Deborah D. Gray; 2007; Prospectives Press Inc
Deborah Gray may be the premier expert on attachment and adoption in this country. Whereas others have a command of the research on attachment and child development, Deborah Gray has the rare gift of being able to take up-to-date research and translate it into relevant, practical advice for everyday parents. For those of you who have read Deborah Gray’s first book, Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents, you will know what I mean by this. In both Attaching in Adoption and Nurturing Adoptions, Gray provides countless strategies and tools for parents that she has learned first-hand as a former foster parent and as a therapist. She often uses rich case examples to illustrate these tools, and this format makes it easier to translate the tools from the book to real life.
Some of the material in Nurturing Adoptions will be familiar to readers of Gray’s first book. Gray emphasizes the importance of attachment as the springboard and scaffolding for development in children. She explains how a child’s ability to trust her caregiver to take care of her during early childhood transcends all elements of subsequent development. This includes a child’s cognitive development, social development, moral development, and emotional/behavioral development. In Nurturing Adoptions, Gray integrates attachment literature with child trauma literature in her effort to explain how disrupted attachment and trauma such as abuse or neglect can have a cumulative effect on a child’s development. This has become increasingly relevant over the last decade as the face of adoption has changed. With more adoptions of children with histories of abuse, institutional care, or disrupted placements, there is a growing recognition of the impact of trauma, grief, and attachment on children. In spite of some of the daunting risk factors that many of these children carry, Gray leaves the reader feeling inspired. Just as she instructs parents and professionals to instill hope in children, Gray also gives adoptive parents hope. She does this by helping parents and professionals see the numerous opportunities available to help children in their healing.
Readers should be forewarned, Nurturing Adoptions is geared toward the target audience of adoption professionals. Some of the research reviewed in the first half of the book can be quite technical and dense for someone looking for an easy read. In the second half of the book, much of the treatment-focused material is intended for placement specialists, social workers, and psychologists. It is my hope that this forewarning does not deter the motivated parent from reading this book. For the parent who is not deterred by terminology such as glucocorticoids, Nurturing Adoptions equips the adoptive parent with vital information. In addition, the adoptive parents who read this book will have everything they need to know in order to keep an adoption professional on his or her toes. I recommend this book for parents who intend to seek psychiatric or psychological services for their child or family. I can assure you that you will close the book knowing the questions that you need to ask a mental health professional at the onset of treatment.
As a psychologist who specializes in adoption issues, I want to add that I am skeptical of many attachment-focused remedies. Historically, some attachment interventions have included coercive techniques such as forcing a child to be held. In addition, it has been my observation that adoption professionals are sometimes too quick to diagnose attachment-related disorders. I can assure the reader that the tools and techniques promoted by Gray are ethical, respectful to the child and family, and highly effective. That said, I would suggest Attaching in Adoption for the parent who prefers a no-nonsense, practical resource book on attachment, adoption, and parenting. I would suggest Nurturing Adoptions for Gray fans who want to read more, for professionals who are working with foster children and adopted children, and for savvy parents who are eager to understand and advocate for their children.