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Seeds of Love - Preparing Siblings for Your International Adoption Journey

An Interview with Mary Ebejer Petertyl, Author of "Seeds of Love"

Mary Ebejer Petertyl is a professional writer and author living in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her three children, Dylan, Carly and Anna. She is the author of "Seeds of Love", a children's book which helps prepare brothers and sisters for their parents travel during international adoption.

Interview by Allison Martin

What inspired you to write Seeds of Love?

When Gary and I were preparing to travel to adopt Anna, I searched everywhere for a book that would explain international adoption from the sibling's perspective. I was particularly interested in a book that would help prepare five-year-old Carly for our extended separation. For example, "Yes, Mommy and Daddy will be gone for a while. But don't worry, we WILL be back. And when we return, we'll have your new baby sister."

There wasn't a book anywhere that remotely touched on these issues. So, as a professional writer, I felt compelled to fill this void in the international adoption literature.

Could you tell us about the wonderful illustrations. Is this your family in the pictures?

Aren't the pictures beautiful! Jill Chambers is the illustrator. She did such a wonderful job capturing Carly's evolving emotions using bright, sunny colors that are playful and soothing at the same time.

And, yes, that is our family. We had great fun posing for all the "reference photos" that Jill worked from for the illustrations. Carly particularly liked jumping up into my arms over and over again for the reunion picture!

The illustration of Gary holding Anna in the Snugglie was actually drawn from a picture of the two of them in Nanchang. Jill did take a little artistic license, however. The illustrations don't really look like us in real life.

How can parents help their children remaining at home while they travel?

Preparing them for the separation is key. Talk with your child well in advance about who will be taking care of him/her while you are gone and what activities they will be doing during that time. For example, "Grandma is going to stay here with you, but you will go to school everyday just like always." Or, "When you're staying with Aunt CeCe, you will go to day camp with cousin Kyle each day." Be sure to plan one extra-special activity toward the end of the trip that will give your child something fun to look forward to.

While you are apart, find ways of staying connected. Leave a paper chain with notes to be read each day. Or send short fax or e-mail notes home. They're much cheaper than phone calls and can be read over and over again while you're gone.

I have heard from many parents that reading Seeds of Love together before traveling created a reassuring touchstone to mom and dad whenever the story was read during their separation. So staying connected can take the form of a familiar activity and not necessarily direct communication.

What advice do you have for families preparing to travel for their international adoption?

The best advice is to "go with the flow." If this is your first adoption trip ... or even your first trip out of the country ... it will be difficult to know what to expect. Expect the unexpected and keep your sense of humor about you. Yes, there will be trying times. But there will also be many wonderful stories to treasure together forever.

Read the Review of "Seeds of Love"

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