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This fine book offers an honest look at the inner workings of open adoption with all its challenges and delights. Holden skillfully writes with the voice of experience, a voice seasoned with the gentleness of her heart and honed by frank discussions with countless other participants who share her determination to do adoption in a manner that honors children. Those who long to see adoption done in a big-hearted way will be encouraged by her hospitable words.

James L. Gritter, MSW, author of Hospitious Adoption


Here, at last, is the book many adoptive parents have been clamoring for, as they grapple with the questions, “What is open adoption?” and “Will it work for everyone in our family constellation?” Using real-life examples and a gentle, intelligent approach, Lori Holden and Crystal Hass answer with a reassuring “yes.”

The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption helps readers understand that open adoption is a mindset, one that moves from thinking the adoptive/birth family relationship must be “either-or” to trusting that it can be “and.” If I ever doubted the wisdom of open adoption, I finished the last page a believer. This book deserves a place on every adoption bookshelf.

Jessica O’Dwyer, author of Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir


This is one wise book. Sure it’s full of the practicalities of open adoption—the whys and, most useful, the hows, but it is the spirit of this book that truly shines. It is this spirit of openness- Lori calls it the heartset/mindset that ultimately needs to guide us as parents. I’d love for this to be read by every adoptive parents and expectant parent at the beginning of the adoption journey.

I especially liked the practicalities of how to mesh extended families in an open adoption, what to do when one child in the family has more contact with their birth parents than another child in the family, and the realities from the child’s perspective of the push-pull of having another family “out there”. But ultimately, I liked the focus on “adopting the heartset of openness” because it is what our kids need. “Adoption creates a split between a person’s biology and his biography. Openness in adoption is an effective way to heal that split and help the child become whole.” Amen!

Dawn Davenport, Host of the top rated national radio show,
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Infertility,
and Executive Director of Creating a Family,
a nonprofit providing education & resources for Adoption & Infertility


Lori Holden’s book opens with a simple yet poignant snippet of conversation with her young daughter in the car. It’s about her daughter’s loving feelings toward her birth parents. Holden generously invites us into her mental tai chi process (“Don’t take this personally…”) leading to her wise responses. If this book were just a series of such glimpses it would be a treasure. But it’s so much more: a tapestry of instructive real-life insights together with the latest research and philosophy, all aiming to “de-freakify” open adoption. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption covers what this adoptee wishes my parents had known, and beyond. The definitive post-modern guide to enlightened adoption.

Marcy Axness, PhD, parent coach and author of Parenting for Peace


Just as a panoramic photograph changes your understanding of a physical landscape, Lori Holden’s panoramic book on open adoption will change the way you understand the family building landscape.  By bringing in all voices in the adoption triad, Holden simultaneously holds everyone’s hand and fills in the advice that has been sorely missing from the universe before this point: how to live well all the years that come after the adoption.  Adoptive parents, birth parents, and children have all been asked to partake in a situation without a guidebook, and in doing so, stumble blindly sometimes through difficult conversations and emotional interactions.  Holden’s book smooths the road between all people in the triad, giving them a space to walk between one another in order to have easier interactions.

Melissa Ford, author of Navigating the Land of If and the infertility website, Stirrup Queens.


Although many books focus on the mechanics of adoption, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption stays focused on the well-being of all involved. While this should be mandatory reading for anyone who has ever uttered the words, “just adopt,” all readers will come away as smarter, more understanding family members.”

Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority


I’m buying the book!

Nicole Dorsey,


Barren Bi+ches Book Tour: reviews from 14 participants

Foster adoption social worker: “If you are in the process of adoption – domestic, international, or foster adoption – please pick up this book. It will open your mind but more importantly, it will open your heart.”

America Adopts: “There’s so much to like about this gift of a book that it’s hard to know where to begin.”

See Theo Run: “One point Lori makes that resonated with me is that all adopted kids need their parents to behave in an “open way” towards their children’s birthparents, whether known or not.”

Review by an adoptive mom and a birth mom in the same adoption: “We were excited to read a book addressed to both of us, and found many insights which resonated with our own experiences. We highly recommend this book.”