Questions Adoptees Are Asking

by Carrie



                               

As an adoptive mother, my curiosity was definitely piqued when I saw Questions Adoptees Are Asking being offered by Moody Publishers.

This book is written by Sherrie Eldridge who was adopted herself. Therefore it has the perspective of being written by someone who has the questions that are being asked in this book. Adoption being a somewhat delicate subject that can raise huge emotional issues of varying sorts, I want to tread lightly with this book. Naturally I have strong opinions about adoption, being that we adopted one of our two sons. We’re relatively new to the adoption game though and so I pick up a variety of resources from here there and everywhere to educate myself on the topic. I want to be able to help my son as he grows up and faces some of the same questions that Eldridge has come to a head with.

I cannot say that I agree 100% with Eldridge’s approach to this book. In saying that, I feel like my disagreeing with her will be taken as a personal affront to an adoptee. Let me be excessively clear that I have less than zero desire to cause an offense to an adoptee. Again, being that my son is one, it’s my desire to grow and to learn how to best approach and handle the topic of one’s adoption. I’m trying to educate myself, not distance myself from potential problems. It’s hard to read a book when you’re being told while reading it that you cannot possibly understand how the person feels. Now, that may be true to a greater or lesser extent but when the reader is informed from the get-go that, unless they have not personally been adopted, they can give up any hope they have of understanding or, as the case may be, finding the resources which is this book useful. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the tone Eldridge took in this book was off-putting to me and I want to state that from the get-go. I wish she had approached me in a manner that would allow me to process the information instead of feeling like I had to defend myself. I think I would have walked away from the book feeling more armed with good knowledge.

Obviously, I have a vested interest in this topic and so, regardless of my feelings over the ‘tone’ of the book, I pressed onward.

Despite my hesitations in reading through, I found Questions Adoptees Are Asking to be useful. Sherrie Eldridge shares a lot of heart pains that she has suffered as a result of being adopted. She questioned things about her birth parents. Her adopted parents weren’t terribly open about discussing adoption and it was excessively helpful to hear her take on these things. Her obvious pains were used to prepare me to minister graciously to my son. She raised issues surrounding her own insecurities that were helpful for me to hear about and to know. I appreciated both her willingness and openness (nay, her eagerness!) to share her experiences. She offers plenty of advice and encouragement to adoptees seeking answers to the questions that she herself has asked and it seems like hearing her perspective could be a good thing. (I can’t say for certain since I’m not an adoptee, but she shared from her correspondence with other adoptees and they seemed to share a common bond.)

The subtitle of this book is “Questions Adoptees Are Asking…..about beginnings, about birth family, about searching, about finding peace.” Honestly, I think those are the four most crucial topics that need to be addressed with an adoptee. I know it’s not easy and I’m not trying to downplay the enormity of the task before me. There will be tough moments as there are obviously some tough questions. But learning how to present the answers that I DO have to share with my son in a loving and respectful manner is something I very much want to do which is why I sought out this book in the first place.

Adoption, at least in the area of the country where I live, is becoming more the norm and there are plenty of support groups and resources to choose from. My personal home community is filled with adoptive families which we count to be a real blessing and a boon for us. We want to offer all the help, love and support to our son that we possibly can. We want to live wisely and well. Books like these are useful and I’m glad to know of them. Therefore I felt like this was a resource worth mentioning. That said, again, I have to say that I think if Eldridge had approached this book with a little more grace towards the non-adoptee, I would have been able to sink in and absorb more of the book. The flip side is that it could be said that the book is intended for adoptees and not their mothers and I was not the intended audience. But when one is learning about a subject, it’s very helpful to glean from multiple perspectives.

I think this book is excellent and awesome food for thought and I’m very glad for the opportunity to have read it. I appreciate hearing Eldridge’s heart so that I can set about preparing mine appropriately for the future which awaits both myself and my family.

Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know and Reading My Library.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meghan Harvey April 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I think this sounds like a great book for parents, even if the tone is a little off. I think it’s also a testament to you as a parent that you’re really striving to understand how you can help understand you’re own child better. It’s refreshing to read after hearing the recent story about the adopted Russian child who was sent back by his mother. I think committing to understanding your child is one of the keys of parenting, regardless if you adopted or not.

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2 Carrie, Reading to Know April 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Meghan – AMEN to that! I don’t think it matters whether or not your children are adopted – understanding and knowing them is an important part of parenting. Thanks much for pointing that out!

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3 Theresa Haskins April 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I was adopted as an infant, a LONG, LONG time ago. My mother told me she rocked me as an infant, telling me I was special. I always believed her. I always knew I was adopted and never felt any type of loss as a result. As a matter of fact, I remember telling my mom that I hated my birth mother. Her response, “oh honey, I am so grateful that she loved YOU enough to give you to someone would take care of you.” That changed my view – the woman must have cared deeply.

I lost my amazing mom when I was 18 years old. She was my Spiritual mentor and my idol! Every day I strive to be like her! I was extremely blessed!

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4 Angie April 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I am an adult adoptee and I’m sure that I would enjoy reading this book. I was adopted at the age of two and a half and I knew my mother for those first years of my life. Growing up, I was ashamed that I was adopted – my adoptive brothers made fun of me so much that I blocked out that I was adopted. I dreamt of my birth mother and still remember what she looked like so many years ago, believe it or not.

Everyone talked about my birth mother badly – but like Theresa above, my adoptive mother also said the she didn’t like my mother but she was glad that she had me and gave me life.

I hated my own mother until I had my first child. I forgave her and started searching for her, to my adoptive mother’s dismay. (She told me I shouldn’t find her.) I had seen my original birth certificate (not sure how) and I always remembered those two names that belong there, so it wasn’t too hard to find her. We corresponded via phone, email, and letters for 8 years, and I felt like I finally found that part of me that was missing.

Sadly, she passed away 3 years ago, and I still wander through life confused and feeling unwanted. I have questions that I will never get the answers to. I’m estranged (for the most part) from my adoptive family and I remember hearing when I was younger two things that I will never forget: “You can take her away from her mother, but you can’t take her mother away from her” and “You should have never adopted her”. Both things were said by my adoptive father’s mother with my mother standing there, and she never even consoled me or corrected my grandmother for saying those things. That bothers me to this day.

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5 Carrie, Reading to Know April 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Angie,

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that. This book is absolutely for you!! The author takes issue with various statements made to adoptees and she had all of the same questions you are having. I couldn’t think of a more PERFECT book for you to grab hold of!

In the meantime, our adoption agency was very, very good and thorough about counseling us to protect our children from statements such as the ones you were exposed to. I’m so glad that they were so forceful in their advice to us adoptive parents and strove to make such a point to us. Clearly words can hurt a child and I hear your story and my heart is so very heavy for you — and for my son!! I can’t fathom not defending my son and consoling him against such remarks. Thankfully we haven’t had any such statements made to us – even though I know people exist who say STUPID things. The sting of such words can have a lasting effect.

At any rate, I am just incredibly grateful to you for sharing what you did and want you to know that it meant a lot to hear it. You didn’t have to but you did. Thank you.

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6 Nancy April 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I was also adopted as an infant and I’d be curious to read this book because I have never asked those questions. I’ve known I was adopted for as long as I can remember – kind of like I’ve known I have brown hair. It’s just part of who I am. Sure I’ve wondered if I have siblings or where my bio parents are now, but never to the point of searching. I was adopted in NJ and would require a court order to open the records, not something I have the energy to go through. I am not willing to disrupt someone else’s life, let alone my own. My parents have always been supportive of searching if I wanted to but they never pushed it.

As I said I’ve always knows I was adopted and it was something we discussed freely in my family, but I didn’t start really talking about it to others until high school so kids were shocked when they found out. But I was never teased or given a hard time, they were just curious.

Anyway I would definitely be interested in this book even if I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s point of view.

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7 Trudy April 22, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I have so much that I would like to say, because I am a birth mother. However, I don’t even know where to begin.

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8 Carrie, Reading to Know April 22, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Trudy – I bet you have much to share!

I met one birth mother once who was so supportive of our adoption. She was so insightful and delightful. I loved hearing her heart and why she made the choice she did.

Adoption clearly effects so many people for so many different reasons. So many personal stories and so much to learn!

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9 Penny Hull April 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

Thank you for sharing this fantastic review.
I would however like to ask you to be gracious to the author when she stated something about no one knowing how she feels if they have not experienced adoption from the adoptees side. I was not addopted, but did have a traumatic experience with my first child (she was a SIDS baby) and no one who has not had a SIDS baby can empathize with me. Yes you can sympathiz, but not empathize.
I am sure this is true of all traumatic experiences.
And yes there are still things that trigger the same feelings I had when I went through the esperience.
Thanks again for you openess.
Penny

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