Welcome to our weekly feature,
If you think your family is a zoo … how about a family that includes ten children? We’re happy to present to you this week author Carle Sargent, who is, indeed, a father of ten and whose book The Family Zoo, is a delightful way to educate both children and the general public about adoption and what it means to be “family.” So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a cold brew — beverages are always on the house — pull up a chair, and enjoy!
Carle, at what age did you first realize you wanted to write books and how/when did you first share this ambition with “the world”? About 6 years ago while I was starting USAdoption Solutions I had thought about writing a children’s book on adoption. The concept floated around for a while and I went through several drafts. I had finished the book and began the search for an illustrator. Life, running the agency and my 10 children sort of derailed that process and book was placed on the shelf. For a while I felt like it would never become a reality. Then last January I was introduced to the brother of a friend of mine, Paul Griffin. Paul was an artist who had put his dreams of designing on the back burner as well. We became friends and decided to collaborate on finishing the book I had written. It was at this time that we shared this ambition with the world.
Who in your life and what authors you read had the most influence over your decision to write? I met a children’s book author Kathy Brodsky who really was a mentor for me. She was great at encouraging me and assisting me throughout the process.
You’re the Executive Director of USAdoptions, Inc., and an Adoption Coach for GIFT Family Services. You’re also the father of ten children, seven of whom were adopted from foster care, so it would seem the adoption process has, indeed, been very positive for you. Did you always know you wanted to adopt? The adoption process has been very positive for me. It has been one of the most amazing and rewarding things I have ever done. I knew little about adoption until I got to college. My college roommate was adopted and my girlfriend who I eventually married was adopted. She had always wanted to adopt and I thought it would be nice to adopt children who had no family. We decided to have biological children (we had 3) and then to adopt. Adoption then became one of my passions.
What is the one, best piece of advice you are able to give to prospective adoptive parents? It would be to learn as much about the adoption process possible. To talk to families that have adopted and get a real clear picture about what it is all about. You want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly and then take it all in and see if this is something that speaks to you.
So, please tell us a little about your book, The Family Zoo? It tells the story of a panda bear Joy-Ling who is being adopted and moving to a new zoo. When he arrives he is scared. The zoo keeper takes him on a journey through the zoo where he meets other animals that were adopted. At each exhibit they visit, they encounter a different situation. In the end Joy-Ling is united with his adoptive father.
The book educated children and the public about adoption. Today, families come in many forms. The Family Zoo raises awareness on different types of adoption. Adoption brings people together who ultimately become a “forever family.” The book promotes acceptance, tolerance and understanding about families outside of traditional family models. This acceptance and awareness carries over to other ares of life for children. They know that being different can be a gift.
Did you have the idea for writing The Family Zoo before or as a result of your adoption experiences? It was as a result of my adoption experiences. I have 13 years of adoption experience as an adoptive parent, a social worker, a development director and executive director of an adoption agency. I have seen adoption from many different views. I wanted to educate children and create adoption awareness with this book. All of the adoption stories in this book are inspired by actual adoptions of which I have been a part.
Writing a book, in and of itself, is time-consuming, to say the least. With a family of your size and with your jobs, how do you find time to write? Once the collaboration with my illustrator began, we were very purposeful and created a process that worked for us. We both have very busy lives, so we decided that this was going to take as long as it took, but that we were both committed to completing it. We met about once a month and we would sit down and go over the wording of a page. We would brainstorm what we wanted together and even changed the story in some cases from this brainstorming. We would do 4 – 8 pages at a time this way. Then Paul, the illustrator would do the illustrations one page at a time. At the end we would review what was done and then do the same process for the next 4 – 8 pages or so. This process took us about 9 months from beginning till we sent it to the printer.
Now that you’ve written your first book, is there another genre of writing you’d like to try? For now, I’m staying with children’s books. I have two more children’s books that are works in progress. They both are targeted towards all children but specifically toward foster and adoptive children. One is on self limiting beliefs and changing them to empowering beliefs. The other is about living your best life by following your heart and what you are passionate about.
You poll your readers and ask them to list five words that best describe The Family Zoo. What top five words would they list? Educational, fun, entertaining, cute, and special.
Are you more “a dog person” or “a cat person,” and what kind of canine or feline assistance with your writing do you receive, if any? I am a dog person, but I did not receive any assistance that way — this time.
You’re admitted to heaven and you decide to throw a dinner party to celebrate your arrival. What five people, living or dead, are on your guest list? It would be challenging to only pick 5 people, but I would pick 5 people who have passed away. My two grandfathers — Grampa Fred and Grampa John — my Grandmother — Grammy Sargent, Ghandi, and Napoleon Hill.
Where can you and The Family Zoo be found on line? Please share your links.
Carle Sargent, Author Biography: Carle is the Executive Director of USAdoptions, Inc., and an Adoption Coach for GIFT (Growing Intentional Families Together Family Services. He has thirteen years’ experience in the field of adoptions and is the father of three biological and seven adoptive children. He blogs regular on the GIFT website and joins in GIFT’s message of hope and inspiration for adoptive families — You are not alone! The Family Zoo is Carle’s first book about adoption.
The E-pub PUB sincerely appreciates Carle’s time with us and we hope that our readers have enjoyed reading about his charming book. We wish Carle much success with future publications about adoption and with all his endeavors related to this very special process of growing families!