The Adoption Mystique, as the dust jacket states, is a "hard-hitting expose of the powerful negative social stigma that permeates child adoption in the United States." Author Joann Wolf Small, M.S.W. just doesn't break the adoption myth, she shatters it with her compilation of various research studies, essays, and personal knowledge on the subject of adoption. She is an adoptee. The Adoption Mystique is respectful and not at all anti-adoption, just pro-truth and openness. It simply offers a different viewpoint on the subject of adoption.
I feel that The Adoption Mystique gave me permission not to have to be a perfect parent, or strive to be just a "normal" family. I love the point made by Small when she stated that adoption happens to the entire family, not just the child. The child is not an adopted child, but part of an adoptive family. Another excellent point that stood out to me during my review of The Adoption Mystique is the fact that the child existed before adoption. There was a birth, a family history, birth parents, extended family, and a great loss for all members involved. The Adoption Mystique puts adoption and adoptive families into perspective.
The explaining of adoption to a child is also deeply explored. Tips like sending messages that adoption happens to the parent and the child by eliminating "you" messages and using the word "we" are valuable hints to adoptive parents.
The Adoption Mystique is a powerful book with a message for all members of the adoption triad, but not all members are ready for its message. With statements such as:
"Only adopted persons are denied their genealogy by law. Likewise, only adoptees are issued a birth certificate that represents a legalized fraud."
It's clear that this is not your typical handbook to adoption. Nevertheless, I think that it is important and necessary reading for those involved in adoption, especially those looking to make positive and healthy changes to adoption policy and practices. This in my mind includes improving the adoptive family unit as a whole.
About the Author
Joanne Wolf Small, M.S.W. is an adoptee who completed a search for her birth family. She co-organized Adoptees In Search, and obtained a Masters in clinical social work and is serving as the first and only adopted appointee on the Model Adoption Legislation Procedures and Advisory Panel. Her professional experience includes a post-adoption clinical practice, clinical supervision, in-service training, and seminars, lectures, publications, and interviews with over a thousand adoptive family members.
Recommendation & More Information
I highly recommend The Adoption Mystique, it gives us a deeper understanding of how the world seems to see adoption and how that view is less than flattering to those impacted by adoption.
(Published by AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN, 2007