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Book Club

Children of the Manse

By Lewis Richard Luchs; childrenofthemanse.com; 2009; 306 pages

A retired foreign service officer who worked in Africa, Europe and Asia, Lewis Richard Luchs has had a lifelong interest in adoption and other children’s issues. He served as a CASA volunteer for five years, at which point he left in order to finish his book, Children of the Manse. Luchs says that he wrote the book to honor his heroes—adoptive parents—and to counteract the stereotypes in literature and other media of unhappily adopted children and inept adoptive mothers.

Children of the Manse is an adoption success story in which Luchs shows that neglected and abused children do not have to follow in the footsteps of their failed parents. Luchs’s biological father, an aunt and an uncle spent years in penal institutions while eight cousins grew up in children’s homes. He and his siblings were spared this fate, he believes, because of the intervention of intelligent, responsible and loving adoptive parents.

Another reason that Luchs wrote Children of the Manse was to emphasize that an adoptive relationship can be as deep and loving as any biological relationship. He thought of Evelyn Luchs as his “true, forever and only mother.” Later in life, Luchs’s experience as a CASA volunteer made him come to the uncomfortable conclusion that “we are too tolerant of neglectful and abusive biological parents.”

A secondary hero in the book is the social worker, a vital partner in the child welfare system. As a CASA volunteer, Luchs worked with social workers who were all dedicated professionals. In one of the chapters in the book, “An Angel Arrives,” he describes the social worker assigned to his case. She managed to place the boy, then 7 years old, in a family together with his siblings. As the author puts it, “It is unlikely the Luchs would have adopted the four of us instead of the one little girl they had asked for without [the social worker].” She was also instrumental in persuading Luchs’s siblings to leave the familiar surroundings of the county children’s home for the home of an unknown couple whose only guarantee was the social worker’s word.

Children of the Manse depicts the transfiguration of abused children into strong, responsible and productive adults. It shows the importance of the social worker who was instrumental in changing the children’s fate. But the focus is on the adoptive parents who, with love and intelligence, brought the children back to physical and emotional health.

 

Book Cover: Children of the Manse

What happens when the inability to truly love becomes generational? What does love look like behind the tears of an angry young boy? How does love conquer fear through the tender words and safe arms of a woman who yearned to be a mother? Children of the Manse is a story of love complicated by pain, of the power to heal a wounded child and lay the foundation for future promise. It is a story that every adoptive parent, social worker, foster parent and CASA volunteer should read.

—Megan Shultz, Executive Director, CASA of Lane County, from her review on Amazon.com

 

The work is an illustration of what thousands of neglected and abused children experience. Children who somehow manage to survive their circumstances to ultimately experience a world of love, security and opportunity are the fortunate and perhaps rare examples of the best that child services and adoption can provide.

It is a story about a caring child welfare worker who tirelessly champions the needs of children in their limbo years. The magic of her resolve and insight blends the children’s hopes of which they are unaware to a couple who are seeking an opportunity to have children of their own.

Lewis Richard Luchs has walked the impossible path and survived to become accomplished in his career in the diplomatic service, as a musician and as a champion for children who benefit from caring and loving adoptive homes. His story exposes human frailties while it exalts human kindness and generosity. The road travelled by the four Luchs siblings leads to a triumph of the human spirit.

—Hon. Pierre L. Van Rysselberghe, Senior Judge, State of Oregon Circuit Court, Retired and Board Member, CASA of Lane County, Springfield, OR, from his review on Amazon.com

 

 



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