Making the decision to adopt is a huge life-altering kind of decision. It is exciting and scary and you realize that you are entering a whole new world, one in which you want to participate, but one you really don’t know all that much about. If you are like me, you want to know and understand everything all at once. This is not always easy to do, as the adoption world, like so many other subsets of culture, comes complete with its own lexicon and foundational knowledge. And if this isn’t bad enough, each subset of adoption culture has its own unique facts and vocabulary on top of that, becoming more and more specialized. For instance, you may have adopted from one country, but if you then adopt from another country, you have another set of abbreviations and important facts to learn all over again. It can be difficult for a newcomer to fully understand what is going on,what is being discussed, and when they need to do what. Rarely is everything you need to know all written down in one place.
This is where Kelly Mayfield’s new book, Mine in China: Your Comprehensive Guide to Adopting from China, steps in. At 408 pages, I can’t think of a single thing that was not at least touched on when it comes to adopting from China. It really is a fantastic resource for anyone just beginning the adoption process or for those who have been a few years away from adoption in China.
Ms. Mayfield, an adoptive mother of two boys from China, herself, writes from personal experience as well as bringing in seasoned adoption experts. She writes the book she wishes she had found when she first began the process, and she remembers well the questions she wanted answered. The book assumes that you are just beginning your adoption journey and starts you there.
Of course, the book includes sections on processes and procedures, such as definitions of unique vocabulary and abbreviations, how to find an agency, what to expect when you sign all that paperwork, and when you can hope to bring an actual child home. These sections are practical, well laid out, and very helpful. However, what may be even more helpful is Ms. Mayfield’s willingness to explore some of the more difficult choices and issues that abound in the adoption world.
We all know that adoption is not just happy stories of rainbows and unicorns all the time.
We all know that adoption is not just happy stories of rainbows and unicorns all the time. There is a lot of hard stuff mixed in with the joyous stuff. Not only does this book have the practical information to get from the idea of adoption to actually bringing home a child, but it also includes topics and issues that many first-time adopters might not recognize or consider. There are sections about the pros and cons of hosting, adopting two unrelated children at once, artificial twinning, and adopting out of birth order. Perhaps the most important section addresses the challenging subject of adoption disruption and dissolution. The idea of a parent either not completing the adoption of a child he or she traveled to meet or finding a new home for a child parents did adopt is one that often comes as a surprise to those new to adoption. Yet these things happen, and probably with more frequency than people realize. It is important to go into adoption with eyes wide open and aware of all the possibilities. Ms. Mayfield does everyone a service by tackling this tough topic and interviewing an experienced adoptive mother who has lived through this before.
No book is perfect, and while I love this one and think it is an excellent resource for adoptive parents, there are a couple of caveats that need mentioning. The first is that intercountry adoption is an ever-changing landscape and a book is a very static thing. Any information read anywhere should always be checked for its current validity. For example, as of this moment, the China adoption landscape has changed once again. Even as recently as a month ago, the book was correct in stating that China often granted waivers to its own eligibility rules, particularly if the family in question was adopting a child with greater special needs. Now, based on current reports, it seems this is no longer the case. Agencies have been informed not to request any waivers as they will not be granted, and sadly more than a few families have had their requests to adopt denied because of this. It is good to remember that just because something is written in a book does not make it written in stone.
My second quibble with this book probably says more about my own experience than it does the book itself. Ms. Mayfield does briefly touch on the topic of trauma and adoption, but I think she could have gone a bit further. I am of the strong opinion, due to our experiences with our son and in counseling with other adoptive parents, that you cannot be too trauma-informed when you adopt. Even with responsible training in trauma, the actual experience of trauma’s impact and effects can be disorienting. Not everyone will have a child who is severely affected by trauma, but for those who do, it can be a very difficult thing. A more thorough description of the effects of trauma and a more extensive list of resources would be, in my opinion, extremely helpful.
These are the only things I see missing in this book, though. The rest is pure gold for parents embarking on this adventure for the first time and a wonderful resource for those repeating the process. And my favorite part? It is quite possibly the instructions on how exactly to use a “squatty potty,” the Asian-style toilet that possibly causes more anxiety in waiting adoptive parents than any other adoption issue. You have to love a book that gives that type of important detail!
Full disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from and am actually both virtual and real-life friends with the author, whom I had the pleasure of meeting while we were both in China for our respective adoption trips. My blog is also listed as one of her resources. Of course, the opinions written here are my own.