Book review: ‘Adoption Conversations’ by Renée Wolfs

The premise
How to talk about adoption (primarily for adoptive parents explaining adoption to children). Mainly about international adoption, with lots of references to orphanages and a few to the vast amount of money it costs.

My response
I was a bit frustrated that this book (by a Dutch author who adopted children from China) talked almost exclusively about international adoption where there is no contact with the birth family. I was hoping for more content about discussing a birth family with known there is contact, and about discussing adoption with others (eg when other people ask inappropriate/nosy questions). These weren’t really covered at all.

‘For the first week I thought I would never learn to name my son’s behaviour and emotions properly and that I was getting it completely wrong. But I noticed very soon that it was having a good effect on Jesse. Now that I pay more attention to his feelings, they are really not as invisible as they seemed. If he reacts angrily, I now understand that he is actually sad about something, but that he is not aware of his own feelings. I have learnt to give words to those feelings, and I now say: “You are shouting at everyone. Maybe you are upset because you can’t go to Simon’s birthday party.” He often goes on shouting, but then he comes to me and cries his heart out. At these moments, I name his sadness and he knows now that I understand and accept his feelings.’ (p96)

What I found particularly useful
The most useful part of the book was the section on naming behaviours in chapter 5, which explained the benefits of this technique well (see above).

Not as useful as I’d hoped. Not enough information on (a) domestic adoptions in the UK or (b) talking about adoption appropriately with family members, friends, and others.


Have you read this book? What did you think? Or do you have a book to recommend? I’d love to hear about it. 🙂

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