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Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Before reading Rescuing Julia Twice, I had no idea there was such a thing as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This happens frequently in kids of internationally adopted children. These children have trouble bonding and loving–and that often breaks their new parents’ hearts. This is not the average I’m-so-lucky, big-group-hug book on the subject. Author and adoptive mother Tina Traster gets real.
Since we all know someone who has adopted, it’s a must-read. Tina holds nothing back–about the wonder and joy, yes, but also about the many challenges. Check out my Q&A with her below to get more scoop about this stunning book.
KK: What inspired you to finally tell your adoption story in your new book, Rescuing Julia Twice?
TT: In 2010, a Tennessee woman put her adopted Russian child alone on a plane back to Moscow, saying he was psychotic, and she couldn’t parent him. That was an extreme and immoral thing to do, but I knew that many parents like me were living some version of that woman’s life. I understood what it was like to adopt a Russian infant who didn’t bond for years. Fortunately my story had a different outcome. My husband and I had helped Julia bond, and turned around her life, and made us a solid family, I felt compelled to tell my story.
KK: What was it like for you when Julia didn’t bond easily?
TT: I don’t know what it would have been like if Julia had bonded right away, but because she didn’t, and because she was my first child, I assumed her inability to bond was my fault. That I’d made a terrible mistake, that I was incapable of being a mother. For a long time, I languished in a state of despair and isolation. I did not see a parallel world in the mommy-and-me universe between my circumstances and others. The savings grace was the support and love I have always had from my husband, Ricky.
KK: What is RAD? Is it common?
TT: A serious condition associated with infants and young children who have been neglected, abused or orphaned in infancy. The traumatic break of the maternal bond, or the primal wound, as some call it, affect the child’s capacity to trust and bond to one primary caretaker. RAD is difficult to diagnose; in fact many therapists are unfamiliar with the syndrome, and it is often mistaken for other afflictions. In my opinion, RAD needs to be better known and understood, it needs the same attention and exposure as the autism spectrum.
KK: Would you tell us about your ‘aha moment,’ when it hit you that Julia suffers with Reactive Attachment Disorder, commonly known as RAD?
TT: For the first three to four years Julia was home, I’d heard the term RAD a handful of times, most memorably from her pediatrician. But it wasn’t until by chance I caught a television interview of an adoptive mother of a Russian child who was serving time in prison for that child’s accidental death. Listening to her describe the child’s behaviors was chilling because I could identify. That program led me to the Internet, where I learned there had been a number of cases of deaths of Russian-adopted children, and many were suffering with RAD. I saw common behaviors, and it gave me the urgency I needed to help my daughter rather than hoping she’d eventually bond.
KK: You write that you understood how it might be possible for other adoptive parents to snap and injure their kids, and even accidentally kill their adopted Russian children. Would you explain why?
TT: I’ve never felt violent toward Julia, but I do know how devastating it feels to parent a child that won’t accept love. You try and try but the child rejects you, and acts up 24/7, and you feel exhausted, defeated and angry. What stopped me from sliding into the abyss was gaining an understanding of RAD. Once I did, my heart really broke for Julia. I understood how deeply she was suffering. My husband and I devoted all our energy to shifting how we dealt with Julia and doing whatever it took to get her to bond to us, which she did, over time. But the game-changer was empathy.
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KK: What would you most like all the mothers out there, and especially adoptive mothers, to take away from Rescuing Julia Twice? What’s your advice for them?
TT: First and foremost, you are not alone. So many of us who are parenting internationally-adopted and foster-care children, are living with deeply wounded children, and so many stars need to align for the healing to begin. A good marriage is a necessary foundation. Patience and perseverance are the guiding pillars. Understanding RAD completely — by reading everything you can on the subject — is what you need to help your child. You may want to partner with a therapist who is qualified to treat RAD but beware of the many professionals who are unskilled. Finally, an adoptive parent, maybe any parent, must be willing to relinquish deep-seeded expectations about what parenting or being a family means, and instead be open to a path that was unforeseen.
Friday, March 21st, 2014
Did you see author and world-changer Jenny Bowen on Good Morning America this morning? If so, did you get weepy like I did? Oh my goodness. That was sweet. The story goes like this: Jenny Bowen, a former documentary filmmaker, adopted a little girl from China several years ago. The girl was emotionally void–a victim of neglect and abuse at her orphanage.
Jenny simply said she wanted to do something. So she created the organization Half the Sky to improve these facilities all over the Far Eastcountry. She went against Chinese bureaucrats, and she’s still hard at work. She emphasized that if we–you or me–see something in the world that bothers us, we can get out there and do something about it. Big or small, in one house or in one country.
Her new book, Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains, chronicles her journey of adoption, rehabilitating her daughter and adopting another, and her current job to work inside the Chinese government to bring a loving and caring adult into the life of each orphan. This is a book to uplift you and reaffirm your faith in humanity. Pick it up!
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adoption, Chinese adoption, Chinese Orphanage, Half the Sky, Jenny Bowen, orphans, Wish You Happy Forever | Categories:
Best Sellers, Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Popular Books
Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Looking for a good momoir? I have one for you. This one chronicles one cynical woman’s path of infertility. Spoiler alert: It has a peachy keen ending.
5-Second Book Review–here I go:
If you or a friend has lived with fertility issues, check out the new memoir, Breeding in Captivity: One Woman’s Unusual Path to Motherhood. Author Stacy Bolt skips the usual trappings of sentimentality and conviction. Instead, her bold and candid writing guides the reader through the disappointment and agony of trying to have a baby with no luck. Her dark sense of humor keeps her going through failed prescriptions, IUI treatments, endometrial surgery and adoptions. She’s so relatable because she’s never sure what she should do next. In the end—with support from her great husband and friends—she finally gets what she’s looking for. She provides solace to women who are struggling and lets everyone else know exactly what it’s like.
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Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
In a fascinating new book called To the End of June, author Cris Beam explores the intricacies of America’s foster care system. She shares heartfelt stories of real kids journeys woven in with solid research and insight. Our country has more than 400,000 foster kids today–and they’re in every city and school. Yet, the average person doesn’t know much about them or what they go through.
Cris hopes to inform us all–and thereby improve–childrens’ lives. Read my Q&A with this amazing author below. Cris left her own home at age 14 and never saw her mentally disabled mother again. Later, as a grown woman and educator, she adopted a transgender foster kid who was getting lost in the system. She pores her soul into her acclaimed, must-read release.
KK: In three sentences, what is your book about?
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CB: To the End of June reads like a novel as it closely follows a few foster families over the course of five years as they navigate their way through child welfare. These families love their kids and want to do what’s best for them, so through their journey, we can more easily see the problems and potential in child welfare overall. When the families encounter particular issues endemic to foster care (running away, birth family reunions, intersections with juvenile justice, etc.), the book pans back into some child welfare history and research, but always sticks closely to the individual characters and stories themselves. (more…)
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Jennifer Gilmore‘s The Mothers has become a praised and hot new novel. It’s about one couple’s struggle with infertility and then the rigors of adoption. Jennifer wrote her book after going through a similar hardships herself. Luckily, her personal story has a happy ending. Here’s more directly from Jennifer about her life and her book:
“Since we met in our late twenties, my husband and I have wanted to make a family. I’d been sick, though, and was told by my doctors I’d never be able to have children.Despite this ominous declaration, I went on to become pregnant, which ended in a miscarriage. After several rounds of unsuccessful IVF procedures, we decided to pursue domestic adoption.
We were utterly unprepared for the adoption process, despite extensive research. And the deeper we got into the world of paperwork and agencies and lawyers and the choices we had to make, the more issues of race and class, and also what motherhood means, ignited the novelist in me. I wanted to investigate not only the difficult and shocking process, but also the deep and complex wanting to be a parent and the stress not being able to make that happen puts on a relationship. I hope my new novel, The Mothers, does this.
After a long and winding and often terrifying adoption path, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to have a newborn at home with us, for good. We are adjusting—with pleasure—to the daily rhythms and changes of a growing infant. There were times we thought this would never happen, and so becoming a family of three feels delicious, something to savor.
And yet, like my friends and family who came to motherhood easily, I have some of the similar concerns. There are the financial pressures—our savings and then some went into trying to have a child—and there are the pressures of space that come when living in a New York City apartment, with or without a child. While often there is little predicting when a child enters any of our lives, adoption can be quick and unexpected, as ours was. And so we are living the same frenetic life we were before his arrival .
As a writer, I work at home. Right now, the baby is asleep in his swinging chair, but he could—and will—wake up at any moment, wanting to be held, fed, changed. I do all these things with pleasure, but as a writer works for herself, there is no maternity leave. Now, I meet my deadlines in quick spurts. And I would be disingenuous if I did not admit to being worried about the future. Beginning a novel takes huge swaths of empty time and silence and solitude. And as a novelist, I have to believe I will be working on a new book very soon.
I am not the first writer to become a mother. Women managing work and parenting has been tackled and discussed and hashed over privately and in the media for decades. For writers though, especially women, it is especially difficult to carve out time for work when there is a child right here, whom I have yearned for, waiting for me to pick him up, bring him to me, hold on to him forever.”
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