Finding the Right Book

Dear Polly,

My husband and I recently adopted a preschool aged child.  It’s hard to find age appropriate adoption books that aren’t geared toward the more traditional adoption narrative. We’d like a book that helps us talk about her adoption that wasn’t because we “waited and waited and hoped and hoped,” but was, rather, an emergency family foster placement? Do you know of any?

You’re on the right track!  It is so important to give your daughter age appropriate information about her life story, and the traditional adoption stories may confuse her given her unique situation.

That being said, there are a few books out there that might be able to help.  One that is often used by therapists, especially when dealing with older child adoptions or foster care situations, is All About Adoption: How Families Are Made & How Kids Feel About It.  This book is written by clinical psychologists and includes lots of information on different adoption scenarios.  To me, it’s a must read.

Other child geared stories  about adoption that are fairly general include Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story and A Mother for Choco.  If you don’t have these already, they make for great bedtime reading with an adopted child.  Their simple stories are a great starting point for deeper family discussions, especially as your little one grows up.

Another favorite tip of mine is to make your own book that is specific to your child and their unique situation.  You can make a book these days just about anywhere there is a photo center or at multiple sites online, like Snapfish or Shutterfly.

You can write the narrative to be as specific to your child as you want to, including information about their life before their adoption, your life before children, and then the life that you now have together as a family.  Pictures in the book can be actual pictures of your child, or you can use stock photos that are often available online at no charge.

I like to suggest this topic for any situation where a book would be a useful, but there just isn’t one available that works.  For example, a personalized book can often help a child cope with situations like the death of a loved one, divorce, a move, changing schools, upcoming surgery, illness, or just about any other difficulty you can think of.

Most people think picture books are only to celebrate good memories, like family vacations, birthday parties, or school days.  But really, they can be just as useful to teach your child about their life story or to communicate with them during difficult circumstances.  Your child will better understand and be more likely to enjoy a personalized story, and the book will surely be a good start to more in-depth discussions.  And with kids, that’s always a plus!

If you’ve got a question that you’d like to see featured on Ask Polly, just visit my contact page and submit your idea or question. I look forward to hearing from you!

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