Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Have You Read These?

If you are not familiar with the first book, the author is an American who lived in C. hina for four years and volunteered in an orphanage. The book is a journal of her experiences and observations while there. It's a thick book but an easy read. And by easy I mean that the print is large and the vocabulary is accessible. Everything else about it is excruciatingly difficult. Add to the equation that the plight of the children exposed in the book unfortunately is probably not too dissimilar from what your own daughter is experiencing at that very moment and it's almost too much to take.

While reading the book, I made two observations that I'm willing to share. I'm invoking the 'Thumper Clause' for the other ones that I shouldn't. 1) I'll admit that I have felt a bit guilty about requesting a non-special needs child even though we did request to be considered for a special needs child a while ago and it was made very clear to us that it's just not meant to be our path this time around. Reading this book brought some of those feelings back. 2) At the same time, if this book is an accurate representation of orphanage life in C. hina (and it probably is), I have to wonder if there really is such a thing as a non-special needs child?

Even though it's hard to read, I think it's important to know what our children's early life experience may have been like and why love might not be enough to help transition them to family life. Ultimately, reading this book has reignited my desire to read or re-read everything that I can get my hands on to prepare us to help Meili learn what it means to be a part of a family. I've read all of the standards and have been working as an adoption social worker for about three years but still feel that there is much more to learn. Doing that has become item #1 on my infamous 'list.'
My latest discovery is Book #2. It is dense and reads like a psych text book in parts but it is quite a resource. It was written by a therapist (and China mom!) who worked closely with international adoptees for almost a decade. I found her composite 'First Year Home Group' to be particularly insightful. It's fascinating what you can learn about a child by watching them play and I was glad to see that the book follows through beyond theory and offers several activities that parents can do at home with their children to help them progress from 'reactive behaviors' to 'family behaviors.' It's a book that I'm glad that I bought (and I'm cheap with a capital 'C') because I'm sure I'll go back to it. I'm about 3/4 through it and plan to re-read it several times and take some notes.
If you have read either of these, I'd like to know what you thought and if you have any others to recommend, please share. I'm a woman on a mission!

No comments: