A poignant review of Hunter, Faith and the Ancestors: An Adoption Story of Change and Belonging

Finally, a comprehensive parenting book for older child adoptive families: In this book Serena Patterson, Ph.D. and Monika Grünberg, R.C.C. weave a stunning tapestry of a read aloud story for the whole family combined with parent chapters that touch the heart and the joys, challenges and richness of older child adoption.

Parenting older adopted children requires parenting with an extra layer and this book helps you to understand where that extra layer falls. This 280-page book is a wealth of information for the ever-evolving adoptive family.

It is a book you may not read all at once, but come back to again and again as your child’s awareness of who they are and how they came to join your family develops and as your awareness of how to parent your children evolves. The read aloud story of Hunter and Faith is a warm and touching story that captures the depth and complexity of young lives lived ‘in and out’ of birth, foster and adoptive family contexts. As a foster, birth and adoptive parent, Hunter and Faith reflected back to me with keen acuity the struggles, pain, uncertainty, shame, guilt and search for connection of each of the children I have been privileged to parent. Hunter and Faith’s parents Helen and Toni, resonate a ‘true to life’ picture of the unique journey of parenting older adopted children. Helen and Toni struggle, succeed, fail, collaborate and love in this story. Their journey seemed so true to life, I almost wish we could have coffee and a chat sometime. 

Our adopted children often come to us with a history of challenging early years, guilt and shame, loss, and without a template for the kind of love that can be reciprocated between children and caregivers. There are helpful things that we can do to address these issues. “Hunter, Faith and the Ancestors” helps you to create an awareness to do just that. This book offers equal opportunity for learning through a narrative story (the first 24 chapters) and pragmatic strategies and tools (the second 24 chapters). The parent chapters are concise and cover specific topics. As such one could access “on the fly” a one or two page resource that would provide background on the topic and offer some points for reflection. A sampling of some of the titles of the parent chapters are: “A Breaking Storm”; “The BS-ometer”; “That Touch Thing” and “Everything Changes.”

The Endnotes for the book are a well-researched and targeted resource list. The resources range from websites to journal articles and books. Each item listed in the Endnotes offer succinct and insightful summaries about the resources. Simply reading the Endnotes leaves the reader better informed about key considerations regarding adoption and the impact that early adverse life experiences can have on children. 

Each person comes to parenting from a different place. The needs of our children are equally unique. “Hunter, Faith and the Ancestors” allows the reader to draw from both the powerful world of story and also the world of pragmatic tools, whichever may be helpful for their particular situation at any one time. This isn’t a book about what you have to do to parent, but about examining how perspective, awareness and understanding overlays how you parent. This book is designed to help each of us become the best parents for our children and to offer support and connections for families on the journey of adoption parenting.

Lisa Marie Gruger, M.A.
Registered Clinical Counsellor

This review originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Focus on Adoption magazine. Reprinted with permission.
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