• Mikhulu Trust

“Our special time”: How book-sharing built bonds between a mother and her adopted daughter

Through her daily work as a Early Childhood Development (ECD) mentor, Davine September has always been aware of the positive impacts book-sharing had on others. One weekend, whilst visiting her aunt, Davine’s life changed forever: she met a child that she would later adopt. And Davine began to see the powerful impact of book-sharing first hand - with her newly adopted daughter.


Book-sharing from an outside perspective


Davine works for Inceba Trust, an NPO based in the Winelands. Davine supervises nineteen ECD centres in Franschhoek. Initially she was trained as a book-sharing facilitator and is now a book-sharing coach.


Being part of Inceba Trust’s implementation of the book-sharing programme from the beginning has provided Davine with first-hand insights into the positive impact that the programme has had on the communities that she works in - not only on parent/child relationships, but on parents themselves.


“Book-sharing is like a personal enhancement for the parents,” explains Davine. She has witnessed parents forming close, special bonds with one another. “Some parents have amazing stories and have said that they never thought a book with no words could have such a huge impact. It provides them with something to take ownership of. They feel more equipped to be involved in their children’s lives.”


A life changing day


Not long after becoming involved with book-sharing, Davine made a regular visit to her aunt in Paarl. While standing outside, Davine was approached by a young woman with a little girl - asking Davine to please take her child. “I was so confused and shocked,” says Davine. It was clear to Davine that this woman was living under difficult circumstances and it was not the right environment for a child.


Touched by the plight of the child and her mother, Davine set about working towards adopting the child. She worked with the biological mother and social worker from the Department of Social Development. Following this, Angenike, the little girl, was formally placed in the care of Davine by the Children’s Court.


Describing herself as a “single mother with absolutely no knowledge of how to raise a child”, Davine found herself struggling to connect and build a relationship with her daughter. “Angenike used to cry all the time. She didn’t want me to touch her or pick her up. I was a stranger to her. Although I tried everything, it was just so difficult.”


During the initial tough times, Davine was very thankful to her own mother for helping her take care of Angen


Book-sharing and bonding



Wonderfully, Davine and her daughter did begin to develop a bond - the reason for this being book-sharing. What Davine witnessed many parents going through was now her reality too. It started off slowly, with Angenike only pointing to images in the book, but soon it became a bedtime ritual. “It was our special time,” Davine reflects.


Their exchanges through book-sharing gave Davine more confidence in herself as a mother. It also provided the pair with a way of talking about important things. Davine highlights one book in particular, Hug. Hug enabled Angenike to talk about her feelings and life with her biological family. “She still remembers a lot about living with them. She can relate to a lot of the emotions in the book.”


Before the adoption process was finalised, it was required that Angenike visit her biological mother on a regular basis. Because of Hug, Angenike was able to express to Davine how she felt going to stay there. Agenike was able to share that they were sleeping outside when she visited. “I felt like this book could open up that conversation”, Davine reflects.


Thanks to book-sharing, Davine and her daughter now share a tight bond and are “best friends” - able to speak and communicate openly. “I think children have so much to say, but they don’t always get the chance to say it.”


Through Davine’s experiences in her work and personal life, she encourages more parents to join the programme. “There are many parents out there who really want to get involved in their children’s lives, but they don’t know how. Programmes like book-sharing provide a platform for this.”