A review of Adoption Therapy, an anthology edited by Laura Dennis
“Untherapied” is not a word you’ll find in the dictionary. It should be part of an adoptee’s vocabulary, however, because so many of us have struggled without the aid of therapy to cope with adoption-related issues, writes Karen Belanger, one of the contributors to the valuable anthology Adoption Therapy (Entourage Publishing, 2014).
Editor Laura Dennis has gathered an impressive group within these pages. Of the 17 contributors, 13 are adoptees or were in foster care, three are adoptive parents, and seven have advanced degrees in mental health. The writers provide insight and possible solutions from personal and clinical experiences, along with findings from peer-reviewed research. The essays touch on topics ranging from the dangers of no therapy to harmful therapists to transracial adoption to intimacy issues for adoptees.
Although this is a short book, it may not be an easy read, as it challenges the old idea that if you simply raise your adoptee as if he or she were your own and give the adoptee enough love, he or she will be healthy and happy. The book subscribes to the new thinking that raising an adoptee or fostering a child requires something more, and it suggests what that something more might be.
A common theme runs throughout the book: the notion that an adoptee’s first loss absolutely must not be discounted and that whatever therapeutic approach is used, the adoptee’s personal experiences must be validated through individual care.
When my own adopted son was placed with me at 10 days old, I’ll admit, I was wearing rose-colored glasses. I did not want to hear anything about future problems. Our experience, I was sure, was going to be different. I experienced a very painful learning curve, coming to understand the effect of adoption trauma on my son’s developing brain and the effect it continues to have today on his core sense of self-worth.
Forewarned is forearmed. This book is an excellent primer, guaranteed to get you thinking about raising a child who has been in foster care or was adopted.
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Kathy Gordon is an adoptive Solo Mom of a beautiful 11-year-old boy. They live in Los Angeles, where she home-schools, acts professionally, and is a certified instructor of Parenting by Connection. Gordon hopes that by sharing their journey, she can make yours a little easier and a lot more fun.
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