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Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite
Stretch-Mark My Heart by Niki Breeser Tschirgi is an aptly named book telling the true story of a couple who were not able to have children of their own and decided to foster children instead. Initially they were looking to foster small babies, but after extensive training and registration, their first boy was a four-week-old baby called Alex. His birth mother had chosen Niki and Matthew to care for her child. He was a little older when he came to live with them and the adoption papers were signed when he was just seven months old. They decided to adopt a second child and they were offered a little boy, Carlos, whom they had yet to meet. The next addition to the family was a foster boy of six and an eighteen-month-old girl, and both found a permanent home with friends of the author. Matt realized a life-long dream to become a genetic counsellor and moved to Houston, Texas to attend university. The family relocated and continued to foster more children. Over the next few years, they adopted four more children, including a teenage girl and her brother they had helped reunite a family torn apart, but now living happily together in their new home with Niki and Matt.
In Stretch-Mark My Heart, Niki Breeser Tschirgi describes the trials and tribulations of their years of fostering and adopting children and dealing with the Social Services and other authorities. The strength of the family love for these traumatised children shines through on every page, as she and her husband Matt accept each one with warmth and affection, always trusting in God to help them make the right choices. I was amazed at her resilience, the ease with which the children settled down and how she coped with different age groups especially the teenage girl. I had no idea there were such stringent regulations for fostering and adoption, from endless form filling, house inspections to fire regulations and more. With six children to care for, Niki’s day leaves her without a minute to spare and you can’t help but admire the love and faith shown by both her and her husband to so many children in need of a stable home.
This was an easy to read book, but I would like to have known more about the children and how Niki and Matt coped with behavioural problems and particular difficulties they faced. The reader gets the impression that all the children settled in immediately, left all their baggage on the doorstep and behaved like angels. As a reader, I felt that the author had opened the door a crack to let us inside their world and then closed it again before we could really absorb the details of her story.