My second book ‘The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting‘ was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers this week. It took twelve years to produce; one year of writing and eleven years of research.
Adoptive parenting of children who have experienced loss and often neglect and abuse as well, is not like normal, average, everyday parenting. It took me a very long time to realise this and then to work out what that meant in real, practical terms. I’ve been on loads of courses and workshops, I’ve read books and scoured YouTube for advice and much of this has been very good, but tends to be heavy on the ‘why’ and the ‘what not to do’ but a little less forthcoming when it comes to what to try in real life situations. Most of us are the experts on what not to do and have the self-flagellation sticks of blame to prove it.
What I’ve always been desperate for is positive advice; strategies, ideas, techniques and clues which recognise that the front line of therapeutic parenting is messy, imperfect and mammothly difficult, but ultimately hopeful.
In The Unofficial Guide I’ve gathered together everything which has made sense and been effective, not just in our adoptive family but in those around me as well. It covers everyday challenges like mealtimes and education and the more difficult stuff like stealing and anger. It recognises that we don’t all feel super-therapeutic all of the time so there is forgiveness, repair and self care in there too.
Despite how hard adoptive parenting can be and has been for us at times, I remain relentlessly optimistic about the benefits of creating a therapeutic environment around a child who is hurting. It takes a lot of energy and it takes support. The support around adoptive families is often woeful and confused with blame. Blame is the opposite of support.
My greatest hope for The Unofficial Guide is that adoptive families find it supportive and authentic. It’s been conceived of from our domestic frontline in all it’s brilliant and sometimes terrifying beauty; written and drawn and blogged and lived by all four of us. It’s a bit sweary and raw in places, it’s rude and it’s jagged but it’s our paperback child and we’re very proud of it.