I was a bit surprised when this book first dropped through my letter box. I hadn’t offered to review it and so for a while it lay on a very tall pile of “books to read when I have some spare time”. But of course the title should have given it away…
If anyone was thinking that love is all that’s needed, or was tempted ever to say that “all kids do that”, then this is a book for them! Not that it’s all doom and gloom by any means. Adoption stories are statistically more often positive and affirming, but it is a sad fact that as many as a third of families will experience real struggles (see Beyond the Adoption Order) and Ann Morris quietly and without drama shows us both sides of the coin.
She brings us voices of both adoptive and birth parents, as well as some of the children themselves. From thinking about adoption – and the advice that was given – through to children reaching adulthood or sadly moving out of the home for other reasons; adopting children with special needs, thinking about particular issues such as race and religion and different models of parenting; understanding attachment and how this plays out in school as well as in the home … it is hard to think of topics that have not been covered, or questions unanswered. Strikingly, many of the stories involve difficult to understand behaviour: behaviour that tests and sometimes breaks relationships. Behaviour that is violent and abusive. Sometimes it is portrayed as a response to early trauma or to damage in utero, sometimes a deliberate and calculated attempt to establish control within the home. It is heartening to read of the advice and support that many parents were able to access, and the way a transformation was achieved; but the pain of those simply struggling through each day, or recounting the decision to bring an end to the relationship, is tangible and a challenge to all those working in the field of adoption support.
Marketed at adoptive and prospective adoptive parents, counsellors and social workers, and others working placing children in families, its real importance is in bringing us the voice of the real experts: those who have already walked the journey.
With a foreword by Hugh Thornberry (former Chief Executive of Adoption UK), this is the second book by Ann Morris documenting the experiences of adoptive families. The first was written around 20 years ago and much has changed in that time in terms of legislation, practice and understanding.
Adopting: real life stories, 2017, Ann Morris, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-84905-660-1