Book review: ‘Big Steps for Little People’ by Celia Foster

The premise
A book by an adoptive parent, sharing her experiences and providing insights that have proved useful for her family.

My response
The most useful book on adoption we’ve read so far. It’s practical, with lots of advice for managing specific problems. It’s realistic and acknowledges that parenting is a mixture of establishing boundaries from the outset and working things out as you go along. It provides lots of comments on the child’s perspective and how their background can influence their behaviour in the present.

‘The boys soon became aware that actually they were quite lucky in comparison to others. They now had a new home and loving, caring parents whereas, had they been born in another country, they might well have suffered a far worse fate. I purposely let them see Children in Need and Comic Relief on television and they agreed that we are fortunate in this country even to have a system that picks up on the needs of abused and neglected children’ (p184).

‘By now your child is starting to settle. You have kept all your promises to her, and as a way of cementing your relationship have frequently brought this to her attention. She is fed and looked after each day and you are consistently meeting her needs. She has a good sense of what being a part of this family means. She is opening up to you and unconsciously beginning to recognize that she needs you. On the one hand she enjoys being with you and enjoys her new life, and on the other she is bombarding you with bad behaviour. Any honeymoon period you had is well and truly over. So if You have reached this stage of the process and are tearing your hair out: CONGRATULATIONS! You have created a safe environment for her to express her inner turmoil’ (p119).

What I found particularly useful
Descriptions of specific parenting techniques, such as the ‘eatometer’, having schedules on the wall, and dealing with contact issues in an appropriate way.

Of all the books we’ve read, this is the one I’m most likely to want to refer back to once a placement is about to start or is underway.

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