I was excited to see this book, After They Are Yours, written by Brian Borgman, had recently been published. It claimed to offer a transparent, raw story of adoption from a Christian perspective that shared about the difficulties adoptive parents sometimes face. The 12 reviews were glowing, and it sounded like a fantastic book based on the description. The author is a pastor, so I was looking forward to reading about the biblical references as well. Unfortunately, I was turned off to the book almost immediately when Borgman talked about adoption as the “rescue” of a child. He also referred to adoptive parents as “heroes” and “God-like” which made me cringe even more. While I admit that there may be an element of rescue in some adoptions, this isn’t always the situation, as in some cases of adoption out of infertility. I think it simply reinforces the “hero” mentality of parents, which we most certainly are not. All parents (adoptive and otherwise) are sinners and make mistakes every day just like anyone else. While we are in the process of sanctification and are somehow used by God to partner with Him in what He’s doing on earth, we are also far from God-like. He also referred to biological children as “natural children,” which makes the implication that children who have been adopted are “unnatural.” Some may argue it’s “just semantics,” and I’m positive no ill intent was meant by it, but I think it sends the wrong message to our children. I could be willing to overlook this if it stood alone, but that coupled with the other descriptions left me a little frustrated.
Despite these issues, I really enjoyed some parts of the book. Borgman has a nice writing style and told his family’s story well. He offers hope to adoptive families through his experiences and shares several very important insights. It’s a short read, kept my interest, and I identified with a few of his parenting experiences. I also enjoyed the biblical references and theology he included. He is very transparent and writes humbly about his parenting mistakes, but I wish he would have explained a little more about why some were so detrimental. For example, at least twice, Borgman wrote about walking (and in one instance, driving) away from his recently adopted son because he wasn’t obeying the request to come with them. At the time, he was shocked that his son showed complete indifference when his parents left him. While I understand and sympathize, his message could have been so much stronger if he addressed a little attachment theory and why his son was so indifferent. I would have also liked to see Borgman discuss why his decision to leave his son in those situations was detrimental, and only further complicated possible abandonment issues. He does openly share about the revelation of his son’s difficult behavior being at least partly attributed to his Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosis, which I thought was wonderful. However, I wish that he had shared more about why his son appeared defiant, difficult, and detached. These behaviors can be incredibly difficult to address as parents, but I think some insight into why children can sometimes exhibit these behaviors would have been beneficial. This information could help future adoptive parents understand that their children are coming from a place of hurt and trauma, not from a perspective of simply choosing to be difficult.
One final note to mention is that I think Borgman could have added a few other resources when discussing who to go to for help. His suggestions are: 1. a godly, realistic couple, 2. church elders, and 3. the state. I would personally add in several options, including a mature Christian couple who have years of adoptive parenting experience, your adoption agency, local adoptive parent groups (which are more widely available now) or non-local adoptive parent support groups, and a reputable, recommended attachment therapist familiar with trauma. I would also suggest that parents seek out online and local adoption training opportunities.
Overall, I do think some parents could benefit from reading about Borgman’s experiences and struggles as an adoptive parent. He is humbly transparent and open about his mistakes and does offer hope. But, I would caution readers to question some of the things written in the book and to read with a discerning eye. Perhaps I was looking for more in the book, but I think a few added elements could have made it a much more effective resource.