Book Review: Instant Mom

Kara Lucas, MSW, shares another book review with us:  This time she gives Instant Mom, by Nia Vardalos a solid 4 stars.



Description: Writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos firmly believed she was supposed to be a mom, but Mother Nature and modern medicine had put her into a headlock. So she made a choice that shocked friends, family, and even herself: with only fourteen hours’ notice, she adopted a preschooler.

Review: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos is the perfect summery, beachy read for any adoptive parent or person interested in possibly adopting. Funny, chatty, and personable, Nia’s adoption memoir had me laughing out loud in places. I loved her voice; I honestly found myself wishing I could somehow be her friend. (Also a plus: she calls social workers really pretty angels! Now she’s a friend for life!)

On a more poignant note, she bravely chronicles her heartbreaking journey through infertility and the sometimes agonizing adoption process and the hard road of waiting for that certain phone call. Prospective adoptive parents and first-time adoptive parents alike will be able to relate a lot to her struggles and triumphs throughout the whole book: from the bewilderment of what to buy for a preschooler, to the success of getting Ilaria to sleep through the night for the first time.

Nia Vardalos is a spokesperson for National Adoption Day, and the fost-adopt adoption community is blessed to have such a positive and enthusiastic celebrity in our corner.

Highly recommended.

Target Audience: Any person interested in adoption or adoptive parent, also a great read for anyone just interested in the subject.

Strengths: Funny and easy read; a very good “How to Adopt” appendix in the back, plus links to great resources.

Weaknesses: Nia speaks often about how she dreamed about her future daughter, and felt as if she was given signs that she would someday adopt a girl with “blond highlights.” While I do not doubt her personal experience whatsoever, I would caution potential prospective adoptive parents by saying that not anyone has such clear-cut premonitions as to what type of child will come into their family. And of course, sometimes children struggle with attachment issues far more significant than what this family encountered.

Book Review: Another Place at the Table

One of our favorite bookworms on staff, Kara Lucas, MSW, will be sharing regular reviews on books relevant to our work with families.

One of Kara’s favorites, which she awards a strong 5 stars, is:


We recommend this book for: ALL FOST/ADOPT FAMILIES (applicants, waiting and finalized).
**Remember that “training” credits can be earned for family review of books. Please contact the office to inquire about this opportunity!**

What you can Expect: The book is a somewhat startling and ultimately uplifting narrative of one woman’s thirteen-year experience as a foster parent. The memoir encompasses insights and experiences gained through fostering over 100 children.

Kara’s Thoughts on Another Place at the Table:
It can be hard to describe to prospective adoptive parents what it is like, really, to be a former foster child or what it is like to parent one. The intricacies of the foster care system can be very difficult to describe, and each child comes with his or her own unique story and set of challenges. It doesn’t help that there are so many erroneous portrayals out there in the media, with the pendulum swinging wildly from portrayals of Pollyana-esque children grateful to be adopted to budding sociopaths who will try to hurt the family cat. Both of these versions are damaging and inaccurate, of course. As an adoption social worker I try my best to educate my prospective adoptive families as best as I can on some of the unique challenges and issues that come with children who have had to try and survive the foster care system.

Kathy Harrison’s beautifully written memoir, Another Place at the Table, does just that. Warm, encouraging, and full of wisdom, Kathy shares her experiences of what it is like to be both a foster parent and an adoptive mother. Her stories ring with truth and you come away inspired and full of respect for someone who has “walked the walk” of trying to help children heal. She doesn’t sugar-coat her experiences, but at the same time her words are full of love and hope for the children she has cared for. I found myself taking notes and have consistently recommended this book to many of my families seeking to adopt a child through fost/adopt.

For additional Reviews on this book, visit: