UPCOMING RADIO EVENTS: MONDAY MAR 7 2-3PM KPFA-FM/94.1 AND MONDAY MAR 14 10-11AM KQED-FM/88.5.

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Please tune in for these upcoming radio events.

 

logoMonday Mar. 7 2-3PM on KPFA-FM/94.1 I will be interviewed about adoption and attachment along with internationally renowned adoption expert, therapist and author of the adoption bible, The Primal Wound, Nancy Newton Verrier, on the show “About Health” hosted by Rona Renner, RN. You can also LISTEN LIVE on KPFA.org or listen to the archived show.

 

KQED_logoMonday Mar. 14 10-11AM on KQED-FM/88.5 I will be on a panel discussion about survivors of suicide on the nationally syndicated “Forum,” hosted by Michael Krasny. You can also LISTEN LIVE on KQED.org or listen to the archived show.

 

STAY TUNED FOR MORE MEDIA AND SPEAKING EVENTS!

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REMINDER: Girl Behind The Door Author Event at Book Passage San Francisco Wed. Mar. 2nd at 6PM!

9781501128349Please join us for an author event for The Girl Behind The Door, published by Scribner, at Book Passage San Francisco in the Ferry Building on WEDNESDAY MAR. 2nd at 6PM

About 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 premier booksellers.
Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Sausalito, San Francisco Ferry Bldg. #42

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STAY TUNED FOR MORE EVENTS. ON MONDAY MAR. 7TH AT 2PM JOHN BROOKS AND ADOPTION SPECIALIST, NANCY NEWTON VERRIER, TO BE INTERVIEWED ON “ABOUT HEALTH” WITH RONA RENNER ON KPFA-FM.94.1.

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.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE EVENTS. NEXT MARCH 2ND AT 7PM AT THE SAN FRANCISCO FERRY BLDG.

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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!

Join Me For My Next Author Event, San Rafael Downtown Public Library Wed Dec 17 @ 6:30P!

Dear Friends and Neighbors – The San Rafael Public Library – Downtown Branch – has been kind enough to invite me to speak and read from my book on Wed Dec 17 from 6:30P-7:30P. My first event went super well and I have more planned and hoped for in Tiburon (Mar 2) and Mill Valley and San Francisco (TBD).

San Rafael

10 Painful Lessons I Learned Too Late As An Adoptive Father

blackboard_iStock_000016212764XSmallLately I’ve been stumbling across various blog postings about things people have learned about [fill in the blank], things they want you to know about [fill in the blank], things you wish you could say to [fill in the blank.] They come from adoptive families, adopted people and others within and outside the adoption triad. I mean no disrespect, but I thought I should add my own painful lessons learned too late about adoption since my precious daughter Casey’s suicide.

  1. Adoption is a very complex and, in some respects, unnatural arrangement between birth parents, adoptive parents and, most importantly, the adopted child in the middle. Consider this: the animal shelter waits weeks before it gives away a puppy but humans hand over children as early as birth. Unfortunately this is the best system we have for now to help children who need homes find them.
  1. All too often (but not always) raising adopted children can be extremely difficult, a constant tug of war. Just loving them enough may not be enough. The adoptive parents may have to accept that their family experience will be nothing like the Hallmark Moments of their own childhood. They may feel like they’re spilling blood for their adoptive family while getting little in return.
  1. Within the adoption triad, the adoptive parents have choices, whether they’re good or bad. The birth mother also has choices, but they are probably ALL bad. The adopted child has no choice. No matter how loving or lovely her new home and family are compared to where she came from, she didn’t ask for this.
  1. When adoptive parents receive their child – whether in the delivery room or from an orphanage – there is a natural inclination for a fresh start. Give her a new name, new fresh clothes and, hopefully, whitewash the past. That’s what we did all the while meaning the best for Casey. But consider keeping her birth name as that is her identity. Keep something with her from birth or the orphanage, even if it’s dirty or stinky. As one adoption therapist told me, “It’s in the child’s nature to cling to something.”
  1. An open adoption may be uncomfortable for the adoptive parents but may be in the best interests of the child. Like our daughter Casey, as she grows up she may deny any interest in her birth or birth family. But I’ve met many adopted adults who are almost universally obsessed with re-connecting, even if it’s painful. The birth mother may have asked to never be contacted, but how can we know that those instructions were genuine. At least have some channel available to your child if or when that need to re-connect emerges. How can a child NOT think about where they came from?
  1. Parenting an adopted child is completely counter-intuitive if you are to follow the professionals. Adopted children need to know that their new home is safe no matter how badly they act out. They need to know that their feelings are respected. Classic forms of discipline – like time ours and withholds – can backfire. Attachment parenting involves some parts discipline and structure but a much greater part helping the child self regulate her emotions. Remember she didn’t ask for this.
  1. You may find yourself in seemingly endless fights and power struggles as your child navigates through adolescence. Controlling her environment is often vital to an adopted child who came into this world with no control whatsoever. So prepare to lose a lot of power struggles.
  1. While many adopted children do just fine in their new world, there are many who need help beyond just devoted parents. As a group, adopted children are at a higher risk for a range of behaviors and disorders, from never-ending tantrums to self-harm and suicide. How could they not? So consider having your child assessed by a qualified professional early on. Many of their behaviors (like rages and tantrums) seem normal for a two year old, but not for a sixteen year old.
  1. If the adoptive parents decide to seek therapy, it is imperative that they find a professional qualified in adoption and attachment therapies. Oftentimes they are adoptive parents, birth parents or adoptees themselves, and are thus better equipped to gain the confidence of the child as they have lived that experience. They know what questions to ask and how to ask them. We had no idea such specialists existed, and thought that a high priced suburban “expert in troubled teens” was enough. That was a fatal mistake.
  1. A qualified professional should be able to provide a proper diagnosis of your child, and without a proper diagnosis she can’t be properly treated. The professional should distinguish between behaviors that suggest attachment disorder from ADHD, FAS, autism, Asperger’s, etc. Attachment disorder and “RAD” are too often casually tossed around when other illnesses may exist as well.

After reading these it may seem as though I’m anti adoption. Nothing could be further from the truth. Make no mistake, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to have been Casey’s dad. After her death, I learned the painful way that just about everything I thought I knew about adoption was wrong. So I honor her by sharing with others what I’ve learned about adoption since her death. I want to do what I can to help other families avoid our tragic mistake.

John Brooks is a blogger and author of, The Girl Behind The Door, a memoir about his search for answers to his daughter Casey’s suicide. It is available on Amazon and Kindle.

Please Join Me For An Author Event in Fairfax, Thursday, Nov. 6 @ 7PM!

Dear Friends and Neighbors – The Marin County Library, Fairfax Branch, has been kind enough to invite me to speak a week from today, Thursday, November 6 at 7PM. Our library is located at 2097 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard right across from St. Rita’s Church. I’ll talk about my experience writing my memoir, The Girl Behind The Door, and read a chapter, maybe two.

The library and I hope to see you there!

Flyer

Casey’s Story in The Marin Independent Journal Sunday Spotlight

20140711__MIJ-L-SNAPBROOKS-0713~1Many thanks to the Marin Independent Journal and their reporter Mark Prado for featuring Casey’s story in their Sunday Spotlight profile. The IJ has been way out ahead of other Bay Area news outlets in their coverage of the Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier and the plight of the families who’ve lost loved ones to the bridge.

When I joined others in the movement to stop suicides from the bridge – the deadliest structure on the planet by a wide margin – our group was treated slightly better than leapers. We testified repeatedly in front of the Golden Gate Bridge board, most (but not all) board members disinterested and disengaged. I met with my congresswoman’s aide who, after hearing Casey’s story and seeing her pictures, was utterly unmoved. “Perhaps she hung out with the wrong crowd,” she said. It was all Casey’s fault. I was nearly thrown out of San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom’s office in the midst of presenting him (or rather his aide) with a gift – a framed picture of Casey in front of the bridge – after the mayor declared himself against the barrier … over aesthetics. The Bishop of my former church, the Episcopal Archdiocese of California, declared his support for the barrier after hearing that a young parishioner had died provided, of course, that it was not architecturally intrusive. Opinion pages were ho-hum, and the Bay Area public – mostly ignorant about and untouched by suicide – remains decidedly against the barrier.

But the times they are a changing. The Bridge board is now unanimously pro-barrier. Metropolitan Transportation Commission members including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and San Francisco city supervisors, David Campos and Scott Weiner, among others, told us in moving tones during yet more testimony that it was our personal stories and persistence in presenting reams of facts about the success of deterrents elsewhere that won them over. Their only regret was that it took them too long. Even Gavin Newsom is now for the barrier.

During this same time, I wrote The Girl Behind The Door, my search for answers to Casey’s suicide. Why did she do it? What did we miss? What could we have done differently? My search led back to her infancy in a Polish orphanage, the trauma she likely suffered from birth, and the attachment disruption that explained so much of her behavior, everything that the “professionals” missed. We learned too late that when we put ourselves in the hands of therapists and psychiatrists to help us understand and deal with our loved ones at risk, they don’t always get it right. Sometimes the consequences are tragic.

20140711__MIJ-L-SNAPBROOKS-0713~2I searched for an agent. All but one ignored my emails and calls; she was an adoptee herself. Bless her heart, she tried her best to shop the story. But publishers told her it was too sad. Even people who should’ve read the story would probably be turned off, they said. People want “happy” stories. I don’t think they ever read past chapter one. So I self-published the book only to learn that most media and news outlets have a built-in bias against self-published works. Bookstores won’t carry them. They want the stamp of approval of a “real” publisher.

But a funny thing happened. Hundreds of people read Casey’s story and loved it, posting dozens of consistently superlative Amazon reviews. Mental health and adoption professionals, adoption, suicide and attachment groups, people within and outside of the adoption “triad,” even New York Times best selling authors all gave it a big thumbs up.

So now that I know how strongly Casey’s story resonates, my challenge is to find more readers who would love the story if only they knew. So please tell your friends!

The Girl Behind The Door is available on Amazon and Kindle, Nook, Smashwords and iBook, among other ebook platforms.

Thank You!

Well, The Girl Behind The Door has been out now for a little over a month and we’re off to a pretty good start. I’m ranked about 300,000th in sales out of 3,000,000 – a little ways to go – but the reviews have been genuine and terrific.

“I am crying at how much you loved her.”

“John Brooks hands us his heart and soul in this deeply personal account of his and his wife’s unconditional love for and ongoing parenting struggles with their adopted child Casey, who at the age of 17, took her own life.”

“This book is a painfully honest memior of one family’s experience with international adoption and reactive attachment disorder.”

“If tragedy is partly defined as “good intentions gone badly”, then John Brooks’ family story is a showcase of tragic beginnings, tragic circumstances, and tragic endings.”

I’m reaching out to a broader group now and wanted to share this video trailer for The Girl Behind The Door.

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Questions Middle-Schoolers Ask About Difficult Subjects

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I lead a small group of Marin County high schoolers who make peer-to-peer presentations to kids and parents about mental health issues like depression and suicide. We’re called the Marin Teen Mental Health Board, a bit of a mouthful coined by the founders, two therapists who have since handed the group over to me.

I wouldn’t say suicide is rampant in Marin, but every death of a child at his or her own hand hits with the force of many more adult deaths because it’s completely out of order. Last year, an eighth grade boy at my local middle school took his life. This past August a girl – a senior at Redwood High School, just like Casey – jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, August may well have been the deadliest month on record with ten suicides alone.

This past week our little group presented at the Peer Summit, which is an annual gathering of Marin County middle schoolers who are treated to presentations on a host of social issues – sex, substances, loneliness, stress, body image, among others. We were across the hall from Dating 101.

Considering the difficult and taboo nature of our subject it was gratifying to play to a packed house of kids and a few adults. I let the teen presenters run through our PowerPoint, and then I spoke for 5 to 10 minutes about Casey’s story – the events that led up to her suicide, what we discovered about her state of mind in the aftermath, what I learned about the trauma she must’ve faced in infancy and resultant attachment issues and what I would have done differently. As I talked I noticed a girl in the audience with tears in her eyes. In the back of the group a woman likewise dabbed her eyes.

What was really eye-opening were the hands that shot up once I asked after Casey’s story, “Are there any questions?” I’m used to kids saying nothing, either out of boredom or self-consciousness. This group was unusually inquisitive and unvarnished by judgment. Here is a sampling of their questions:

When you lost Casey to suicide, would it have made a difference if she were your “real” daughter? (i.e. your biological daughter)

Did you tell Casey’s birth mother what happened?

Who took her death harder? You or Erika?

Was she your only child?

Did Casey’s friends know that she was suicidal or had a plan?

How did you find out that she jumped?

Did they find her body? If not how do you know she’s dead?

Couldn’t a suicide be misinterpreted as an accidental death? (i.e. as in an accidental overdose)

You said that suicide was the fourth major cause of death among 10 to 14 year olds. What were the top three?

What advice would you give to adoptive parents or an adopted child? (This one came from an Asian girl who furiously scribbled my answer into her notebook. I wondered if she was adopted.)

I had to cut off the Q&A because we were running out of time, but clearly these kids were just picking up steam. When the session was over I wandered among the kids thanking them for coming. Two girls came up to me.

“Do you want a hug?” They asked.

I felt that familiar tennis ball in my throat. Of course I did. That made everything worth it. But more importantly it taught me, too late, that we adults often underestimate youngsters’ level of maturity and what they can handle. As much as we want to freeze them at five years old, these days they are much more world-wise than we’re comfortable with.

That’s reality.