Helpful books Elizabeth recommends for parents, especially for those
with special needs adoptions.

Traumatic Experience and the Brain:
A Handbook for Understanding and Treating Those Traumatized as Children

by Dave Ziegler 

This is possibly the best technical description of what happens in the brain as a result of trauma. While some of the information is probably more of use to therapists, it is still helpful as a parent to really understand what is going on and that these are actual physical effects that the child cannot help.

Attaching through Love, Hugs, and Play: Simple Strategies to Help Build Connections with Your Child

by Deborah D. Gray 

If you don't feel totally comfortable with playing with your child or if this is an area which is a challenge for you, get a hold of this book. There are many concrete examples of ways to play with and engage your child to develop a close and nurturing relationship which will aid in healing.

Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment 

by Daniel A. Hughes 

This is a very helpful book and does a good job of explaining connected parenting. It is not specifically directed at adoptive parenting, so could be more useful to a broader audience. Be forewarned, if you are at the beginning of your journey from consequence-based parenting and have not read much theory, you will find it at complete odds to what you are used to.

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness 

by Todd Rose

Children who are affected by trauma have one thing is common — their brain is jagged. This means their consistency, strengths, and weaknesses are all over the board. We live in a society which wants everything to be standardized and our children are not. For a child having a hard time at life in general, this expectation makes it even more difficult. This is an important book to help us understand and shift our expectations on how things should be. 

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

by Ross W. Greene 

This book is a game changer for anyone raising a child whose frustration point is somewhere around negative one. The child doesn't necessarily need to be an exploder for this book to be helpful and useful. Any prospective adoptive parent should read this book ahead of meeting their new child. You don't know if your child will be explosive, but you will be at least a little bit prepared. At its heart, this book is actually about a lack of executive function which should be read with the following book.

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love

by Robert Karen 

If you want to understand trauma experienced by adopted children, you also need to understand attachment theory, since the severing (or complete lack) of attachment is so often one of the first traumatizing events. This book is pretty comprehensive.

Executive Function and Child Development 

by Marcie Yeager and Daniel Yeager

This is such a fantastically useful book. It gives the practical how-to for The Explosive Child's theory.

These last four books are all written from a connected parenting model and are useful in learning to relate in a new way with a difficult or traumatized child. If you have a difficult past yourself, then Parenting from the Inside Out is probably worth reading.


Elizabeth Curry maintains a blog to journal her adoption journey & shares advice and information with adoptive families on the joys and challenges of adoption. Please visit her blog, Ordinary Time,  to learn about her personal experience and the latest updates on the Curry family.

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