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Monday, 01 March 2021
Book Review: Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child Print
In the last six months, Patty Cogen’s book, Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child, has come up in more conversations on adoptive family forums that I can ever remember happening with a new book. Now I know why.

It’s quite simply, AMAZING.

Imagine being invited to participate in a “First Year Home" support group alongside the families of:
Soon An, adopted at seven-months-old from Korea, foster care
Sonia, adopted at thirteen-months-old from Guatemala, foster care
Demetri, adopted at nineteen-months-old from Russia, orphanage/hospital
Mu Ling, adopted at two and a half years old from China, orphanage
Yi Sheng, adopted at four and a half from China, orphanage/foster care
Through the lives of these children, fictionally based on composites of many children with whom Cogen worked, the reader becomes a fly-on-the-wall, seeing behaviors through the eyes of a professional who recognizes that internationally adopted children take an average of four times longer to develop the “same level of behavioral and emotional self-control as their non-adopted peers.” Cogen teaches five reactive coping patterns typically seen in newly-arrived, internationally adoptive children:
The Warm Rock: Quiet, withdrawn, sleeping
The Stunned Rag Doll: Spacy, frozen, limp
The Dizzy Performer: Active: performing and charming, overly friendly to adults
The Royal Boss: Controlling and demanding; may throw tantrums
The Unwilling Guest: Rejecting and sad; waiting, searching or calling; or hyper-alert
Yet the “First Year Home” group isn’t just about recognizing initial behaviors; it’s also seeing how these issues play out over time and building a toolbox full of strategies designed for parenting these children throughout their lives. Age groups 3-5, 6-9, 10-12, and teen years, along with common issues, are addressed.

Cogen teaches strategies one might only expect to learn from a seasoned therapist: suck/swallow/breath (for calming), sleep skills, beanbag and slinky games, among many others. The “Magic Circle” becomes a basis for understanding family life, not just when children are young, but increasingly as they grow and have even greater needs for refueling with “Parent Juice.”

Down sides? Not many. Albeit exceedingly brief, the condemnation of “holding time,” is disappointing. For some children at A4everFamily, holding has been one of the first effective tools (of dozens!) in the therapeutic parenting toolbox. When classified as “coercion” and linked with such antiquated practices as rebirthing, the censure seems excessive, unnecessary, and a bit extreme. Other than that, the only other overarching concern might be that parents substitute the book for necessary therapy. The author states “if your child’s behavior makes you feel helpless or angry consistently…she probably has severe issues that need to be addressed.” Unfortunately, many of the mild/moderate issues described in the book may need the guidance of someone, like Cogen, who can provide regular, in-the-moment feedback as one might receive in her “First Year Home" group. Parents will need to evaluate their own abilities to carry out the many (good!) techniques suggested in the book, sans therapy.

That said, this is one of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege of reading on international adoption…and, more importantly, on how to parent an internationally adopted child. Having read pretty much everything in print, that’s saying a lot. This is a book that I plan to read again, this time, choosing excerpts to share aloud with my husband. It should be required reading for every pre-adoptive parent and should become a close friend and companion to anyone currently parenting an adoptive child. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

Enter to win your own copy of Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by submitting your contact information on our email contact page. Please write "Book Contest" on the subject line. One entry per person. A winner will be drawn at random on September 30, 2009. We cannot ship internationally.

Please use the following section to comment on the book; do not use it for contest entries. To enter the contest, use this link.

Written by Lucy Lou on 2009-08-13 04:00:15
Like to read it.
adoptive mom
Written by Summer Cole on 2009-08-17 15:08:36
I would love a copy!

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