A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mommy Far, Mommy Near: An Adoption Story

by Carol Antoinette Peacock

This is the story of Elizabeth, adopted from China as an infant. One thing that sets it apart from other works of children's adoption literature is that the story is told in the voice of the little girl. Children will appreciate hearing the thoughts and experience from a peer rather than about a peer. Though written about an adoptee from China, any adoptive family can appreciate the issue faced in the story. 

Elizabeth is probably around five, an age when children become more cognitively aware of their adoption. The story follows how she came to more fully understand adoption, and much of it involves processing the idea of having a birth mother – what that means, whether her birth mother loved her, and grief at her absence.

Although it is a children’s book, parents can benefit as well. The mother in the story is a good example of how to tell a child’s adoption story lovingly and from an early start, how to take advantage of teaching moments, and how to answer difficult questions with understanding and love.

After seeing a Chinese mother and daughter in the park, the following exchange takes place:
"You saw the Chinese mommy and she reminded you of your other mommy and now you are sad, I think," said Mommy. 
I closed my eyes. "My mommy is lost," I said. 
"That mommy loved you very much," my mother said. 
"She didn’t keep me." 
"No, but she wanted to. Very badly." Mommy wiped my tears with her hand. 
My mother said, "That mommy loved you, Elizabeth. And I love you. And Daddy loves you. And Katherine loves you. And Penny loves you." She said it slowly, like she was singing a song.
The author shares the genesis of the book: 
...Over the next few years I began to select adoption books for my daughters to read. (I particularly fell in love with A Mother for Choco, which we read again and again!) I began to notice that many of the books talked about the adoptive parents feelings (joy), or the birthparents' feelings (sadness at relinquishing their child.) I wished more of the books described the adopted child's feelings. Around this time, Elizabeth and I began to play some adoption games at bedtime. The night that Elizabeth adopted her favorite stuffed animal-- Happy Duck-- I knew I must write a book about adoption, from a child's perspective!

I began a three year process of taking notes on the girls' reactions to their adoption. I wrote on post-ups, deposit slips, old grocery receipts. [Later,] Shawn Costello Brownell, an art teacher from Maryland, where I grew up, flew to Boston and lived in our attic for a weekend. She took photographs which would later serve as models for her beautiful illustrations.

Every family has their own adoption story; my book is meant to help parents share these stories with their children. In this way, children can begin to talk, at their own pace, about being adopted-- and what that means to them. I believe that parents are the very best people to explore the issue of adoption with their children. Discussions begun when children are young set the stage for ongoing openness, as the child grows.

Send a book review to us and we'll share them here. 

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