Healing the Adoption Experience:
A Book for Adult Adoptees, Their Families, and Therapists
by Nancy Parkhill
Bookman Publishing, 2004

Reviewed by Barbara Free

     This new book was written by our own Nancy Parkhill, whose therapy practice specializes in adoption issues, particularly for adult adoptees.
     Nancy herself was adopted in early childhood, along with her full sister. A sweet picture of her appears on the front cover of the book.
     Although she includes some incidents and facts from her own life, the book is not primarily a first-person account of her story, but is written for individuals and families with adoption connections and for other therapists working with the adoption triad.
     She intersperses her own conscious memories of her childhood with the voice of “Little Nancy,” as she imagines the internal thoughts she might have had before her conscious memory, and then comments from the adult therapist perspective. This is an effective way of helping the reader understand technical terms in concrete ways, and should be extremely helpful to adoptive parents as well as to adult adoptees who might read the book for their own self-healing.
     She encourages the use of a journal and lists questions from time to time to aid readers in developing their personal journal concerning their own adoption experiences.
     This book would be especially helpful for adoptees contemplating search, or during their search, as they explore their thoughts and feelings and prepare to meet their birth family, or deal with the possibility of not being able to meet them.
     It would also be very beneficial for adoptive parents—both those whose adoptees are searching or contemplating search, or for those currently raising adopted children—to avoid some of the pitfalls that can happen when parents are well-meaning but ill-informed.
     For instance, many adoptive parents consider changing a child’s first name to one of their own choosing. For an infant at birth, that is probably not a big issue, but for a child who already knows its name, that will be a life-long issue.
     Nancy’s original name was Peggy, and when her adoptive parents changed her name to Nancy, her toddler perception was that Peggy had somehow died and she had become Nancy.
     The equivalent situation now is most likely to be adopting a child from China or Eastern Europe, where the child is already old enough to have a definite self-image relating to a name. Prospective adoptive parents would do well to read Nancy’s personal experience with having her name changed.
     This book was not written to address birth-parent issues, hut would be helpful for a birth parent contemplating search and reunion, or in the early stages of reunion, as it would help prepare them for questions the adoptee will have, and the issues the adoptee will bring into the relationship.
     This book focuses on the adoptee’s experience without resorting to blaming and shaming birth parents, as some other books aimed at helping adoptees unfortunately do.
     It also does not portray an unrealistic, happily-ever-after viewpoint of reunion. The reader wishes fervently that the author could have had a happier reunion experience, but also sees that she did not let that define the rest of her life.
     We are excited that Nancy has been able to write and publish this helpful book, and we look forward to her next one.
     Nancy will also be at the AAC Conference in Kansas City, MO, April 1-3, 2004, to sell her book. She is interested in meeting people who would like to share their stories for a future book project.

Excerpted from the April 2004 edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2004 Operation Identity