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No Matter What: An Adoptive Family's Story of Hope, Love and Healing Paperback – 28 Jul 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (28 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849054312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849054317
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sally lives in the middle of England with her husband Rob, their two children and a cat called Ron. Before adopting their children from Local Authority Care Sally worked in an historic garden quietly tending herbaceous borders and talking to WI groups. She says 'life is a bit different these days'.

In her memoir 'No Matter What' Sally writes about infertility and her experience of domestic adoption, the impact upon the children of early trauma and the realisation that they need to be parented differently: therapeutically.

Sally writes for Community Care and has contributed to their publication 'Death, Threats and Dogs: Life on the Social Work Frontline'. She also blogs at

Product Description


Sally Donovan has written a warm, humorous, hard-hitting and compelling story about her own adoption journey. What she says will resonate with the majority of those who have adopted children from care. Ultimately this is an overwhelmingly positive celebration of the transformation that adoption can bring to society's most damaged and vulnerable children, but it also clearly sets out the realities of parenting children affected by early childhood abuse and neglect. Every adopter will be able to recognise some aspect of their own experiences in Sally's story and I would urge every professional working with adopted children -- including health visitors and teachers, as well as social workers - to read this so they know what understanding and support those parenting adopted children need. --Hugh Thornbery, Chief Executive, Adoption UK

This book should be compulsory reading for potential adoptive parents and for those professionals who touch their lives and pretend to understand what the whole experience is about. Sally Donovan's account touches upon the depth of despair, unbearable strain on a small family unit, incompetent or insensitive professionals, and fairly non-existent support. And yet it is full of optimism and hope for the human spirit. --Young Minds Magazine

As a post adoption social worker, who has also recently worked in a children in care team, this book struck a chord as to how our role impacts on children and adopters... I cannot recommend this book highly enough - it travels with me in my handbag and I sing its praises to whoever will listen! I urge everyone involved in adoption to read this book and to be inspired. --Community Care Children's Services blog

About the Author

Sally Donovan grew up in a small town in the west of England and gained a degree in English from Exeter University. She then spent ten years working in commercial management, which she abandoned to retrain for a new career in horticulture. She worked for several years in historic gardens, both gardening and carrying out research. In 2004, Sally and her husband Rob adopted two children from local authority care. In common with many children adopted from within the UK today, Sally and Rob's children had suffered neglect and abuse in their early lives. Together they have journeyed through the many challenges of building a family with children so profoundly impacted by their early trauma.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ray Ray on 5 Dec 2013
Format: Paperback
We are second time adopters and were recommended this book by our social worker who said all her team are reading it. She said they couldn't believe how it was 'from the other side' - I think it was a very helpful insight for them. I started reading Sally's blog before I bought it so knew a little of what to expect but the book has been an incredible read and surpassed all expectations. The adoption process is so uniquely isolating and friends and family can be so quite to reassure you that 'everyone feels like that' / 'all new mums are scared' / 'all kids do that' that it actually adds to the feeling of isolation. I read the book in about two days, literally devouring it (and ignoring my family) in order to read it to the end. I also folded down at least 20 pages to refer back to at a later date. SO much of the experience was familiar it was hugely cathartic to read. All of adoption is bittersweet, every gain has an equal loss. Even a getting that prized 'perfect match' still reminds you of the fact that this is a synthetic form of becoming a parent at least at the start. There are so many people involved. It's such a leap of faith. So uniquely weird. I adored the first parts of the book, pre-match. Those local authority meeting rooms are instantly recognisable. I loved the way that a social worker initially orders their drink becomes an indicator of how they will be - black, no sugar = no nonsense efficiency. Two sugars/white oh and a biscuit please = incompetent / dithery / demanding. I could rave about this book at length. It's so well written, powerful, incredibly emotional but with a great pace. I wondered whether those starting the adoption process will get as much from it and I think they will.Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rococo Choufleur on 28 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this memoir, Sally Donovan shares her family with us. Having explained why she and her husband chose to become adopters, she relates in detail how that decision changed their lives: a young, traumatised brother and sister became their son and daughter, bringing both joy and ongoing challenges to the couple.

This book doesn't gloss over the recurring trauma that children who've been neglected and abused bring with them; nor does it skirt around the fact that post-adoption support is often lacking and that the schools system can be ignorant and dismissive of adopted children's needs. Sally and Rob's feelings of exhaustion and sometimes loneliness are laid bare.

Ultimately, though, No Matter What is about love, and the dedication of a resourceful mother in fighting for her children and learning how to redress the damage of their early experiences. Donovan argues persuasively that children who've been starved of care as babies can't just be expected to slot into normal family life. A more radical, elemental form of parenting is needed.

Donovan writes well, concisely, honestly and often with humour. As the (albeit non-adoptive) parent of a child with special needs, I found her descriptions of feeling adrift from the 'normal' mums in her community particularly resonant.

I would recommend this book to anyone keen to gain an insight into adoption or just to enjoy Donovan's eloquent writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robbo on 24 Sep 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hope you're reading this Sally because I want so much to give you a big hug and a huge thankyou. Of all the books on adoptive parenting and attachment I have read, not to mention all the patronising and pointless training courses I have yawned and fake smiled my way through... (and there have been a lot), your book has been by far the most help of all of them. Mostly, just because it's so nice to understand that someone else has had a family life exactly like ours and you don't mince around with saying how you are really feeling.

We have adopted three boys, the two oldest are birth siblings who were removed from the birth family due to neglect. As foster carers we supported them through a previous adoption which failed and then when they came back to us, we decided to adopt them. Whilst they were in their previous adoptive placement, we fostered a prem baby who we also later adopted. Every day is beyond challenging and every day I wonder how I can survive until the next day but somehow I do and you book has helped me with that. Thank you.

If you are reading this but you are not Sally and you are an adoptive parent, or especially, if you're a prospective adoptive parent doing a home study or waiting for your children, a social worker or other proffesional, you need to buy this book and read it now! You should come away with a clear understanding of the challenges that adoptive parents and their children face. This book tells it exactly as it really is.

If you do read this book and afterwards you are still one of those people who says things like....
"He should be fine by now"
"He just needs some good old fashioned discipline"
"Where is his real Mother, didn't she want him?"
"Just love the children more"
Then please form an orderly queue and wait in line until it is your turn to be slapped. You can give your copy of the book to someone who will benefit from it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Boorman on 17 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an adoptive parent myself I found this book honest and brave in its account of family life. Adoption begins with a loss and its important for people to know that parenting traumatised children takes courage and humour which Sally and Rob have in bucketfuls. I would highly recommend this to any parent involved in adoption but also to those working to support adopted children in social care, health care and education. I hope Sally's excellently written book will help others and highlight the need for post adoption support. Highly recommended.
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