REMINDER: Girl Behind The Door Launch at Book Passage Corte Madera Tues. Feb. 9th at 7PM!

Please join us for the launch of The Girl Behind The Door, published by Scribner, at Book Passage Corte Madera on Tuesday Feb. 9th at 7PM, co-sponsored by Buckelew Programs.

9781501128349About The Girl Behind The Door:
Early on Jan. 29, 2008, Casey Brooks drove from her Tiburon home to the Golden Gate Bridge and jumped. Why?

Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award.
Winner of the Kindle Award for Non-Fiction.
Recommended as an Elaine’s Pick.
Recommended as a Marin Magazine Local Page Turner.
Featured in Books Inc’s non-fiction titles.




About Scribner:
A premier imprint of Simon & Schuster founded in 1846.

About Book Passage:
One of the Bay Area’s leading booksellers.

About Buckelew:
A North Bay non-profit dedicated to enhancing quality of life in our community.


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Scribner Picks Up The Girl Behind The Door!

the-girl-behind-the-door-9781501128349_hrI’m excited to announce that Scribner has picked up **The Girl Behind The Door: A Father’s Quest To Understand His Daughter’s Suicide**.Our book launch and reading is Tuesday, February 9th at 7PM at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA.

Book Passage is Marin County’s premier bookseller.

My deepest gratitude goes out to all of you who supported me when I self published and needed support the most. For anyone who hasn’t read the book, now is your chance! It is available at most bookstores, retailers and online where books are sold.

We’ve received wonderful accolades to date:

* Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award

* Winner of the Kindle Award for Non-Fiction

* Recommended as One of Elaine’s Picks

* Recommended as a Marin Magazine Local Author Page Turner

Please come join us on February 9th at 7PM at Book Passage and bring your family, friends, neighbors, parishioners and coworkers!

Good Adoption Articles In The Atlantic

Atlantic-Logo-NEW-white-11Adoption has been shrouded in myth and misunderstanding for decades. Adoptive parents with the best of intentions and resources bring an orphaned child into their home, shower her with love and live happily ever after, just like a Disney movie. Many adopted children blossom in their new homes, but many more don’t. These recent articles in The Atlantic below highlight the struggles adoptees face despite their journey from deprivation to a life of relative privilege. We learned through tragedy that adopted children have suffered a trauma in infancy – separation from their birth mother – that can haunt them forever, regardless of the love and comforts provided by their adoptive families.

The Adoption Paradox

Why Adopted Children Still Struggle Over Time



Why Adopting War Orphans May Not Be In Their Best Interest

pj5-Gus Waschefort-DRC orphan from war I am posting this as my first guest piece written by Leo Sampson, a volunteer worker for  charities who contributes to many websites from his home in Manchester, England. I found it very thought-provoking in light of the ongoing conflicts throughout the Middle East, Africa and other regions.

It’s no secret that some countries today are at war, whether civilly or internationally. No matter what the reason is for a country embroiled in war, the losers will always be the children. When soldiers die, their offspring are left behind with no choice but to face the real world without the guidance of their birth parents.I am posting this a

When we see images of abandoned and crying children in a country torn apart by war, good parents often feel the responsibility to reach out to them and, possibly, adopt them. And while the intention is pure and good, adopting children who were ripped from their parents by war may not be the best course of action. In addition, it is unattainable due to political, religious, and cultural barriers.

In the aftermath of a war, it is extremely difficult to make sure that a child is indeed an orphan. Families may have become separated in the disaster and it may take months, or even years, to reconnect families with each other. It is globally viewed as unethical to adopt children immediately without solid proof that a child is indeed orphaned. In addition, resources after a war will be limited, and adoption may not be a priority that a government is focused on. Without updated passport and necessary papers, a person will not be able to take a child out of a country legally.

Even if a country’s government manages to put some time and effort into adoption, it may be best to leave children in the care of local charities that work hard to give war orphans shelter, home, and a new family within the country. In many parts of the Middle East, adoption is not recognized and it will be difficult for both the child and adopting parent to win a case for adoption.

Right now, the best option for people who are willing to help war orphans is sponsorship programs, which is widely practiced by charities all over the world. By donating an amount that costs less than a cup of latte every day, people can make the life of a war orphan a little bit better.

Children deserve to live a full life, and adults must do everything they can to ensure that everyone grows up healthy and well educated. Since adoption has a lot of barriers that prevent a child from connecting with a new family, perhaps sponsorship programs may be the best course of action right now.

In Recognition of National Suicide Survivors’ Day

National Suicide Survivors’ Day was this past Sunday. In recognition of this day for those of us who’ve lost loved ones to suicide I wanted to share these two moving articles.




The first one is titled Toward Preventing Adoption-Related Suicide by Mirah Riben published September 14, 2015 in the Huffington Post. It addresses the fact that adopted people as a group are at a higher risk for suicide than the general public. I believe now that my daughter Casey’s suicide was most likely linked to her early infancy including birth trauma and a year in a Polish orphanage. Her basic needs were well cared for but it’s quite possible that a lack of a consistent available caregiver was at the root of her downfall.


The second one is titled The Silicon Valley Suicides by Hanna Rosin published in the December 2015 edition of The Atlantic. It chronicles the heartbreaking story of a rash of teen suicides in Palo Alto, California centered around Gunn High School and Palo Alto High.

If there is any good news in either of these stories it’s that Casey’s loss and the loss of the students in Palo Alto has opened up a dialogue about peer pressure, depression and suicide.

That’s a start.

“Inside the Adoption Circle”

hv-radio-face-700The NPR program Hearing Voices aired a very moving story yesterday titled Inside the Adoption Circlea first-person account from adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive families. Voices from all sides of adoption. Stories about living with questions and searching for answers. You hear from birth families (mothers, siblings and a father), adoptees (both kids and adults), and various adoptive families including open adoption and international adoption (China).

It brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it!


ABC 20/20 Piece on “Re-homing.”

2020harrisNOTE: Readers give the link below a moment to launch. It’s a bit slow. On Friday October 23rd ABC 20/20 aired an investigative piece about two Arkansas parents, Justin and Marsha Harris, who brought three sisters from foster care into their home of five (the Harrises and their three boys). It was a disaster that resulted in the sisters being split up and sent to other homes. Hopefully they will reunite, as well they should. The piece brought back memories of the 1990 20/20 piece on Romanian orphanages.

It would be easy to vilify the Harrises, but this story fits within my own narrative – an entire adoption system that wants nothing but the best for kids but fails them. At worst the Harrises were guilty of naiveté, perhaps over relying on their faith. But some of their statements were cringe worthy, adding to the continuing mystery around adoption. The Harrises three boys were clearly made to feel “grandfathered” into the family whereas the three girls – what? – had to prove themselves (I paraphrase). There was the state social worker that had doubts about the Harrises as a good fit. Then someone “diagnosed” RAD so that explained everything? Who did the diagnosis and how did they know that there weren’t other issues in play?

So many well-meaning people who completely fell down on a very, very difficult job.

The Girl Behind The Door Racks Up Another Award!

The Girl Behind The Door, winner of the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award for Parenting and Family Issues presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association has now won a second award. It came in first in the non-fiction category for the 2015 Kindle Book Awards!

Not bad for a rookie.

sticker art interior for mockup2015-Winner

Authors note: For anyone looking for the book on Amazon you will notice that the print version is off the market and the Kindle version will come down soon. This will become clear later.

So stay tuned.

“Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline

orphan-train-coverI don’t mean to make this blog into a book review site, but sometimes (a) bloggers run out of stuff to write about and (b) I occasionally read a really good book. I’m usually pretty attuned to adoption themed books, but rarely do I come across a great fiction story. When I saw the title “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline at my local bookstore, I judged that book by its cover and bought it.orphan-train

The story begins in present day Maine centered around a teenage girl named Molly who had bounced around in foster care for years, now living with foster parents, Ralph and Dina. Molly’s father died in a car crash and her mother was in jail with a long rap for drugs. In lieu of a sentence to “juvie” for stealing a library book, she agrees to community service, helping an elderly widow, Vivian, clean out the attic of her stately home.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reveal that through numerous flashbacks we learn that Vivian also has a past. She immigrateStreet-Childrend to New York City from Ireland with her family in the 1920s, only to lose them in a tenement fire. Sent to an orphanage, she is ultimately packed onto an “orphan train” with other children bound for the Midwest where families were looking less for a family and more for free help. Vivian’s Dickensian journey makes Molly’s foster parents’ mobile home look like the Ritz.

The story is fraught with losses, reunions and family discoveries made too late. A true joy to read, it literally brought me to tears.