Book Review: Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen.
The book Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child (Harvard Common Press, 2008) is just as thorough and useful as its title suggests. But what the title doesn’t tell you is that this book can be very helpful for the parent of any adopted or foster child, whether the child was adopted internationally or domestically. As author Patty Cogen states in her introduction, “Raising an internationally adopted child is both a challenge and an adventure.” She encourages parents to see the challenges as part of the adventure, adopt a learner’s mind-set, and engage in proactive parenting.
Cogen defines proactive parenting as being knowledgeable about your child’s needs and capable of anticipating problems before they occur. Proactive parents respond quickly and fully to a child’s distress, whether physical or emotional, without worrying about “spoiling” the child or giving the child too much attention. In fact, although many approaches might encourage a parent to be proactive and responsive while building attachment at an early age, Cogen insists responsive, proactive parenting must continue for all of the more than 18 years you spend raising him or her.
Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child includes research about:
- How internationally adopted children may behave
- Negative coping strategies and survival skills they may rely on
- How trust and attachment after adoption isn’t always stable and permanent
- The factors that interfere with trust and attachment
The research supports Cogen’s position that responsive, proactive parenting is a long-term solution to such issues. “Children with complex backgrounds do not communicate clearly about their needs,” she writes. “Parents must behave as if the child has expressed those needs.”
Cogen operates The First Year Home Group, an education and support group for parents and their internationally adopted children. In her book, she shares the journey of five families, providing insight into how the world of a new family appears to the internationally adopted child and the adjustment challenges the child faces. Survival, coping, and adjustment behaviors; identity issues; and emotional and behavioral control are all illustrated through the experience of the five children. The latter part of the book offers coping strategies and explains how to adjust those strategies as a child’s behavior patterns and issues change as the child matures.
Too many parenting books offer a breezy “solution-oriented” approach. Parents of children who have been fostered and adopted need concrete strategies to help them deal with their child’s loss, developmental gaps, and even trauma. This comprehensive, compassionate book offers parents practical advice and hands-on strategies to successfully navigate the unique journey of adoptive parenting.
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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