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Fixing the Fates – Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of Fixing the Fates: An Adoptee’s Story of Truth and Lies by Diane Dewey:

“Diane Dewey, surrendered in a German orphanage at age one, was adopted and raised by loving parents near Philadelphia who withheld information about her origins, seemingly to protect her. Then the axis shifted. When Diane’s Swiss biological father contacted her by letter after forty-six years, her sense of truth was upended. In the months and years that followed, she sifted through competing versions of the story of her birth and adoption, and discovered disturbing secrets about her true fate. She was in the midst of attempting to substantiate–or refute– these finding through resonant family reunions when another mysterious letter appeared. One part forensic investigation, one part self-discovery, Fixing the Fates is an unflinching saga of facing deception and resetting the compass to live one’s truth.”


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:

Diane Dewey’s descriptive and enrapturing writing in Fixing the Fates transports the reader to various moments and places throughout her life. Her descriptions of her feelings, thoughts, and perceptions are vulnerable and vivid. I found myself sneaking any spare moments during the day to read this book as it is one of those “couldn’t put it down” stories. The universal themes Diane explores in her memoir are empathy, context, self-acceptance, intuition, and grace (releasing and not harboring anger).

I highly recommend this book to adults in the adoption triad, but especially to adoptive parents as this is the angle from which I read the book. Diane not only shares her thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and experiences as an adoptee, but she discusses universal themes and best practices in adoption and mentions other important works, such as The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier and Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman. Listening to the experiences of adoptees is one of the most effective ways for foster and adoptive parents to become more informed about how to best parent their children and empathize with them. Reading Fixing the Fates makes these concepts and themes accessible to readers by bringing them into the mind and experiences of an adoptee who expresses her experiences so vividly.


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It’s Your Turn:

    1. What insights did you gain from Diane’s book?
    2. If you are an adoptive parent, has reading Fixing the Fates led you to make any changes to your parenting?
    3. Has the book changed your perceptions of birth family search and reunion?

NOTE: JKS Communications provided an advance copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Parenting in the Eye of the Storm – Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of Parenting in the Eye of the Storm: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years by Katie Naftzger:

“Describing the essential skills you need to help your adopted teen confidently face the challenges of growing up, adult adoptee and family therapist Katie Naftzger shares her personal and professional wisdom. Parenting in the Eye of the Storm contains invaluable insights for adoptive parents with simple strategies you can use to prepare your adopted teen for the journey ahead and strengthen the family bond in process.”

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 Our Family Thought:

The most powerful and important voice for adoptive parents to hear is that of the adoptee. In this book, readers will find the wisdom of not only an adoptee who experienced being adopted internationally, but one who now has years of experience as a therapist working with adoptees and their families to draw upon as well.

Parenting in the Eye of the Storm begins with a chapter that delves into the many layers of loss that adoptees experience describing 8 different losses, some of which are generally not thought about. Ms. Naftzger goes on to explain four parenting tasks she considers essential to parenting an adopted teen. The last three chapters discuss race, privilege and cultural norms, mental health, and self-care. While discussions of race center upon the experience of Asian adoptees, much of what Ms. Naftzger says can be applied beyond to other interracial adoptions.

Throughout the book, adoptive parents will find practical examples, stories of the author’s experiences and those of her clients, questions for introspection, and tips including what to say and what not to say. This book is meant to be read front to back and not used as a reference. Adoptive parents will likely all find some new perspective(s) as a result of reading Parenting in the Eye of the Storm.


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It’s Your Turn:

  1. Had you previously considered all eight areas of loss experienced by adoptees discussed in Chapter One?
  2. Which of the 4 parenting tasks do you find most challenging?
  3. Which parenting task do you feel most equipped for?
  4. What do you do for self-care?

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The Primal Wound – Foster Care and Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier:

The Primal Wound is a book which will revolutionize the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre- and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss, it clarifies the effects of separation from the birthmother on adopted children. In addition, it gives those children, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior. The insight which Ms. Verrier brings to the experiences of abandonment and loss will contribute not only to the healing of adoptees, their adoptive families, and birthmothers, but will bring understanding and encouragement to anyone who has ever felt abandoned.”

About the Author:

“Nancy Verrier, M.A., the mother of two daughters—one who is adopted and one who is not—is an advocate for children. She holds a masters degree in clinical psychology and is in private practice in Lafayette, California. In addition to her clinical and adoption work, Ms. Verrier writes and lectures about the effects of early childhood trauma and deprivation caused by premature separation from the mother under various circumstances.”

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 Our Family Thought:

The Primal Wound has been on my radar for quite some time as I’ve heard from multiple sources that it is a must read when it comes to adoption-related texts, and for the most part it did not disappoint! From a wealth of personal and professional experience, Ms. Verrier relates the impact being separated from one’s birthmother has on children and later on the adults they become. This is a highly encouraged read for all individuals in the adoption triad and also for adoption workers, counselors, therapists, and trainers of pre- and post-adoptive families.

The focus of this book is primarily on children separated from their mothers very early in life, but there is a chapter about children adopted at older ages. Therefore, I would encourage foster adoptive parents and parents who adopt children at older ages to hang in there because the information is still relevant overall.

This book was published in 1991, making some of the author’s statements slightly outdated, but certainly not enough to knock my grade down at all. The majority of what is contained within the book has only been further explored by other clinicians to back up the claims of how adoptees are affected by separation from their birthmoms and how all members of the triad are impacted, as well as some ideas as to how to lessen the effects. There is no miracle cure here, however, and the book does highlight the ways in which adoption is traumatic and not all sunshine and roses as some people make or think it.

There is an emphasis in the book on birth family searches and reunions, which is very widespread these days with adults who were adopted. As more and more adoptions are open and adoptees have more access to information, those chapters may well become much less informative.

It is evident that Ms. Verrier is very opinionated on some issues (such as mothers working outside the home), which may cause others to feel offended, but these spots in the book occur infrequently and are not really relevant to the book’s main points. I will have to say that she also talks frequently about how adoptive parents all must grieve their fertility issues, and while I know that many adoptive parents have fertility issues, it cannot be assumed that they all do as the majority of my adoptive parent friends do not have fertility issues.

Overall, I highly recommend reading this book to all those audiences I listed above, and I look forward to reading Ms. Verrier’s 2003 publication—Coming Home to Self—which purports to be “the next step” for members of the adoption triad and the professionals who work with them.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. What in this book impacted you most?
  2. Are there any action steps you will take as a result of reading this book?

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