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The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption

Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole

Lori Holden - With Crystal Hass

Prior to 1990, fewer than five percent of domestic infant adoptions were open. In 2012, ninety percent or more of adoption agencies are recommending open adoption. Yet these agencies do not often or adequately prepare either adopting parents or birth parents for the road ahead of them! The adult parties in open adoptions are left floundering.

There are many resources on why to do open adoption, but what about how? Open adoption isn't just something parents do when they exchange photos, send emails, share a visit. It's a lifestyle that may feel intrusive at times, be difficult or inconvenient at other times. Tensions can arise even in the best of circumstances. But knowing how to handle these situations and how to continue to make arrangements work for the child involved is paramount. This book offers readers the tools and the insight to do just that. It covers common open-adoption situations and how real families have navigated typical issues successfully. Like all useful parenting books, it provides parents with the tools to come to answers on their own, and answers questions that might not yet have come up.

Through their own stories and those of other families of open adoption, Lori and Crystal review the secrets to success, the pitfalls and challenges, the joys and triumphs. By putting the adopted child at the center, families can come to enjoy the benefits of open adoption and mitigate the challenges that may arise.

More than a how-to, this book shares a mindset, a heartset, that can be learned and internalized, so parents can choose to act out of love and honesty throughout their child’s growing up years, helping that child to grow up whole.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 228Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-1739-3 • Paperback • May 2015 • $21.00 • (£13.95)
978-1-4422-1740-9 • eBook • March 2013 • $20.00 • (£13.95)
Lori Holden was named a Top 10 “Must-Read Mom” by Parenting magazine and was honored at the annual BlogHer Conference. Her articles have also appeared in Parenting magazine, Conceive magazines, andAdoptive Families magazine Her blog, LavenderLuz.com, has been listed by Adoptive Families Circle, Circle of Moms, and Grown in My Heart websites to be one of the top adoption blogs. She is a monthly contributor to MileHighMamas.com, a Denver Post site. In addition, Lori has written for The American Fertility Association, CreatingAFamily.org and Kaiser Permanente’s Partners in Health magazine. With Crystal, her daughter’s birth mom, she teaches classes on building a child-centered open adoption.
Crystal Hass has taught about open adoption with Lori Holden at Colorado Free University and at adoption agencies.

Part One: From fear to family: Parents come together
1: What is open adoption?
2: What to consider when choosing an agency or adoption professional
3: The parents (first- and adoptive-) in an open adoption
4: Guideposts from families who have traveled the path

Part Two2: Orienting on the Child, Open Adoption’s True North
Openness and the adoptee
6: Heading toward wholeness: integrating the child’s biology and biography
7: Reality check: it’s not always easy
8: Openness in foster, international and donor situations
Especially for birth parents and those who want to connect with them
10: Fare Well

Appendix A
Appendix B
Not only is Lori Holden an acknowledged thought leader in the area of open adoption, she is also truly beloved by the men and women who look to her for guidance, humor and balance when considering this route for themselves. Her book will be cherished by many and inspirational to all.
Corey Whelan, patient advocate and author, The American Fertility Association

Here, at last, is the book many adoptive parents have been clamoring for, as they grapple with the questions, “What is open adoption?” and "Will it work for everyone in our family constellation?" Using real-life examples and a gentle, intelligent approach, Lori Holden and Crystal Hass answer with a reassuring "yes."
The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption helps readers understand that open adoption is a mindset, one that moves from thinking the adoptive/birth family relationship must be "either-or" to trusting that it can be "and." If I ever doubted the wisdom of open adoption, I finished the last page a believer. This book deserves a place on every adoption bookshelf.

Jessica O'Dwyer, author of Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir

I especially liked the practicalities of how to mesh extended families in an open adoption, what to do when one child in the family has more contact with their birth parents than another child in the family, and the realities from the child’s perspective of the push-pull of having another family “out there”. But ultimately, I liked the focus on “adopting the heartset of openness” because it is what our kids need. “Adoption creates a split between a person’s biology and his biography. Openness in adoption is an effective way to heal that split and help the child become whole.” Amen!

Dawn Davenport, host of the top rated national radio show- Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility, executive director of Creating a Family

Lori Holden's book opens with a simple yet poignant snippet of conversation with her young daughter in the car. It's about her daughter's loving feelings toward her birth parents. Holden generously invites us into her mental tai chi process ("Don't take this personally…") leading to her wise responses. If this book were just a series of such glimpses it would be a treasure. But it's so much more: a tapestry of instructive real-life insights together with the latest research and philosophy, all aiming to "de-freakify" open adoption. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption covers what this adoptee wishes my parents had known, and beyond. The definitive post-modern guide to enlightened adoption.
Marcy Axness, PhD, parent coach and author of Parenting for Peace

Just as a panoramic photograph changes your understanding of a physical landscape, Lori Holden's panoramic book on open adoption will change the way you understand the family building landscape. By bringing in all voices in the adoption triad, Holden simultaneously holds everyone's hand and fills in the advice that has been sorely missing from the universe before this point: how to live well all the years that come after the adoption. Adoptive parents, birthparents, and children have all been asked to partake in a situation without a guidebook, and in doing so, stumble blindly sometimes through difficult conversations and emotional interactions. Holden's book smooths the road between all people in the triad, giving them a space to walk between one another in order to have easier interactions.
Melissa Ford, author of Navigating the Land of If and the infertility website, Stirrup Queens

While many books focus on the mechanics of adoption, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption stays focused on the well-being of all involved. While this should be mandatory reading for anyone who has ever uttered the words, 'just adopt,' all readers will come away as smarter, more understanding family members.
Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority

This fine book offers an honest look at the inner workings of open adoption with all its challenges and delights. Holden skillfully writes with the voice of experience, a voice seasoned with the gentleness of her heart and honed by frank discussions with countless other participants who share her determination to do adoption in a manner that honors children. Those who long to see adoption done in a big-hearted way will be encouraged by her hospitable words.
James L. Gritter, MSW, author of Hospitious Adoption

The adoption community needs more resources to offer to families – birth, first, adoptive – all the REAL families – that intersect and interact through open adoption. This book offers real, tangible, useful information that parents anywhere on the continuum of openness can make use of as they navigate through their adoption experience with their child.
Rebecca L. Ricardo, LCSW, executive director of coordinators2inc The Lifetime Adoption Resource

Holden’s debut is an insightful, heartfelt exploration of open adoption, an evolving arrangement that has been growing in popularity over the last 20 years. Her endorsement is personal; she has two children from open adoptions and maintains that openness helps heal adoption’s split between a person’s “biology” and “biography”. She references open adoption as a “process” that encourages high-functioning relationships between birth parents, extended family members, and adopted parents. Open, honest, age-appropriate dialogue with adopted children about their biological background is stressed. Part one addresses basic information about open adoption, including common terminology, benefits as well as challenges, ethical concerns, choosing a professional to help navigate the process, dealing with the grief of infertility prior to adoption, and ingredients for a successful open adoption. Advice on how to incorporate, and set boundaries with, birth parents and extended birth families are included. Part two emphasizes the child (adoptee), and helps children respond to insensitive questions from others. Foster, international, and donor situations are also detailed. Anecdotes from birth parents, adoptive parents, and adult adopted children are included, establishing rapport between readers and real-life families. Holden skillfully covers many bases, including potential “bumps in the road,” offering appendices and resources for further guidance.
Publishers Weekly

Written with input from her daughter’s birth mother Crystal Hass, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole is both personal and dispassionate. A primer for open adoption, Holden's book is full of personal anecdotes from her own life as well as others living open adoption. Lori isn’t an expert, a social worker, or a psychologist. She’s a mom and super-connected blogger with two children on the brink of young adulthood, both of whom have sometimes on-again, off-again relationships with their birth parents…. The book offers practical tools to help adoptive parents make decisions about everything from embarking on an open adoption to opening a closed local or international adoption. She gives concrete how-to’s on managing visits (use the in-law test), talking to the public about your adoption (educate, use humor, ask a question or say it’s private), handling difficult subjects and feelings with your kids (depersonalize the situation), and coaching your kids on how to handle comments from peers (choose whether to share, walk away, educate or say “it’s private”)..... The meat of the book is devoted to families living open adoption, which is where the book really shines. There are helpful sections for pre-adoptive parents wondering how to enter an open adoption, families in difficult or challenging situations with birth parents (common in foster care adoptions, closed adoptions that could be opened and international adoptions on the brink of openness.

Focus on Adoption

I would highly recommend reading this book if you are waiting to adopt or if you are in an open adoption and looking for more guidance or information. Holden walks the reader through adoption – from the beginning stages, to the new relationship stage between the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents, to a relationship that will grow as time moves on. Holden and Hass share their views on what makes their adoption work and also share the views of others involved in their own open adoptions. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption is a great book and should be used as a tool that can offer advice, anecdotes, and knowledge to anyone navigating their way through an open adoption relationship.
Our Story: A Blog About Open Adoption

This is a useful, thought-provoking book that is written in the same humorous, friendly, approachable voice that you'll find on Lori's blog. I also appreciate the dual perspectives of both adoptive mother and birth mother on the same topics within the same context. Filled with personal stories and real-life examples, it's a book that current and prospective adoptive parents are sure to find very beneficial and challenging. It’s also a rich source of conversational fuel that will spark some great discussions.
Christian Family Adoptions

The Open-hearted Way to Open Adoption is a positive and inspiring book that will touch your heart as well as provide you with persuasive, practical and useful ideas.
GIFT Family Services

Lori Holden author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, maintains a blog here at http://lavenderluz.com/

• Lori Lavender Luz's writes on May 6, 2014 on the blog Mile High Mamas: I’m Raising Somebody Else’s Child http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2014/05/06/somebody-elses-child/

Adoptive Families featured Lori and Crystal in an interview: A Meeting of the Open Minds at http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.php?aid=2508