Quick tips to calm your child

I’m also listing ways to perk a child up, but I have a naturally perky, active Little Dude, and so I was most interested in the calming! These tips are useful for any child, but especially those with sensory processing issues. “What?” you say? Sensory processing disorders happen when kids (or adults) can’t integrate the information coming into their brains via their senses. This can result in a hypersensitivity, in which the child is flooded and overwhelmed by sounds, touches, textures, etc., or hyposensitivity, in which the child seems unaware of sensory input. For example one child might have near-bionic hearing, in which loud noises literally hurt her ears; another child might think tickles hurt and shots feel good.

The book The Out-of-Sync Child is considered to be the “go to” resource for parents and professionals dealing with sensory affected kids, but… can I be honest? I checked that book out of the library and just reading the first few pages was overwhelming! And I am no intellectual lightweight – I read several books a week, and I have quite a few parenting books under my belt. But this book was just too much.

Which is why I loved this simple list of tasks for sensory kids. People with this disorder tend to get things backwards – a person might gravitate towards alerting activities when they are trying to get to sleep, or calming activities when they need to wake up. A major task of a parent, then, is to help their kids match appropriate activities to appropriate times/places, and sorting the activities (below) by their neurological benefit is so handy!

Calming Activities

  • Blowing bubbles
  • Playing in the sand
  • Getting massaged
  • Handling a pet
  • Rocking
  • Rubbing lotion on hands

Alerting Activities

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Spinning
  • Swinging
  • Playing music
  • Finger painting
  • Cooking

Organizing Activities

  • Bike riding
  • Weight lifting
  • Climbing
  • Giving “bear” hugs
  • Tug of war
  • Doing push ups
  • Chewing gum

More ideas for sensory integration help

*Source: Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development (2010). Crash’n’Bump: Proactive Sensory Intervention.

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Give yourself a massage!

I love getting a paid, luxurious massage as often as possible, but often I can’t spare the time or the money. Instead, make the most of your free moments by giving yourself a massage! , taken from “Time out for Mom …Ahhh Moments,” by Mary Beth Lagerborg.

DIY Shoulders and neck massage

Start off with shoulder rolls forward, then reverse. Grasp the thick band of muscle running down the top of your shoulder. Squeeze and release, moving from your neck to your shoulder and back again. Use the same hand as the shoulder you’re working on (right hand = right shoulder), with fingertips curved down toward your back. Massage each shoulder 2 – 3 times. Use your index fingers to draw small circles along the base of your skull from the back center of your neck to your ears and back again. Continue rubbing circles up and down the muscle in the back of your neck.

DIY Hands and Feet massage

Make circles with your hands clockwise and counterclockwise. Apply a light hand lotion to one hand. Use one thumb to massage the lotioned hand from the fleshy part of your palm near the thumb on the other hand to the center of the palm, then switch hands. Place a rolling pin on the floor and firmly roll the soles of your feet back and forth over it for several minutes. Or give yourself a foot massage. Sit in a chair or on the floor. Gently place one foot on top of your other knee or thigh. Rub some lotion on your foot and apply pressure to the sole with your thumbs. Your foot should be gripped between both hands, thumbs on the sole, fingers wrapped around the top of the foot. Rub from your toes to your heel, paying special attention to each area. Repeat on the other foot.

How I rated this book: 3 stars

I loved how practical Mary Beth is in this book, and if you feel a little lost in motherhood, you will find concrete tips on treating yourself well “on the cheap” and in spite of hectic schedules.

This book is one of the series of books sponsored by the international organization, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS).

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Adoption Books for Children & Teens

I’ve put together a list of children’s adoption books that I’ve come across – some have become our favorites, but some don’t apply, and some are scary or offensive. So, I’ve taken to previewing the books before we read them to our son, and I’ve included a plot synopsis and my own notes if I’ve read the book. The books are grouped by age appropriateness, and I also noted what type(s) of adoption the book seems to address best. A lot of this is subjective, but I’ve done my best to give you a guide when you’re searching for a book to demystify adoption for your child or help your little one process adoption-related feelings. It’s a work in progress – I’ll be filling in any blanks over time, and you can feel free to add your notes in the comments if you know about a book I haven’t listed or haven’t read.

Book Synopsis Themes Notes
Ages Birth to 5 years
A is for Adopted This Christian-themed alphabet book takes you from “A is for Adopted” to “Z is for Zest for Life.” Open Adoption
Abby Abby was adopted at 11 months into a family with an older brother, Kevin. In this story, Abby is going through her lifebook, and asking Kevin to read it to her. Some sibling friction ensues, and resolves. Older child adoption Cute, and very realistic to incorporate sibling squabbles into the adoption story: this stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum, people! ☺
Adoption Stories for Young Children This is a book to help parents discuss adoption with their children and how their family was created through adoption. Five-year-old Ryan learns that a woman who is having a baby may decide that the baby can be better taken care of by someone else.  Infant adoption
Older child adoption
International adoption
Told by a boy who is apparently not adopted. He describes his understanding of adoption, including his babysitter’s pregnancy and that she chooses to have his neighbors adopt her baby, as she is too young to parent. He describes all his adopted friends, too. A tiny bit forced, to me, such as how his babysitter just happens to choose his neighbors to parent her baby, but the book gets the job done.
Allison Allison becomes aware that she doesn’t look the same as her mom and dad, and reacts with confusion, withdrawal, and anger. She finds resolution through her experience taking in a stray cat. International Adoption
Looking different
I found Allison’s anger response, especially the photos of hurt on the parents’ faces, to be especially realistic and poignant: it does hurt when your child strikes out. It seems like Allison was adopted from Japan, which is also somewhat unusual, making this book especially nice if your child was born in Japan.
All Together Now A family of one rabbit mother with a bunny, duckling, and mouse children, have made up a special song in which each child has a phrase that reflects his own special qualities. As each phrase is explained, it also covers the birth stories of the animal babies. Looking Different Single Mom I love this simple story line, because it highlights how a family can enjoy their differences (appearance, abilities), and also treasure the things they have in common, like big feet. This family has a lot of fun and a good sense of humor.
Amy Angel Goes Home This allegory shows a bunch of angels in heaven, going through training to be born on earth as a baby. Charlie sees his parents, and glow in his mother’s tummy where he knows he will be born. Amy is confused because she doesn’t see a glow in her mother’s tummy, and that’s when she finds out she is to be adopted, and that makes her feel special. Infant Adoption I found this story a little “too” sweet, plus I don’t see any Biblical foundation for the idea of babies being angels before birth. However, the concepts are good – adoption is just another way to come into a family, and the parents love an adopted child just the same as a biological child.
The Chosen Baby A thorough depiction of a family built through adoption, including Peter’s adoption and then a while later, his baby sister Mary’s adoption. Infant Adoption The term “chosen” has fallen out of favor for adoption since 1939 when this book was first written. This revised edition leaves that term out of the story, and the illustrations are adorable watercolors, so what you have is a sweet story of infant adoption.
The Day We Met You Illustrated with pastel crayon drawings, this is the story of Mom and Dad telling about the exciting day they adopted their baby. Infant Adoption A great book for the smallest child, using short words and vibrant illustrations.
Did My First Mother Love Me? A Story for an Adopted Child Morgan asks her adoptive mom if her first mother loved her. Her mother answers Morgan by reading her a letter that Morgan’s birth mother wrote to her. Infant Adoption
Open Adoption
This heartfelt letter from birthmother to her unborn baby covers all the things the birthmother wanted for her daughter, and transitions by her sad admission that she could not provide these things herself.
Flora’s Family A little girl notices that she doesn’t look like her mom, and her parents explain to her about her adoption and reassure her that she is wanted. Infant Adoption Positive and cute.
God Found Us You The story is presented as a cherished and much-repeated bit of bedtime conversation between Mama Fox and Little Fox. Asked about “the day I came home,” Mama talks about how long she dreamed about and waited for Little Fox. Little Fox asks, “You were lonely for me?” and Mama’s affirmative response makes them cuddle all the closer: her pain is simultaneously shared and assuaged by Little Fox. Little Fox also asks about why he couldn’t stay “with the mother who had me,” and Mama responds in a warm and assuring tone.
Goose A goose egg rolls into a den of woodchucks, and the goose is raised by the woodchucks. Goose feels sad because she’s different, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Any Adoption
Transracial Adoption
International Adoption
I love this book! Molly Bang accurately displays the feeling of “otherness” that adoptees feel, but it also strikes a chord with any kid who doesn’t completely fit in. I found it painful to watch goose go off alone, but I sense that some journeys are so personal that parents can’t always accompany their child. Thus, it was with great relief to see Goose learn to fly, and choose to return to her family as her own “person.”
Happy Adoption Day Illustrations for the song written to celebrate the anniversary of a child’s adoption. Any Adoption The score is included, which didn’t help me at all, since I can’t sight read music but someone sang it for me on YouTube: Happy Adoption Day
How I Was Adopted Samantha introduces herself, along with her likes, dislikes and the fact that she’s adopted. She recounts her adoption story as told to her by her parents, including a couple pages about how babies are born. Infant Adoption
This cheerful story covers several key points well: the way babies are made, how much care goes into the process of matching adoptive and birth families, the different characteristics that a child gets from his birthparents vs. his adoptive parents.
Mother For Choco A little bird needs a mommy, and he asks lots of animals if they would be his mommy. They each say no because they don’t look like Choco, until finally Mrs. Bear sets Choco straight about what really makes a mommy – hugs and comfort and dancing. Transracial Adoption We love this book in our family, even though we look alike, because we love the story: we all mimic grumpy walrus and when Choco gets a hug from his new mommy, Little Dude gets a hug from me!
My Special Family: A Children’s Book About Open Adoption A workbook for children of open adoption to help them understand their relationships with their adoptive parents and birth parents.
Over the Moon Follows a couple as they dream about their baby, get a phone call about her birth, then fly far away (“over the moon”) to pick her up and take care of her. International Adoption
Infant Adoption
This is a cute story, with bright, bold illustrations. I love how she showed the anticipation and excitement of the parents, their extended family, and even their neighbors.
The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale A King and Queen feel a pain in their heart, and an old man explains that they have a red thread coming out of their heart. When they follow the thread to a distant land, the other end is tied to their new baby. International Adoption
Infant Adoption
I love this story, because we did have a pain in our heart while we tried to build a family, and it seemed like we arrived road-weary to pick up our new baby… even though he was a toddler. :)
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born Parents recount the story of their adopted daughter’s birth, all the way from getting the phone call through the first night home. Private Adoption
Infant Adoption
This story is told in a very positive way, with a great sense of humor.
This Is How We Became a Family The author tells this story as a modern fairy tale, talking about the couple who could have no children, the birthmother who was too young to parent and afraid, and the beloved baby. Infertility
Private Adoption
Infant Adoption
A sweet story about private adoption.
Through the Moon and Stars and Night Skies A boy tells his own adoption story back to his momma, remember his fear while getting on a plane, landing, and even seeing his new room. International Adoption
Older child adoption
I liked how explicit he was about his fear, as I think that’s true for many toddlers being adopted, and I liked how he talked about “beginning to know” his mom and dad, accurately highlighting that attachment is a process.
Welcome Home, Forever Child  A rhyming story about a family who has adopted a child past infancy. Older Child Adoption
Foster Adoption
This book had a simple point: the adopted parents missed a lot of the child’s “firsts”, but they they would be there for all the rest. As they mentioned the various things they would share, they underscored the forever-nature of adoption: they’d be there for the child’s wedding and beyond! Often, rhyming books, because of their sing-song nature, come off as trite to me, but this one felt real – in fact, I almost teared up when they talked about missing their baby’s first steps, first words, etc. I missed that, too!
Ages 5 – 8 years
Adopted and Wondering: Drawing Out Feelings This book, best if you purchase it, is designed for children to color in. Each section describes a bit about adoption, then has several pages for coloring. The coloring pages are topped by a short statement, such as “When adults are told there is a child who needs a family, they feel happy and excited.” and then a drawing assignment, such as draw a picture how your parents felt when they learned they could adopt you.” Any Adoption I love this idea, and I can’t wait to try it. The author really breaks down the adoption experience into small steps that are easier to process. Furthermore, allowing the child to draw is therapeutic, a precursor to journaling, and helps the parent to understand how the child views his life and the people in it. Fantastic!
The Adopted One A boy feels a little out of place because his family doesn’t look like him, and he asks questions about his “real” mother, which his mom and dad answer. Each page tells the story, but with parallel text for parents to read, explaining what goes on for the adopted child. Private Adoption
Transracial Adoption
Very uncomfortable with the term “real mother,” as that just doesn’t seem to be adoption friendly. The storyline is a little provocative, as when the dad says, “You’re not our real child either!” Ouch! However, they wrap it up well, and I think it does deal honestly with how kids think, and they explain their rationale in the text for parents.
Adoption is for Always This story is told in the voice of a girl about 8 or 9 years old. In the beginning, it suddenly hits her what adoption means. She becomes withdrawn and sullen, and it takes her several weeks, and discussions with several people, to process the different issues that come up for her, such as permanency and self-worth. Infant Adoption
Open Adoption
I liked how Celia “suddenly” realizes she’s adopted, though she’d been told her whole life, which could be confusing to a parent, but really just means that as kids develop, the continue to understand their adoption at new levels. Also, the author appropriately showed that Celia handled her emotions poorly (by acting out) which is so typical… It’s left to us as parents to respond well, and I felt like I could incorporate Celia’s mother’s responses into my own parenting.
All About Adoption: How Families are Made Author explains many different types of families, touching on all types of adoption. One of the best all-around summaries of adoption in kid-friendly, adoption-friendly language. The only thing missing is coverage of the reasons for involuntary relinquishment. Infant Adoption
Foster Adoption
International Adoption
The explanations are very common sense and thorough, without making value judgments. I used this book as a way to explain adoption in child-appropriate terms, even though we didn’t read it together because it was a little too long for a toddler attention span.
Beginnings: How Families Came to Be Tells the stories of six children who joined their families in different ways. Each story is told with truth and joy, and lovely illustrations. Biological families
International Adoption
Kinship Adoption
Single Dad
Single Mom
Infant Adoption
Open Adoption
Foster Adoption
Older Child Adoption
Medical Disabilities
Transracial Adoption
What a great book to normalize the unique family situations that come about by adoption. One story reflects the traditional birth story (mom, dad, pregnancy, baby), and the rest reflect different flavors of adoption, but the overall impression is that all are valid, and none are better than another.
Being Adopted Follows three adopted children as they question and assimilate the issues pertaining to their story, including photos of each and their families. Transracial Adoption
International Adoption
The photos are a little dated, and the text is probably too lengthy for a younger child. However, I really appreciated the wording, and it would be a good book for parents to use as a basis for how to talk with their young child about adoption.
Being Adopted A 7-year-old girl tells her adoption story.
Carolyn’s Story: A Book About an Adopted Girl 9-year-old Carolyn tells her own life-story, including adoption from Honduras, her brother also adopted from Honduras, and many non-adoption related topics, such as her hobbies and her older biological siblings, etc Infant adoption
International adoption
Carolyn writes a very engaging narrative of her life as an adopted 9-year-old Latina. She covers some pretty tough topics in a realistic, but casual way, which sends the message that feelings are okay and we have the power to manage them.
The Colors of Us Lena and her mother take a walk through their neighborhood, and the varied skin tones of friends and relatives they meet along the way are compared to honey, peanut butter, pizza crust, ginger, peaches, chocolate, and more, conjuring up delicious and beautiful comparisons for every tint. Transracial Adoption
I didn’t find this book to be particularly focused on adoption. In fact, it seemed to be more of a general “diversity” book. However, learning to accept different shades of skin tone is never bad, and may be especially helpful if your skin tone doesn’t match your child’s.
Families are Different Nico introduces us to her family: Mom, Dad, two adopted girls, and a dog. She discusses how it started to bother her that she didn’t look the same as her parents, and how (through asking her mom) she realized that there were many different types of families, all united by love. International adoption
Looking different
I liked the idea of curing the comparison disease by expanding the boundaries – don’t just compare yourself to families that all look alike; compare yourself to all families and find out how many variations there truly are.
Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights Text and illustrations talk about all the different emotions and situations that result from foster care and adoption, and places them in a framework of changes that happen to any family. Many different situations are represented including jail, abuse, kinship adoption, and different races are shown in the illustrations. Foster Adoption
Kinship Adoption
I really like how this book treats these tough issues. The book does a good job of normalizing situations that are inherently extreme, such as jail, drug addition treatment, ambivalence, and fear.
A Family for Jamie: An Adoption Story This story shows an infertile couple as they express the emptiness of not being able to “make” a baby, decide to adopt, apply and then wait for a long time to adopt, and finally get take baby Jamie home. Infant Adoption
I particularly liked the “waiting” period, in which the parents observe how nice each season would be once they have a child to enjoy it with – this accurately depicts how hard it is to wait for your bundle of joy!
Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live With Their Parents This story is told by a little girl whose mother is an addict. The girl stayed out of school and took care of her mother, until they finally ended up living in a shelter, and the book opens as the girl appears before a judge and is taken into foster care with “Aunt Dane.” She tells us about her feelings of hope, ambivalence, grief, and fear, and the story ends before we find out whether she is reunited or adopted. Foster Care This story was touching and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s beautifully illustrated and scrupulously honest about a foster child’s experiences – it would be very validating to a child who has been through these experiences. It seemed unfair for the author to leave us “up in the air” about what happened to this girl – and yet, so appropriate, because that uncertainty is what foster children live with every day.
Horace Horace, a baby leopard, gets adopted by tigers. He becomes discouraged that he has spots and they have stripes, and runs away to the park to play with a spotted family. Eventually , his misses his mom and dad and returns home. Transracial adoption This is cute book, and I like how the boy comes to his own conclusion that he belongs with his striped parents, though I hate reading books in which the child runs away, as I don’t want to give my son any ideas. Note: Holly Keller wrote several books featuring Horace, each cover kid issues like being afraid and learning to share.
In My Heart A mother explains that she carries her daughter “in her heart” while she goes throughout her work day and they are apart. Fun illustrations, showing the little girl in a heart shape, and so on. Separation While not strictly adoption related, this is a great way to address how people can stay connected when they are not physically together. This is important regarding the psychological presence of birth family, as well as to help adopted kids cope with separations without feeling rejected or overwhelmed with anxiety. (i.e. will this mommy leave me, too?)
A Koala For Katie Katie asks if she was in her “real” mommy’s tummy, and her mother starts to discuss the details of her adoption, reinforcing that her adoptive mom is her real mommy, too. Katie then goes to the zoo and “adopts” a stuffed Koala, takes care of her new “baby,” and works out the concepts in her play. Infant Adoption
Private Adoption
This book approaches the “real mommy” talk by telling the child that both birth and adoptive moms are the “real” mommy. I tend to prefer the method (as in “You’re Not My Real Mother”) of saying that the “real” mommy is the one who takes care of you every day. Both have their good points. The story is cute and fun, though.
Let’s Talk About It: Adoption this book doesn’t try to explain or define adoption; rather, it jumps into the middle of adoption and describes the various feelings that adopted kids and parents might have. It is written by Fred Rogers and is meant to spur conversation. Any adoption I was predisposed to dislike this book, since I’m not a big fan of Mr. Rogers, but I was actually very impressed with how easy the it was to relate to the feelings described and how relevant the situations are.
Max and the Adoption Day Party Tells the story of Jose, who invites his friend Max to his Adoption Day Party. The party is described in detail, and works exactly like a birthday party, but Jose explains that it’s about his adoption day, or “gotcha day,” and Max has a good time. This is also an early reader book, so young adoptees can read it themselves. Any Adoption We acknowledge the day our son’s adoption was final, but we don’t celebrate it with a party as this family does. This is a lighthearted, fun story, though and would be good for your family if you have this tradition.
Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care Text and illustrations talk about all the different emotions and situations of temporary foster care. The title of the book reflects the frustrations and uncertainty that are inherent to foster care: maybe you’ll stay with foster family, maybe you’ll go back to birthparent(s), maybe you’ll be adopted. Foster Care This book is very focused on foster care, prior to any adoption plans being made. It’s a difficult time for everyone due to the uncertainty of the future, and the book has broad coverage of the associated feelings kids have.
Mulberry Bird A young mother bird struggles to take care of her chick without the father bird, and finally agrees to have the owl find an adoptive family for the bird. Private Adoption
Foster Adoption
This story was surprisingly emotional, and I found myself relating strongly to the pathos inherent to the birthmother’s situation. Some of the situations were sad and scary and probably best for a slightly older child.
My New Family: A First Look at Adoption This book explains the various types of adoption in simple terms with lighthearted illustrations. There are several thought questions interspersed with the text, to spur discussion with your child. Any Adoption This book is a good overview of adoption, covering all different adoption situations, and some of the feelings that go with it.
Never, Never, Never Will She Stop Loving You This story is written as if it’s a letter to birthmother Annie’s child. It highlights all the ways Annie showed her love for her child via prenatal care and choosing adoption. Illustrations are children’s drawings. Infant Adoption I was put off on page 2 when it said, “you have 2 mothers.” That is one valid way to describe adoption, but I prefer birthmother or first mother. I just think a person has one mom at a time, and I’m the one in that role now.
One Wonderful You An overview of adoption, using the concept that all people are unique in some way – adoptee is unique because it took two families to make one wonderful you. Any adoption The story is done with hand-drawn illustrations and clear wording. They clearly delineate the things we get from our birthparents (genetic) vs. our adoptive parents (traditions, religion, memories, etc.) I didn’t like the fact that they listed personality as coming from birthparents – not sure why.
A Place In My Heart Charlie, a chipmunk adopted by squirrels, is happy-go-lucky, until one day when he begins to really wonder about his birthparents, who he’s never seen. He becomes sad, and then aggressive with his siblings and disobedient in general. Charlie’s mother draws a heart for her and one for Charlie, and they write the names of everyone they care for, to show that we all have room in our hearts for everyone we love. Any Adoption This is a cute story, and I like the demonstration of how “wondering” can turn into “bad behavior” in an adopted child. The heart thing is a very good visual, and you could do this with your child as you read the book, which is neat.
Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story This story is told from the perspective of Rosie – a Beagle adopted by Schnauzers. She tells her adoption story, and she talks about all the different questions she had about her adoption, as well as how her family answered them and the conclusions she came to. Transracial Adoption
International Adoption
What a cute story! I’m partial to dogs, of course. Telling this story from a puppy’s perspective really takes away some of the sting of highly charged issues, such as looking different from your family. Rosie even asks whether Mom and Dad are her “real” parents, and it didn’t seem quite so annoying the way this author approached it. :) This book focuses on common adoption issues, with a bent towards families who aren’t visually similar.
The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism Book describes the reasons for racism, as well as the resulting feelings it causes for kids if they are the victim of racism. The book suggests some ways to cope with it, and also has some thought questions you can ask your child to get them talking about this topic. Transracial Adoption
This book does a good job of describing racist motivation, without excusing it. While it does not directly cover adoption themes, it will be useful if your adopted child experiences racism, especially if you have not personally.
The Star: A Story to Help Young Children Understand Foster Care This is the story of Kit, a small child who is taken from her birthmother’s house in the night by two social workers. It follows Kit as she’s taken to a foster home, fed, bathed, and put to bed. Then, a star in the sky begins to talk to her, explaining that he’s in foster care, and that lots of other kids are, too, and Kit is greatly reassured. Foster Care This book aptly describes the fearful experience of being taken from the only home you know by strangers, to be put in a home of more strangers. I like the things the “star” says to reassure Kit, but I wish it wasn’t a “magic star.” That is, foster care is real, the emotions that go with it are real, but the star isn’t real. So, a foster child reading it is left wishing then had a magic star to make them feel better. Wish, instead, that it was a person.
What is Adoption: Helping Non-Adopted Children Understand Adoption Alex, who is adopted, shares his life book with his friend Violet. She had not known he was adopted, and has lots of questions for her own mother, Alex, and Alex’s mother. The book follows Violet as she processes these questions and their answers. Any Adoption I like how this book reflects the natural curiosity of kids about adoptive families. Violet’s questions aren honest, and at times uncomfortable, but the adults and Alex answer them well. I particularly like when Violet’s mother asks her to think about the different types of families they know, highlighting the fact that many families are “different.” In fact, the book may be slightly optimistic, as Violet’s questions are never rude, no one answers, “I don’t know,” and nobody gets defensive. But hey – if you can’t be idealistic in a book, where can you? :)
Why Was I Adopted? A thorough explanation of adoption, including reasons for and types of adoption. Uses cartoon illustrations and a good sense of humor for even serious topics. Kinship adoption
Private adoption
International adoption
Single parents
Transracial adoption
I love the frequently asked question section the last part of the book, written as though asked by the adoptee. It’s a great way to normalize questions for kids, but also a good source for parents, as it demonstrates how to answer!
William is my brother An older brother tells the story of his younger (adopted) brother and his (soon-to-be adopted) younger sister. Infant adoption
Looking different
I like the way the author normalizes some key adoption issues, for example: we are different (lists ways), we are the same (lists ways). Another example I like is when she writes that some people say William’s special because he’s adopted. William is not special because he was adopted; William is special because he is William, just like I’ am special because I am Tony.” Well said!
You’re Not My Real Mother A little girl, noticing that she doesn’t look like her Mom, tells her adoptive mom, “You’re not my real mother.” Her mom then asks her a series of questions about what “real” moms do, and the little girl comes to the conclusion that this is her real mom. International Adoption
Transracial Adoption
Again, I cringe at the term “real” mom, but this is the concept and wording that kids have to struggle with when they are trying to understand adoption. I think the mother in the book responds calmly, and that didn’t seem to realistic to me – it kinda’ stings when my son comes out with these kind of things – but it’s a good goal. :)
Zachary’s New Home: A Story for Foster and Adopted Children Little boy placed in foster care due to abuse, then placed with adoptive family, and then struggles to attach, including running away to look for his “real” mom and dad. Foster Adoption
Older Child Adoption
While I recognize the effort this author makes to validate the child’s feelings with language a child might use, I did not like the use of mom/dad for birthparents, or the repeated use of the term “real” mom. Even though it was in quotes, a child can’t appreciate that subtlety. Didn’t feel comfortable with Zachary running away, fearing it would give Little Dude ideas…
Ages 9 – 12 years
How It Feels To Be Adopted 19 boys and girls, from age 8 – 16 and from every social background, confide their feelings about adoption.
Megan’s Birthday Tree: A Story About Open Adoption When the child was born, her birth mother, Kendra planted a tree, and every year she sends a photo of it to Megan on her birthday. Now Kendra is getting married and moving, and the Megan worries that her birth mother will forget her without the tree as a reminder. Open Adoption This story was well done – I think it’s a good reminder to parents that children can often be affected in surprising ways by change, as well as the psychological presence and importance of birthparents.
Star of the Week Internationally adopted girl struggles with a school assignment in which she is to make an autobiographical poster. International adoption Very nicely handled, and relevant, subject matter.
Older: pre-teen and teenaged kids
Adopted Teens Only: A Survival Guide to Adolescence
All About Adoption: How to Deal with the Questions of Your Past Cartoons and casual, conversational tone to deal with common feelings and situations that adopted kids face in themselves and with their peers.
Returnable Girl
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Lots of examples of setting limits the ACT way

In ADOPTS, we learned a new way of setting limits. In fact, even the word “limits” is new – we used to say “rules” or “saying no” for such things. This new way is more challenging, but has a more long-lasting benefit. Instead of just saying, “No” or “Stop” or haphazardly distracting Little Dude, we are intentionally training him that when he feels like doing action A, he can’t, but he can do action B. Eventually, he will just choose action B in the first place.

It works – I’ve seen it with Little Dude – but it’s a mouthful at times. Essentially, you must:

  1. figure out what your child is feeling or wanting
  2. figure out what you don’t like about it and how to word that
  3. come up with an alternate activity that will fill the initial need

In other words, you have to figure out what will scratch their itch, and not give you the itch! Oh, and you’ll need to do this on the fly, often many times a day. It puts more of a burden on you, the parent, because it requires more creativity than just saying, “Stop hitting me!” I find that it’s helpful to have lots of real world examples to read and think about, so that you’ve already got that wording floating around in your head when you need it. I’ve collected the samples I’ve found in the literature, below. Continue reading →

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Troubleshooting your filial therapy

We’ve been doing this a few months now, via ADOPTS, and we went through a real rough patch in the middle, in which Little Dude did not want to go to play therapy… and he made it known every time we talked about it. That drove me to some research on play therapy, and I found these great “frequently asked questions” and answers that helped. Of course, I have paraphrased in my typically irreverent style – if you’d like the therapists’ real words, you can find all of these in the book, Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual.
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9 Parenting Rules of Thumb

When you’re trying to revamp your relationship with a troubled child, it can seem like a real uphill battle. These rules of thumb are pertinent to filial therapy, but I think they’re pretty applicable to all parenting! Continue reading →

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Unexpected joys of the common bath pouf

Who would have thought you could get so much fun out of a $1 bath pouf? I always get these for myself because I love how many bubbles come from so little soap – it appeals to my frugal side. On a whim, I put one in my Little Dude’s Easter Basket. It wasn’t that I really thought he’d care for it, but it went with the rest of the things so I gave it a try.

Little did I know that he would love it! My husband said that he immediately wanted to scrub himself all over with the pouf, and sure enough – here was the little guy in the tub getting clean with a big grin on his face. This is great if you’ve been having to struggle to teach your child hygiene, and it’s also a good sensory experience, if your child has sensory integration issues.
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Just for Laughs

Courtesy of my father-in-law:

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

I could agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
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My Mommy wrote me a letter: wrapping up ADOPTS

As we wrap up our ADOPTS training, we have one final assignment: to write a letter to our child about the progress we’ve seen in him, and then read it to him at our last session. This has been a really tough assignment for me, which is why I’ve procrastinated about 8 weeks!
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Working more praise into your daily speech

The sentences below are from a handout we received at ADOPTS training. The words were printed using huge font, and that’s all that was on the page. I can see that they are trying to emphasize the importance, but my sarcastic self also wondered if they were trying to indicate remedial training for the praise-delayed parent (such as myself)!
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