Books for first adoption discussion

A few months ago, Jon’s “girlfriend” at pre-school remarked that “Jon was darker than his daddy”, which prompted us to get ready for a discussion about Jon’s adoption.¬†¬† We have been open with him — Jon has seen pictures of his foster family, of his sister, and has met a number of fellow Guatemalan adoptees.¬† However, it was time to explain how we became a family.¬† My wife found a number of books on Amazon; these two have worked best for us:

  • A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza — An instant favorite with Jon and the first we used.¬† Choco is an orphaned bird looking for a mother who will look like him in some way.¬†¬†It is only when Mrs. Bear asks him “If you had a mommy, what would she do?” that Choco comes to realize that family is about fun, love, and compassion.
  • Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove — My wife read this to Jon for the first time last night.¬†¬†He asked to keep it in his bed (next to the truck book, of course).¬† Rosie’s Family is the story of a beagle adopted by schnauzers (we’re probably biased by the dog theme).¬† It is very straightforward about difficult questions — Are you my “real” parents?¬† Why did my birth parents let me go?¬† Where did I live before?

Our limited experience is that the books that focus on the feelings of the parents and children are the most effective.¬† Some books are very specific about the people, places, and things of the adoption.¬† For example, they discuss going to the hospital,¬†or talk about plane rides, and still others imply domestic adoption.¬† Choco and Rosie’s Family¬† don’t introduce plot elements that might confuse the child, especially during early discussions.¬† Besides, we have plenty of pictures and stories to tell Jon the real details when he’s ready.

Adoption and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome screening

A personal post…¬† Many of my readers know that we brought our son home from Guatemala almost three years ago.¬† This Science News article on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (here) reminded me of one of the most stressful times in the adoption process — checking to see if Jon was¬†healthy.¬†

Sadly, many babies have been afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.¬†¬†Russia is the most infamous for this problem in children, though it is common in many other countries.¬† Regardless of all the warnings received from agencies and social workers, adoptive parents inevitably become very vulnerable once they get in-country to bring home their child.¬† You’ve waited months and years¬†to bring home a child and the anticipation is almost painful.¬†¬†FAS or¬†other chronic illnesses are especially devastating to first-time parents, who will struggle enough with the joys and challenges of raising a child.

Luckily, we had a local resource — Dr. Boris Skurkovich at Hasbro Children’s Hospital ( — who specializes in reviewing medical records, photos, and videos for any hint of potential issues.¬† The International Adoption Clinic is a great resource even after you bring your child home.

However, even Dr. Skurkovich can’t help with the latest trick, scam, fraud, etc.¬† Now we’ve heard of cases where¬†parents are¬†shown a picture of one child.¬† When they get¬†in-country, the child they asked to¬†bring home looks just a bit different and just a bit sicker.¬† Of course, that’s because the child is different and is sicker.¬† But how do you say “No”?


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