Reading materials on foster care and adoption?
May 21, 2010 7:32 AM   Subscribe

mr. desjardins and I are planning to adopt a child from foster care and I am looking for reading materials.

The state provides classes and a case worker, but I am looking to do some reading on my own. We have just started the process, by that I mean we received the forms last night and will start filling them out today.

This will be our first child, so generic parenting material is also appreciated.

Information about transracial adoptions (we are white) would be helpful as that seems probable due to the demographics in our location (Milwaukee).

Special note: I was on the fence about whether we should adopt from foster care or go the traditional route of adopting a newborn, but these threads convinced me to do what I can to help someone who's already in need. Go internet!
posted by desjardins to Human Relations (12 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
The best book I read on interracial adoption is Barbara Katz Rothman's Weaving A Family: Untangling Race and Adoption.

When I was in the early stages of thinking about adopting, the most useful resource I found were the forums at Forever Parents. For me, it made it possible for me to ask questions and listen to conversations among dozens, hundreds of people who'd adopted. People are very honest there, so you get to hear the good, the bad, the transcendent, the failures. They were extremely helpful for getting real-world answers and hearing a range of experiences when I had questions, at all stages of the process. I haven't hung out there in awhile, but I just logged in and it looks like things are still pretty active. Lots of folks there have adopted from foster care and have ideas about how to do it successfully.

Good luck, and congratulations.
posted by not that girl at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2010

Oh, and if you don't know anything about working with African-American hair, there is a very active yahoo group on hair and skin care, though some of the women there seem to have made doing their daughters' hair into a hobby and creative outlet, so if you're easily intimidated, don't hang out too much in the photo gallery :-)

One of the things that was most useful for me in learning to care for my daughter's hair is an e-book called Her Special Hair. I found that some books about caring for hair assumed a basic level of knowledge I don't have; the author of Her Special Hair doesn't even assume you know how to make a braid. Very helpful.
posted by not that girl at 7:48 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I found Raising Adopted Children to be one of the best books out there for the parenting challenges that are particular to adoption. As I remember, the book also addresses foster-to-adopt parenting as well.

Best of luck to you!
posted by dirtmonster at 7:55 AM on May 21, 2010

I wanted to add, Adoption Nation is an interesting overview of American domestic adoption and how it has changed over the last twenty years.
posted by dirtmonster at 7:58 AM on May 21, 2010

My husband and I fostered 3 brothers and, a year later, adopted them. At the time, they were 10, 7 and 4 years. There's a world of difference in the challenges at each age, but..

The books that I'd most recommend are "Attaching in Adoption" and "Nurturing Adoptions" both written by Deborah Gray. Following that, I'd go with "The Connected Child" by Karyn Purvis for parenting advice specific to adopted kids (there is a difference in how you parent adopted kids, particularly in the first few years, and non-adoptive parents often don't "get" that and can't offer great advice as a result).

Beyond that, I would strongly recommend doing your own research on issues like attachment, fetal alcohol effect, drug-impacted children, depression/anxiety, anger in children, etc. Kids in foster care have often been through a lot of crap; knowing what you can, and can't, handle is something you'll need to figure out for yourselves. Workers can give you some info, of course, but look into what it's like to LIVE with those issues and what might be involved in helping a child thrive and move beyond.
posted by VioletU at 8:18 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

You probably know all this already, but I think the transition from foster parenting to adoption can be pretty frustrating. We took an intial class in Iowa, and they were adament that foster parents were signing up to be foster parents, which was a completely separate process than adoption. The goal of the foster parent system is to get to a point where the kid can go back home to thier parents, and when adoption does become a possiblilty, the foster parents aren't nessecarily first in line (other relatives, for example have the option to adopt first). If you really want to adopt as soon as possible, Foster parenting may not be the straightest line to that end.

Just something to consider, although its quite possible that WI is different than IA.
posted by jpdoane at 8:35 AM on May 21, 2010

My siblings were adopted (via open adoption) from the foster care system - my moms (who are family/child psychologists) have written a bit about their experiences and what they've learned from working with kids and families with varying degrees of experience in the foster and adoption systems here.

I also highly, highly recommend reading Harriet J's writings about the adoption and foster care systems at her blog, especially this post and this one.
posted by ellehumour at 8:40 AM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Great news!!

DH and I are also adopting from foster care. You'll get some reading references from your training material. An additional resource you may want to look into is the Foster Care & Adoption Forum at Feel free to ask your question there. The parents on that forum have lots of interesting books to recommend.

Raising Nuestros Ninos: Bringing up Latino Children in a Bicultural World - While not geared for adoptive families of Latino children, it may be of use. We're planning to pick this one up shortly.

Rhonda M. Roorda, a transracial adoptee has three books you might want to consider.

A number of books get recommended frequently on the forum I mentioned above. They are general adoption and discipline books. You may also want to consider the following:
Attaching in Adoption
Parenting the Hurt Child
Toddler Adoption
Adoption Parenting
123 Magic
A Mother for Choco

Good luck.

On preview, in response to jpdoane, how you are licensed as a foster or adoptive or foster/adopt family depends upon the laws in your state. In VA, we're dually licensed as both foster and adoptive families. So, the little one we're fostering now has a chance of becoming our adopted child. We're in the last 3 or 4 months before the permanency hearing.
posted by onhazier at 8:47 AM on May 21, 2010

Fosterhood is the blog of a young woman living in NYC who is looking to adopt from foster case. She currently has an (adorable) foster daughter living with her. Her foster kids have all been of a different race than her so far per her request.

(I may or may not have spent more than one afternoon reading her entire blog.)
posted by quadrilaterals at 9:12 AM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Labour of the Heart is a great overview and decision-making help, as well as practical strategies

I know a good attachment book too and will try to link later when at computer and not half naked in doc's office!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:25 AM on May 21, 2010

Talk to other foster parents, if you can. Maybe the agency you are working with has FP-support groups or, where I work, has hired several current or former foster parents to serve as "parent advocates." They are an added level of support for the foster parents and not in the position of caseworkers.
posted by chelseagirl at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2010

My wife, who works in an adoption agency, suggest you browse the selections at Tapestry Books. They have a section for Foster Parenting as well as many others.

For transracial adopting, she suggests Loving Across the Color Line and Inside Transracial Adoption

Good luck!
posted by Thorzdad at 1:20 PM on May 21, 2010

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