On the Bookshelf: The Hope & Will Children’s Book Series

On the Bookshelf: The Hope & Will Children’s Book Series

When meeting with prospective parents about family building through either egg or embryo donation the matter of when, if and how to disclose to their child his or her story of conception often comes up. While I am not a mental health professional (and always refer my clients to colleagues with expertise on this very sensitive topic), I do feel comfortable and confident in recommending resources, including and especially resources that have been developed for young children. About a year ago, a colleague sent me two beautiful children’s books: Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Egg Donation and Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Embryo Donation. I found these books to be absolutely what my clients were seeking and have since recommended them to the hopeful (and willful) parents with whom I work. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with Iréné Celcer, author of the Hope & Will series, now offering families seven titles to share and enjoy (including the most recent release: Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Adoption), we talked about her books, about the intended readers and about the very matter of “disclosure”.

What inspired you to create the Hope & Will characters and your wonderful series of books?

Thank you, Amy, for the compliment on the series. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that you like it. Let’s see…what inspired me? Writing and Psychology are my two working passions. As a mental health professional in the field (of assisted family building) I realized that there was very little written for parents and children to be able to read together and enjoy. But, what truly inspired my characters came from personally living with infertility as well as from hearing patients’ struggles and solutions to their infertility. Every woman, man and couple seem to solve the story one way or the other. But, what links all family building options together is hope and will. The muse came and told me “Hey, Hope and Will are good names for the characters”.

What has the response been? I can share that both my law colleagues and the non-profits with which I am affiliated have embraced and endorsed your books, what’s the feedback from parents? Any feedback from children?

I am happy to say that when the first 4 books of the series were published (2007), we thought that due to the niche nature of the topic some books would be sold and “that would be that.” But, things went well and the publisher asked me to complete the circle of how children come into this world and, by 2010, Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift (for the birds and the bees) and Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Adoption were born.

I have many emails in my special folder that I named “Responses to HW”. They come from parents and from mental health professionals. I think the children that are in contact with the book are still too young to write to me. But, I love when parents find the book helpful or they tell me it is wonderful. And, I feel validated professionally when I hear from mental health colleagues that the books helped families discuss disclosure. Reading these emails make all the work and effort that goes into publishing worth it.

I love the names you chosen for your main characters: “Hope” and “Will”. As a mental health provider, do you find that prospective parents considering third-party family building are, generally speaking, both optimistic and determined?

Thank you, I love the names too.

I believe that determination and optimism come later on in the game. At first, intended parents need to process the thoughts, the feelings and the reality of having to go the third-party family building route. Coming to terms with their new reality may not be a straight linear process but, when they become engaged with the idea, yes, I see them determined and courageous. Sometimes, intended parents feel frightened to feel optimistic. But, it is wonderful to witness how their optimism becomes brighter and brighter as the process unfolds until it shines through and through.

What can you share to hopeful parents who are uncertain about how, when and why to disclose to a child about his conception? When these questions come up in my office, my first response is to recommend the counsel of a mental health professional expert in collaborative family building.

Disclosure is not a conversation you have just once with your child at a certain age. It is a process that unfolds from the moment a child is conceived. At different ages, children understand different pieces of the puzzle. That is why it is important to talk to children when they are young and not just once. The best for parents, I always say, is to get comfortable themselves with the story of their special beginning as a family. That is why I advise people to tell the story to the baby when she is in the arms or he is in the crib. This way, it is not a story told but a known story that gets retold and retold.

Can we look forward to a next “Hope & Will” release?

Hope and Will are already here, ready to be purchased, and go and live with their kids at their new homes! There is a new stock of the Hope & Will series ready to be sold.

Lastly, how can both professionals and parents (as well as hopeful parents) purchase your books?

Any book in the series can be purchased through the publishing company. It is my understanding that the publishing company ships readily. Amazon will have the books available in another 3 weeks. I believe they can be purchased through Barnes & Noble as well.

Author Iréné Celcer, MA, LCSW, is originally from Argentina. She holds graduate degrees in psychology from Universidad de Belgrano, holistic psychology from Antioch University, and social work from Yeshiva University. She specializes in infertility, third party reproductive assistance, and eating disorders. She lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more about the Hope & Will books: http://www.hopeandwill.com/pages/main/synopsis.php

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