Adoption Books | Review of “Upside Down: Understanding and Supporting Attachment in Adoptive Families”

This book should be required reading for the support teams of all adoptive parents.

Shannon Hicks July 23, 2015
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It came in a surprise package from a sweet friend. I read it one day at naptime, then shared it with my sister and my mom.

When I retrieved the book, my mom jokingly asked if I had ghost-written it.

I could have.

Upside Down started as a series of blog posts for author Shannon Guerra. She says the series (and eventually the book) were written “out of a desperate need for people to understand what we were going through as a family of adopted children with attachment issues.”

And her story struck a chord.

“Some of our kids are pussy willows,” Guerra writes in Upside Down, “easily cared for, kept upright, not requiring anyone to bend over backwards to help them. But some of our kids are more like roses. The world is flipped upside down in order to preserve them, or they collapse from the weight they carry.”

Her story is so, so familiar to many of us in adoptive parenting circles. And so, so unfamiliar to some of our friends and family who want to support us but aren’t sure how.

I read this book with pen in hand, underlining and starring parts that gave words to my own feelings and experiences. Upside Down is written in a conversational style that makes it easy to read. It is engaging, honest and hopeful.

Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “me too.” Reading this book was like sitting down beside a friend who truly understands the challenges of attachment, someone who has walked in my shoes, someone who can honestly say, “me too.”

Guerra says that this is the most important message that she hopes to communicate—that “adoptive and foster families are not alone.” She also hopes that her book encourages others to “support (these families) in ways that are genuinely helpful to the attachment and healing of the children.”

As I mentioned, I loaned this book to my sister and my mom, who both found it helpful. My mom told me that it should be required reading for the support teams of all adoptive parents.

If you are well-versed in attachment and adoption, this book will probably not give you any new facts. What it will give you is a sense that you are not alone. That your story, your child’s story, your family’s story matter. And that hope and progress are real.

If you love an adoptive family but find their parenting choices to be counterintuitive or seemingly harsh and rigid, this book is for you, too. It will give you a good basic overview attachment for children from hard places, and it will help you understand some of the reasons behind our rules and boundaries.

Adoptive parents, buy this book. Breathe deeply and be encouraged that you are not alone.

Friends and families of adoptive parents, buy this book. Learn practical ways to help support children with attachment issues and the families that love them.

Buy it. Share it. You will not regret it! Get it here.

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Shannon Hicks

Shannon is mom to two amazing kids who joined her family through foster care adoption. She is passionate about advocating for children through her writing and her job as a kindergarten teacher. You can read more from her at Adoption, Grace and Life.


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