Good Reading : September 2008
36 goodreading ı SEPTEMBER 2008 word of mouth up close Everything about books www.goodreadingmagazine.com ONLINE love their way With her family’s support, Julia Rollings took a courageous leap of faith in deciding to reunite Akil and Sabi, then aged 13 and 12, with their birth mother Sunama. Her book, Love Our Way, is her heart-rending story.We asked her about her decision and her family. What was the experience like to travel overseas to pick up a child? Do you have any advice for parents who are attempting to do the same thing? The experience of travelling overseas to meet each of our children was profound. Our first visit to an orphanage definitely redefined our priorities in life. My main advice to others who adopt is to become an active member of a support group. It will help you develop a deeper understanding of the needs of your child, as well as providing a network that will help as he or she grows up. Intercountry adoptees face particular challenges and they need to be able to share their experiences with others who deal with the same issues. When deciding to take Akil and Sabi back to reunite them with their birth mother, what emotions were you feeling? Meeting the mother of my children was another profound experience. I was feeling excited, nervous and somewhat apprehensive ... At the time we travelled back to India I had already been in email correspondence with Sunama for eight months and it had been friendly, so I felt positive about the developing relationship between our families. I consciously put my own feelings on hold because I wanted to be emotionally available to support Akil and Sabila. I believed I had a supportive role in their reunion rather than playing a main part, and I was ready to sit in the background. Sunama and her husband Babu were immediately warm and welcoming of me, so I felt included from the moment we met them. I had expected to feel jealous but that didn’t occur. You seem to discuss any problems with your children quite frankly and allow them to be part of the decision-making process. How has this helped them as they approached adulthood? Children can cope with a whole load of challenges in life if they are treated with honesty and respect. I don’t believe you help children develop resilience by sheltering them, but rather by standing alongside them so they can overcome difficulties. This will allow children to see themselves as strong, capable people who know they can deal with adversity when the going gets tough. Five of our eight children are now young adults and they have coped well with a range of stressful life experiences. Did you find that your own children ever resented their siblings from overseas? None of my children seems to have resented any of the others. My two daughters born to me have grown up with their brothers and sister from overseas, and they don’t see any difference in their relationships. Briony said, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever resented any of my siblings. I may get annoyed by someone but it is irrelevant that they were adopted.’ Alix answered, ‘Not even slightly. I’ve never resented any of my siblings but loved having all of them in our family.’ Could you recommend any books on adoption or on helping families cope with the problems associated with adoption? There are a few great adoption books I would recommend: Adoption Parenting: creating a toolbox, building connections (edited by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae) has a wealth of information on managing challenges; Adopting: Parents’ stories (edited by Jane Turner Goldsmith) is an Australian anthology with a range of personal experiences; and The Colour of Difference (edited by Sarah Ar mstrong and Petrina Slaytor) is a book that tells the stories of Australian adult adoptees, so it is essential reading for families adopting from overseas. Love Our Way by Julia Rollings is published by HarperCollins, rrp $32.99. Having created a riotously happy family, Julia and Barry Rollings thought they could handle anything life threw at them. That was until they received the devastating news that two of their six adopted children had not been willingly adopted out by their parents in India, but rather stolen away from their mother while she slept.