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.”
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:
- How did Kelp feel about being different than his family?
- Why was Kelp anxious about leaving the ocean?
- Have you ever been nervous or anxious about doing something for the first time? What?
- How did Kelp feel with the unicorns (land narwhals)?
- Why did he want to go back to his old friends?
- Which world did Kelp have to choose to be a part of?
- Do you ever feel like you’re a part of two worlds?
- How do you feel like Kelp in those worlds?
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.”
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]
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.
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It’s Your Turn:
- What insights did you gain from this book?
- Where is your heart?
The other day I was talking with a fellow adoptive parent, a fantastic mom, whom our family has know for many years. We were sharing our stories about being on the journey and suddenly the conversation turned to this mom’s regrets for having adopted her child.
This feeling of regret wasn’t made in anger or flippantly. Actually, it was made through cautious and embarrassed tones. Emotions caused from years of striving to meet her child’s needs, of giving up dreams, of giving up time with other children in the home as well as her spouse.
I was able to comfort this friend. It wasn’t that I had the answers but I walk along the same journey that she does. I know what it is like to feel the mix of guilt and regret throughout a period of days. It’s a horrible feeling to come over you when you realize that you’re failing in this caregiver role that you took on. You feel like you are possibly doing the child more harm or at the least not helping them at all. The worst is holding these feelings to yourself because others don’t understand or won’t understand – you’re forced to put on a happy face in public when your insides are clawing for an empathetic ear.
Thankfully over the years I have found other foster and adoptive parents who share my journey. I know others also have feelings of regret for taking a child into their home. However, outside of a counseling office, I only see us, the caregivers, recognize these feelings and then stop there.
What steps can we do to overcome and persevere?
- Normalizing for Caregivers
We live in societies and cultures which frown upon imperfection and the inability to be self-reliant. HOWEVER, being human means that NO ONE can provide the perfect care, love, emotions or upbringing for any child. Furthermore, no person is an island and will require help. Caregivers may feel that something is wrong with themselves if they admit they need help, they are overwhelmed or they just don’t simply have those “lovey dovey” feelings for their child. The fact that time has been spent writing this article says that no caregiver is alone in their feelings of regret for starting the foster care or adoption journey.
- Go Through the Grieving Process
It’s important to know that there is no “fix” or “easy step guide” to follow to deal with feelings of regret. Instead caregivers will find that it is a process – a grieving process. One must allow themselves to grieve the changed dreams and goals that they had for their child and their life. After losing a loved one, many people seek counseling – this may be an important component for a caregiver to seek as well, so that a professional can help them at least initially walk through the grieving process.
After going through the process, don’t be under the delusion that it won’t rear its head again. One might find themselves going through the grieving cycle several time throughout life. It is again important to “Normalize” these feelings and allow others who are on the foster care or adoption journey to share these moments with you.
- Don’t STAY in Regret
It would be easy to hide in your home by yourself and simply live out your days depressed. The fact of the matter is that as a caregiver you chose to take a hurting child into your home and that child (despite what they may be showing you through behaviors) is depending on you for so much. Do you have regrets? Yes. Do you like your child? Maybe not at all. Are you depressed about lost dreams? Quite likely. However, as a caregiver, it is also a part of our job description to execute what is in the child’s best interests. This certainly doesn’t include a caregiver who is stuck in regret. It’s up to you to seek out support, make that appointment with a counselor, do what it takes to have time for self-care… you’re the adult and must lead the charge in this battle.
It’s Your Turn…
What steps would you add to our list?