Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide

The following is an adaptation of a post that was originally posted at Sea Glass & Other Fragments. I received a review copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

While reading Carol Lozier's book The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide: How to Heal Your Child's Trauma and Loss, I often found myself excitedly underlining key phrases and jotting notes in the margins. I like a lot of things about this book. I appreciated that the author views attachment as a relationship issue between two people rather than as a diagnosis assigned to the child. ("A child cannot be characterized in one particular attachment style. For instance, it is incorrect to say a child is ambivalent or avoidant." Pg. 9) Though attachment styles are examined in detail, the focus is on healing and on helping the child develop a secure bond in the new family. That healing is possible is one of the core assumptions of the book, and a viewpoint that I heartily endorse.

I became especially enthusiastic when I got to Part Two of the book: "Healing My Child's Past Trauma." I love that this section opens not by focusing on the child, or on any challenging behavior that the child may be exhibiting, but rather on the parent and the parent's state of mind. "What is the energy between my child and myself?" is a question raised in Chapter 7. That same chapter includes a section titled "THE FIVE S'S: DISCOVERING AND MAINTAINING CALM," which consists of "five suggestion to help parents find and maintain a state of calm with their children." That section alone is worth the price of the book. Why does parental calm matter so much? Because the parent's emotional state has a huge impact on the child's emotional state, and when the child is calm and grounded he or she is better able to think and to maintain self-control.

All in all, I would consider this book a useful addition to the library of anyone who is parenting or considering parenting a foster or adoptive child affected by early trauma. The book is easy to read, well organized (chapters stand on their own so the book can be read cover-to-cover or dipped into at any point), and provides a good overview of the complexities of parenting a child with a painful history. I can't speak to the effectiveness of the specific parenting and therapeutic strategies that the book recommends because I didn't have the book when my foster-adopted daughter was in her more active healing phase, but if you are looking for practical suggestions you will find plenty of them here. If you try them and find they work well for your family, please let me know!

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