage and confidence in her ingenious inventions. Although Rosie fears failure, she embraces the challenge and sets out to create a flying contraption that will fulfill her aunt’s dreams.

Alas, her zany cheese-copter crashes. Just like the dreaded uncle, great-great aunt Rose laughs at Rosie’s designs but with joy not judgment. “You did it! Hooray! It’s the perfect first try! This great flop is over. It is time for the next!” Rosie learns to be proud of her failures, to round up her courage and keep trying until success is achieved.

David Roberts’ quirky illustrations are charming and so expressive. Each offers many discussion points to be mined. As I read this through an AQ* (adoption-attuned) lens, this story offers many wonderful nuggets. Themes that infuse the story include: diversity, “shyness’, recycling, ingenuity, viewing the world with an artist/inventor’s eye, women as capable, failing forward teamwork, confidence, resilience, persistence, being true to oneself, and owning one’s unique gifts. Wow! Jam packed, fun and visually delightful, this story offers an easy window to discussions about hidden talents and how they may have a genetic origin. This offers a natural segue to positive mention of birth parents and how biology helps to shape who we are.

I highly recommend this book. it is a five star gem.

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Valentine Lullaby

lullaby.langstonThis week we celebrate Valentine’s Day and the gift that is love. What greater blessing than that of a mother’s love? It is exquisitely depicted in the book, Lullaby (for a Black Mother.) Based on the Langston Hughes poem, it is illustrated by Sean Qualls in acrylic, pencil and collage.

This lovely book beautifully captures the intimacy of a bedtime ritual. The text is melodious, soothing and accompanied by pictures in the perfect palette of soft hues of blues, purples and aqua.

When I view the book’s universal theme of mother/child connection through the lens of adoption-attunement, what do I notice?

 

First, in contrast to the “color blind” approach often advocated, the poem highlights the baby’s race: “My little black baby/My dark body’s baby.” Color is a point of connection, of joy, of beauty. Race is not erased, over-looked or ignored; it is celebrated.

Second, for trans-racially adopted children, this book might open a conversation about how his birth mother might have held him and sung similar feelings. This would be a lovely idea to plant in a child’s heart and provides a concrete way of living an attitude of respect for a child’s birth family.

Regardless of race, this is a visual delight, an evocative and calming bedtime read.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Great Things about Story Time: Beyond the Simple Page Turn

Family reading togetherBooks offer an amazingly rich resource for adoptive families. Beyond pretty illustrations or entertaining story lines, they offer adoptive families so much more. Here are ten benefits to consider.

1. Books create a cuddly moment when parent and child focus on  a joint activity. This makes it an example of the proverbial “quality time” dearly sought by busy parents.

2. Reading together offers a great chance for dialog as parent and child chat about the story, ask and answer questions that arise and explore the illustrations. Parents may be quite surprised by the content of these discussions. Often hidden beliefs, misunderstandings and fears are exposed. Parents can correct any misconceptions, address any fears or concerns and enjoy discovering their child’s view of the world.

3. Reading together demonstrates that parents believe in the value of reading. This sends an important message because reading is a basic skill for school survival and success.

Little boy waiting to Santa during The Christmas Eve.4. Books open a window onto a wider world. This allows children to learn how other kids think about and handle their adoption. This introduces them to their adoptive peer group which helps them understand they are not the only one in the adoption “boat.” They also discover that adoption, like families can take many shapes and look quite varied.

5. Books operate as mirrors when they include illustrations and story lines that reflect a child’s lived experience. A child’s shelf should include books that value who and what he is. They must depict more than the majority culture. Adoptive families have a vested interest in supporting multicultural books and “differences. After all adoption itself is a “different” way of building a family.

6. Adoption books can help children work through some of the “hard stuff” that is part of the task adoptees face. Be sure  the family bookshelf is stocked with several quality books about adoption. This allows kids to choose a specific book from their shelf. Savvy parents will follow a child’s lead and will be aware of how a book affects their child. Read all or part of a book. Completion is not the goal. Connection and understanding is.

7. If kids never ask for an adoption book, put on your detective’s hat to discover why. Do you have a wide enough selection? Have you clearly conveyed that adoption is a welcome topic in the family? Verify that your child understands that adoption is a permitted topic. Many kids–accurately or not–believe that talking about their adoption distresses or overwhelms their parents. Other kids fear that bringing up the “harder stuff” might cause parents to “send them back.” In the absence of clearly demonstrated permissions, kids will stuff their curiosity, concerns and worries. Instead of depending on the parent, these kids shoulder their worries and stresses alone.

8. Books offer an easy non-threatening way for kids to bring up adoption. A child will rarely ask, “I’d like to talk about adoption.” But they will frequently pick a book off the shelf and request that it be read.

9. The same is true for parents. If they suspect a child is struggling with a part of his adoption experience, a book can offer a neutral way of introducing the topic.

10. Books can suggest ways of thinking about, handling and discussing adoption that neither the child or parent might develop on their own.

And a bonus:

???????????11. When parent and child share a book that touches them deeply, that enables them to face the “big stuff” as a team, their relationship grows more intimate. Rooted in truth. Forged through facing difficulty together, their connection strengthens because they know it can handle their mutual reality, “warts and all.” Parents become the parachute that brings them safely to land on their feet.

In recent years, now-adult adoptees have spoken in great numbers to tell what did and did not work for them growing up adopted, as well as what they wish had happened. Their courage has expanded our understanding of what an adopted child needs. Their voice provides an inside track to understanding because they live(d) adoption. Their experience is undiluted, first-hand.

We must recognize that the voices of adult adoptees are precious, valid and offer an invaluable insight into the adoption experience. Their hard-won wisdom represents a treasure of insight to adoption professionals and adoptive parents and lights a path to a healthier adoption experience moving forward. Significant change has occurred in adoption practice during the past two decades and so much more remains to be done. We must be dedicated to our children’s Truth with at LEAST as much passion as we pursued their joining our families. Adoption is not a fairy tale with a perfect happily-ever-after ending. It’s complicated, rooted in loss and often clouded in euphemism. Listening to adoptees’ voices shows that we care about them, value their honesty and acknowledge that their adoption was/is not all rose petals and sunshine. Their losses are genuine and worthy of recognition. Books offer an excellent channel to accomplish that.

Authors Support National Adoption Month

National Adoption.AllYear-WidgetLandscapeNovember is National Adoption Month. This year the emphasis focuses on sustaining sibling connections for youth in foster care and awaiting adoption. “Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.” (U.S.Dept. of Health & Human Services) 

 

2014-10-13 16.29.23 It is appropriate that we celebrate National Adoption Month during this season of Thanksgiving. As parents, we have been entrusted with the privilege to raise children born to other women. We love and nurture them with an awareness that our greatest joy: their presence in our families–began in significant loss for them. This year while giving thanks for your many blessings, remember the birth parents who made such a commitment of faith in us. Continue your education as high AQ–Adoption-attuned–families. Deepen your understanding of the unique needs that adoption creates in a family. Live and love with an eye to the joy of the present moment and a heart filled with empathy, kindness and respect. Books offer a great resource to adoptive families for strategies, a sense of community or a great read for the children. These authors write about the journey that is adoption and as a National Adoption Month Special, the kindle versions will be available for $.99. We invite you to explore these books. (Excerpts are from Amazon)

Expand your adoption library and do it at a bargain price. After you read these books, post your reviews on Amazon and let other families know what you thought.

 


ABC cover with badges

Gayle Swift – ABC, Adoption and Me  http://amzn.to/19SgUr3

Named a Favorite Read of 2013 by Adoptive Families, (the award-winning national adoption magazine.) Named a Notable Picture Book for 2013 by Shelf Unbound in their Dec/Jan 2014 issue; Honorable Mention – Gittle List of 2014; Finalist; IPNE 2014 Book Awards , Honorable Mention 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Award 
 A child’s review: “Most adoption books only talk about the good part of adoption. ABC shows adoption from the kid’s side.” ABC, Adoption & Me expresses their complicated feelings in a way that makes them feel normal and which makes it easy for them to discuss with their families.  Includes a parent guide. ABC, Adoption & Me celebrates the blessing of family and addresses the difficult issues as well. Exuberant, multicultural illustrations depict a wide range of families

Nat Adopt promo.DyerJody Dyer – The Eye of Adoption     www.jodydyer.com
“No one just adopts.” From the very first steps of acknowledging adoption as a choice to the final document that seals the deal, Jody Cantrell Dyer paints a raw, warm, heartbreaking and eventually triumphant portrayal that narrates the entire adoption process through compassionate and humorous prose. Dyer’s candor and soul color each page of The Eye of Adoption. She directly addresses the sorrows of infertility and the demands of adoption while consistently word-weaving a life rope of assurance, humor, and optimism for her readers. A middle-aged wife, mother, and teacher, Dyer “tells it like it is” in hopes that waiting adoptive parents, birthparents, adoptees, and those close to them will find kinship through her story.”

Nat Adopt promo.Tim ElderTim Elder – 7 Steps to Domestic Infant Adoption  http://www.infantadoptionguide.com/author/telder
This take-action resource guide will save you TIME & MONEY as it shows you what it takes to go through the domestic infant adoption process. It is packed full of over 100 links, tips, articles, and my personal adoption stories. 
My name is Tim Elder – I’m an adoptive dad. I’ve been in your shoes. My wife and I went through a miscarriage and years of infertility before we adopted our children. We were blessed to adopt them as newborns – one in 2007 and one in 2012. After going through the domestic infant adoption journey twice, I have a strong desire to help others – like you – get through it so I created this guide to help you.

Nat Adopt promo.deanna Kahler     Deanna Kahler – From Pain to Parenthood     http://goo.gl/EQUZtx
 
Follow one woman’s incredible and heartfelt journey from the pain of miscarriages to the joy of becoming a parent through adoption. Witness the many struggles that can permeate your life in the aftermath of pregnancy loss. Take a glimpse at the overwhelming desire some women have to become a mother. Celebrate the joy of overcoming adversity and achieving your dreams. Filled with honest, raw emotions and helpful coping tips, “From Pain to Parenthood” promises to touch your life with a real story that shows the power of the human spirit and the beauty of a mother’s love.

Finalist, 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Parenting/Family


Nat Adopt promo. Debbie MichaelDebbie Michael – But the Greatest of These is Love     http://goo.gl/xasFwR
                
On a March evening in 2000, an unexpected and unsettling thought came out of nowhere, disrupting Debbie Michael’s comfortable life—adoption! It was neither her idea nor her desire to adopt; she was already the mother of three. Instinctively, she knew God was speaking to her, but she did not want to listen if His message required action as life-changing as adopting an orphan. Dread lingered in the aftermath of the disturbing suggestion, and a debilitating fog of uncertainty settled over her life. A journey of a thousand miles (or five thousand, in this case) might begin with a single step, but Debbie was not eager to take that first step. Though God was relentless, she remained adamant. She was determined to ignore the nudging. But God would not be ignored! God pried Debbie out of her comfortable existence and opened a door to a life she didn’t know existed. But the Greatest of These is Love is about much more than adoption. It is a story about the powerful and astonishing ways God uses ordinary people to accomplish His divine intention that we love one another.

Nat Adopt promo.Kristen NicoleKristen Nicole – Our Road to Family      http://goo.gl/0PXyVO
 
“My husband and I are adopting. Does anyone know what that means?” There was more than one answer to that question for Kristen and Dan, and this remarkable story takes you through their adoption journey from beginning to end. From fertility issues to two successful adoptions, Kristen eloquently sheds new light on each step of the adoption process. With an inviting and friendly style of prose, she guides readers through the heartache of having to let a child go and onto the joy of holding her child for the very first time. An honest portrayal of a different road to parenthood, this story affirms the real blessing that adoption can be.

“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