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Adoption is a Family Affair!

An Interview with author Patricia Irwin Johnston

Patricia Johnston is an adoption book publisher and the author of Adoption is a Family Affair! - an introduction to the pitfalls, misconceptions, and issues around adoption. It provides a basic "Adoption 101" for your parents or for anyone else new to the idea of adoption.

Interview By Allison Martin

Pat Johnston: I have been an adoptive parent for 27 years and have been working with and speaking for pre-adoptive parents in North America for over 20 years, and the biggest questions from pre-adopters have always been "How can we get our families to understand and accept adoption?" and "What do we do about the stupid comments?"

Adoptive parents need to understand that those around them are several steps behind them in the process of understanding and then embracing adoption. If pre-adopters can be patient and will offer educational materials and opportunities to those close to them, they almost always DO catch up! Take them (or send them, if they aren't geographically close to you) to meetings and conferences, offer them this book and articles from the magazines like Adoptive Families and Adoption Today. Answer questions when you can and help them to understand the importance of privacy boundaries for your child and his birthfamily.

If the comment or question is not from someone close, either ignore it and move on or turn it aside (e.g. Why would you ask that?... Excuse me, do I know you?) No one has a right to intrude on your privacy, and this is a family building issue deserving of the same privacy as is family building by intercourse, conception and birth.

If the question or comment is from a neighbor, friend, or family member, then they need educating so that they will understand that this was inappropriate and shouldn't happen again. Express your surprise, and then patiently explain the correct answer--in private, not in a public place. This is another way to help all close to you understand the need for privacy boundaries.

What do adoptees need from their parents and extended families? What do you feel is essential for us to be aware of?

Pat Johnston: Acceptance and reassurance! All kids listen and hear and think about how adoption is handled at home and in situations close to them (at grandparents', at religious services, at school, etc.).

There are many issues specific to the style or source of one's adoption, but the most important thing for all members of adoptive families to understand is the importance of each family member's need to build a sense of entitlement to one another (see

Read review of Adoption is a Family Affair

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