Monday, July 18, 2011

Two good children's books about adoption

Our public library is one of our favorite places to spend a hot summer afternoon. On a recent trip, we checked out two children's books that I thought other adoptive friends might be interested in.

Bringing Asha Home is an excellent book we've checked out before -- but Anya Rashi was only two at the time, and it didn't resonate as much for her then. Now, two years into our second adoption, it has definitely "clicked" for her.

In the book, a family waits to adopt a daughter from India. The book is told from the point of view of the older brother, and includes good descriptions of the excitement and frustration he experiences. The book also explains the holiday Raksha Bandan, or Rakhi Day, an Indian celebration of the bonds between brothers and sisters (which falls on August 13 this year). It's an especially helpful book for adoptive families with older siblings, because it gives a voice to the feelings a child might have througout the process.

The title of the second book caught my eye right away! You're Not My REAL Mother! is the big cahuna that many of us adoptive parents dread hearing someday. Full discolosure: I didn't actually read this book to Anya Rashi.

It's actually a good children's book -- it voices real feelings that adopted children sometimes have. In the book, the daughter is upset, and lashes out at her mother. The mother gives a good explanation of a birth mother and her own role, and calmly asks the daughter about what a "real" mother does. They go on to share a heartwarming list of the daily tasks we do for our kids. By the end of the book, the daughter is folded in her mother's arms, agreeing that she is in fact, her "real" mother.

So why not read this book to my daughter? I know she will have more questions someday about her birth parents, and she may resent us or wonder about how her life might have been different with them . . . but I don't want to plant those things in her mind before she's thinking them. And it may never occur to her to think of that particular line about "real" parents on her own. Every child is different, and at this point, I didn't want to suggest something to her that she's not already thinking.

I am, however, very glad that I discovered this book. From other parents, I've heard stories of tearful kids coming home from school after their classmates tell them "Those aren't your real parents." This book will be a great reassurance that we are, in fact, her real parents -- and sometimes seeing something in print helps kids by providing an outside affirmation of what their parents say. With Anya Rashi starting pre-school this year, it's good to be prepared in case any of her classmates bring up the topic of "real" parents.

What do you think about reading this book to a 4-year-old? Have you found any other good children's books dealing with adoption?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our "last hurrah" . . . but not really

Last year, we planned a "last hurrah" -- a little time away before we became parents to our newest child. Fast forward a little bit . . . and we are not even close to traveling to India. But we decided to make the best of it and stick with our plans anyway.

The boys went off for their first-ever sleep away camp. (The photo kind of makes it look like they joined the army . . . but it's just their ride over to the camp's other lake and cabins!) It's a place we've gone to as a family in past years, and last year they asked if they could go on their own for a week. They had a wonderful week -- not a trace of homesickness, according to them. They came back happy, exhausted, full of mosquito bites, and very proud of themselves.

Meanwhile, Aunt Alicia came to stay with Anya Rashi for a few nights and have a special girls' time together. In the three years she's been home with us, Peter and I have never gone away together, so we wondered how she would do. We needn't have worried . . . every text and photo they sent showed a smiley Anya Rashi, along with questions like, "How many more days can Aunt Alicia stay?"

Peter and I, after dropping the boys off at camp, continued north to the tip-top of Wisconsin. We stayed on the shores of Lake Superior, and spent a day sea kayaking. While it was in the 90s in our hometown, we had to wear thermal gear and wet suits because the lake acts like a big refrigerator. There are a series of sea caves, along with the beautiful Apostle Islands, along the southern shore of Lake Superior . . . it was absolutely breathtaking. The water was emerald green, and little waterfalls trickled down the sandstone cliffs as we paddled by. We also went out to a great restaurant one night, and had a terrific time.

So, even though we aren't headed to India in the near future, we did have a grand time!