cover image Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey

Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey

Kari Wagner-Peck. Central Recovery, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-942094-37-1

When author Wagner-Peck and her husband adopted a son, Thorin, with Down syndrome, their learning curve was steep. Peck recounts their journey in this intimate peek at three individuals who had to overcome many obstacles before becoming, in Peck’s words, a “forever family.” Navigating state bureaucracies and compliance issues was among the challenges they faced. So were awkward, well-meaning neighbors, Thorin’s occasionally overbearing biological sibling, a grandmother with misgivings, and a large and varied cast of medical professionals. Some challenges were simply the ones that every new parent endures, possibly exacerbated, Wagner-Peck suggests, by her being a 50-year-old first-time parent. This family, however, had a few additional challenges that parents of “typicals” don’t often encounter (beginning with suspicious TSA agents). Navigating the educational system with a special-needs child was one of the family’s biggest and most difficult hurdles. They encountered faculty members with outdated approaches, poorly trained aides, and a multitude of administrative roadblocks. Wagner-Peck relates their challenges and progress with great equanimity, sharing her perseverance as well as her fury. Her “mom lessons” near the book’s conclusion, as well as some poignant final moments in the narrative, will leave many readers teary-eyed. (May)