Both Bethany and I love to read and to learn. Here are books we recommend about adoption or parenting. If you have any suggestions, then please feel free to contact us with them. We are always looking to grow our understanding of the beautiful gift of adoption, motherhood, and fatherhood.
Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It by Dr. Ray Guarendi - the first book we read about adoption, and a great introduction to the topic. Written in Q&A style, some of the sections were about adopting older children or adopting from foster care, which doesn't apply to us, but the rest was relevant and helpful. The tone itself was helpful - encouraging and lighthearted, it helped to put us at ease about the adoption process.
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge - As the title indicates, the author (an adoptee) lays out twenty principles that many adopted children hope their adoptive parents know, believe, and do. The author's perspective is from someone in a closed adoption (meaning with no contact with and little information about the birth family), so some of the advice she gives is already addressed by the more common dynamic now of open adoption, where the child has information about his birth family and possibly ongoing contact. Nonetheless, the book was very helpful in opening a window to an adopted child's heart and mind. We can see this advice as becoming very useful down the road, especially as we help our future child navigate the various emotions that come with being adopted.
Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall - Parts of this long book felt clunky and a bit too heavy-handed, but there were sections of really helpful advice for parents of a child from a different race or ethnicity (hence, "transracial"). For example: the need for the child to have a strong sense of belonging both to his/her biologically inherited culture, and his/her adoptive family and heritage; the importance as parents of providing role models for your child from the same race or ethnicity; and even the suggestion to choose a name that honors the child's biological heritage. Overall, it gave us a lot to think if it ends up that we do adopt transracially.
Parenting Your Adopted Child by Andrew Adesman and Christine Adamec - a helpful, if at times basic, overview of the unique blessings and challenges that come when raising an adopted child, such as not making the fact of being adopted either insignificant or the biggest factor in everything the child does; tips on how to explain adoption to your child, and to others; and resisting the pressure (often internal) of being a "perfect" parent because of the time and effort you went through to adopt.
You Can Adopt Without Debt by Julie Gumm - we are big fans of Dave Ramsey's financial advice, and this book was recommended by him. It is full of good advice about how to come up with the money for adoption while remaining financially sound - for your future child's sake! We especially appreciated the advice about fundraising (why, how, what to do and not to do), tips on grants, and the encouragement that yes, coming up with the money will take a while, but it's worth it!
The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption by Karen J. Foli - the title is a bit of a misnomer, as the main topic of the book is being aware of and managing one's expectations throughout the adoption process: expectations of how the process itself will go (fast, easy, etc.), of adoption professionals, of one's child, of one's family and friends (how accepting they'll be), and finally expectations of one's abilities as an adoptive parent. It also brought up the fact that post-adoptive parents can suffer from depression after an adoption, similar to post-partum mothers. Overall, a helpful reminder to be conscious of our expectations and to keep them reasonable.
Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff - a very engaging first-person read that (as the title suggests) gives an inside look to a woman's thought process as she adopts, including thoughts normally not shared with many others. While her path to adoption was different than ours in many ways, I (Bethany) still resonated with many of her emotions, both excitement and fear. The author's honesty was a helpful window into the emotional roller coaster of adoption.
The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis - is hands down the best book ever written on parenting that we have read. Beautiful, practical advice with a very Christian anthropology/ worldview of the child that is similar to Pope John Paul II's theology and philosophy of the person. It instantly resonated with us because of this similarity. Although, this Christian anthropology is not discussed in this book, it is in its companion book, Created to Connect: A Christian's Guide to The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis with Michael and Amy Monroe, which we also highly recommend.
The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson - also excellent! This book was recommended by the Empowered to Connect conference we attended to learn about parenting kids from "hard places." This book takes brain science and early child development down to an understandable level so parents can gain insight on what stages their child is going through, and how to help them use their whole brain (left/right, "upstairs" higher order functioning/"downstairs" survival instinct): these concepts are even more important if the child has faced early neglect or trauma. Super interesting and worthwhile read.
Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzel - by one of the same authors as The Whole Brain Child, although not as engaging (we thought). The best part was a series of questions for parental self-reflection, about one's own childhood and family of origin. The idea is that as parents, we need to recognize and address any deficiencies in how we were parented in order to not repeat those with our own children. Coming to terms with our own backgrounds and emotions (including emotional wounds) also helps parents "attune" to their child's interior life, which promotes bonding and helps the child develop emotional fluency.
The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. - this book was recommended by the speakers at the Empowered to Connect conference we attended. Sensory processing disorder, or the inability to receive, interpret and/or use one of the primary senses, is something we wanted to learn more about because it can be caused by a less-than-optimal prenatal environment or early neglect, which may be something our child experiences. This book was impressively thorough, with ample real-life examples and lots of advice about how to be proactive in giving your child a rich "sensory diet," whether or not he or she has been diagnosed with SPD. It was also a good reminder of how basic our senses are for our ability to be in the world happily and interact with people and things in it - so basic for a good life, but "under the radar" unless something goes wrong. The book took a while to get through but should be a handy reference down the road.
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp - very engaging, well written, humorous and lots of practical advice that seems like it could be very useful some day! The author lays out the "5 S" approach to calming a newborn (birth - 3 mo's): swaddle, side/stomach, "shhhh", swing, and suck. The approach seemed based in common sense and attentive to a baby's need. The one drawback - which seems somewhat typical to baby-care books - was that the author didn't consider the possibility of adoption, i.e. that a mother may not have given birth to her child. It would have been nice to hear any advice he might have had for parents of an adoptive child, such as their special needs for being comforted. Other than that, this was a winner.
Born Only Once: The Miracle of Affirmation, 2nd edition, by Conrad Baars - teaches about the importance of affirmation for parents to give to a child as well as a reminder to all that we all like children in need of receiving love from another. Ultimately, this affirmative love must come from God and be mediated by the parents because parents will never be able to give the depth of affirmation and love that God can give the child.
Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women) by Pope John Paul II - discusses the beauty of motherhood and fatherhood in the context of defending the dignity of women from anthropological ideologies that discriminate against their true identity. It is a more academic text, but it is beautiful. It is worth the struggle of understanding it. We are happy to discuss it with you!
Love and Responsibility, Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), and Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II- remain classic texts for a beautiful vision of marriage and family in the modern world. These texts have influenced everything we do in our marriage and family. Again, they are more academic texts, but they are foundational for anyone's marriage and parenting. We are happy to discuss them with you!