Milton Keynes mum writes invaluable books to help fostered and adopted children understand why they can't stay with their birth families

A mum who adopted a little boy has turned author in a bid to help children understand why they sometimes have to be removed from their families.

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 1:02 pm

Holly Marlow has a birth daughter called Zoe who is six and the family adopted baby J two years ago.

“When we were going through the adoption process, Zoe was horrified to hear that some children can’t stay with their birth families,” she said.

"I wanted to support her empathy towards the birth mother, but also gently show her that the decision to remove a child from their mother would not have been taken lightly.”

Holly Marlow (centre) with her daughter Zoe and sister Suzy Garland, who both helped her illustrate her books

Holly invented a character called Delly Duck and set about writing Delly Duck: Why a Little Chick Couldn’t Stay with his Birth Mother. Her sister Suzy Garland drew the illustrations.

The book describes how Delly lays an egg and is excited for it to hatch. But she doesn’t really know how to keep an egg safe or how to look after her chick when he hatches.

"The story includes a social worker who tries many times to help the birth parent to learn how to parent,” said Holly. “ She does try a bit, but either doesn’t try enough or cannot manage to change her lifestyle enough to be able to keep her child consistently safe.

"I’ve used metaphors, so that there’s room for interpretation, so that it can be applied to a lot of different scenarios where a child can’t stay with their birth families.

Holly's first book helps children understand adoption

“Delly Duck chasing butterflies can be interpreted as a metaphor for an addiction that existed pre-birth and that Delly sadly doesn’t overcome. Or this frequent distraction can more simply be interpreted as memory and concentration problems, possibly arising from Delly’s own traumatic experiences, health issues or a learning disability.

The book is intended to help support and stimulate discussion around some of the questions an adopted or fostered child may have. It can be used to help answer difficult and emotive questions, such as ‘Why can’t I live with my birth mother?’”

Delly Duck has had rave reviews on Amazon and this prompted Holly to write more books about adoption when the parents have a birth child.

‘Adopting a Little Brother or Sister’, which is illustrated by little Zoe, is designed to help prepare a child, and touches upon social worker visits and the introductions process with the foster family, as well as highlighting some of the frustrations a child may have.

‘So You’ve Adopted a Sibling’ also features Zoe’s drawings and helps children to process some of the emotions and changes to routine they may experience in the early months as a big brother or sister.

Holly’s fourth book is a cousin version of Adopting a Little Brother or Sister called Cousins by Adoption.

She is currently working on a new book about foster care. This covers various kinds of care and outcomes, including reunification, kinship care, long term foster care and adoption. Called Room in the Nest, it is set in the world of Delly Duck and is due to be released in September.

The books are all for sale on Amazon and there are also a limited number of signed copies available at the Shrimp and Doodle shop on Brooklands estate