Adoptive families raising small children right now are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of children’s books about adoption. Book’s such as A Mother for Choco, Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born and A Tale of Two Daddies, as well as many others, cover a wide variety of adoption narratives from a young adopted child’s point of view. Uncommon are children’s books covering the birth family experience.
Sam’s Sister, by Juliet C. Bond and illustrated by Dawn W. Majewski, is a sensitive, skillfully told story told from the perspective of 5-year-old Rosa, whose mom is pregnant and has an adoption plan for this second child. It gets right to the heart of the issues that can arise for birthmothers by showing what Rosa notices: —her mother’s grief, side-by-side with her mother’s courage and certainty about the plan.
Bond also captures the anxieties that are often triggered for older children of mothers planning to place their youngest child.
Rosa understandably worries about her own future, and Bond shows the adults in the story—birth mom, aunt, and adoptive parents—all in their own way addressing Rosa’s needs and one another’s.
Sam’s Sister would be an excellent gift for a birth mom in this situation to read to and soothe her older children. For such a small book, it is unusually complete. It envisions the arc of the adoption from Rosa first noticing her mom is troubled, to her mom’s telling her of her pregnancy and addressing Rosa’s fears, to meeting the adoptive parents, through the birth and first phone calls and visit. Its particular value to children in Rosa’s position is that in both text and pictures, it allows the reader to envision each major step in the adoption process, taking the mystery out of it and calming fears, while not glossing over the sadness of the birth family.
Although intended for children, I think this book could serve as an exceptional guide to the adults in adoption. As a primer for ideal adult behavior, it can’t be beat. Rosa’s mom answers her 5-year-old’s questions with age-appropriate language and reassurance. The adoptive family clearly values the biological family and handles its interactions with sensitivity, openness, and grace. Sam’s Sister is a wonderful addition to any classroom, library, or personal collection of any member of the adoption triad.