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Parents for Children, Children for Parents: The Adoption Alternative.

L. M. Glidden. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation, 1989. 224 pp. $21.

This book represents a pioneering effort to examine the issue of adoption for children with mental retardation. Glidden reports a study of 42 families, all of whom had adopted or were longterm foster parents of at least one child with retardation.

Glidden proposes that families rearing children with retardation are challenged by two separate types of dilemmas that are, however, so intertwined as to be nearly impossible to separate for research consideration. The first, which she calls "existential crises," includes the feelings of grief, disillusionment, and loss of identity that families generally report upon the birth of a child with retardation. The second, "reality burdens," are the day-to-day demands faced by parents caring for a child who may have significant health, social, and learning needs. Glidden attempts to disentangle these two issues by examining families who have chosen to parent children with retardation and who supposedly face the same reality burdens--but not the same existential crises--as birth families of similar children.

The 42 families included in Glidden's sample all lived in the London area, and most were referred by the adoption agencies involved in placing their children. The primary source of information was a semi-structured interview conducted with the mothers 1-3 years after child placement, with additional information available from questionnaires completed by mothers and fathers.

Glidden provides detailed descriptions of the families and their children, both before and after adoption, as well as the occupations, homes, lifestyles, and personal beliefs of the families. The author carefully examines factors that influenced the parents' decisions to adopt, the adoption processes themselves, and the positive and negative impacts. The families overwhelmingly reported satisfaction with their decisions and positive outcomes for their families, but some negative results and even one disrupted adoption are also carefully detailed. The book includes a review of literature on both adoption and family entrance of a child with retardation.

Glidden presents both statistical and anecdotal information about the families in her sample. This allows the reader to follow families through the adoption process and share their joys and sorrows, gaining insights into the motivations of these families and reflecting on the possibilities for all children. Because of the small sample size and other limitations, however, readers should be cautious in making generalizations to other families in other circumstances.

Nonetheless, Glidden's book could prove helpful to anyone considering adoption, to professionals counseling families in the adoption process, and to individuals involved in recruiting adoptive families and assisting in the development of adoption plans for children. Specifically, it could assist in the understanding and development of supports needed by particular families in order to successfully undertake adoption of children with special needs, and it could assist in broadening visions for children generally considered difficult to place. In addition, the book suggests many issues in need of further research.

[Reviewed by CARLA A. PETERSON, (CEC Chapter #298) Assistant to the Director, Social Interaction Project, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.]
COPYRIGHT 1991 Council for Exceptional Children
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Peterson, Carla A.
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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