Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


Book Recommendations

I love to read. I read a huge variety of books, articles, magazines, etc. I read everywhere!
(I really need a Kindle so I can stop lugging books around the world with me.)

I read The.re Is No Me With.out You while I was living in Thailand several years ago. (This is the Bible of Ethiopian adoption circles.) And while it was very interesting I think that it only scratches the surface of the myriad issues relating to HIV/AIDS, adoption, orphans and vulnerable children and child protection. In fact, in my opinion, it has created a situation where we tend to glorify a woman who, despite very good intentions, didn't always do the best for the children in her care. It is also a book that, taken only for surface value, has the potential to set us up to believe that international adoption is the only answer for Ethiopia's children.

There is so much more to getting involved in child welfare work than good intentions or international adoption. For anyone who wants to start delving deeper here are books that I'd like to recommend. I think every single one exemplifies the idea that good intentions are not always enough. Life is so complicated. Poverty, conflict, disease, family identity, cultural differences in the way children are viewed and treated... they all make it much more complicated that we can even fathom from here.

Here are some recent favorites:

This was such an interesting book. I read it in one day! It is about the Russian orphanage system. A damaging system - like all orphanage systems. It really hit home for me why kids with special needs are the most in need of adoption and how good intentions are not enough to be an adoptive parent.

I don't normally read collections of short stories. But I found this book several months ago and devoured it. It is hard to read. I think some people might come away from it thinking - obviously my adopting a small child out of Africa is the solution. But I didn't. I think the message to come away with is that the life of a child is complicated - complicated by poverty, disease and conflict - adoption is only a tiny bandaid. What are we doing to make system changes in the world? What are we doing to make the world a better place for children to live - in their own societies?

So. So. Interesting. I spent 2 years in graduate school exploring this idea - that every single "solution" in development could potentially create another problem. A very good read for Christians who feel called to "do something." Neither I, or the book, are saying that we shouldn't be working for change. But it is so important that we have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to actually accomplish what we set out to do.

This is the adoption book I've enjoyed most so far. It is very practical. Early in the process I got a lot of my information about adoption and adoption terminology ("gotcha day" "forever family" etc.) from reading blogs. But this book helped set me on a better path to understanding how the way that we phrase things, days that we celebrate, how we celebrate and even the way we view our adoption story can have serious implications for our child and her view of herself. It helped me create a new framework for the way we will talk, think, and celebrate in the future.

An AMAZING true story about a child soldier. So complicated. Family, conflict, reunification, reintegration, instutionalization, trauma, psychosocial therapy, art therapy, Africa. It has it all.

Happy reading isn't exactly the right way to end this. Challenging reading!



  1. Thank you for sharing this list. You make so many points, during your descriptions of each book, that are so important to keep in mind.

    Adoption is not a solution to the problem that causes adoption to be deemed necessary. Yes, it helps children who need stable homes find them, but it also creates more problems than the original issue we began with.

    Also, I loved the book There is No Me Without You, but you definitely have to have perspective. She was a kind woman who, as you stated, didn't always make the best decisions.

    And, the last point you made regarding how you celebrate/what you celebrate and how we phrase things-it's so important. We've never had a "gotcha day". Many people do, and that's fine if they consider all of the emotions that go into it. But, instead of celebrating that type of thing, we talk about reality with our children. We celebrate every day we get to spend with them while also mourning all that they've lost with them. It's tricky and emotionally draining, but in the long run it will be what's best for THEM. And, at least in our family, that's what all the work is for...them.

  2. Thank You for your book suggestions. I am an avid reader myself and as we are in the process of adopting as well, my reading selections are largely in that vein. To comment specifically... my perspective is that these social issues have to be addressed from both angles: the larger bird's eye view of how to change a culture, AND how to make a difference in one life at a time.

  3. Looking forward to reading #2 and #3 - thanks for the recommendations and input!

  4. Oh, I should have added in my comment this question: what else/other books can you recommend for people trying to digest "what they've seen" on trips (mission, orphan care, etc) and what to do next?

  5. Thanks so much for these suggestions-I'm looking forward to reading your #4 suggestion--I'm really looking for practical right now after reading a few too many that are focused on philosophy. Thank you.


About Me

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J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.