Reading List for Adoptive Parents

Adopting can be a lengthy process and while you are waiting it’s a perfect time to put together a reading list of topics that could be very useful once your child is in your home.  While many people are familiar with the giant tomes written for pregnant mothers, you may need a few ideas on where to start for books on adoption.  This list covers various facets of adoption, and features sound advice from adoption experts as well as literature and personal insights from adoptive parents and adoptees.

Children’s books – that parents will love too.

  • A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
  • I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis
  • Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale From Henry Holt and Co.

Getting Started

  • Launching A Baby’s Adoption by Patricia Irwin Johnston
  • Adopting After Infertility also by Patricia Irwin Johnston

General Adoption Parenting

  • Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge
  • Raising Adopted Children, Revised Edition: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent by Lois Ruskai Melina
  • This is Me – Memories to Gather and Keep by Susan L. Pierce
  • Parenting the Hurt Child : Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow by Gregory Keck, Regina M. Kupecky
  • Parenting With Love and Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition) by Foster W. Cline, Jim Fay
  • The Waiting Child: How the Faith and Love of One Orphan Saved the Life of Another by Cindy Champnella

Older Child Adoption

  • Adopting the Older Child by Claudia L. Jewett
  • Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best
  • Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew


  • When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD by Nancy L. Thomas
  • Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents by Deborah D. Gray
  • Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Childre by Daniel A. Hughes
  • Facilitating Developmental Attachment: The Road to Emotional Recovery and Behavioral Change in Foster and Adopted Children by Daniel A. Hughes
  • Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Evidence and Practice (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) by Vivien Prior, Danya Glaser
  • Help for the Hopeless Child: A Guide for Families (With Special Discussion for Assessing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child), Second Edition by Ronald S. Federici


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Guatemala Issues Decree Allowing Families to Finalize Adoptions

In 2007, Guatemala suspended adoptions amid allegations of fraud and deceit, and left dozens of U.S. families who had already been matched with children in limbo.  While the decree is not expected to solve all adoptions that were halted, there are 44 children who will immediately fall under the decree.  Another almost 400 families though are still left hanging.

When Guatemalan adoptions were suspended, there were approximately 900 families whose cases were left unresolved.  During the lengthy wait since 2007, approximately 500 of the original families opted to end the process, so the numbers have dwindled greatly during the suspension.

Guatemala was once a very popular country for international adoptions by U.S. families.  But the original program had little government oversight and was primarily handled in the private sector by lawyers.  Guatemala has been working on a new program, that would have oversight by the government, but it has yet to really gain any momentum.

The current decree will remain in effect for one year.  The U.S. State department is sending representatives to Guatemala to consult on the decree and try to bring resolution to all pending cases.


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Adoption Fundraising

Not quite enough to pay for your adoption? Try adoption fundraising!

So you’ve checked your adoption budget a hundred times, run through your finances and dug under the couch cushions for loose change – but you are still coming up short.  What’s next?  Have you thought about fundraising to pay for your adoption?  Adoption fundraising is a way for friends, family and even strangers to help you pay your adoption expenses.  Here are a few ideas to help you get started, but most importantly you should feel comfortable with the concept of fundraising for your adoption and the type of fundraiser(s) you choose to undertake.

  • Selling items you currently own – Or in other words clean out your closet! (This has the added benefit of helping you make room for your new family addition.) Depending on what you have, you could sell using an online site such as, or You could also have a garage sale or set up a table at a local flea market.
  • Make an item to sell – It could be a craft or art item, a cookbook that you write, or a service of some sort. Handmade items can be sold on specialized sites such as, or or any of the sites listed above for selling merchandise. You may also be able to set up a table at a local craft fair, your church or an area farmers market.
  • Direct Selling Fundraisers – Many direct sales companies, such as Thirty-One Gifts, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Silpada, etc. offer fundraising opportunities. Requirements may vary by consultant, but usually you host a party either in person or online, and you receive a percentage of the total sales generated to go towards your fundraising efforts.
  • Taking Donations – There are several online sites that allow you to take donations from individuals in order to help fund your adoption. Requirements vary, but some examples include and Most also give you a link or ‘widget’ that you can include on your personal website, on your Facebook page or in an email to friends and family.

Please remember that tax, fundraising and selling laws and taxes can vary by city, county and state. Please consult your accountant or other trained professional who can give advice for your personal situation before starting any of these endeavors. Sunshine State Home Study and Adoption Services takes no responsibility for the use or misuse of the information contained here-in.


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Adoption: Preparing for Your Home Study

A Home Study is usually the first step in the adoption process once you have decided to adopt. Any adoption, whether international or domestic, will require a home study. A home study is a visit to your home by a trained social worker to determine the readiness of both your family and your home atmosphere for placement of adopted child. You will want to make sure your social worker is licensed to do home studies in the state where you reside. For international adoptions, you also want to make sure your social worker can create a Hague Convention compliant home study if it’s required for the country you intend to adopt from.

While there are different requirements depending upon whether you’re adopting domestically or internationally, and there are also different requirements depending upon what foreign country you’re adopting from, in general, home studies require one to four face-to-face visits between the social worker and the prospective parents. The visits are typically in the prospective parents’ home and sometimes include required parenting classes that may be given by the social worker at a local library or bookstore. The social worker will then prepare a written report approving the prospective parents for adopting a child. Beyond the actual home study, some social workers will also counsel and assist the parents as they negotiate the paperwork process.

A Home Study is not a white-glove inspection of your home and you don’t need to redecorate in preparation for your home study.  A social worker is visiting your home to make sure it is safe for a child to live there.  They expect your home to be “lived in”, but want to make sure you have room for a child and can provide a safe and loving home for the child.  If you are nervous about your home study, feel free to ask your social worker any questions you may have in advance of the visit.

For more information on having a home study done in the State of Florida, contact Sunshine State Adoption & Home Study Services.  They are  licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Family Services to conduct home studies and have extensive experience with domestic and both Hague Convention and non-Hague Convention international home studies.


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Guest Post – Shelly Owens from Good to Be Crazy

Thanks so much to Shelly Owens for her Guest Post this week!
Hi everyone! We’re Team Owens – Dan, Shelly, Madeline, Davis, Hannah, Joseph and Charlotte. In the blog world, some know us as the “Crazy Crew.” And it’s true – we tend to march to the beat of a different drummer.
We’re a homeschooling, multi-racial family of seven. We love our God, we’re passionate about orphan causes and we’re committed to our ministry in Eastern Africa, called SixtyFeet.


But life wasn’t always this way. Five years ago, we were an average American family — just a Daddy, a Mommy, a little girl and a baby boy.
Dan was climbing the corporate ladder while I stayed home with our little ones. We worked hard, played hard and chased hard after the American dream. And dream we did…


We dreamed of world travel, beachfront property and stock portfolios. We dreamed about sending our children to the best private schools in Atlanta, about imported cars and building our dream home.


But over time, and with much prayer, it occurred to us that there might be a little more to life than all this dreaming… In early 2010, Dan and I learned about a facility in the East African country of Uganda, called “M.” This place is a prison for children. Yes, you read that correctly.



Dan first traveled to Uganda and stepped onto the grounds of M in April of 2010. Since that time, he and the rest of the SixtyFeet team have logged hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles in their travels to and from Africa. They’ve discovered six additional M-like facilities in Uganda and more scattered throughout Africa.


Last year, Dan and I forged a special relationship with two young children living in M.
And in December of 2010, we brought Joseph and Hannah home with us to be our son and daughter, forever.


Special thanks to Brett Younker: music, Michael Lines: video, and Griffin Gibson: photography
We hope our story will encourage and inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and to live for more than the American Dream.

Team Owens is just one little family and we know we can’t change the whole world. But by God’s grace, we believe we can change one little corner of it.

If you desire to support SixtyFeet and the imprisoned children of Africa, there’s so much you can do. Visit our site, wear a t-shirt, bake some cupcakessponsor a child or maybe just start a conversation. You can’t do everything, but we can all do something.

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Adoption in the Classroom

It’s that time of year when children across the U.S. are heading back to school.  Whether this is your child’s first year of school or you have many school years behind you, the issue of adoption can still cause some anxiety in the classroom for everyone involved – the parent, the teacher and most importantly, the adopted child.

Fortunately there are a wealth of resources designed for all ages and situations.  As a parent, how far you want to go in educating your child’s peers and teacher about adoption is up to you and your child.

You can approach the teacher at the beginning of the school year, offering both information on your child’s unique situation as well as general adoption information and terminology.  Or you can wait for one of those class projects that can pose challenges for adoptees, such as family trees, charting genetic traits or bringing in a baby picture (that may not even exist for your child.)  Adoptive Families magazine has a great guide entitled “Tackling Tricky Assignments,” as well as many other helpful resources to help you make it through the school year.   The age of your child will also determine your level of involvement.  As children grow, they usually want parents to step back and take a behind the scenes role.

Another important point for the classroom is that only four out of ten families fit what we term as the traditional family model.  Families come in all shapes and configurations, whether children are adopted, being raised by grandparents or other relatives or are co-parented by divorced parents and step parents.  Robin Hilborn has put together a set of modules about adoption for the classroom that start with the “Many ways to make a family” and “Many ways to create a child.”

Rather than focus a lesson on adoption, you can also find information on incorporating adoption into Everyday Teaching Situations.  This approach for teachers explains that you should always assume there are adopted children in your class – whether you know if any are adopted or not.

Whatever approach you choose for your family, know that you are not alone and there are lots of resources to help you navigate the school years.

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Parenting an Adopted Child

Parenting an adopted child can sometimes be very different from parenting a biological child who has had loving parents and a safe home from birth.  Children are shaped by their circumstances no matter how young.

Dana over at Adoption Journey has a great post up about a situation with her son Wenxin who is 8-years old and has been a part of their family for ten months.  Understanding and attaching to your child is so important in any adoption.  For additional resources, check out Toddler Adoption:  The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best and Attaching in Adoption:  Practical Tools for Today’s Parents by Deborah D. Gray.

But right now head over to Adoption Journey and read Dana’s very insightful post!  Wenxin definitely has a great set of parents.  🙂


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International Adoption Update

2010 International Adoption Statistics – According to the U.S. Department of State, the number of children adopted internationally by Americans fell to a 15-year low in 2010.  This decrease of 13 percent overall resulted in a total of 11,059 adoptions last year.  The top five countries that Americans adopted from are China, Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea and Ukraine.

Japan – In light of the recent massive earthquake in Japan, many prospective parents are asking if adopting from Japan might be an option.  Currently, Japan does not have any comprehensive laws governing foreign adoptions and there are several reasons as to why this is unlikely to happen.  Culturally, the Japanese have strong biological ties.  If a child is orphaned then the child is almost always taken in and cared for by extended family.  Also, Japan differs from other countries experiencing large scale natural disasters in recent years, such as Haiti, in that Japan is a very developed country and has the resources to care for orphaned children.

Kyrgyzstan – In April, the Kyrgyz government lifted a two-year moratorium on international adoptions.  A new agency is being set up to oversee international adoptions and the government estimated it would take about three months to have new regulations in place.  However, processing of new and pending adoption cases has not yet resumed.

Haiti – New applications from prospective adoptive parents are once again being accepted for adoptions in Haiti.  Prior to this, Haiti has been only been finalizing adoptions that were already pending before the earthquake.  The U.S. Department of State is advising those interested to proceed with caution as the government and adoption infrastructure is still suffering from the impact of the earthquake over a year ago.

Ethiopia – As adoptions from Ethiopia have been deliberately slowed by the Ethiopian government, approximately 1,000 U.S. families are affected who already have an adoption underway.  At its busiest, the Ethiopian government processed up to 50 cases a day for international adoption.  Parents have been advised to expect significant delays by the State Department.

Navigating the ever changing world of international adoptions can be difficult.  If you are wondering how to get started with an international adoption, give us a call today.  Our social workers are up to date on the latest international adoption news and regulations.  For more information, visit our website at


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Adopting from Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a popular country for international adoptions. Photo Credit: DuBoixMorguefile

Adopting a child from Ethiopia has become a more popular option, especially as other countries have either halted or slowed down international adoptions.  Over 2,500 children were adopted from Ethiopia in 2010, fostering specific play groups and family groups for those with children adopted from Ethiopia.

Children adopted from Ethiopia are usually under four years old, with 38% being under the age of one year at the time of adoption.  Sibling groups are also sometimes available.    The approximate cost to adopt from Ethiopia is between $20,000 – $25,000, and the country is open to married couples who are no more than 40 years older than the child they are adopting.    Adoption by single women is currently under review and gay and lesbian couples are not eligible.

Adoptions in Ethiopia are done through an office of the government under the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.  There are only twenty U.S. adoption agencies that are approved to place children from Ethiopia.  You can see the complete list of approved adoption agencies here:

In March of 2011, the Ethiopian government announced that it would slow the approval process by approving only five adoptions per day.  Prior to this, the process to adopt from Ethiopia usually took 10 – 12 months, but this change is expected to lengthen the wait time.

Post placement reports for Ethiopia are an important component, with reports required at three, six and twelve months after the adoption, and then annually until the child turns 18 years of age.

If you would like to get started on your dossier for an Ethiopian adoption, please contact us.  Our agency is licensed to do home studies for all of the Ethiopian approved adoption agencies in the U.S.


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Adopting from Russia

It seems as though adoptions and adoption issues make the news quite often.  Whether it’s about celebrities adopting in far away country or international government power struggles between countries delaying adoptions currently in process.  So what are the options if you’ve decided an international adoption is right for your family?

The Kremlin, Moscow, Russia

One popular option for U.S. families is Russia.  This is a relatively stable program and approximately 1,079 children were adopted from Russia by U.S. citizens in 2010 according to State Department statistics.  Russian adoptions to the U.S. peaked in 2004 when there were 5, 862 adoptions.  While adoptions were not halted in 2010, they were slowed due to a U.S. – Russian dispute about the care of Russian children by Americans.  More information on the recent pact between the U.S. and Russia can be found on the State Department  website .

Children available for adoption usually are residing in an orphanage and include both boys and girls, 10 months of age and up.  In 2010, 72% of the adoptees were between the ages of one- and four-years old.  Children adopted from Russia include both healthy children and those with special needs of varying degrees.  Ethnicity of Russian children varies, and may include Asian, Mediterranean or Roma, as well as Caucasian.  The current social and economic problems in Russia that followed the Soviet collapse have resulted in thousands of children living in Russian orphanages.

The typical timeframe for a Russian adoption from dossier to referral is ranges from approximately 6 – 36 months.  Costs for a Russian adoption usually fall between $20,000 – $30,000 and two trips are required.  Single applicants are accepted for Russian adoptions.  For all families, post placement reports are required for 3 years following the adoptions.

If you would like to start the process to adopt from Russia, please contact us today and we can get your home study started and assist with putting your dossier together.  Our agency has always been in good standing with Russia and has never been placed on the black-list. (The black-list is composed of agencies who are no longer allowed to process home studies or post placement reports for Russia.)


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