Adoption and Fostering

by Berlie Doherty
(Andersen Press)
Abela explores the stories behind the adoption of a ten year old girl, the Abela of the title. The story alternates between the narratives of Abela, who at the beginning of the book is living in Tanzania, and Rosa, whose mother eventually adopts Abela. At the beginning of the book, Abela’s mother is dying of Aids; her father is already dead. With great difficulty, she manages to get her mother to the hospital, only to find that conditions there are squalid and there are no medicines. Her troubles don’t end there. After her mother’s death, she returns to her village to live with her grandmother, but the fragile security of her existence is shattered by the arrival of her Uncle Thomas with his white girlfriend Susie. He has been deported from England, but plans to get back there by exploiting Abela and Susie. Despite her doubts, her grandmother comes to believe that his plan to send Abela to England will be a good opportunity for her, and in another shocking twist, arranges for her much loved granddaughter to be circumcised to ‘cleanse’ her and make her worthy of her new life.
Rosa also has problems though, compared with Abela’s, they are small ones. She lives with her mother in Sheffield. She’s happy with that and horrified at the idea of an interloper; she can’t imagine why her mother wants to adopt another child. Eventually, she, along with the reader, comes to understand – and Berlie Doherty surprises us at this point; she’s kept a secret from us, which it would spoil the story to reveal. Of course, all does not go smoothly. There are difficulties both for Abela and for Rosa and her mother, before they eventually become a family.
The technique the author uses enables her to explore the feelings of everyone involved in the adoption process; but it is the appalling story of Abela which really grips.
(reviewed by Sue Purkiss)
Buy from Amazon

by Cesca Adey
(Walker Books)
Chloe is thirteen and has been in a bad mood for six months. That’s not been helped by moving from Edinburgh to the country or by dreaming that her real mother will come and spirit her away from her adoptive family. Then her parents announce some unsettling news: they are
adopting another child – a two year old boy called Ollie. Chloe is determined not to have anything to do with him, but then she meets Ollie…
Written in the first person by an author who was adopted herself, this book lets you step inside Chloe’s head and experience her emotions as she struggles with her own identity and her feelings for Ollie. A good read in its own right, it’s particularly useful for anyone, adopted or not, who wants an insight into how adopted children feel.
Buy from Amazon

The Lamb-a-roo
by Diana Kimpton, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
This book about difference and belonging is one I know well because I wrote it. It was inspired by my adopted daughter desperately wanting blue eyes like the rest of our family (and by the old joke “What do you get when you cross a sheep with a kangaroo?’). The main character in the story is a lamb who is adopted into a kangaroo family. He’s very happy with them but he’s worried that he doesn’t look like his new Maa. Determined not to be different any more, he
sets out to learn to jump as high as they can. Meanwhile, his Maa has spotted his worries and tries to look more like the lamb. But neither of them like the changes in the other so they
decide that being different is just fine. Rosalind Beardshaw’s illustrations are bright and friendly with wonderful expressions on the characters’ faces that emphasise the emotions in the story.
Buy from Amazon

Our Twitchy
by Kes Gray and Mary McQuillan
(Red Fox)
When Twitchy the rabbit asks why his parents don’t hop like him, they explain that they are not rabbits like him. They are Milfoil and Sedge, a cow and a horse who adopted him when he was a baby. Twitchy is so distressed at the news that he runs away. After they’ve searched for him in vain, he eventually returns covered with mud, with his ears rolled up to look shorter and a twig attached to his tail to make it look longer. He desperately wants to look like his adopted parents and hopes that if he can, they would become his real mum and dad. Milfoil and Sedge carefully clean him up so he looks like himself again and, to his delight, they explain that he doesn’t have to change – they already are his real mum and dad because they love him and care for him. A useful picture book for young adopted children, especially those who don’t look like their adopted parents.
Buy from Amazon

So Many Babies
by Martian Selway
(Red Fox – Random House)
Mrs Badger didn’t know what to do with all her extra rooms until she read the newspaper. “So many babies, she read, needed care and she’d so much to offer, so much to share.” She starts with just one baby but one by one more children arrive until she has so many that she needs to
build an extension. The delightful rhyming text combines beautifully with the pictures of her growing multi-species family to produce a book full of love, affection and fun which any child will enjoy. The counting element adds an extra bonus and the whole book is ideal for use with children who are adopted or fostered.
Ages 2-6 and older children with special needs
Buy from Amazon

Dustbin Baby
by Jacqueline Wilson
April hates her birthday. It’s not just the anniversary of her birth – it’s the anniversary of the day her mother abandoned her in a rubbish bin. On her fourteenth birthday, she sets out to recover the steps of her life – the adoption that went wrong, the foster home, the children’s home and the special school where she was sent after she got into trouble. In the process, she discovers who really cares about her. Written in the first person, this highly readable account of the mixed emotions of an abandoned child will provide children and adults with an insight into how it feels to be ‘in care’.
Buy from Amazon

Ruby Holler
by Sharon Creech
Dallas and Florida have lived in the Boxton Creek Home longer than any of the other children and they’ve got a reputation for rule breaking. They’ve also got a reputation for being difficult to place – every foster home they’ve been put in has sent them back. So when an elderly couple
invite them to stay at Ruby Holler, they don’t expect it to turn out well. But they’d reckoned without Tiller and Sairy Morey whose unusual lifestyles, patience and unobtrusive parenting turn out to be just right for Dallas and Florida. This sensitive and novel takes a look at fostering from both sides and explores how apparently bad behaviour may not be as unreasonable as it looks.
Ages 10 to adult
Buy from Amazon

Frog finds a Friend
by Max Velthuijs
(Andersen Press)
Although this picture book doesn’t mention the word adoption, it tells the story of Frog taking a lost teddy bear into his home. Through Frog’s love and attention, Bear learns to talk and play and eventually becomes very much part of the local community. Then, like many adopted and fostered children (especially adolescent ones), he suddenly decides he doesn’t really belong there and that he must go back to the place from where he came. Frog is heartbroken but eventually Bear comes back because he’s decided that is where he really belongs. A potentially useful book for talking about feelings in an unobtrusive way – children can talk about how Bear and Frog feel rather than having to talk about themselves.
Buy from Amazon

Tom and the Tree House
by Joan Lingard
Tom’s adoptive parents are delighted when the doctors are proved wrong
and his mum becomes pregnant. But Tom is worried. This baby is really
theirs in a way he can never be. Surely they will love her more than him.
A very perceptive junior novel about a particularly sensitive situation.
Ages 6-9
Buy from Amazon