Dancing with a Porcupine, by Jennie Owens

Towards the end of 2019, I received a message and an offer from author Jennie Owens. She was wondering if she might send me an e-copy of her book, Dancing with a Porcupine, in exchange for an honest review. I went to Goodreads to see what the book was about and had a moment of connection. What Jennie didn’t know, is that, for the past 20 years, I have worked for a nonprofit organization that supports foster and adoptive parents. Her request was a bridge between my Day Job and my Book Blog. I accepted but ended up purchasing a physical copy of the book to read. (E-books just aren’t my thing.)

Dancing with a Porcupine is Jennie’s personal story of her family. She and her husband, Lynn, adopted three children from foster care–three wounded children with histories of trauma, that is. In shocking, stunning, and, at times heartbreaking, detail, she describes her journey of love, attachment, and healing with her two sons and daughter. The book isn’t for the faint of heart; but, then again, neither is parenting or caring for children impacted by trauma.

I am not a parent, but I know many. I know many who have birthed children, who have fostered, who have cared for relative children, who have adopted. Because of my Day Job, I know, probably better than many, the complexities and realities that face these parents. I know how deeply committed they are; how much of themselves they are willing to fearlessly (or at least it seems fearless!) put out there for the best interest of the children in their care. And I know how devastating, frustrating, and thankless the job sometimes is. I admire these parents and caregivers all the more because they do things on a daily basis that I would never do myself; they make themselves vulnerable for the cause of helping children and youth heal. They are champions among us.

If you work with these parents and caregivers–if you are one of these particular kinds of champions–I recommend this book to you. Unflinchingly honest, Jennie Owens’ story will help you know that you are not alone. You will walk away feeling like someone understands your journeys and struggles. (And, with a plug for my Day Job here, if you need support along your journey, please know that the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families is here to help! Especially check out our No Matter What Families site. Okay, plug over!)

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