Book Review | The Stovepipe

The StovepipeThe Stovepipe, by Bonnie E. Virag

The Stovepipe is a heartrending and heartwarming story of a four-year-old girl, who, along with three sisters and a brother, is taken by force from her family farm and placed in the foster care system. As time passes, they are often separated and later reunited as they are shuffled from one foster home to another. The four girls spend their most formative years on a tobacco farm where they live in abject fear of their foster parents who show them no affection, force them to work as common farm laborers, keep them locked in unheated attic bedrooms, do not let them partake in the family meals, and deny them access to the inside sanitary facilities. They are constantly threatened that they will be separated again if they misbehave. Their strong sisterly bonds and the pranks they play to get even with their foster parents help the girls to keep their will and spirits from breaking and to endure the years of willful neglect and unspeakable abuse.

When I was contacted to review The Stovepipe, I was really excited. It’s been a while since I have done a book review on the blog and it just so happens, I had made a commitment to myself to do more reading in 2014!

From the very first paragraph, I was captivated. My stomach knotted immediately empathizing with the fear that Bonnie felt at becoming a foster child.  Throughout the book, I smiled as her and her sisters made the best of a very bad situation, but also felt intense anger towards the adults (and older children!) who not only did not protect her, but who also purposefully abused her. Sadly, I don’t think her story is isolated to her generation, but rather something that still permeates a very broken system. I finished the booking feeling like Bonnie was an old friend… someone who I am very proud of for not only surviving a childhood of abuse, but who rose above and blessed us all by sharing her story in this book. I highly recommend this book to any one with an interest in the foster care system (past or present) or with a love for children.

About The Author

After immigrating to the United States in 1964, Bonnie Virag enrolled into the prestigious Academy Nvart School of Dressmaking and Designing to pursue her life-long dream of being a fashion designer. After graduating in May 1968, she went on to open her own home-based business. Several years later she entered the field of home decorating to design and fabricate customized window treatments. Failed surgery on an injured hand caused the closing of her business. It was then, while using an old typewriter for physical therapy, she decided to write her memoir. She is retired now and lives happily with her husband in Michigan. Bonnie can be found here on the web.

Have you read this book? Please feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Would you like to have your foster or adoption related book reviewed on my blog? Please contact me at fosteradoptionblog@gmail.com!

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Book Review | The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale, by Grace Lin

A king and queen should be full of joy and contentment, but they both feel a strange pain that worsens every day. Then a peddler’s magic spectacles reveal a red thread pulling at each of their hearts. The king and queen know they must follow the thread.

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale is a children’s book with a stronge message that children of adoption are “meant to be” with their adoptive parents. Daffy, age 9, really enjoys reading this book and reports that her favorite part of the story is “when they find the baby.” While the message can pertain to the adoption of children of any age, whether domestic or international, the artwork will be most relatable to those adoptive parents who have adopted infants from other countries.

Grace Lin grew up in Upstate NY with her parents and 2 sisters, whom are featured in many of her books. You can visit her website at gracelin.com for more information about her books (behind the scene stories and pictures) as well as other amusing anecdotes!

Have you read this book? Please feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Book Review | I Wished for You: An Adoption Story

I Wished for You: An Adoption Story, by Marianne Richmond

I Wished for You: an adoption story follows a conversation between Barley Bear and his Mama as they curl up in their favorite cuddle spot and discuss how they became a family. Barley asks Mama the questions many adopted children have, and Mama lovingly answers them all.

I Wished for You: An Adoption Story is quickly becoming one of Daffy’s favorite bedtime stories! In fact, we have read it every single night since we received it a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes she reads it to me and sometimes I read it to her, but either way, we always enjoy it and often use it as a spring board to talk about Daffy’s feelings about adoption. Marianne Richmond does an amazing job anticipating the feelings of adopted children and answers the questions through Mama in such a way that they could apply to many adoptive situations (whether international, domestic or through foster care).  The key message is that it’s not where you are from, but rather how well you are loved that makes you a part of a family.

This review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Marianne Richmond’s amazing illustrations! Daffy, age 9,  has quite a talent for art and she is mesmerized by the watercolor illustrations in the book. (She even copied two of the illustrations by hand the first night we read it!)

I would highly recommend this book to any adoptive parent looking for an easy way to start conversations about many of the questions adopted children have about how they came to be a part of your family.

Beloved author and illustrator Marianne Richmond has touched the lives of millions for nearly two decades through her award-winning books, greeting cards, and other gift products that offer people the most heartfelt way to connect. Visit her website at mariannerichmond.com or find her on Facebook here!

Have you read this book? Please feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts!

Telling A Story

I started this bog primarily to have a safe place to share our personal story. I wanted to document every step, every challenge and every success. While my goal for this blog remains the same since I began it in November 2011, it has also evolved into something much more. The stories I share I here allow me to connect with others in similar situations, some of whom leave me comments with amazing suggestions because they have been there, some simply to say they care and still others to thank me for sharing my experience so that they don’t have to feel alone in this crazy process of adopting through the US foster care system. My hope for the future is that I will be able to add valuable resources that will inspire others to take this incredible journey, one that will not only change a child’s life, but also their own!

I’ll be the first to admit I am not a great writer, but I have always enjoyed the process. Writing things out helps me to process my own thoughts and feelings. It helps me to keep things in perspective and helps to guide the choices I make after seeing the written words.

While adopting from foster care is one of the toughest challenges I have faced on a day to day basis, my life has always been filled with dramatic ups and downs. From the time I was in elementary school, people would often comment that I should “write a book!” Having heard this so many times throughout my life, I think it has become a part of who I am. I am not yet a “published” author (well, actually I am, if you count the scrapbooking craft book I wrote in 2005, but that’s really not the same), but I AM an author. I do have a story to tell…  a story that has value and a story that could impact others. I haven’t figured out that path just yet, but I have plenty of time to get there.

On that note, I would like to share with you an exciting new book project that I am considering submitting to called, “Undeniable Love: Heartfelt Adoption Stories“. This project sets out to share with the world the heart wrenching and undeniable love that affects all involved with adoption.  Their goal is to share all sides of the adoption spectrum with the world, as well as those that will soon be or have previously been blessed by adoption. This book will serve as an inspirational tool showcasing the real and raw emotions associated with each journey. It’s intended to reach the hearts of everyone impacted by adoption.

If  you have an incredible adoption story that you would like to share with the world, visit their  Submission Guidelines  for details. The final due date for all submissions is October 31, 2012. I hope to see many of my foster and adoption friends published!