Mommy and Daddy, Do you Still Love Me Anymore?
Written by Frenchaire Gardner and art by Dail Chamber
Book Review by Publisher, Dr. Melissa-Sue John
This book is a touching tale, narrated by a little girl, sharing her story about experience with poverty, homelessness, incarceration, foster care, and adoption. In the story, we learn about this family of five: Mommy, Daddy, big sister (narrator), little brother, Melchizedek, and little sister, Sarai who struggle to keep a roof over their head. They have difficulty modeling a healthy relationship for their children. Finally, they have difficulty keeping the family together. Despite the struggle, the evidence of love is constant. The narrator is reassured by her mother and father that love is not the evidence of being together in time and space, but being together in spirit and hope. It was beautifully written. The art was intentionally created to project the appearance of children’s art. Kudos to the author and illustrator on a job well done.
This book is not the traditional storytelling we are accustomed to. This book challenges us to think about the meaning of happy endings. This book confronts the reality of why we need diverse books. Diverse books promote the understanding that there isn't a singular story, a singular experience, or a singular voice. I could not have written this book, because I have never experienced or witnessed any of these events. This book highlights the adversities that poor families face in this country. However, the author does a great job normalizing adoption and gives hope to children who may have ever experienced these challenging realities. I strongly recommend that every school in the inner city, rural or urban community adopt this book in their diverse collection. It is important for all children to discuss these topics to create more empathetic and compassionate adults.
- Did you know in 2019, there were 423,997 children in foster care?
- The media age of children in foster care is 6 ears old, even though the stereotype is that foster children are troubled teens. They are often taken from their biological parents at a young age which can have a huge impact on their cognitive and emotional development if not cared for properly.
- Median household income in the US was $67,521 in 2020. For a family of 5, the poverty guideline is $31,040 in the US
- In 2020, there were 37.2 million people living in poverty
Join me in a discussion with Social Worker, Jonisha Sinclair
Q: How realistic is it for a family to experience all of these adversities?
A: It is very realistic for a family to experience some of the adversities detailed in the book, and usually more than one at a time. When you take a look at major inner cities it is quite common. According to the CT Department of Children and Families (2020), of 7,209 cases received and investigated 53.9% of black and brown children were substantiated as victims of abuse or neglect. In that same year, 53% of those children entered foster care. Some of the adversities mentioned in the book were food scarcity, lack of clothing, utility shut off, eviction, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence. Families usually lack resources, resources are limited, or a family may not know how to access resources. Sometimes resources are mismanaged by the parent. The family in the book would sometimes stay in motels but that's not always the case for every family. Sometimes shelters are the only option if they are not at full capacity. The next best option might be couch surfing with a friend or stranger. When you add in parental mental health issues, substance abuse, and cognitive deficits that thickens the pot of adversities.
Q: Do you think this book is appropriate for children?
A: I think this book is perfect for children because it reads easily. It is written from a child's perspective so we see the innocence displayed from a child's point of view. I think that this book can be used as a tool to start those sometimes hard and difficult conversations with children. I think this book levels the ground as it relates to emotions. Children will be able to relate to a lot of the different situations the family faced in the book and know that they are not alone.
Q: What was your gut reaction when you read this book?
A: I absolutely loved it. As a social worker it was wonderful to read. Of course it pulled on the heart strings but it is beautifully written and perfect for children who are in foster care, and even for those who are not in foster care, but may have similar life and environmental circumstances.
Q: Can you share a detailed review of the book?
A: This book is beautifully written from a child's perspective. It's nice to see the innocence displayed from a child's point of view. The reader can pick up on some struggles the family faced and endures. No matter what, children will always love their biological parents. One can gather that domestic violence or intimate partner violence was present which led to the "social worker" and court involvement. Sadly, most times non-relative adoption ends up being the plan for children who are in foster care. Children oftentimes will move around to more than one home when in foster care. The author did an amazing job with detailing how the information was shared with the children about their pending adoption. That point highlights how important it is to communicate and partner with the biological family when sharing the plan for a child's life. The children not being able to describe all of what they were feeling is often what really happens. The most important theme at the end is that children, when old enough to remember, always remember their biological family and think of them. Statistically it has been found that children who are adopted oftentimes will return to or search for their biological parents. This book is absolutely wonderful and the illustrations bring the words to life. This is definitely a book that I would share with and recommend to children and families that are involved with foster care.
Q: Can you provide resources for parents or teachers who may know a child in a similar situation?
A: In CT: DCF careline 1-800-842-2288
211ct.org or dial 211 or 1-800-203-1234
UConn Adoption Assistance Program
In Connecticut, call toll-free: 877.679.1961
Thank you Frenchaire for sharing your book and thank you Jonisha for the wonderful insight.