Do not make the mistake of buying earlier editions of this terrific volume. The new, June 2008 edition is considerably longer and more detailed than the original book, good though that is.
First off, this edition deals in much greater detail with questions and issues surrounding the inter-country adoption process, which today is governed by the Hague Convention for International Adoptions. (Would that the convention had been in effect when we adopted abroad.)
From our perspective, a decade-plus into the adoption experience, some of the material here is of little interest. But for families considering adoption or in the early stages of building and adoptive family, there is much good advice, beginning with discussions of the healthiest motivations for wanting to adopt, and acceptance of the "foundational realities."
It's appalling to learn here how many families have adopted children and never told them they were adopted. It should be understood that children have a right to know where they come from, even if the available details are very sparse. Along with accepting that foundation is the reality that adoption generally involves healing for the adoptive parents as well as the child. In most cases, the parents must accept their inability to conceive; they must also understand that their child suffers --- and will continue to do so --- from a Primal Wound that requires nursing and extra care to heal.
The book also has excellent chapters on attachment trauma and the difficulties of dealing with adopted kids during their teens. Children may say being adopted has been easy for them. And children adopted as infants, especially, do fare pretty well. But the fact is that at least 5% of children adopted as infants have extraordinarily difficult teen years --- much more so than the average child raised in his or her biological family.
And another fact is that raising an adopted child is a much different deal than raising one's biological child. There are a vast range of questions and issues that just don't come up with the latter. And while adopted kids generally emerge from the teenage years in good shape, helping them through this rough period requires super-parents. Don't go into it if you're not prepared.
Kids and families want control of their lives. This book can help give them control where otherwise, thanks to all the unknowns and separations, they might feel helpless. (I also recommend Beneath the Mask.)
Finally, the book reassures adoptive parents fearful of their child's search for his or her birth parents. Personally, I can't imagine feeling that way, but apparently it's very common. The experience of finding birth parents, in our case, was healing for all members of the adoption triad --- our child, the birth parents, and us, the adoptive parents. My advice: if it looks even remotely possible, try.
This book, though, explains that searching and learning a child's origin and "story" can most often help them resolve questions and issues, without which, the child will probably lead a much less productive and meaningful life.
This is a book that adoptive parents certainly need, for their child's whole life. As in holistic, and whole.
--- Alyssa A. Lappen