Gray, a clinical social worker specializing in attachment, grief and trauma, has penned a comprehensive guidebook for adoptive parents, taking an in-depth look at how children and families adjust. The author notes that many of today's adoptions involve older children, who may have been abused or neglected, or who may have spent years in institutions or various foster situations; due to their past experiences these children may have difficulty attaching to their adoptive parents. Explaining that attachment forms the template for future adult relationships, Gray stresses how important it is for adoptive parents to be patient in forging this new bond. She advises creating a high structure/high nurture environment for the child, and instructs parents to find out about their child's background. The book covers many issues, including cross-cultural and interracial adoption, religious concerns and other complications for attaching, such as ADHD and learning disabilities. Gray also includes a detailed exploration of development delays common in kids who have been adopted later in life. While the book is densely written, it will nevertheless be invaluable for adoptive parents. Gray compassionately helps readers form realistic expectations, while offering a myriad of suggestions for families and children striving to form lasting, loving relationships.
I have no idea what percentage of a personality is determined by genes. I don't know what a percentage of personality is. But if there's anything I can do to load the dice of fate in my child's favor, I will do it. Most adoptive parents feel the same. 'Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents' is for us. I wish this book had been around a decade ago, when my husband and I first started thinking about adoption. I wish it had been around when we brought our daughter home two years later. And I wish it had been around when our daughter was 21 months old and the babysitter quit and a new one started and our forlorn, frantic child screamed all day, every day, for a week. How we searched Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Richard Ferber, and all the other illustrious names in childrearing literature! Their advice, while sometimes helpful, didn't quite fit. What we needed was a Deborah D. Gray to set out - in straightforward, unthreatening language - practical tips for responding to the challenges all adopted children face when they leave one home (their birth parents', their foster family's, or their orphanage) and enter another. Our child's adjustment was relatively easy. But if we'd known more, it could have been easier. 'Attaching in Adoption' covers the full range of attachment challenges - from the transitory to the traumatic and from infancy to adulthood. Gray's approach is positive, practical and realistic, providing age-specific advice with clear explanations of developmental stages for adopted children and checking age-specific advice with clear explanations of developmental stages for adopted children and checklists to help parents assess how their child is doing at each stage. The best part, for those of us who adopted before this book was published, is that it's never too late to learn. For those struggling with serious attachment disorders, this book could be a lifesaver. I agree with Nancy Thomas [the author of 'When Love Is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD] who wrote: 'This is the most comprehensive work on the subject I have ever enjoyed reading...My wish would be that every adoptive parent could read this book before beginning the journey to adopt.'
Yolanda Comparan, MSW, Program Manager, Adoption Resource Center Northwest Region (Seattle) Children's Home Society of Washington
"This positive, but realistic book is an important resource for all adoptive families, at any stage of pre and post-adoption. The information on attachment challenges will allow prospective adoptive parents to understand the possible issues of their new children. Those that have adopted will be able to recognize some behaviors of their children and learn methods of parenting that will help all to achieve success. As an adoptive parent and adoption professional, I found the vignettes heart warming and at other times, heart wrenching, but realistic and achievable within a hectic family setting. The clear explanations of the phases allows parents to easily measure where they are, where their children are and how they can improve their parenting and health of entire family. 'Attaching in Adoption' is also a valuable resource for professionals who work with parents. It will assist them to help parents to manoeuvre the sometimes-challenging path of adoptive parenting. Deborah's focus on the health of the family helps to normalize the specialized skills and techniques taught.
Beverly Cuevas, LCSW, ACSW, Co-founder of Attachment Center Northwest, Founding member and Board member of ATTACH, Founding Board member of ADI (Attachment Disorder Institute)
Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents' is a brilliantly written sensitive educational journey into the development world of attachment. The book is a comprehensive and clear depiction of the importance of attachment, the challenge faced by parents adopting high risk children, and the negative effects of trauma and grief on the development of a secure attachment. The book reflects Ms. Gray's depth of perception, understanding of child development, empathy, and attunement with the children and families she has served in her therapeutic practice. Ms. Gray provides practical common sense tools for parents that can support them in developing skills that will enhance healthy relationships and connections with their children. Ms. Gray is realistic and honest as she speaks to parents. She empowers them to take charge in a nurturing way. She respects the importance of the balance of nurture and structure. The chapters building emotional intelligence, forming a team of support, and suggestions of when and where to seek professional help prove a hopefulness that there is a way out of the darkness of emotional chaos into the light of safety and trust for children suffering from attachment problems. Although "Attachment in Adoption" is written primarily for parents. I would encourage my fellow professionals to include this book on their "must read" list. It will assist them in their overall understanding of attachment and in their therapeutic work with adoptive parents and children
Vera I. Fahlberg, M.D., author of A Child's Journey through Placement
In 'Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents', Deborah Gray is able to translate into the written word the same caring, compassion, and respect that she shows toward both child and parent in her person-to-person contacts. In this book she returns again and again to the importance of both nurturing and structure in working to form close family relationships; the striking part is how well she is able to provide both for parents in the writing of this book. She emotionally nurtures parents while providing clear structure for them in creating a family environment that will promote attachments. In identifying ways to promote attachment, she follows a clear developmental approach, recognizing the needs of children of varying ages and helping parents identify how and where their child might be stuck in earlier stages of development. This is very important aspect of this work; what is necessary at one stage may be inappropriate at another. My favourite chapters of the book, however, are two of the shorter ones. Both fill gaps in the adoption literature for parents. The chapter on 'Trauma and Traumatic Loss' translates the more recent information on the physiologic and psychological effects of trauma, as reported in the professional literature, into material that parents can understand and use in their day to day parenting. The second chapter that I particularly like is the one on 'Building Emotional Intelligence'. In this section, Deborah again takes the material from non-adoption sources and translates it into very practical ideas for adoptive parents to use in helping their child build and maintain healthy friendships. She identifies the gaps that children may have in their skills and provides ideas for remediation. As Deborah points out, "Skill in building and retaining healthy friendships is highly correlated with future happiness in life - much more so than are academic skills." Although this book is primarily written for parents, most professionals in the area of adoption will find a wealth of practical ideas for helping parents be successful in building attachments with their adopted children.
Dan Hughes, Ph.D. author of 'Facilitating Developmental Attachment and Building the Bonds of Attachment
Deborah Gray had written an excellent book on parenting adopted children who resist being parented. It is not a cookbook, but rather a comprehensive book on parenting adopted children with attachment problems. That is why it is excellent. Deborah does not take the easy road of simply giving recommendations for various behavior problems. Instead she takes the more arduous route of first trying to help parents understand the meaning of their adopted child's behaviors. After helping parents to understand the reasons for their child's behaviors, she then gives them the tools for developing interventions that are most likely to fit their unique child. Deborah asks us to go beyond concluding that an adopted child has Reactive Attachment Disorder because they manifest a list of symptoms. She asks us first to also understand the impact of grieving and trauma on a child's functioning. She also asks us to know more about the effects of anxiety, cultural changes, and various other diagnoses, such as ADHD, FAE/FAS, and Learning Disorders. Most importantly, Deborah teaches us about the seven stages of attachment, beginning at birth and extending through adolescence, and she helps us to be aware of various interventions that can facilitate development at each stage. Finally, she tells us about emotional intelligence, its failure to develop following early abuse and neglect, and the importance of understanding ways to facilitate it. Deborah's contribution to parenting adopted children with attachment problems is substantial. It is based on understanding and having empathy of the meaning behind a child's symptoms, along with effective, sensitive, and well-matched parental interventions. At the same time, she addresses the necessity of parental self-care, is parents are to persistently provide the quality of care that their adopted child requires. After reading her book, many parents will feel certain that Deborah understands their child and their family. These same parents will also be likely to understand their child more deeply themselves, and at the same time be able to develop the unique practical skills that parenting their child requires.
Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., Founder, Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio and co-author of 'Adopting the Hurt Child' and 'Parenting the 'Hurt Child'
Deborah Gray's work captures theory, practicality, and sensitivity toward traumatized children - all in one book. Too many books have only one of these components, and her integration of may important facets of all three, comfortably leads the reader to a clear understanding of how children are hurt and how families help them heal. I will be extremely comfortable recommending 'Attaching in Adoption' to parents and professionals. I also think it is suitable for adolescents to read. It would help them understand so many of their issues - particularly around the entire birth family "web' and issues of shame and self-blame. I like this book!
Nancy Spoolstra, D.V.M., adoptive and foster parent and Executive Director of the Attachment Disorder Network
Attaching in Adoption' is a valuable resource for parents not only as they contemplate building their family through adoption, but also as they travel child's emotionally challenged path towards mental health and happiness. Deborah Gray has described attachment and all of the skills and responses that relate to an individual's attachment style and degree of attachment, and she has done do in a manner easily understood by non-professionals. The chapter on developmental stages is an invaluable tool for parents to assess their child's emotional age and determine what tasks have yet to be mastered. Parents who understand and implement what tasks have yet to be mastered. Parents who understand and implement the wisdom and methods described in this book will certainly strengthen their families!
A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD.'
"This is the most comprehensive work on the subject I have ever enjoyed reading. Deborah's incredible insight from her years of experience with difficult kids shines through in this enlightening book. No stone is left unturned in her effort to give a clear understanding of attachment. This book will be a powerful tool to help families with their children wounded by attachment breaks. My wish would be that every adoptive parent could read this book before beginning their journey." Nancy Thomas, founder of Families by Design, parent trainer, presenter, and author of 'When Love is Not Enough