Book review: “Our Beautiful Chaos” written by Rachael Leanne

Our beautiful chaos. A typewriter with a piece of paper in it with the word
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

When we started to consider adoption, I scoured the internet for stories from adopters sharing their experiences. I wanted to know what the assessment was really like. And how it feels when you meet your child for the first time. And what happens in the early days of placement. As well as eleventy billion other things.

I really struggled to find many blogs or books from adopters. Ultimately, that led me to write my book about the adoption process from my perspective as an adopter. Since then, a lot of other adopters have taken to their laptops to share their experiences to help those thinking about adoption and wanting to find out what it’s really like.

I love that we’ve taken things into our own hands to fill the gap and raise awareness about adoption. There are so many more books available now than there were when we started over 10 years ago.

I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to review some of them and have published my reviews and those of other adopters of some of those books.

The most recent I’ve been asked to review is “Our Beautiful Chaos” written by Rachael Leanne. I was thrilled to be asked to review this book for two reasons. Firstly, there are a lot of similarities in our experiences and secondly, Rachael is from the wonderful part of England where I live and I love supporting fellow northerners.

I was kindly gifted a copy of the book so that I could read and review it.

Our beautiful chaos. Front cover of the book featuring three cuddly toys

The book

“Our Beautiful Chaos” is an extremely honest account of Rachael’s journey from battling infertility to the decision to adopt, the assessment, matching, and beyond.

Reading the book brought back so many memories of the assessment and the early days of placement in particular. There were a lot of parts that had me in tears because the words took me right back to the emotions I was feeling at certain times of the assessment.

While the book is brilliant at sharing what the assessment and then matching are like, I think this book comes into its own when Rachael shares her feelings and emotions about the early weeks and months of placement. This part resonated with me a lot.

Unless you’ve been through it, you really can’t understand what it’s like to become a parent via adoption. All of the textbooks and training can only ever go so far because the people writing them, generally, haven’t been through the process.

Becoming a parent via adoption isn’t for the faint-hearted. It takes determination, patience, love, and a whole lot more. And that’s what comes through in this book. Rachael shares how the level of parenting required with her two eldest children cost her a lot in terms of her health.

I think this is something a lot of adopters, particularly mums, experience. But it’s something we still aren’t very good at talking about.

Our Beautiful Chaos: the early days of placement

By the time you meet your child for the first time, you’ve been through so much, regardless of whether you decide to adopt after infertility, or if you decided not to have birth children. The assessment process goes through every aspect of your life from your childhood to money, health, and your relationships.

You bundle up all of your hopes and dreams about becoming a parent and hand them over to your social worker, trusting they’ll keep them safe and help them to come true. That’s a big ask.

And then when your child comes home, it can feel like you’re learning to parent in a goldfish bowl. You’re being watched by your child’s foster carers as well as social workers, and healthcare professionals.

Clearly, their role is to make sure everyone is ok, supported and that the match is the right one. But when you’re going through it, it can feel like you’re every move is being watched. And that if you ask for help or admit that things are hard, you’ll risk having your child removed because that will mean you’re admitting you can’t look after them.

However irrational that may seem to everyone else, when you’re going through it, it can feel impossible to ask for help and support. And that’s such an important thing to know about when you’re starting the adoption process.

Rachael doesn’t hold back in sharing how she felt during this time, and how, with hindsight, she knows she didn’t put herself first. I love the analogy she uses about oxygen masks on an airplane. And for me, that’s the most valuable part of this book.

Preparing for adoption

By being so honest about her experience, she helps to prepare anyone thinking about adoption and gives them the tools to be able to put their health and well-being first so that they can provide the parenting plus that is often required in the early days of adoption.

So, if you’re thinking about adoption, or you’re in the early stages of the assessment, this book is definitely a must-read. It will prepare you not just for the assessment part of the process, but how to be realistic about the early days and months of placement so that you can give your child the level of parenting they need without burning yourself out.

You can buy “Our Beautiful Chaos” from Amazon. This is an affiliate link which means if you click on it and buy the book, I get paid a fee.

Our beautiful chaos. A group of 4 children playing with a ball in a wood surrounded by trees
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

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