Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Birthdays may be difficult for me."

"I want you to take the initiative in opening conversations about my birth family."

"When I act out my fears in obnoxious ways, please hang in there with me."

"I am afraid you will abandon me."

The voices of adopted children are poignant, questioning. And they tell a familiar story of loss, fear, and hope. This extraordinary book, written by a woman who was adopted herself, gives voice to children's unspoken concerns, and shows adoptive parents how to free their kids from ...
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Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew

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Overview

"Birthdays may be difficult for me."

"I want you to take the initiative in opening conversations about my birth family."

"When I act out my fears in obnoxious ways, please hang in there with me."

"I am afraid you will abandon me."

The voices of adopted children are poignant, questioning. And they tell a familiar story of loss, fear, and hope. This extraordinary book, written by a woman who was adopted herself, gives voice to children's unspoken concerns, and shows adoptive parents how to free their kids from feelings of fear, abandonment, and shame.

With warmth and candor, Sherrie Eldridge reveals the twenty complex emotional issues you must understand to nurture the child you love--that he must grieve his loss now if he is to receive love fully in the future--that she needs honest information about her birth family no matter how painful the details may be--and that although he may choose to search for his birth family, he will always rely on you to be his parents.

Filled with powerful insights from children, parents, and experts in the field, plus practical strategies and case histories that will ring true for every adoptive family, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew is an invaluable guide to the complex emotions that take up residence within the heart of the adopted child--and within the adoptive home.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As both an adoptee and president of Jewel Among Jewels Adoption Network, Eldridge brings an original approach to the topic of adoption. In an attempt to inform adoptive parents of the unique issues adoptees face, she discusses adoptee anger, mourning, and shame and adoption acknowledgment while using case studies to illustrate how parents can better relate to their adopted child. This book is solidly written but not without its flaws; most importantly, it lacks information concerning child development, e.g., whether parents should use the same approach to questions with a three-year-old as with a 14-year-old. Still, this book will go well in any collection dealing with adoption, complementing David M. Brodzinsky's Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (Anchor, 1993) and Joyce Maguire Pavao's The Family of Adoption (Beacon, 1998).--Mee-Len Hom, Hunter Coll. Lib., New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307570819
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/7/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 144,306
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Sherrie Eldridge was adopted herself, and she uses many personal anecdotes to help illustrate the themes of this book. She formed an organization, Jewel Among Jewels Adoption Network, Inc., which helps educate people about the unique needs of the adopted child and publishes a quarterly newsletter, Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News. She lives with her husband in Indianapolis.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Hidden Losses

Row upon row of tombstones lined the lush lawns as I drove through the tall black iron gates toward my adoptive parents' graves. An elderly man filled a plastic pitcher at a spigot and the smell of freshly mowed grass filled the air. A new grave was being dug across the way, a vivid reminder that loss is an undeniable part of life.

On the seat beside me were two long-stemmed roses, symbolic of my late-blooming gratitude to my parents, who had weathered the growing-up years with me. I was returning to their graves as an adult who had finally come to grips with the fact that adoption had, and continues to have, a profound impact on my life. This was to be my day of reckoning, forgiveness, and closure.

As I exited the car and headed toward my parents' graves a tidal wave of grief washed over me, and I felt like an orphan once more. How I hate that feeling! I was gripped by the cold, hard fact that the people who loved me most were buried below.

I tiptoed over the mounded grass to their rose-colored headstone. RETHA G. AND MIKE J. COOK, the etched letters read. As I ran my fingers over the smooth granite stone, I whispered, "I hope you knew how much I loved you. Thank you for loving me when I was so unlovable."

Without a doubt, my parents did their best to be the kind of parents I needed. And I wanted nothing more than to be the kind of daughter they could be proud of. However, our hearts rarely, if ever, connected. Instead, we were like ships passing in the night.

Outwardly, we appeared to be a close family. We took vacations and played golf together. I remember my parents proudly watching the events of my life unfold. I was a model child: captain of the cheerleading team, first-chair clarinet, homecoming representative for my class. But behind the scenes I was starving myself, being sexually promiscuous, and stealing. My parents didn't have a clue. I never thought about the discrepancy between the good girl/bad girl aspects of my life or considered sharing my struggles with my parents. I was driven by a force I wasn't even aware of.

What was the problem? Was it my parents? Were they second rate? No! Was it me? Was I damaged goods because I was adopted? No! A million times, no. The problem, or enemy, was ignorance--ignorance about unresolved adoption loss and the need to grieve.

The "L" Word

As with most everything in life, adoption has positive and negative elements. None of us wants to acknowledge the negative, painful side--that is, loss. But the truth is, the very act of adoption is built upon loss. For the birth parents, the loss of their biological offspring, the relationship that could have been, a very part of themselves. For the adoptive parents, the loss of giving birth to a biological child, the child whose face will never mirror theirs. And for the adopted child, the loss of the birth parents, the earliest experience of belonging and acceptance. To deny adoption loss is to deny the emotional reality of everyone involved.

An adoptee's wounds are hardly ever talked about. They are the proverbial pink elephant in the living room. Dr. David M. Brodzinsky and Dr. Marshall D. Schechter, a psychologist and psychiatrist specializing in adoption, say in their insightful book Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self, that loss for the adoptee is "unlike other losses we have come to expect in a lifetime, such as death and divorce. Adoption is more pervasive, less socially recognized, and more profound."

Grief is the natural response to loss, and those touched by adoption must be given permission to revisit emotionally the place of loss, feel the pain, scream the anger, cry the tears, and then allow themselves to be loved by others. If left unresolved, this grief can and often does sabotage the strongest of families and the deepest potential within the adopted child. It can undermine the most sincere parental commitment and force adoptees to suffer in private, choosing either rebellion or conformity as a mode of relating.

Since adoption loss is somewhat difficult to understand, I will use the gardening technique of grafting to illustrate not only adoption loss but a variety of adoption dynamics.

A Lesson from Nature

A grafted tree. Magnificent to behold. One of a kind. Contrary to nature. Luxurious leaves and intricate roots. Loaded with horticultural challenges for a gardener, but ultimately yielding a tree with unparalleled beauty.

The adopted child. Magnificent to behold. One of a kind. Biological features often contrary to yours. Intricate roots that need to be healed. Loaded with behavioral challenges for parents, but ultimately yielding a life of unparalleled beauty.

How do you react to the above? Some might be saying "Yes! A thousand times, yes! This describes our child. She is one of a kind and we are so glad she is ours." Others may be saying "You'd better believe our adopted child presents us with challenges! He can peel wallpaper off a wall at the speed of a shining bullet, make holes in the drywall of his room, be verbally and physically rebellious, tear up anything in his room, and then collapse in a pool of tears."

Wherever you are in the spectrum of possible reactions, believe me, you are not alone! As the editor of a national adoption newsletter, Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News, I receive many letters from adoptive parents who are searching for answers. How can I most effectively parent my adopted child? What are some of the obstacles I may encounter? Why is my child acting out? Am I doing something wrong? I also receive many letters from adults who were adopted as children, searching for help in dealing with their long-buried past.

Also, on a personal level, I can understand your questions and concerns. When I was adopted fifty-three years ago at ten days of age, my parents' desire for me was just the same as every other adoptive parent today: they longed to see me thrive and live up to my fullest potential. They also longed for that parent-child intimacy that lays the foundation for all other healthy relationships in life. If only we had known years ago what I have learned in the past several years about adoption and loss.

Back in the 1940s when I was adopted, adoptive parents were counseled by well-meaning professionals not to talk about adoption or the circumstances surrounding their child's birth or his birth family. After all, "Babies don't remember," they said. "Don't talk about the differences in personality or appearance; capitalize on the likenesses!" Birth mothers were given the same message: "Go on with your life. Put this behind you and all will be well."

Frankly, it is this kind of counsel, sometimes given even today, that makes my blood curdle, for it is the seedbed of denial and has proven wrong for many thousands of adoptees and their families who were never given permission to face and grieve their hidden losses. Child welfare supervisor and open adoption practitioner James Gritter explains in his hope-filled book, The Spirit of Open Adoption, "We must be careful not to sanitize, sentimentalize, or even glamorize the pain of adoption; it really is miserable stuff, and it is intensely personal. It is interior. The pain of adoption is not something that happens to a person; it is the person. Because the pain is so primal, it is virtually impossible to describe."

Not every adopted person experiences his loss in the same way or at the same level, of course, just as not every abused child responds the same way to his wounds. One adopted adult in his early thirties told me, "After my wife and I had our first child, my adoptive parents gave me the little bit of information they had about my birth family and told me they would support me if I wanted to explore my history or search for birth relatives. I'm not sure why they even think I'd be interested; I'm not. I've always felt okay about being adopted, and my parents are my parents. I don't feel any big need to know any more than I do about my past, and I'm not aware of any adoption issues I need to deal with."

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    rediculous!

    All these reviews are written by aoptive parents, well im an adoptide child! My mother read this and there for felt very knowledgable about the feelings of adoptive children. WELL IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW A CHILD FEELS ABOUT THERE ADOPTION TRY GIVING THEM FREEDOM TO SAY HOW THEY REALLY FEEL! to me this book makes adopted children sound soooo messed up when really many of us arent! I DO NOT RECOMEND THIS BOOK because every child deals with adoption so differntly! Each case is extremely differnt and there is no way to say "Oh this is how your child feels about you, their birth parents, and their adoption."

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2005

    One of the best adoption resources for adoptive parents

    We frequently refer to this book for help in knowing how to better understand the needs of our precious adopted daughter. It combines third-party anecdotes with research and personal experience to make a powerful presentation. Every prospective and adoptive parent should read this book to understand the inevitable and undeniable losses experienced by the adopted child at relinquishment; and how to help their child navigate the challenges that loss brings, at each step during their lives.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2010

    Do not read this book

    This book was the most depressing and damaging book I have read about adoption. Though some of the concepts may apply to some adopted children it is quite dangerous to generalize that all adopted children will be this damaged. It is so negative and there is very little hope or positivity expressed.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2004

    THIS BOOK ROCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm a direct care counselor at a group home here in Boston and a youth worker/child care advocate. This book is written with so much love ans compassion. I myself am not adopted, but I have found this book helpful in regards to my own child hood issues that I'm working through as well as the kids at my job. I've found more love and understanding for my work...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2004

    A MUST READ!!

    My husband & I adopted our daughter 7 years ago when she was 4. I received this book from a friend who had adopted twins. I read this book when I was on a plane going cross country. As I completed it I could not help but cry. The stewardess asked me what was wrong & I looked up and said 'not a thing . everything is all right now'. I was so excited and relieved. I knew that my husband I I were not crazy nor was my daughter crazy. It changed my life and affirmed so many things that I knew and opened up heart & mind to so many new ideas. Ms. Eldrige has done a marvelous job for us--adoptive parents. I do social work & theatrical ministry addressing social issues such as adoption. I refer this book to everyone I know who has adopted a child. Thank you Ms. Eldridge for your insight!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2011

    Eye opening for those not adopted

    Though this book is somewhat negative, it was eye opening to the POTENTIAL issues an adopted child may experience. I was not left with the impression that all adopted children are damaged but it sure gives me food for though should my adopted child have an off day. We do need to be sensitive to their feelings. The best thing I took away from this book is to respect their privacy & sometimes conflicting feelings, should they have them. And always let them know there is no topic off limits if it's important to them!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2001

    A Must Read For Adoptive Parents

    I am an adoptions social worker at a private agency and was very impressed with this book. Not only is it written by an adoptee, it is divided into chapters that address specific questions that all adoptive parents have. It also has practical interventions parents can use at the end of each chapter. The book is reader friendly and not 'textbooky' or 'wordy' like many other books I have read on adoption. Our agency recommends this book to parents and has recently added it to our recommended reading list. This book is a 'must read' for all adoptive and prospective adoptive parents.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2013

    Adoption Simplified In Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Ad

    Adoption Simplified
    In Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adopted Parents Knew, Sherrie Eldridge explains the mixed feelings adopted kids feel after their adoption. Eldridge explains the conflict of interest of being adopted from the parent and child view. Her personal experiences and knowledge of adoption helps parents understand what support and knowledge their children should know.
    A major theme and message that Eldridge tries to explain is that all adopted children have gone through a significant loss. They are in the grieving state whether you, as the parent, know or not. From the beginning a child recognizes the difference from their biological parents to their now adoptive parents. She explains that this feeling of abandonment, fear, and shame can effect later life decisions; such as relationships. Eldridge throughout the books uses her own adoptive situation as examples to show other parents the signs they may not see. There is a battle to be fought between the realization of adoption and all the glitz and glamor that people observe. Do people understand that not all people want it to be pointed out that they are “different”, that they should be grateful that they were brought to this country? Any adopted kids could answer this question easily, it’s a question they have been answering their entire life. Yes, I am different but it makes me unique, and yes I am eternally grateful that I was able to come to this country, but I wish that I knew what life was like where I am from.
    I enjoyed reading this book because it was relatable. Her tactics on how parents should “attack” talking about adoption were similar to how I was raised. Eldridge has good voice when going in depth about her life experiences. She also uses good conventions when comparing one thing to another. I did not like the wide generalization that she assumes all adopted kids feel the same way. Every kid takes adoption in different circumstances. Not every kid wants to know about their biological family, and they may not even want to express the feelings they have inside. Adoption hits every child and parent in its own unique way.
    This book gives the basic insight behind some adoptive kid’s feelings, but not all. I would recommend this book for parents who do not know how to handle how to talk or tell their child about adoption; Eldridge does a great job of how to handle that. I do not have any recommendations for other books to read by Eldridge. Overall I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars because it has good information but does not in the end have information applying to all adoptions.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    Did not like this book

    My husband is adopted so we felt comfortable adopting reading this book makes you feel all adopted children will have issues..... I think all of us have issues and not all adopted children feel rejected nor do they have trouble bonding nomore then a homegrown child. In my opinion if you read this book use your own judgement un using it. We have 3 children all of them adopted!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 4, 2009

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    Posted April 26, 2012

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    Posted January 21, 2011

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted December 31, 2010

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    Posted April 20, 2011

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    Posted October 17, 2013

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    Posted January 7, 2012

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    Posted March 26, 2010

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