The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting

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.


11 thoughts on “The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting”

  1. This is a brilliant brilliant book- I have just read it after Viv Norris suggest I read it. I felt like I was reading about our life (I have 2 adopted siblings). Lots of great, practical suggestions too. Thank you so much. I think all adopters and prospective adopters should read. it.

    1. Thank you. I’m so glad that you found the book useful and that it rang true (one never knows during the writing process; )

  2. Have read and loved it so helpful. Want everyone I know and all the professionals involved with my family to read it to give them an understanding of our lifes.

    1. Thank you for your kind feedback. I’ve often found myself unable to explain what it’s like, and writing it down is easier. I hope that those around you can can reach a better understanding.

  3. Sarah Christmas

    I just wanted to say I love both your books, my husband and I are approved and awaiting matching (which is taking forever) and I have devoured both your books and love your frankness, honesty and openness about your journey into and after adoption. Can I also say how great it is to see Jamie contributing to your blog, what a great step for him. Keep up the honesty, sometimes we feel that we don’t get an honest view of adoption and post adoption. I hope you keep writing and would love to hear you speak.

    1. Thank you Sarah, it’s kind of you to take the time to write. I try really hard to be honest and positive and encourage Jamie where I can. I wish you well with matching, which I know is a tricky time. I am continuing to speak and write. The next book will be something a bit different.

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