Monday, 1 June 2015

My Amazing Family and Me....

I remember very clearly the day I wandered around Mothercare looking for a book to celebrate Katie's arrival. I wanted the adoption equivalent of a new baby book to log her arrival and subsequent life, but there were none available. All I found were row upon row of books about babies; pink and blue books or books with baby animals to detail their in-utero journey; what they weighed at birth; stories of the day they were born; they day the cut their first tooth etc.

Those books were no good for me because my baby was 2 years old the day she came home.  She had already cut her first tooth; said her first word; taken her first steps and those were all events I wouldn't be a part of.  There would be enormous gaps in the information I could provide in one of these books. If I'm honest I felt quite sad because it highlighted that I so different from other mums-to-be and that my daughter was different from other children. I wanted to celebrate our life together but it wasn't possible using an off the shelf book.  I put the books down; walked away and accepted that I wouldn't be able to log the information I wanted to in a traditional way.  This blog was born in part to meet that need.

If I'm honest I didn't give the idea of the book much more thought until recently when I was excited because a chance tweet on Twitter brought to my attention a book published by Jesse Toksvig-Stewart and Kat Willott at Ugly Duck Books called "My Amazing Family and Me".  I tweeted Jesse and Kat immediately and asked if I could review the book and share it with all the readers of this blog.  They agreed immediately and we shared some lovely email communications whilst the logistics were arranged.

"My Amazing Family and Me" and is a welcome home book aimed specifically at adopters and families who don't fit the typical nuclear family set up.  It is a book that has been made with understanding and emotion.  The concept came when one of Jesse's mums, who is a Foster Carer, adopted a baby girl.  Jesse realised that not only was the book used for her own memories an incredibly heterosexual book, with the standard Mum/Dad sections, but that it would also not be suitable for her newly adopted sister because it would not be possible to complete sections on how her mum felt when she was growing inside her.  Just as I had felt 5 years ago when we adopted Katie.

An idea was born!

Jesse approached her friend Kat Willott who is an artist with her idea for a record book that would celebrate all families.  As a twin Kat could understand this as well so the two collaborated to create this truly lovely book. The book is beautifully illustrated with pictures that would suit children of all ages and gender.  Best of all you can start writing in it from the point you meet your child.  There are no awkward sections that will need to be crossed out or ignored.  There are sections on things your child likes to play with or watch on TV; there is a section on their arrival in their new home and how they settled in; you can write about birthdays and holidays and achievements.  It's a great concept and one that I am delighted to be able to write about.

"My Amazing Family and Me is designed for alternative families and does not specify the age of a child nor the gender and status of the grown ups in their lives. It is an open record book where everyone can enjoy the fun of documenting a child’s personality, habits, characteristics and life, in whatever family and circumstances they find themselves."
"The idea came to Jesse Toksvig-Stewart, when she wanted to buy a record book for her
adopted sister in December 2014. She could not find a memory book that did not include
very specific elements of the nuclear family set up"
"Jesse drew the typography in the book and asked her friend Kat to illustrate and collaborate creatively to produce the idea. Together they formed the company Ugly Duck Books and published a completely innovative children’s record book, My Amazing Family and Me."
From my communications with Jesse and Kat I can really get the feel for how warm and down to earth they are and that this book has really been born out of a real understanding for what is needed. It retails at £15.99 and would make a lovely gift for yourself or someone else you know who is adopting or creating their family in a non-traditional way.  It's great to know that it is now possible to create a book of memories that will mirror the books that many of my children's friends will have and we can have fun filling it in together.  I will be taking this book with me when I give talks to local adopters and I am very happy to share it with you.

You can buy My Amazing Family and Me at Ugly Duck Books....... just click here

To read more about Jesse and Kat ...... click here


  1. This is brilliant news Gem and it looks like it's been beautifully done. The book for my second child is not yet filled in because, partly, of my husband at the time and me going through divorce. Thank you for sharing. X

    1. You're very welcome my lovely. It's a great book so I was delighted to share. I hope things are settling down more for you now xxx

  2. What a great idea. I hate pre-printed albums that have bits that are just wasted or irrelevant. I always felt that when you get to the bit that's all about 'my first Christmas' or 'my Christening'. What a shame to restrict the market for your book so much.

    1. You make a very good point indeed. I will feed that back to the creators of the book. Thanks for commenting xxx

  3. I interpreted the "my firsts" as "our firsts" whenever possible (as in "my first Christmas with my forever family") . Obviously that didn't work with "my first steps, teeth" etc., but we had (and still have) tons of firsts and my children were 5 and 6 at placement.