By Juliet C. Bond
Illustrated by Dawn Majewski
Hardcover, 32 pages
Today over 65% of women planning an adoption are already parenting at least one child. Until now, there have been no tools to help these mothers explain adoption to their older children. Sam’s Sister will change all that. It follows six-year-old Rosa as she comes to understand her mother’s dilemma, learns about adoption, experiences his birth and placement with Sarah and Joe. The illustrations of Dawn Majewski bring these characters to life.
Juliet C. Bond, LCSW
Juliet Bond has been working in the foster care and adoption field for over 10 years. She attributes her professional dedication to children and families to the life lessons and unconditional love her own beautiful children and husband have afforded her. Currently, she provides counseling and support to birthparents at The Cradle, in Evanston, Illinois, one of the country’s oldest and most respected adoption agencies. Juliet wrote Sam’s Sister after seeing several birthmothers abandon their adoption plans due to anxiety around revealing their decision to the children they were already parenting. During her research, Juliet discovered that over 60% of birthmothers were parenting other children at the time of placement! She was particularly interested in providing avenues for children to deal with grief and loss around having a sibling adopted. Juliet felt, with better tools, birthmothers and their children might feel more confident and comfortable in making their adoption plans. She hopes this book affords comfort and peace to families making such an important life decision.
Reviews of Juliet Bond’s Sam’s Sister
Thank you for publishing Sam’s Sister. It has become a valuable resource to our agency as we work with expectant parents and birth parents. Recently, I was working with a young woman with children. They were quite angry at their mother for considering an adoption plan for her unborn child, their half sibling. Using Sam’s Sisterthey were able to recognize the feelings of their mother and instead of being angry at her, they were all able to grieve together. The older children ages 8 and 11 now trade taking the book to their classrooms where their teachers have read the book to the class. It has helped their peers respect and better understand adoption and show compassion to the family. Now the children are talking openly with their mother and no longer see her as not caring about the child she’s caring. The book was a vehicle to help validate and express emotions and gave us the opportunity to discuss the current children’s permanence in the family.
Meg Sterchi Executive Director: Adoptions of Indiana 5/2005
I know this book was taken to heart by birthparents to help their children understand why a sibling was placed for adoption, but adoptive parents, take note! It’s a great opportunity for your children to understand, if not their own stories, at least some of the reasons why children are placed.
Nancy Ashe Editor, Adoption.com 4/2005
As a therapist who works with adopted children and teens, please allow me to suggest that Sam’s Sister is one of the best books for adopted kids available today. If THE question for most adopted kids over age seven or eight (especially in closed /international adoptions) is “why didn’t my (birth) mom keep me?” this book allows an adopted child to hear a birth mother answer that question. To a one, the children and teens who read it with me, giveSam’s Sister two thumbs up for any child involved in any way in an adoption. I hope a broader “market” discovers this wonderful book.
Judy Stigger, LCSW Adoption counselor and educator Board President of JCICS Advisory Board of Adoptive Families Magazine creator of Conspicuous Families for AdoptionLearningPartners.org __________
This book…is a must for any adoptive home, and would make an excellent gift for your childï¿½s birth siblings.
Karen Ledbetter Bellaonline’s Adoption Editor
…a supportive insight on open adoption and an honest approach to the tough questions that often arise in preparing an adoption plan. The story is supported by Thoughtful illustrations that convey the joys and sadness of the characters and offer an invitation to disucss the feelings our children may express when reading Sam’s Sister. This book is recommended for all members of the adoption triad as an effective tool to understand the experiences and feelings that surround adoption.
Richard Fischer Adoption TODAY August/September 2004
…A young girl learns from her mother that her mother is about to give birth to a baby she cannot afford to take care of–but another loving couple will look after him, and the girl will always be his sister. A moving tale about coping with separation and adjusting to sometimes difficult realities, Dawn W. Majewski’s superb artwork is a perfect enhancement to this outstanding and highly recommended title.
“Children’s Bookwatch” April, 2004 Midwest Book Review
Sam’s Sister is a work of beauty. The author and the illustrator have done an impeccable job of representing the emotional aspects of open adoption from a child’s perspective.
The U.S. has seen a steady rise in open adoptions in the last two decades. Many feel that its process-birthparents, adoptive parents, and children in an ongoing relationship-has improved adoption overall by promoting healthier emotional experiences for the families involved. Yet, open adoption continues to be somewhat mysterious to the general population. If open adoption is a challenge for adults to understand, what about the children involved? This question is eloquently tackled in Sam’s Sister.
Rosa, the 5-year-old central character in the book, recognizes that her single mom is behaving differently. She worries, and when unable to get a smile from her, wonders if her mother is sick or has stopped loving her.
Her mother eventually tells Rosa that she has a new baby growing in her tummy, and when he’s born, she won’t be able to take care of him. She explains, in language that a child can understand, many of the reasons that birthmothers relinquish their newborn infants: There just isn’t enough money or energy to provide the support and care a new baby needs. “Right now I couldn’t provide those things for two children, even with your help,” she tells Rosa.
While other stories might stop here, Sam’s Sister is just beginning. Rosa’s mom assures her that both she and the baby in her mother’s tummy are loved. Rosa helps in making the open-adoption plan and meets the chosen parents for her soon-to-be baby brother. Her desire to maintain a relationship with her new brother is validated by everyone, and the adoptive parents encourage her involvement on many levels. When Sam is finally born, Rosa is able to visit him, reaffirming that she will always be Sam’s sister.
This wonderful story is told with a clear, honest approach that avoids fantasy. The book will be an effective tool in helping young children understand the experiences and feelings that surround adoption.
Reviewed in Adoptive Families magazine by Julie Jarrell Bailey, a reunited birthmother and an adoptive mother of three special-needs siblings, co-author of The Adoption Reunion Survival Guide, and co-founder of the North Carolina Center for Adoption Education.
This book provides a valuable service for birthparents, their children and all adoptive families. It presents for parents a way to talk to their children about an unplanned pregnancy, their plan of adoption, and how to stay linked as brothers and sisters. Secondly this book educates adoptive parents about open adoption and the fundamental need of connection and continued contact with birthparents and their children. Thank you for your great contribution to the adoption community.
Vickie McMillen Field, Birthmother Birthparent Counselor for The Cradle, Evanston , IL
Sam’s Sister, written by Juliet C. Bond and beautifully illustrated by Dawn Majewski,is a welcomed sight for many birthparents. Although written for the older sibling of a child placed for adoption, I believe this is a good book for all children whose mommies are also birthmothers. The book is written in a language that is easy for children to understand, and in a non-threatening manner. The birthmother in the story answers all of her daughter’s questions, even the tough ones. Too many children’s books paint adoption as all “happy-happy”, this book, however, gently touches on the sadness too, making it more realistic. I especially like how the little girl is validated that she will always be the ‘big sister’, but what I liked most about this book was the positive portrayal of true open adoption; not just letters and pictures, but visits and a sense of a building relationship between the birth and adoptive families. This book is highly recommended and I look forward to more books written for the children living in the shadows, the children being raised by birthparents.
Skye Hardwick Birthmother and mommy Founder of Lifemothers e-group, reviewed on Lifemothers.com Author and photographer
All adoptive parents have unique parenting responsibilities, but one of the most challenging is that of explaining to an adopted child that their mother made an adoption plan for them, but a brother or sister was kept at home… Sam’s Sister is a poignant and thoughtful story about a mother and daughter who with courage and love faced the loss of a baby born into their family. It will surely be a comfort to adoptive parents and children who share this history. Juliet Bond has made an important contribution to the adoption literature.
Anne Braff Brodzinsky, Ph.D. Author: The Mulberry Bird
In the world of adoption, the child’s perspective is often left out. And if we sometimes forget the perspective of the adopted child, we are even less likely to hear the voices of the other children…those children of birthparents and the adoptive parents’ children by birth. Without a window into all that happens in the life of an adoption, we are less able to be considerate, careful and ethical in our choices pre and post adoption. This book gives us a different lens and an opportunity to understand adoption from another point of view.
Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao
Author: The Family of Adoption, (Beacon Press, 1998)
Sam’s Sister sensitively and thoroughly portrays an issue that is central to contemporary adoption, namely, the circle of those touched by adoption is wider than is often apparent. Birth siblings are too often the forgotten client. Yet, we know they experience the connection to their kin as profoundly as the adults do. Juliet Bond has done a masterful job in presenting the issues and giving everyone–professionals, adopting parents and birth parents–the tools to address them
Julie S. Tye President, The Cradle, Evanston, IL
Great book–long overdue! I love the honest expression of feelings in this book and the tough questions addressed. The children touched by adoption decisions who remain with the family of origin have been a sadly neglected group; hopefully this story will help heal many.
Sharon Kaplan Roszia, MSW Co-author: The Open Adoption Experience
Sam’s Sister fills a huge gap in adoption literature. Consistently, 60 per cent of the girls and women who make adoption plans with our agency are already parenting older children. This book will be a tremendous blessing to the women who long to find a way to help their children understand that this planning is about loving a baby SO much, that they are willing to live separately from him/her. I love the reassurance that is given to Rosa regarding her permanence with her mother, and her FOREVER role as Sam’s sister. The positive portrayal of the benefits of a truly open adoption are evident throughout. I will be giving this book to each birth mom who is already parenting.
Cheryl Bauman, Director Crisis Pregnancy Outreach, Tulsa, OK
Finally a book that acknowledges birth siblings to adopted children. Even if your child doesn’t know their birth family, this story delivers a terrifically positive message about the way adopted children are valued by BOTH of their families. Great job! Four stars.
Beth Hall Co-Executive Director, Pact: An Adoption Alliance Co-author, Inside Transracial Adoption
Sam’s Sister has filled an important need in the field. I am delighted that the author has stepped up to the plate to take on one of the most sensitive – and difficult – discussions occurring in the adoption field all the time. I have consulted with other experienced colleagues and looked to the literature for help on how to assist birth mothers with talking to their children on this topic – there has been nothing out there – finally, we have a tool to work with.
Leah C. O’Leary, LICSW Founder and Executive Director A Red Thread Adoption Services, Inc.
I just read Sam’s Sister online and am in tears. As an adoptive parent who wants to help explain to her son why his bio mom placed him and not her first child I would buy this book for us.
Why the tears? — My son was adopted from Guatemala and from the start we sang “De Colores” and other latino nursery rhymes to him. We wanted to incorporate all of his heritages from the start. In his particular case, his bio mom had to hide her pregnancy but I imagine she would have told her older child in the same way the book does.
S.C. Adoptive Parent
Sam’s Sister is unique. The story assumes a fully open, not closed, adoption. Most children’s adoption books are aimed at adopted children but this is a story written for a birthmother’s child, for the child who is not adopted and remains in the family. While this is a book written for those particular children, many adults readers — birthparents and adoptive parents alike - may find insight and comfort from the story. The adoption that is described in the book is clearly an open one but, as in many good children’s books, the importance of openness in adoption is never stated explicitly but emerges from the story itself. The book is also sensitive to the need for diversity, especially in the adoption community, and the main characters are Hispanic.
The story ends on a positive note. In contrast to the usual media coverage and even the beliefs of many adoption professionals, Rosa sees her experience as wonderful and special, especially since she became Sam’s sister.
Bruce Rappaport, PhD Executive Director: Independent Adoption Center Author: The Open Adoption Book: A Guide to Adoption without Tears