Confessions of an Adoptive Parent
By Mike Berry
I have to confess that I am struggling to write this review. Let’s start off with the critique: I surprised by how much God, Jesus, and the Bible were referenced throughout the book. (this is 100% my fault, I must admit. I bought the book via an Amazon recommendation, but a simple Google search would have made it clear by the “Christian audio” option of purchase that this was clearly a book oriented to Christians specifically). I tend to like my factual information kept separate from religious belief. I think it keeps things clearer and reduces additional bias.
The author speaks a lot about his personal journey, and if that appeals to you, that’s great. But that also opens the author’s choices up for scrutiny. To that end, what made the book a difficult one to start is the reasons for the adoption the author discusses. And I definitely recognize that many people want to adopt to “save” a child from otherwise terrible circumstances. I understand the impulse. But that does set up a dynamic of the child feeling as though s/he owes the parents for rescuing them and can likewise set up a feeling of the child owing the parents for saving the child. It’s not a dynamic I think any family should start out on. I am not saying that this was a vibe felt throughout the book, just that it lingered with me and was further aggravated by the reminder that God and Jesus save us. The concept of saving and being saved is pretty heavy in this book. If that is not something that bothers you, let the reading commence.
On the positive side, the book does provide a lot of validation to feeling and thoughts adoptive parents are afraid to feel or utter. The normalization of being human and not being saints is rather nice. Berry does a wonderful job of pointing out the importance and realities around maintaining your marriage, building a community, what to look for in support groups, self-care, how to manage inappropriate questions, and so on. What is also nice, is that much of this information stands out visually. When Berry feel like a certain sentence is important for the reader to metabolize, he puts a grey box around it so it stands out. He makes good use of lists and summary sections. He does address trauma and learning and developmental issues as it effects the adoptive parents and tries hard to instill hope in the reader.
I do think that this book is helpful. The fact that the most important and salient parts are so clearly defined makes it easier for someone to skip over the Biblical parts to find specific information.