Today, I want to introduce you to an adoption training book that PJ and I have found to be very helpful. The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis, Ph.D., David Cross, Ph.D., and Wendy Lyons Sunshine is written “for parents who have welcomed children from other countries and cultures, from troubled backgrounds, and with special behavioral or emotional needs.” This book is required reading for our agency’s licensing process, and rightfully so. Our kids come from troubled backgrounds and have special needs, so it is a blessing to have a resource such as The Connected Child as we begin to help our children.
This book covers a broad range of topics including child development, parenting techniques, behavior explanations and strategies, healthy living, and parental self-care. The various topics are presented in short, easy-to-read segments, which I appreciated as I tried to re-read the book in between numerous cries of “MOMMY!” I know I’ll be able to refer to short sections when I’m seeking help with a particular behavior from our kids.
I first read this book as we were getting our foster care license, and our case manager suggested that we re-read it now that we actually have our kids in our home, with their own particular needs and behaviors. I was encouraged to find that we were already implementing many of the techniques in the book, yet I was reminded of important concepts and strategies that we could still try as we continue to work with our kids.
What I appreciated most about The Connected Child was that it offers real hope without being over-confident or fake. The authors firmly believe, based on their professional experience, that implementing the strategies in this book can lead to some real improvement in troubled kids. However, they do not claim to work miracles; they simply offer encouragement and practical tips. With few exceptions, the techniques in the book are presented in a simple, step-by-step method that we can easily implement with our kids. In our crazy lives, easy is good!
My main criticism of this book is that it did not address the issue of adopting sibling groups, which is how the majority of children in the foster system come. While I would love to have the opportunity to work intensely with my children as suggested in the book, the reality is that with two troubled kids, a baby, never-ending CPS paperwork and appointments, and the general requirements of running a household, I can’t spend twelve hours a day doing sensory activities and social skill practice with one child, let alone both children. I’m sure that the twelve hour, exclusively child centered schedule is an ideal, but I often find it frustrating to read about ideals for my kids that I will never—never—be able to put into place.
Overall, this book has been really helpful to us, and I plan to refer back to it often as we continue on our journey with our kids!
*We have plans to attend two conferences this fall at which Karyn Purvis is speaking. That should be some indicator of how much we liked this book!