Not Quite NARWHAL – Book Review

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From the Cover of Not Quite NARWHAL by Jessie Sima:

“This is Kelp. He doesn’t mind being a little different from the other narwhals. But when a strong current carries him away, Kelp encounters some mysterious, sparkling creatures who leave him wondering if maybe… just maybe… he isn’t a narwhal at all.”

Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 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 Our Family Thought:

The target audience of this book appears to be the general public and targeting children ages 4 through 8 years old. Although this tale doesn’t specifically target foster or adoptive families, these families will be interested in this story as the main character lives with an adoptive family and deals with feeling different than his adoptive family and finding his identity.

The illustrations contain colorful cartoon characters which are reminiscent of ’90s cartoon shows. Sima’s style throughout the book is strong and effectively conveys the emotions of the story which help to engage you child and keep their attention. The illustrations of the book will surely make your family fall in love with it’s characters.

The main character of this story is Kelp, a unicorn who lives in the ocean with his narwhal family. Through the tale Kelp is dealing with the fact that he is noticing how he differs from his family. A strong current causes Kelp to go to the surface where he discovers other unicorns (“land narwhals”). The story allows Kelp to then experience creatures that are similar to him, but at the same moment Kelp must cope with the fact that he dearly loves his family.

This book will allow your family to have healthy conversations about the definition of a family. Foster and adoptive families will be able to use this story as a way to show children that they can show love and loyalty to BOTH their caregivers and biological family. The book does paint a very rosy and ideal image of the “biological” and “adoptive” family getting along for a huge party – caregivers may find the need to explain to children that while they don’t have to “choose sides” that real life may not always look so ideal.

“Not Quite NARWHAL,” is a quality story which will be an asset to your foster or adoptive family as you seek to discuss emotions and questions which come up during foster/adoptive journey.


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It’s Your Turn:

  1. How did Kelp feel about being different than his family?
  2. Why was Kelp anxious about leaving the ocean?
  3. Have you ever been nervous or anxious about doing something for the first time? What?
  4. How did Kelp feel with the unicorns (land narwhals)?
  5. Why did he want to go back to his old friends?
  6. Which world did Kelp have to choose to be a part of?
  7. Do you ever feel like you’re a part of two worlds?
  8. How do you feel like Kelp in those worlds?

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No Higher Call: A Biblical Treatise on Adoption – Book Review

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From the Cover of No Higher Call: A Biblical Treatise on Adoption by Bradford Smith:

“Where is your heart?

Nationwide, tens of thousands of children languish in the foster system, orphans with no hope, no family. Each year, thousands of orphans graduate the system into a life of struggle – poverty, addiction, incarceration…as the Church stands idly by. God’s word speaks clearly and decisively on the matter leading to one exacting question – where exactly is your heart?

From the pages of Scripture, Bradford Smith issues a surprising call, challenging God’s people to take action, to open their eyes to the affliction, to hear the cry of the orphan and to respond.

No Higher Call will absolutely destroy any preconceived notions you may have. Shocking, in your face, gut-wrenching – this book will pierce your heart. Absolutely DO NOT read it unless you are prepared for the bitterest of truths, the sweetest of graces, and the reminder that…there is No Higher Call.”


Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 2 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


Our Thoughts:

Bradford Smith has written an incredibly thought provoking, Christ geared bible study style, book on adoption and foster care. This appears to be a great book if you are coming from a spiritual background. Smith has set the book up with his personal stories, biblical references to the different chapter topics, and then scripture with study questions. Smith’s personal stories enrich the book with real life accounts of emotions and feelings surrounding the foster care and adoptive world.

This book is perfect for a spiritual person interested in learning more about adoption and how the Church is called to care for orphans. Smith’s documentation of scripture based study and discussion is perfectly geared for an individual or a small group bible study setting. There are thought provoking topics and questions that will challenge you as the reader as well help facilitate small group discussions. While this book doesn’t relate to parenting techniques while your in the thick of it, it is a great starting place to gain knowledge, biblical truths, and facilitate thought provoking discussions internally or with others. People just beginning the process of learning more about foster and adoptive care as well as seasoned foster/adoptive parents, can utilize the information in this book for self reflection and spiritual growth.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


It’s Your Turn:

  1. What insights did you gain from this book?
  2. Where is your heart?

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Can You Feel “Too Adopted?”: An Adoptee’s Thoughts

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Ok, I must admit – I am in love with the Tuesday night depression session that is more formally referred to as “This is Us”.

“This Is Us” – TV Show

If you aren’t familiar with this show, first of all, I will say, “Congratulations on waking up from your coma!”, and this is what you missed:

“This is Us” follows the Pierson family through their lives flashing back between their childhood and their lives now. The parents, Rebecca and Jack were expecting triplets back in the late 1970’s. Unfortunately, when Rebeccas gives birth, one of the baby boys is not alive. Jack gets a heartfelt lecture from the delivering doctor about lemons and what not, and then Jack goes to the nursery to look at his remaining son and daughter, when lo and behold, a cute black baby who just happened to be left at the firehouse is in the crib next to Jack and Rebecca’s children. Through a lot of convincing, and Hollywood magic, all three babies go home with Rebecca and Jack. The show then follows the family as they lovingly make it through the difficulties that life throws at them in a perfect way that makes you wish you were a part of their family.

Unfortunately, Jack gets killed by a crock pot after the Super Bowl (both in the show, and literally after this last Super Bowl). The adult portion of the triplets’ lives deal with how they survived and made a life for themselves after the death of their father and their hero.

“Randal Is ‘Too Adopted‘”

So now that you are caught up, I want to focus on a scene from a flashback from when the Pierson “Big Three” were young. The family had gone to the local swimming pool. Kate, the daughter was being bullied about her weight, and the family was getting a lot of stares because Randall was black. Kevin, the natural son of Jack and Rebecca almost drowned, but, the parents were too focused on the other two to notice. When Kevin tried to tell his family what happened, he was very frustrated and tried to stand up for himself by saying that his parents focus too much on the others. Kevin loudly exclaims that Randall is “too adopted” for his parents to pay attention to him. It got me to thinking, is there such a thing as being “too adopted”?

Does This Adoptee Feel ‘Too Adopted‘?

Yes, Randall is different from his family because of the color of his skin, and I will never know this particular struggle, but I do understand being “too adopted.”

Where I do feel like I can identify with Randall and his journey of being “too adopted ” is this:

Sometimes being adopted is such a huge blaring part of your life, that you can’t get away from it. You can’t run away from being adopted when you feel constantly reminded. It’s not always that we are reminded by outward appearances, but often, it is the perpetual running cycle in our heads. It’s sometimes an obsession, and even more so, the root of our identities. We become aliens who carve our own way into the world around us and who find a way to exist with people we never truly feel like we belong with. We feel as though we need to overcompensate, to be perfect, so we can earn our place.

This, like in case of Randall, can lead to extreme anxiety, and even feeling like we are having a nervous breakdown when we can’t control things in our environments. We had no control or say as to where we were going to live, or who our family was to be, and we hate feeling like we cant be in control of other things. At least this is what happened to me.

I became so obsessed with being an adoptee, telling my story, and trying to help other people who were in various states of adoption, I forgot myself. I became “too adopted”.

Unfortunately, my experience with adoption was not positive. I do not have an ideal relationship with my adoptive parents, and my search for my biological family ended in heartbreak. It was all I could think of, and it was making me feel like nothing but an adoptee. I needed to get away from being “too adopted” and focus on my other qualities.

Will I continue to want to help others in the adoption cycle? Of course! But it’s not going to be my focus anymore. It’s time for me to break away from being “too adopted” and to become Betsy.


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