Upside Down: Understanding and Supporting Attachment in Adoptive Families

By Shannon Guerra Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. 92 pages. Paperback.

In Upside Down, Shannon Guerra gives to the reader a beautiful, insightful, and illustrative explanation of the joys, challenges, pains, and adjustment issues that adoptive families go through, all in the process of seeking to show unconditional Christian love to adoptive children. Drawing on her experiences with natural-born and adoptive children, she lays out for the reader realistic and easy-to-implement advice on how fellow Christians can assist these families. Many times even well-intentioned friends say exactly the wrong things or fumble with misguided attempts to help which only hinder. Because the matters of attachment can be so complicated, the thinking in the adoptee and in the friends alongside can be so “upside down” from what one might expect. Especially if that adoptive child or teenager is displaying the symptoms of RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), the supportive family and friends can inadvertently play into the tendency of that child to manipulate, act up, or be led to “feel different,” and all while desiring preferential treatment.

After more than thirty-eight years as a pastor and after twenty-plus years of having adoptive grandchildren, having witnessed adoptive families and children, many times obtaining wonderful results and sometimes with disastrous outcomes, but always with complicated family dynamics, I sincerely regret that I could not have read this book much sooner. Even as we love these special children dearly, there is so much in this book that I truly wish I had known years ago.

Now, to everyone who loves these special children, to every parent, sibling, family friend, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or anyone seeking to understand supportively the struggles within adoptive families I say, “Read this book before you proceed any further.” Upside Down ought to be on the must-read list for any Sunday school teacher or church worker. At the very least, this book ought to be placed prominently in the library of every church that truly cares for any adoptive children within it.

Book review by Dr. Warren Lammers, a retired pastor who served five congregations in Michigan, Ontario and South Dakota.