Book Review: Taken by Rosie Lewis

I just finished Rosie Lewis’s new book Taken.

I really liked this book. It’s different from her other books and stories because it directly affects her family.

Rosie is given a newborn baby Meghan to foster. She had a rough beginning as she was born with neonatal Abstinence syndrome, NAS (haven’t heard that term in the US but basically drug withdrawals). She also had a cleft lip. She was in a special care unit, what would probably be called the NICU here, for a couple weeks and Rosie came every day to learn to feed and take care of her.

For the first few months of her life things were very hard for her. She could not hold down most of what she was fed and feeding was very difficult with her lip how it was. She cried and screamed in pain from the withdrawals. She was only somewhat quiet when she was given methadone, as an addict would be given! I didn’t know they did that for addicted newborns but it does make sense. Sad.

Slowly she got through her withdrawals. And pretty quickly her curious,playful and loving personality started to show.

Meanwhile there was a LAC review, to look into Meghan’s needs long term. Her birth mom, Christina would not be allowed to keep her baby that was clear from the beginning. Everyone was leaning towards adoption. Meghan’s social worker was Peggy, Zadie’s social worker in Betrayed. She was a no nonsense woman, physically compromised by her weight (was out of breath a lot) but a ferece advocate for the kids she worked with. She also handled Christina’s mood swings, and bluster well that hid the vulnerability of her and her situation.

To her utter surprise, on meeting Christina Rosie found something indearing about her. I guess just being a mom and imagining having to give up her kids at birth. She still hated what Christina had done to Meghan but in her heart she felt connected to her.

Meghan’s birth father and grandparents were ruled out. Peggy made a very insensitive comment, when Meghan tested with some hearing loss. That was something like, “adopters will run a mile if they know a child has a disability.” Sad that that’s the attitude. It turns out after her cleft repair she only had very mild hearing loss and it wasn’t an issue.

A little while later Peggy suggested that Rosie might want to apply to adopt Meghan. I found it interesting that she was the one to suggest this. Yes Rosie and her family knew that they’d feel great pain at letting her go but knowing they had given her a solid start was the important thing. This was the first book I’ve read dealing with a foster to adopt placement. With Cathy Glass, Lucy became a long term foster child of Cathy, and the adoption was something that came later and more gradually and something Lucy asked for.

Rosie was surprised by the question and her first comment was that she was divorced and didn’t own her own home, though she’d been in her home for ten years. I was pretty surprised that these were her first concerns, and such barriers to adoption.

In any case Peggy fully supported her in the adoption. And so went the ups and downs of the family working to adopt. I won’t give away everything but a few things stand out for me.

First, how a change of social worker can change the trajectory of the whole case. The social services bias to placing a child with a family with money and respectable jobs in a nice area of town. That at one point became the focus more than anything else and I thought at times it was purely selfish of them, or I don’t know, so material. That that’s what their focus was, a two parent family with a lot of money.

Even Christina in her angry swearing way was on Rosie’s side when it was decided at one point that she be moved to this rich couple.

The ups and downs were softened by Meghan’s developing personality. It’s clear she had and likely could continue to have emotional difficulties. Rosie talked about meltdowns when Meghan got frustrated that seemed more out of her control than regular tantrums and likely her brain would just get on overload. She was also very sensitive to illness. And am sure the legacy of being born drug addicted would always stay with her.

Though the ending was happy, the book throws up a lot of questions about adoption, the system as far as how foster carers are able or unable to adopt. The idea of using an agency carer versus a local authority one, apparently the latter costs less money, and other issues.

I highly recommend this book and am interested about how foster to adopt happens in the US and other countries. I also know that the prognosis for drug addicted newborns isn’t often as good as it was for Meghan. People who have kids that are more affected might feel like the story doesn’t represent the experience of raising a child with these needs. But every child and situation is different. It also focuses on the emotional toll of fostering newborns, and how hard it must be for foster parents to let go and how the change in caregivers affects the child’s attachment to future adults I.E adopted parents or other foster parents.

Would love people’s thoughts on the book.

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