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Book Review: ISBN 978-0-615-25430-2 Our Journey to Forever... Had Potholes Along the Way

Title: Our Journey to Forever... Had Potholes Along the Way!
ISBN: 978-0-615-25430-2
Authors: Lori Oden, LMSW and Anita Diener
Publisher: Ruth Orpah Publishing
Publishing Date: September, 2008

oj_coverWhen my wife and I first began to realize that something wasn't right with our nephew, we began searching for the nature of the problem. He was seeing a neuropsychologist who specialized in pediatrics. We would drop him off at the clinic once a week, then go have lunch and drink coffee for an hour and a half while our nephew was in behavioral therapy.

Later, when we picked him up, both my nephew and his therapist would be angry and it didn't seem that anyone was getting anywhere, except for our nephew who was probably in control of things all along. After more than a month of therapy, the tentative diagnosis was that he suffered from AD/HD and oppositional defiant disorder, but his therapist thought there was something else beneath it.

While we were sitting in the restaurant one week, one or the other of us read a newspaper article which described a child with reactive attachment disorder, and the characteristics sounded so much like our nephew that we felt sure that we were on to something. When we suggested it to his therapist later, he said that that is what he was thinking too, but that he was still doing some research on it. He was not an attachment therapist. Until then, we didn't know that we were dealing with reactive attachment disorder.

Unwilling to permit our nephew's therapist to be the only one doing research on the subject, we began buying books on the subject. We were fortunate, at the time, to be making a reasonably good income, so we bought a lot of books, and we read them all.

I don't recall that I have ever read a book about reactive attachment disorder that I didn't learn something from. They were all valuable, some more so than others. One thing that bothered me however, was that where a book would give a suggestion, the assumption was that it would lead to a therapeutic response. So many of the things that we tried with our nephew resulted in very different responses, yet the books never gave us an answer to the follow up question, "What now?"

Consequently, we were forever left with the idea that we must be doing something wrong, no matter how closely we tried to follow the recommendations in the books that we were reading.

Of course, taking the blame for this upon ourselves simply fed into our nephew's disorder. One truth was that parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder is not as easy as some of the books made it sound. Another was that the goal of a full recovery simply set us up for failure.

We are all, each one of us, in some way, the sum of our past experiences, and this is also true of children with reactive attachment disorder. Some of them will, no doubt, recover more fully than others, but I think it's fair to say that all of them will suffer some lasting negative effects of their past experiences. We all do.

Anita Diener and Lori Oden, the authors of this book, were both foster parents who met through the adoption of biological sisters, both of whom suffered from reactive attachment disorder, and there experiences are the subject of the book that I am reviewing today. The authors of this book were both experienced foster parents.

Lori Oden was a veteran foster parent. She spent nineteen years as a foster parent, with more than ten years as a Master Level Treatment Foster Parent through a licensed child placement agency, specializing in working with children with reactive attachment disorder. She and her husband provided foster or respite care for more than a hundred and forty children in the nineteen years they served as foster parents in Kansas. She is also an elementary special education teacher in the area of behavior disorders. In 2005, after the events in this book took place, she received her Master's in Social Work, graduating Summa Cum Laude, and is currently employed as a clinician with a mental health center in Kansas.

Anita Diener has devoted fifteen years of service to Kansas children in need of care. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/Psychology, and provides short-term emergency placements and respite care to severely emotionally disturbed children.

By way of reference, I served as a short-term emergency foster parent in California many years ago, and adopted one boy who did not suffer from reactive attachment disorder, raising him with very few problems, leading me to believe that I was something on the order of an expert on the subject of parenting. Of course, that was before my wife and I took in our nephew. All of my supposed parental skills went out the window during that experience.

While textbooks certainly have their place, particularly when one is trying to understand the disorder that they hope to do battle with, Oden and Diener didn't write a textbook. The product of their efforts more closely resembled reality, as seen through the lens of reactive attachment disorder.

When I say that this is not a textbook, in no way do I mean to imply that there is nothing to be learned from it. On the contrary, there is a great deal to be learned from it. A textbook will tell you that if you do this, that will happen; of if you do that, this will happen - but none of the textbooks that I have read prepared me for the eventuality of neither this or that happening as a result of my actions.

In their book, Lori Oden and Anita Diener tell a tale that doesn't have a storybook ending. Rather, they have penned an honest story of genuine people parenting real children with reactive attachment disorder. Like any other human parent, they make mistakes, and they are honest enough to tell it the way it happened rather than as they may later wished it had.

They also do a lot of things right; yet, even then, the results aren't always what so many of the attachment textbook authors would have us expect. Children with reactive attachment disorder are individuals and, as such, they cannot be depended upon to follow the maps laid out by the attachment experts, and parents don't generally come with GPS systems in place.

The authors of this book are experienced parents, yet they are human beings, and both of these variables come into play during the experiences that are the subject of their book.

I found it refreshing, and I almost hate to say that. It's not that I enjoyed the fact that the story did not end with a storybook happy ending, but that the authors told it like it was rather than leaving those who have yet to go through it themselves with unrealistic expectations.

Our Journey to Forever is an honest book, and the truth is always refreshing, whatever the results. And the results are much better than they would have been had Lori and Anita not been there.

I recommend it highly. If you've parented a child with reactive attachment disorder, you will enjoy this book. If you have never parented a child with attachment issues, you'll probably think these people are nuts; but if you've been involved in attachment parenting, you're no doubt familiar with that as well. Such is the way we parent our kids.

Now that I've recommended the book to you, there is the matter of finding it. As of this writing, the book is not available through Amazon.com or through any other online bookseller that I've been able to find. I've tried Barnes and Noble, and I've even looked for the publisher - Ruth Orpah Publishing - online, but was unable to find a web site, or reference to it.

This is because the book is self-published. There's nothing wrong with that; it only means that if you want to order the book right now, it will have to be done the old school way, through the postal service.

Deciding that I might do some of the homework for you, I contacted Lori Oden. She tells me that they are in the process of putting up a web site, which will be able to take orders for the books through PayPal or credit card. She told me, just today, that the launch date for their web site is March 1st. However, I can see that the site itself is already up, although it's not completed as yet. I don't know if the order section is ready to go yet. The site can be found at OurJourneytoForever.com.

There's no need to wait for the web site to be completed, since the postal service is still in business, taking our tax dollars and delivering mail. The book can be ordered the old fashioned way by writing to:

Ruth-Orpah Publication
PO Box 406
Lyons, Kansas 67554

They can be emailed at ruth_orpahpub@yahoo.com

The cost of the book is $19.95 plus $2.50 shipping and handling. If my math skills serve me right, that's $22.45. The shipping charge for international orders is $5.00. Don't wait for the web site. Send your check, and they'll send you a book. It's that easy.

-- ken


Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009


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