This book will be if interest to parents who adopt children during their toddlerhood. In this country, the United Kingdom, that is the majority of children who are adopted at a young age.
A word of warning – the book is written by an American, who still resides in America. She acknowledges that other countries may differ but the focus when reading this book is how the child feels and how the adoptive parents may feel, not where they live or what legislation governs their relationships. I would have to say here that children put up for adoption in the United Kingdom are frequently over twelve months by the time they are adopted and most usually they will be eighteen months or over. This is ensure that the parents and the wider family have had plenty of opportunity depending on the reasons for adoption, to state an interest or an intention to adopt or offer a home
The chapters offer insight into why toddlers are put up for adoption and why couples or singles would want a toddler as opposed to a baby. These chapters may be of little use in a practical sense to UK families. The ones to home in on are chapters five, six, seven eight and nine. They focus on understanding child development, including where there are genetic or other conditions such as those of being abused pre-removal into care.
It is important to be aware of the possibility that the toddler may grieve for the life they had to leave behind. It is not a question of whether that life or experience was healthy or valuable. It is what the child was used to. Most adoption agencies will warn about the possibility of grief-related behaviours. Some of these may be challenging whist other aspects may be depression or withdrawal. There is a detailed chapter on the attachment process and suggestions for strategies to help ease or hasten that evolution.
Chapter eight looks at the management and support of behaviour – bearing in mind a toddler is at the appropriate age to challenge authority and demand independence.
Chapter nine reminds all parents that their needs also have to be acknowledged and met within reason. There is no point in giving up all your energy and time and having nothing in reserve for yourself, your partner and other children who may be in your family.
I would recommend this book, especially the final chapters, for anyone contemplating adoption of younger children. It is well written and realistic. The subject may be emotive but the message is not.
Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft
(Revised edition based on 1997 article)
Jessica Kingsley Publishers