Adopting the Hurt Child – Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special-Needs Kids by Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D, and Regina M. Kupecky, LSW:

“Fewer and fewer families adopting today are able to bring home a healthy newborn infant. The majority of adoptions now involve emotionally wounded, older children who have suffered the effects of abuse or neglect in their birth families and carry complex baggage with them into their adoptive families. Adopting the Hurt Child addresses the frustrations, heartache, and hope surrounding the adoptions of these special-needs kids.

Children who have endured emotional and physical atrocities, failed reunifications, and myriad losses associated with multiple moves in the foster care system not only present unique challenges to their adoptive families but also impact greater society in significant ways. Integrating social, psychological, and sociopolitical issues, Adopting the Hurt Child explains how trauma and interruptions affect these children’s normal development and often severely undermine their capacity to function in a loving family and in society.

Written in a non-technical style accessible to a diverse audience, Adopting the Hurt Child brings to light grim truths, but also real hope that children who have been hurt—and often hurt others—can be healed and brought back into life by the adoptive and foster parents, therapists, teachers, social workers, and others whose lives intersect with theirs.”

Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What I Thought:

Early in our foster care and adoption journey, our family was on vacation, and before getting on the road to come home, we stopped at an outlet mall. While perusing through a book store, I saw Adopting the Hurt Child, read the cover, and decided it was a must read. On the five-hour ride home, I devoured it, dog-earing pages and soaking in the wisdom.

This book introduces 1) attachment and how difficulties arise due to abuse, neglect, and impermanence, 2) issues with the child welfare system, 3) placement issues, 4) dreams versus realities, 5) the challenges of international adoption, 6) adapting to life together, 7) sibling issues, 8) “giving your child a history,” 9) effective treatment, 10) failed adoptions, 11) successful adoptions, 12) and life in the process of hurting and healing. So many aspects of life with our kids began to make more sense as I read this book. I understood why some of their behaviors, which seemed very abnormal and pathological, were actually quite normal for their circumstances and came to understand how those behaviors developed.

This is one of two books on our shelves that I return to often as a reference either to quote something for someone else or to remind myself of certain realities or find hope. It is a must-read for foster and adoptive parents. Stay tuned for a review of the follow-up book by the same authors—Parenting the Hurt Child—which focuses more on practical strategies.

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The Connected Child – Adoption and Foster Care Book Review

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From the Cover of The Connected Child by Karen Purvis, Ph.D., David Cross, Ph.D., and Wendy Lyons Sunshine:

“The adoption of a child is always a joyous moment in the life of a family. Some adoptions, though, present unique challenges. Welcoming these children into your family—and addressing their special needs—requires care, consideration, and compassion.

Written by two research psychologists specializing in adoption and attachment, The Connected Child will help you:

  • Build bonds of affection and trust with your adopted child
  • Effectively deal with any learning or behavioral disorders
  • Discipline your child with love without making him or her feel threatened”

Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What We Thought:

This book comes from decades of experience working with foster and adoptive children around the world. It helps families learn how to connect with their children and deal with special needs. We highly recommend any materials by Dr. Purvis and Dr. Cross, including this book, DVDs, and conferences.

This book should be on the shelves of every foster and adoptive home for several reasons:

  • Practical advice and strategies – The strategies in this book are easy to implement, though many take a change in mindset. Parents will likely have to work on one strategy at a time until they become habit, rather than trying to change everything at once.
  • Simple scripts to use with your children when you are at your wit’s end – When we lecture our kids in our anger or frustration, they tune us out and stop learning. The Connected Child gives simple, short scripts for you to repeat that become like mantras with your children. I recently reread the book and put a note in my phone with all the scripts for me to reference. Opening up the note gives me a few seconds to breathe and regulate my own emotions, and then I have the words I need to deescalate the situation and get a kiddo back on the right track to succeed.  
  • Easy to understand explanations of the science behind the challenges facing foster and adoptive children – This book explains in every day language what sets the brains—learning, connecting, and behaving—of foster and adoptive children apart from those of their peers and gives parents insight on how to work around these differences.
  • Explanations for why typical parenting and discipline techniques do not work – Foster and adoptive parenting is not parenting as usual, and our children do not respond to the same techniques that biological children do. The Connected Child explains why and gives alternative strategies.
  • Tips for everything from nutrition, medications, therapy, daily schedules, rules, discipline, school issues, teaching life skills, self-care, and much more
  • Extensive table of contents makes it easy to quickly reference needed information – The table of contents not only lists chapter titles, but it also shows all the subheadings in each chapter, making it a great reference without having to thumb through page after page to find the topic you need in the moment.
  • Self evaluations for parents to determine how they need to change their parenting – There are quizzes, checklists, and lists of reflection questions for parents to seriously examine their own parenting and attachment styles and how day-to-day interactions with their children are going.

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It’s Your Turn:

Share your thoughts and experiences with others here!

  1. What strategy from this book will you implement immediately?
  2. What strategy do you think will be most difficult to implement?
  3. What scripts do you find most helpful for your child?
  4. What was your result from the parenting quiz on p. 169?
  5. Is a checklist like the one of page 216 helpful for you to evaluate your parenting?
  6. Where do you think your child is on the levels of care on page 217?
  7. What did you learn about the role nurturing plays in your life from the questions on page 222?
  8. How do you refill your bucket?

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Chapter 7 – 3 Ways Foster Kids Get Hurt From Stereotypes – Kids’ Discussion

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Mudblood, Retard and Foster Kids

We’re in chapter 7 of Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets, and our family is not enjoying Draco Malfoy at all. At this point he is just so easy to dislike. In this chapter our adoptive family spent time talking about the instance where he calls Hermione a mudblood.

If you haven’t read the book, a mudblood is a name that witches and wizards in the world of Harry Potter use to describe someone that has non-magical blood in their family line. Mudblood has a very negative meaning though. It’s a title that means that someone is dirty and no-good. People in the books only use this term when they are wanting to be nasty to another person.

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My oldest son told our family that he can identify with Hermione. He was born with a cognitive disability. When people want to be mean to him, they call him a retard. It’s a word that carries a stereotype. What’s a stereotype? A stereotype is a general characteristic that people place on a person or group of people. Make sense? No?! Well, when you hear that someone is a retard, what do you think about that person?

  • Stupid
  • Clumsy
  • Can’t do anything right

Are these things true of everyone with a cognitive disability? No. Our oldest son is not clumsy; he’s actually quite good at dancing. He is able to help take care of a household – doing some of the cooking and cleaning. A far cry from someone that cannot doing anything right or someone who is stupid.

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Our son’s school and class are very big into putting on an event at their school called, Spread the Word to End the Word. Students from all through the school wear t-shirts with the phrase on it to let the community know that they wish the use of the word and stereotype to end.

Unfortunately foster children have stereotypes placed on them as well. Do you know of any? Here are ways my foster/adoptive children feel kids could get hurt:

  1. Bad kids
    Sometimes people think that foster kids are just bad. People think that just because you have seen bad things or have been in place where bad things happen that you too will do things that are bad. One of us (Fink kids) had an adult at school talk to mom and dad it seemed like everyday about the bad things they were doing. All the other kids were acting the same way but they weren’t foster kids.
  2. Dirty
    It’s possible that your biological home was absolutely filthy. Not like the house was cluttered but there was literally dirt on everything. It was unsafe dirty. Some people seem to believe that because some foster kids come from a dirty home that they will be dirty all the time.
  3. Dangerous
    You might see that other kids or adults think you’re dangerous. They hear scary stories about foster kids hurting people by hitting or biting them. People then think that all foster kids are dangerous kids. Some people might even stop being your family’s friend because they think you’re dangerous. That doesn’t feel good. Our little brother even had a mom push him away from her son while they were playing. They were just playing but she didn’t want him near her son. She let other kids play with her son but not our little brother.

What Should You Do When This Happens?

These are hard situations and the hurt from them is real. However, there is simply no way to get everyone to like you or get everyone to stop believing the stereotypes. Even in the book no one could force Malfoy to stop believing that non-magical people were good. Wait! This seems sad and hopeless then.

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Well, in the book Ron, Harry and Hermione went to a trusted and safe adult to help with the problem. Hermione got a chance to talk about how hurt she was about the name. We think that you need to trust your family then. Your foster-adoptive family can be a safe place to tell others about what is happening and how you feel. Will that fix others? No. However, families are a place to share hurts and families protect each other. In the end Hagrid helped to remind Hermione about how she was wonderfully talented and clever. He reminded her about who she REALLY was.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. What do you think of when someone says that a kid is adopted? a foster kid?
  2. Do you feel embarrassed at school about being adopted? a foster kid?
  3. Do your foster/adoptive mom and/or dad ever get stereotyped? Ask them.
  4. How do your foster/adoptive parents feel when that happens?
  5. What is true about you? What are you talented at? What are you good at? If you can’t think of anything ask your family for help.

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Kids’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12

Parent Discussions: 

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04