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Upside Down: Understanding and Supporting Attachment in Adoptive Families

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Adoptive families working through attachment issues often feel alone. It doesn’t have to be this way though.

The communities around them want to help, yet they usually don’t know how to help when it comes to attachment issues.

A little perspective can change all of that.

Upside Down shares stories from dozens of families healing through the spectrum of attachment issues, from general attachment concerns to reactive attachment disorder. It demonstrates ways adoptive families can explain these often invisible special needs to the community around them, and also shows how these communities can provide support without causing more damage to a hurting child and further isolating the families working so hard to heal them.

Topics include

—the reality behind the rose-tinted movies;

—the why behind the weird limits;

—the tangle of community;

—what adoptive families really want besides coffee;

—sample letters for care providers; and

—links and further resources.

The message of Upside Down is two-fold: adoptive families are not alone, and the communities around them can be equipped to make sure they never feel that way again.


Shannon Guerra is a lifelong Alaskan who stays warm by running around after her six children and drinking ridiculous amounts of tea and coffee. She loves to read Dickens, Austen, C. S. Lewis, and her children’s handwriting. Shannon passionately believes in God’s extravagant love for humanity and His desire to speak and move through His people. She and Vince have been married since 1997, and they enjoy hiking, watching movies, ministering through prayer, reading, and snapping each other with kitchen towels, to the shocked amusement of their kids. Shannon writes in (mostly) complete sentences at copperlightwood.com.



In this book, “Upside Down” the author, Shannon Guerra, gives to the reader a beautiful, insightful and illustrative explanation of the joys, challenges, pains and adjustment issues that adoptive families go through, all in the process of seeking to show unconditional Christian love to adoptive children. Drawing on her own experiences with natural born and adoptive children, she lays out for the reader realistic and easy to implement advice in how fellow Christians can assist and come along side these families. Many times even well-intentioned friends say exactly the wrong things or fumble with misguided attempts to help which only hinder. Because the matters of attachment can be so complicated the thinking in the adoptee and in the friends alongside can be so “upside down”, from what one might expect. Especially if that adoptive child or teen-ager is displaying the symptoms of R.A.D. (Reactive Attachment Disorder), the supportive family and friends can inadvertently play into the tendency of that child to manipulate, act up, or be led to “feel different”, and all while desiring preferential treatment.

Personally, after more than 38 years as a pastor and after 20 plus years of having adoptive grand-children, having witnessed adoptive families and children, many times with obtaining wonderful results and sometimes with disastrous outcomes, but always with complicated family dynamics, I sincerely regret that I could not have read this book much sooner. Even as we love these special children dearly, there is so much in this book, I truly wish I had known years ago.

Now, to everyone who loves these special children, to every parent, sibling, family friend, grand-parent, uncle, aunt, or anyone seeking to supportively understand the struggles within adoptive families I say, “Read this book before you proceed any further”. “Upside Down” ought to be on the ‘must read’ list for any school teacher, Sunday school teacher, or church worker. At the very least, this book ought to be placed prominently in library of every church that truly cares for any adoptive children within it. 

Book review by Dr. Warren Lammers
Retired Pastor, after 38 years serving 5 congregations in Michigan, Ontario, and South Dakota
January 2018

Paperback, 78 pages

Author: Shannon Guerra
Type: Books - Paperback

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