Scrolling through Amazon, I was quickly skimming to see if there were any books on adoption that jumped out at me. I’m in a season of reflecting on our own adoption stories and have largely avoided books on the topic because most of what I read in the past was full of clichés and wasn’t something I could really connect with. As I was moving down the page past all the “how to” type books and past the personal memoirs, somehow I landed on Adoption Through the Rearview Mirror: Learning from Stories of Heartache and Hope by Karen Springs. I have no idea why I clicked…the unassuming cover doesn’t really tell me anything. But I did. I clicked. And then I bought. And then I read…oh my. Adoption friends…this book…well, let me tell you about it.
The author started working for an international ministry in the Ukraine when she was just 23 years old. Their ministry was involved with caring for orphans and she quickly connected the problem of full orphanages…to the reality that there are many families in America who want to adopt and could provide loving homes for these children. And so she set about to promote adoption through various means in America and eventually facilitated hundreds of adoptions of mostly older Ukrainian children and teens into American homes. After years of placing children, stories started trickling back as she heard stories that caused her to really rethink adoption at every level. Having adopted an older child ourselves, I read the simple introduction feeling a bit of anxiety. We adopted our daughter when I was 33. She was 10. We had 7 kids in the house. The author of this story was placing children but did not have any children and had never adopted herself. I could feel the sense of optimism a young adult would feel placing a child in a loving home. I could feel the pure hope they would have….and yet, I could “feel” all the things they could not know because they had not walked in those shoes 24/7. And the best part of the book is that as the author writes this book with 14 years of experience and a lot of earned wisdom, she is able to express honestly the awakenings she had along the way.
Her journey to writing this book happened as she decided to take a 4 month road trip to America and visit more than 60 of the adoptive families. She pulled out a map, plotted out her route and made her way all around the country…interviewing adoptive parents, sitting with them over coffee and having honest conversations. Oh wow…the honesty is palpable…but kind too…so kind. I found myself on every page. I found the confusion, joy, anger, hope, shame and perseverance on every page. It was like she climbed in my head and saw all the thoughts on adoption that I’ve had. Some I feel safe to say outloud…and some…not so much. But she did…through her interviews with families, she was able to graciously articulate the big struggles that so many families didn’t see coming when they traveled around the world and adopted a child who would they hoped would be part of their family. I will say, that I felt very “seen” after reading this book which is why I recommend it in the strongest way to anyone who has adopted but has struggled in some way afterwards.
Through story after story, the author is able to uncover the many layers of adoption that can lead to a really difficult adoption experience. She covers topics from personal expectations, poor planning, spiritual warfare, not listening to the Holy Spirit, outside pressure, adoption disruption, beneficial therapies and so so much more. After reading it, I would say I found words to express some of the things we experienced as well. If you have adopted…or if you know someone who has adopted who seems to be struggling…read this book. If you are thinking of fostering and adopting, this one is for you too. I will be reading it again. This one is a keeper.