An adopted teenager in Bismarck, N.D., wants to start a conversation about foster care and adoption. So, she wrote a book, which is now available for purchase.
“I’ve always been interested in writing, it’s something I love to do,” 16-year-old Chloe Naslund recently told Pregnancy Help News. “My hope is that (readers) won’t shy away from the topics of foster care and adoption.”
“It seems like they are hush-hush topics, and they really shouldn’t be,” Chloe said. “They are actually very common. I’m hoping my readers will become more comfortable with the idea of foster care and adoption.”
Adoptive Love is a fiction book about a teenage girl in foster care who is “going through the process of being adopted,” something Chloe knows about first-hand.
Writing from experience
Brent and Jessica Naslund adopted Chloe and her older brother Cameron when the children were very young, Chloe only about nine months old and Cameron close to two years of age. The Naslunds and their two birth children were “stationed in West Africa, in Ghana,” at the time, Jessica said. Her husband worked with the North Dakota National Guard, and she served at a middle school in the country called Lincoln.
“Part of the outreach of the school I worked at was an orphanage,” Jessica said. “We were able to read stories and play with kids. I would participate and go along.”
She enjoyed the time spent at the orphanage so much she began returning, sometimes with her family.
“Eventually a friend mentioned a little girl that was there and that was adorable. I thought, ‘I must know her, I must go meet her,” Jessica said.
That little one was Chloe, and the Naslunds decided to adopt her. At that time, Ghana didn’t have an adoption program, but Jessica and Brent pursued the endeavor.
“No one really knew what to do,” Jessica said. “We didn’t go into this to adopt – it just fell into place.”
The Naslunds flew a social worker from America to Ghana to do a home study. They learned during the “adoption inquiry” that Chloe had an older brother, and they were told adopting the siblings “would be best,” so the adoption turned from one child to two siblings.
The process took about five months, and although the family ran into obstacles, they persevered. Brent and Jessica brought Chloe and Cameron into their home, as in a foster situation, so that when the paperwork was finalized for the adoption, the children had become more familiar with a family lifestyle.
“We were up against the clock – we had orders to come back to North Dakota,” Jessica remembered. “We had hiccup after hiccup, but we kept pushing and pushing. It was meant to happen.”
The official adoption took place just two days before she and the children returned to North Dakota.
Finding a place in foster care
Now the Naslunds participate in the state’s foster care program, and they recently adopted another child. They are also fostering a toddler.
Chloe and her parents agree there are many joys and challenges to fostering and adopting. One of the biggest, according to Chloe, is how to view the family dynamic.
“When introducing my family, I wondered, ‘Is this my sister or my foster-sister?’” she said.
The answer came to her while writing the book and as the family grew amid the foster program and system.
“I realized, ‘This is my sister, no matter for how long or whether it’s permanent or not permanent,’” Chloe said. “Family doesn’t have to be biological, even if they are coming and going. I think that’s something we’ve all overcome now – we’re just one big mixed family.”
Joy also happens when biological parents “overcome” whatever issue caused their child to be placed in foster care, Brent said. However, the attachment one feels toward a foster child can be challenging when it comes to saying goodbye.
“It can be gut-wrenching, but it’s a labor of love,” Brent said. “It’s tough but also beautiful.”
Such joys and challenges can be found in Chloe’s book, which was released in April. The young author highlights “the ups and downs she [the main character] goes through,” Chloe said.
Reading and writing
Book writing became a large part of Chloe’s life during the COVID pandemic, Jessica said.
“I think this is another of those ‘happy accidents’ that COVID caused,” she stated.
“We had lots of kids on computers,” said Jessica. “Chloe would start writing stories with her friends. They’d get on Google docs and write chapters. They spent their evenings writing books together. I thought, ‘This is good. They’re not at school, but they’re still socializing, they’re still doing something academic.’’
“Chloe is in a group of people that are very similar to her,” Jessica added. “They’re very avid readers and are passionate about their books and their genres. It really grew her as a writer and as a reader.”
Tweet This: "I’m hoping my readers will become more comfortable with the idea of foster care and adoption” - 16-year-old author Chloe Naslund
Reading has been a large part of the Naslund family’s life for many years. While serving as missionaries in a remote area of Kenya, books were often the source of entertainment. The power would often go out, and the family used solar lights often.
“Reading was something we could always do,” Jessica said. “We’d spend several days reading.”
Continuing the legacy of words
Chloe, who recently participated in a book fair at the North Dakota state capital, plans to continue writing. A second book is in progress, she said. She also plans to become a middle school English teacher so she can instruct others in the process of writing.
“My mother was an English teacher for many years, and I think it’s in my blood now,” she said.
“I love the writing process,” she added.
To purchase a copy of Chloe’s book, Adoptive Love, go to this Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3XsOQ9o.
Her book is available in paperback format.