America Ferrera Opens Up to Katie Lowes About Anxiety She Felt Towards End of Second Pregnancy



Pregnant America Ferrera Is "Thinking of All You Other Mamas" amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Adds the actress, "For me, I could feel my heart rate, my anxiety, my blood pressure go up. And also not being able to close my eyes and go to sleep at night because I'm sitting there with all these news stories swirling in my head and just realizing very early on I had to be very disciplined about what I let in because it just doesn't serve you. Especially in a time where you just don't need that added stress when you're pregnant."

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star announced the birth of her second child, daughter Lucia Marisol, on Instagram for Mother's Day.

"LUCIA MARISOL WILLIAMS arrived on May 4th to give me my Mother's Day hugs and kisses herself. Mama, Dada & Big Brother are over the moon to welcome her bright light to our family," Ferrera wrote along with a photo of her newborn's tiny hand.

The star and her husband Ryan Piers Williams are also parents to son Sebastian, a.k.a. Baz, who turns 2 on Monday.

"The most exquisite little creature graced us with her presence on May 4, 2020. Please meet the newest member of our family, Lucia Marisol Williams. She came just in time for Mother's Day. Everyone is healthy and happy!" Williams, 39, wrote on Instagram.

Now, as a mother of two, Ferrera says her outlook on body image has shifted — for the better.

"I've struggled with body image my whole life," she says. "I feel like I've gotten to such a place, like f— that s—. What a waste of time and energy. F— the patriarchy and f— what my body is supposed to look like and also, f— you even more when I just brought life into the world and then my body is supposed to look like something. F— all of it."

Ferrera adds, "I was so in that place, that like post-baby [place], I didn't really struggle with it because I was just like, 'I f—ing dare someone to tell me to lose weight!' "

Katie Lowes Is Staying in Shondaland! Scandal Star Partners for New Podcast All About Motherhood

Speaking with PEOPLE, Lowes, 38, says she's grateful the third season of Katie's Crib is being released during this time — a time where everyone could all use a little support.

"I feel so lucky to have the guests we've had, whether they be experts or mom friends who are going through the same thing," says the Scandal actress, who shares 2½-year-old son Albee with husband Adam Shapiro.

"It's just very helpful in this time. I talked to America five days before she gave birth to her daughter," says the actress. "There are a lot of pregnant women who are not only going through the anxieties and fears of childbirth, you had a global pandemic on top of it. The anxiety is there."

"It's a very open, honest talk," Lowes adds of the third season. "We have amazing guests and I just feel really proud of the work and really proud of the Katie's Crib community that we've built. I hope it provides moms … feel less alone [and] get a little bit of advice should they need it and at the very least or most, they laugh."

Continues Lowes, "I just feel like it's really important to find joy and laugh at yourself, your kid and your family because at the end of the day we're just covered in pee, poop and spit-up. The whole ride is wild!"

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Coronavirus bombshell: Hidden factors that play role in contracting deadly virus exposed

UCL Intensive Care Medicine Professor Hugh Montgomery claimed multiple factors explain why coronavirus cases differ from country to country. Professor Montgomery, who currently represents the Intensive Care Society Charity, insisted genes, pollution, culture and how data is recorded all played a role in the overall number of official coronavirus cases. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Professor Montgomery highlighted many of the risk factors that explained why coronavirus may differ between areas.

Professor Montgomery said: “There are other differences you have got to consider that account for different levels of mortality.

“It is a little unfair, in some cases, to compare Vietnam, that maybe only had four or five intensive cases, to Britain or somewhere else.

“There are demographic factors as well.

“We know obesity is a risk factor for severe disease and if you look at a place like Vietnam, the bulk of the population is very thin.

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“They eat healthy vegetable-based diets and take more physical exercise so are very lean.

“It could be simple factors such as that.”

Professor Montgomery also noted that air pollution may play a role in the spread of coronavirus and the severity if contracted.

He said: “Factors like obesity combined with air pollution which may well be playing a part in the transmission of the virus.

“It may also be making the severity worse as well as other risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth.”

Mr Montgomery concluded that it was difficult to pinpoint one true cause of the spread of the virus as there are many factors to consider.

He closed by saying: “It is very hard to judge how much it is genes, how much it is the nature of the people, how much of it is cultural and how much of it is down to reporting.”

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Professor Montgomery has also warned if Britons do not take responsibility for their actions, a second coronavirus wave could overwhelm the NHS.

While the Government is confident the NHS can now deal with the number of people with COVID-19, Professor Montgomery claimed the NHS is still recovering from the first wave and dealing with a tsunami of new cases could prove to be difficult.

The charity Professor Montgomery represents, The Intensive Care Society, is currently working to provide essential wellbeing and support to the intensive care community through the coronavirus pandemic. Any donations to this cause are appreciated during this difficult time period. 

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Mouthwash Can’t Replace a Mask for Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

  • Experts are looking at mouthwash to see if it can help stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • In labs, mouthwash may help kill the new coronavirus.
  • Other experts disagree and point out that the coronavirus can quickly multiply in the throat even after using mouthwash.
  • Masks and physical distancing are still the best ways to prevent spreading or developing COVID-19.

Frequent handwashing, following social or physical distancing rules, and using face coverings in mass transportation and shops are still some of the best ways to protect against the new coronavirus.

However, a new study finds that ingredients in commercially available mouthwash may damage the virus that causes COVID-19 in a way that makes it harmless. The report, recently published in the journal Function, suggests that there’s an “urgent need” to test the effectiveness of this approach in clinical trials.

Previous research has shown that interfering with the lipid envelope represents an effective strategy to target similar viruses. Although experts are not recommending people trade in masks for mouthwash.

“Information has emerged highlighting how important the throat and salivary glands are as a site of virus replication in early disease and also in people who don’t have symptoms and how they seem to be involved in transmission of infection,” lead author Valerie O’Donnell, PhD, director, division of infection and immunity and co-director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute at Cardiff University, told Healthline. “It seemed worthwhile to check if there was any potential for direct antiviral targeting of virus in the throat via damaging the membrane.”

SARS-CoV-2 has a vulnerable spot

According to researchers, the virus strain that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, is an enveloped virus with a fatty (lipid) membrane.

This envelope comes from the infected cell, or host, in a process called “budding off,” according to the National Cancer Institute. During this process, newly formed virus particles become “enveloped” or “wrapped” in an outer coat made from a small piece of the cell’s membrane. The envelope may help a virus survive and infect other cells.

“We found that there is evidence from other people’s research that enveloped viruses like influenza, herpes simplex, and other coronaviruses are sensitive to common ingredients in mouthwash, but this evidence is from test-tube experiments — not from studies on viruses in the mouth, where their response may be different, and where little work has been done,” explained O’Donnell.

However, she cautioned, “It’s important to note that studies haven’t been done on this coronavirus because it’s new.”

Infection begins in the nose and throat

SARS-CoV-2 infection is believed to happen through respiratory droplets, and the virus particle is viable in aerosols for up to 3 hours.

“Dampening transmission by any means could be a preventative measure, and we don’t have any ways to do this currently,” said O’Donnell.

“CDC have recommendations for dentists where patients use mouthwash before procedures for preventing transmission of respiratory disease already,” she continued. But she added that this is based on theoretical benefit, not benefit proven through clinical trials, which haven’t been conducted yet.

O’Donnell concluded, “This is where research needs to be done, first to find out if these ingredients can inactivate this virus in the throat, and then if they can, whether this could reduce transmission.”

Mouthwash could have an unexpected effect on health

Post-exercise hypotension (PEH) is a common physiological process that lowers blood pressure after “acute exercise.”

But how this happens is still not fully understood.

Recent research finds that interfering with the bacteria in your mouth may affect your cardiovascular health. The study examined whether the “nitrate-reducing activity” of bacteria in our mouths is a key trigger for PEH.

Scientists used a randomized, double-blind, and crossover study design, which means neither the testers nor the participants knew who received mouthwash or a placebo.

Findings suggest that the participants who used mouthwash experienced significantly higher blood pressure after exercising than the placebo group, reducing an important benefit of cardiovascular exercise.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that mouthwash is bad for you or doesn’t provide important benefits.

COVID-19 researcher weighs in

“There is potential for mouthwash with alcohol to reduce, maybe slightly, short-term spread of virus to close household contacts. The alcohol might kill virus in the mouth surfaces temporarily — so might a shot of whiskey, rum, or tequila,” said Eric Bortz, PhD, assistant professor of biology, University of Alaska Anchorage.

But Bortz, who is currently researching the genome sequencing of COVID-19, pointed out, “If someone is actively infected, the infected cells in the throat will soon produce more virus.”

He added that the upper and lower respiratory tissues are very often infected and can produce transmissible virus. “So for most people with coronavirus, mouthwash will be of limited value in preventing spread of COVID19.”

“Face coverings [masks], social distancing, and limiting contact are the best public health measures. But good oral hygiene is good for health, so it’s good to maintain it [mouthwash use] anyway!” Bortz advised.

It kills the virus, but it’s not the best defense

Bortz agreed that anything that kills the virus in a test tube might kill the virus in the mouth, “But that doesn’t mean you should use it as a first line of defense. For example, bleach kills virus — but don’t drink it or wash your mouth with it because it might kill you too!”

“The coronavirus survives inside of cells mainly in the respiratory tract, not just the mouth,” he emphasized.

Mouthwash won’t cure anyone of COVID-19, concluded Bortz, “or prevent infection by coronavirus.” But he remarked that good oral hygiene is a part of good health: “So for adults non-alcohol or alcohol-based mouthwashes are great, but for children, no alcohol.”

Mouthwash company Listerine has urged consumers not to use mouthwash to fight COVID-19 during the pandemic. “LISTERINE mouth rinse has not been tested against the coronavirus and is not intended to prevent or treat COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.

The bottom line

Research finds that mouthwash ingredients have a potential role in the fight against COVID-19. They say that commercially available mouthwash could damage the new coronavirus in such a way to render it harmless.

Some scientists emphasize that since the throat is a major area of infection for COVID-19, then strategies, like mouthwash, that reduce the concentration of virus in mucous membranes could contribute to reduced transmission risk.

Other experts disagree and point out that the coronavirus can quickly multiply in the throat even after using mouthwash, and that masks and social or physical distancing are still the best ways to prevent spreading or developing the infection.


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Cooking more at home? Diverse food cultures can expand heart-healthy menu

For many in the United States, dinner means a large portion of meat and two sides, usually a starch and a vegetable. Think steak, potatoes and peas, or chicken, carrots and rice.

“That’s a very American and northern European idea—a meal which stems from a large amount of meat being available, and also wealth,” said Amy Bentley, a professor of food studies at New York University.

But trying different dishes from diverse cultures can open up a new menu of heart-healthy food options and go-to meal ideas. And now, with more people making their own meals as they stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, what better time than World Day of Cultural Diversity to try something different for dinner?

Meat is just an accent on the dish in many other parts of the world, said Bentley, author of “Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health and the Industrialization of the American Diet.” Vegetables, including legumes like black beans or chickpeas, make up a medium portion of the plate. A starch like rice or polenta usually makes up the largest portion. Spices add flavor.

Think an Indian curry or Chinese stir-fried chicken and vegetables.

If you’re cooking the dish for the first time, Bentley recommends making a smaller amount or going light on spicier ingredients to get used to the flavors.

Keep moderation in mind when sizing up portions, too, said Ronaldo Linares, a New Jersey-based chef and restaurant consultant who teaches cooking classes. Linares, who comes from a Cuban-Colombian background, wrote the cookbook, “Sabores de Cuba,” a recipe collection of classic Cuban dishes with a healthy, diabetes-friendly twist.

Eating one big meal has the potential to cause fluctuations in blood sugar, Linares said. Research shows fluctuations in blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol could put people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke.

Using fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods can add interesting flavors, he added. “If you are sticking to the guidelines of traditional cooking, it’s going to be naturally healthy.”

Instead of store-bought salsa, Bentley suggested making homemade salsa with chopped-up tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos and a pinch of salt. If a recipe calls for butter, Linares suggested substituting avocado oil or olive oil, which are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Both Linares and Bentley noted that for some families, a lack of access to affordable, fresh ingredients can hamper the ability to eat diverse or healthier foods. Food choices also can be influenced by the exposure to ads for sugary drinks and fast food, regardless of one’s racial or ethnic background.

Just 1 in 10 adults meet the daily recommendation of having at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ultimately, we need a better food environment,” Bentley said. “It’s too much to expect the individual to be solely responsible because so much of this is about the food that’s available in the culture as well as socioeconomic issues.”

Some general nutritional guidelines can fit into meals within any cultural preference, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They include making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and adding calcium-rich foods to each meal.

“It’s better to talk about healthy approaches to eating through actual food rather than nutrients,” Bentley said, “and not get hung up on portions and the minute mechanics that only adds to people’s stress.”

The American Heart Association suggests a healthy dietary pattern to reduce heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Plant-based and Mediterranean diets are singled out in AHA dietary guidelines.

Linares picked Peruvian cuisine when asked to highlight another food culture for people looking to try heart-healthy but flavorful alternatives. His sample meal starts with ceviche, a seafood dish.

“So, let’s say a ceviche of cooked octopus. It’s super tender, they char it, serve it cold, toss it in some lime juice and some herbs,” he said. “Then you have a sweet potato puree and add some aromatics and seasoning. Add some corn, some pickled onions and you put it together in this beautiful bowl.

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Pregnant Hilaria Baldwin Takes 'Baths Morning and Night' to Help with Feeling 'Overwhelmed'

Hilaria Baldwin might be a busy mom of four, juggling parenting and homeschooling her children amid the coronavirus pandemic as they continue to social distance together, but she still finds the time for self-care.

In a video for Verizon Media/Yahoo's "Reset Your Mindset" virtual event, the fitness instructor and Mom Brain podcast co-host, 36, reveals a few of the ways she is "spending 'me time' " during the crisis.

"I close myself off in my bathroom and I love to exercise and do breath work," she says. "I take baths morning and night — that really, really helps me."

Of course, sometimes she is joined by her "little people" — sons Romeo Alejandro David, 2, Leonardo Ángel Charles, 3½, and Rafael Thomas, 5 next month, plus daughter Carmen Gabriela, 6½ — but she doesn't mind, and just appreciates "the warm water on [her] skin."

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Pregnant Hilaria Baldwin on "Nonstop" Day While Social Distancing with 4 Kids amid Coronavirus

Hilaria, who is sheltering in place with husband Alec Baldwin and their kids while pregnant with their fifth child together, says that when she's having a tough time mentally, "I always think about how much worse it could be."

"How much worse it could be all of a sudden makes my situation seem not as bad, and with that, it pulls me up a little bit," shares The Living Clearly Method author, "and allows me to have a lightness and a strength to be able to attack my problem."

But she certainly has her moments when she just needs to let it out, too. "I cried the other morning, and it was over a bunch of really silly little things," Hilaria recalls. "And I don't typically do that, and my kids were [taken aback]."

"I wasn't freaking out on them — I just had tears," she clarifies, laughing. "There were just tears because I was so overwhelmed."

Hilaria — who suffered a miscarriage last April and another at four months along in November, while expecting a baby girl — recently chatted with PEOPLE about how she and her family are looking at the big picture amid the global health crisis.

"Alec and I were complaining about it a week or so ago and Carmen was asking about it and I said, 'Carmen, nobody wants to be doing this right now. It's frustrating for us all to have to stop our normal lives,' " she said in late March. "And she's like, 'I don't know what you guys are talking about, I love this. I love spending time with you. All I want to do is spend time with Mommy and Daddy and my brothers.' "

"And it kind of stopped us in our tracks and our mouths were open and we were like, 'Okay, let's go with that mentality, because that sounds so much better than complaining, which is what we've been doing!' " Hilaria added.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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Calvin Harris Says His Heart Stopped in 2014: 'Interesting Year for Me'


Calvin Harris needed lifesaving help in 2014 after his heart stopped.

The DJ and singer revealed on Twitter that he had to have his heart “restarted” in the emergency room.

Harris retweeted a video on Tuesday night from his June 2014 performance at the Electric Daisy Festival, and added that it was an “interesting year.”

“Started with me knocking myself off number 1 in the UK and ended with my heart getting restarted in the ER…this sort of stuff happened in between,” he said.

Harris had hinted at his condition that year, but hadn’t previously said that his heart had stopped. Rather, the “Slide” singer said that he had “some heart problems” that needed to “be fixed” and were the reason why he canceled several shows.

He later clarified that he had an arrythmia, a heart condition that causes an irregular heartbeat and can lead to chest pain, fainting and dizziness.

That pushed him to give up drinking, he said on Twitter in 2018.

“Haven't drank in 4 years big man,” Harris told a fan who asked why he was abstaining from alcohol. "Aye things are a bit less fun but haven't had an arrhythmia since 2014.”

But Harris said he’s happy with the decision.

“The last thing I want to do is down 2 bottles of jack daniels a night, live on greggs pasties and sleep on an absolutely stinking bus all year, scream down a mic for 55 minutes and pretend to play a keyboard 5x a week those days are behind me son,” he added to the fan.

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Meet Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner's Son Hendrix Douglas: 'Beyond Thankful I Was Able to Have Him'




Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner Reveal They Changed Their Newborn Son's Name from Hayes to Hendrix

Afterwards, the labor-and-delivery nurse says she felt an immediate bond with Hendrix that she hadn't initially experienced with their daughter Henley "Gracie" Grace, who turns 3 in August.

"I felt so connected to him. I did not get that type of connection with Gracie," says Otis. "I birthed him in the corner, then literally walked to my bed with my placenta still inside me, him attached, and was able to start just doing skin-to-skin for six to seven hours."

Adds Hehner, "Jamie wouldn't let him go!"

While Gracie is still adjusting to having a new baby brother ("She tried to hold him and got a little scared," says Hehner), the Hot Marriage, Cool Parents co-hosts are confident she'll be a "protective" older sister.

"She's definitely going to be bossy. She bosses us around, and I think she's definitely going to be loving and nurturing as well," says Otis. "She always rocks her little baby dolls to sleep. She's going to be the best big sister."

After welcoming Gracie, the couple — who lost their first son, Johnathan Edward, at 17 weeks gestation in 2016 — struggled to conceive, experiencing a chemical pregnancy in 2018 and a miscarriage at 10 weeks along in 2019.

"I didn't think we were going to have any issues [getting pregnant] because we lost our first baby in the second trimester," says Otis. "I was almost thinking God wouldn't do that to us again. Then we had those two losses back to back, and I was like, 'Are we going to even be able to have a baby?' "

Just as they were about to visit a fertility specialist 18 months later, the couple discovered they were expecting.

"It's magical to see him. I just feel like [Johnathan's] spirit is with us with this little guy," says Otis. "I'm beyond thankful I was able to have him."

Married at First Sight: Couples' Cam premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

For more on Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner's new bundle of joy, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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Stop Shaming Russell Wilson for Being a Good Stepdad on Baby Future's Birthday

The saga between Ciara, husband Russell Wilson, and her ex-fiancé Future is something of a soap opera — at least that’s the way fans have often reacted to their public comments about each other. Which is fine; side with whichever famous person you like. But we’re not huge fans of what’s going on today, after all three took to social media to celebrate “Baby” Future’s sixth birthday.

People are riled up about Wilson’s post in particular, a super gushy note to his stepson: “You are my daily inspiration. My best friend…Full of Love, Joy, and Grace. I thank Jesus every day for who you are & being able to lead & guide you. Your future is forever endless and I pray you swim into every opportunity and obstacle in life with this much Love and Enthusiasm. Happy 6th Birthday Future! Daddy loves you!”

That’s a bit more effusive than the note Future wrote to his son on Twitter: “Happy Birthday FUTURE. Love u FOREVER twin.”

We highly doubt a 6-year-old is looking to social media for birthday messages from their parents. The little guy is doing just fine, getting extra family time during lockdown with his baby sister, stepdad, and mom Ciara, who’s currently pregnant with another baby boy.

Twitter, on the other hand, is on fire about these posts. Wilson calling himself Baby Future’s “Daddy” is the main issue, reminding us of the way Wilson appeared to have taken over that role quite early in the boy’s life. Future and Ciara split when their son was just a few months old, reportedly because of his cheating. By spring of 2015, she was making public appearances with Wilson, and soon the NFL pro was photographed bonding with Baby Future. Dad Future was none too happy with this.

“If I was a kid, and my mama had a dude pushing me, I would’ve jumped out the stroller and slapped the s— out of him,” the rapper told Power 105. “You never do that in our community. You don’t ever bring a man around your son. How you know this dude for a few months and you bring him around your kid? Who does that? Nobody does that.”

Thus began a back-and-forth between the three that has gone on for years and even involved Ciara suing her ex for slander and libel at one point. Last year, Future said things were cool between him and Wilson.

“I don’t have nothing against him, and I’m happy for them,” he said on his FREEBANDZ RADIO show, per People.

It’s in that context that we’re seeing this current birthday debate bubble up on Twitter. As Future fans question Wilson’s wording.

“You outta pocket,” @TreyDolo_ wrote.

“Russell is so phony and a clout chaser,” @harbor_msv said.  “Like stop trying to take subliminal shots at Baby Future’s dad. He was right about you. And where was this energy for Baby Sienna?”

But a vast majority of people on the platform are applauding Wilson for being such a loving stepfather.

“Anyone who thinks Russell is doing ‘too much’ by loving on Baby Future like he’s his own son seek help, Jesus, and therapy immediately,” Kaiah tweeted.

“Baby Future is super blessed,” Torie wrote. “Didn’t Future say he’s not able to be around all of his kids that much bc of his career? So baby future gets 3 successful parents and parents that are physically there. That’s cool to me.”

We hope that one day, when Baby Future is old enough to read social media, that this last statement is an accepted fact. Like all children, he deserves all the parental love available to him, regardless of what Twitter thinks.

Maybe one day, we’ll add Ciara and Future to this list of famous exes who are actually quite good at co-parenting.






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These Children's Books Featuring Adopted/Foster Kids Will Make You Cry

Foster care adoptions reached a record high in 2020 — so why aren’t more kids and parents talking about fostering, or adoption in general, as a key process that has led to so many families being built? Of course, raising these topics with your kids isn’t easy; our words and even our tone can shape adopted and foster kids’ experiences and have a lasting impact on their mental and emotional health. But there are some amazing children’s books featuring adopted or foster kids that can help — teaching both kids and adults how to have thoughtful conversations about adoption and foster homes, and tackling subjects like grief, sadness, confusion, adaptation, and love.

That’s why we’ve gathered some of the most beautiful books out there that are suitable for young children and teens and which center on adoption and foster care. These are beautiful, relatable stories guaranteed to open up discussions and let kids know that they’re not alone in their feelings or experiences.

The Story of My Open Adoption

This heartwarming story, from solo mom by choice (and SheKnows writer!) Leah Campbell, is about Sammy Squirrel who is adopted at birth by the bunny family. A perfect option for teaching kids about the ever-more common open adoption process.

I’ve Loved You Since Forever

We love a lot of things about Hoda Kotb, and her children’s book about adoption is pretty high on the list. Kotb has two adopted daughters, Hope and Haley, whom we just know she has loved since forever. Although Kotb penned this book in response to adopting her eldest daughter, its themes of enduring love apply to any family, adopted or otherwise.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

Many children have questions about their birth, but what happens when a child’s parents weren’t there to recount all of the details? Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, written by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated by Laura Cornell, tells the story of one young girl who loves to hear about the night her parents brought her into their family. This sweet book acknowledges that adopted children have an array of different stories and reminds readers that their births — and all of the moments since — are valuable and cherished by their families.

Morris and the Bundle of Worries

The adoption and foster care processes can be stressful for children who don’t always understand why their situations are changing. Sadly, these experiences can lead to increased risk for poorer physical and mental health in the long run, including depression and anxiety, according to a study commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Too often, these children will internalize their feelings as they may not believe they can confide in a trusted adult.

Morris and the Bundle of Worries, written by Jill Seeney and illustrated by Rachel Fuller, tells the story of Morris the Mole who hides his worries from his loved ones. Throughout the book, Morris’ friends help him to understand that they care about his feelings and want to help him face his problems. With their assistance, Morris learns that while it’s normal to feel worried sometimes, he doesn’t have to experience any of his emotions alone.

Elliot

Placing a child into adoptive or foster care can be a complex and emotionally wrought decision for parents. Often, it can be just as confusing and challenging for children, who don’t understand why their lives are changing or why their parents may not be equipped to provide them with the care they need.

Elliot, written by adoptive mother Julie Pearson and illustrated by Manon Gauthier, is the story about a young rabbit whose parents believe another family could better care for him. Throughout the story, a social worker named Thomas helps Elliot navigate the foster care system in hopes of finding a family who can love and care for Elliot the way he deserves.

While the book has received a lot of positive recognition, some readers have said they felt the book seemed to place blame on Elliot for his changing circumstances because he cries and has outbursts. If you want to read this book with kids, you might want to explain that there’s nothing wrong with Elliot, or any other children in adoptive or foster care, and they are all worthy of love.

Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care

Maybe Days is a fantastic resource for children who have questions about why they are in foster care and how the process works. Author Jennifer Wilgocki breaks down what kids can expect from their parents, social workers, foster families, and more in ways they can easily digest, while illustrator Alissa Imre Geis’ drawings help younger children visualize various scenarios. The book, published by the American Psychological Association, also helps children get in touch with and better understand their feelings.

Picnic in the Park

No two families are the same, and that’s a reason to celebrate! Picnic in the Park introduces kids to different family dynamics — including families with LGBTQ parents, single parents, adoptive parents, and foster parents — so that they can grasp the beauty and importance of diversity at a young age. Together, author Joe Griffiths and illustrator Tony Pilgrim highlight that while families vary, the one thing they often share in common is love.

And Tango Makes Three

This delightful book from authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrator Henry Cole introduces children to adoption and LGBTQ couples by following penguins Roy and Silo on their journey to become parents. The story is based on the real Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins, who lived together at the Central Park Zoo and raised a penguin named Tango. (Sadly, Roy and Silo are no longer a couple in real life, which may be a discussion you want to have with kids another day.)

Sam’s Sister

Navigating the adoption process can be stressful, especially for those who arrange to have their children adopted by other parents. But the process can also be hard on the adopted child’s siblings, who may not understand why their parents don’t feel they can adequately care for another child. Sam’s Sister, written by Juliet C. Bond, LCSW and illustrated by Linda Hoffman Kimball, invites readers into Rosa’s world as she questions why her parents chose to find another family for her baby brother, Sam, and how she, ultimately, learns to accept a new family into her life.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

This award-winning classic from author Katherine Paterson is an excellent read for middle school-aged kids. Eleven-year-old Gilly Hopkins has moved between foster homes for most of her life. She’s smart, she’s driven, and now that she’s moved into her most recent house with the Trotters, Gilly has devised a plan to escape. The story is at once funny and heart-wrenching, as Gilly tries to reconnect with her biological mother and learns that love and acceptance sometimes come from the least expected places.

After kids have finished reading, they can watch the adapted film, which features Julia Stiles, Glenn Close, Kathy Bates, Octavia Spencer, and Sophie Nélisse.

The Story of Tracy Beaker

The Story of Tracy Beaker is the first in a series of books told from 10-year-old Tracy’s viewpoint written by Jacqueline Wilson. In this book, readers meet Tracy, a young girl who lives in a children’s residential home that she likes to call “The Dumping Ground.” As you can tell, Tracy isn’t too fond of her current situation.

To cope with her feelings, Tracy makes up elaborate stories and tales about her mother, whom she dreams will raise her again one day. While these tales help Tracy feel better in the short-term, she often finds herself feeling sad and angry with her current situation and doesn’t understand why she can’t fit into a conventional family. Throughout the book, Tracy warms up to new possibilities and learns to love herself.

Please note that this book does tackle issues like neglect, abuse, and violence. It may not be suitable for children under age nine.

Three Little Words: A Memoir

Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s memoir, Three Little Words, revisits her childhood experiences living in 14 different foster homes. In the book, Rhodes-Courter recounts her feelings of loneliness, her frustrations with the system, and the painful memories of her mother and abusive foster parents. The book, while at times heartbreaking and difficult to read, highlights Rhodes-Courter’s strengths as she discovered her self-worth and her voice.

This book is best suited for teens and adults.

A version of this story was originally published in May 2019.

For more great reads with your kids, check out these diverse children’s books featuring girls of color.






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The cholera outbreak in a Victorian asylum that anticipated the coronavirus crisis in care homes

In 1849, a cholera epidemic that was sweeping through Britain reached West Riding Asylum in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The deadly disease soon spread through the wards. Searching for the source of the outbreak, the consulting physician eventually settled on an individual who had been admitted while ill. The doctor described this unfortunate patient as the “unconscious messenger of death”.

Over a century and a half later, a care-home owner in Devon—alarmed by the fact that local care homes could admit residents with COVID-19—expressed his fears in a strikingly similar way. In early April 2020, the government issued guidelines that permitted taking in new residents even if sick. This, the care-home owner argued, would be “tantamount to importing death”.

Care homes are the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Compared to all other settings, they have seen the biggest relative increase in deaths since the start of the outbreak. Most of the vast asylums of the Victorian era closed in the 20th century, as attitudes to treating mental health changed. Yet there are haunting parallels to be seen. Responses to, and experiences of, an outbreak of disease at one of these asylums back in the 19th century are disturbingly resonant today.

Cholera, an acute diarrhoeal disease, claimed the lives of more than 100 patients at West Riding Asylum in 1849. Such was the scale of the tragedy that the consulting physician, Thomas Giordani Wright, was commissioned by the asylum’s regulators to investigate and account for this disaster. The result, a report published in 1850, allows us to reconstruct the story of the cholera outbreak in minute detail. It is a story which foreshadows our own.

Cholera grips the asylum

The 19th century witnessed a huge expansion in the number of asylums in England.

In 1808, the British government passed legislation that allowed counties to collect and spend taxes on building asylums for those unable to pay for private treatment for mental illness. While most counties didn’t begin construction until they were forced to by further legislation in 1845. Yorkshire was quick off the mark. West Riding Asylum opened its doors in November 1818, initially with a view to accommodating 150 patients. By the middle of the century, extensions and a second building meant that more than 500 patients filled its wards.

Global cholera pandemics were a repeated problem throughout the 19th century. When the disease hit Britain in the autumn of 1848, Yorkshire was initially spared. But by September 1849, it had reached Wakefield. In his report, Wright conjures an image of the institution besieged, with “the spread of the pestilence all around the asylum”.

Some of those who had been attached to the asylum for a long time, like Wright himself, might have taken confidence from the fact it had escaped disaster during the previous cholera pandemic to hit England, in 1832. In 1849, sadly, it would not be so lucky.

In his report, Wright sought to understand how the disease had infiltrated the institution. He was doing so a few years before John Snow’s discovery that cholera was waterborne. Yet an inspection of both the drainage and ventilation did take place at West Riding Asylum; both were given a clean bill of health. Indeed, the inspectors—Messrs West and Dawson—were left to conclude that “the visitation, fatal as it has been to many, must be considered either as the immediate infliction of Divine Providence, or as dependent on causes of which nothing as yet is known”.

Wright looked elsewhere for causes. And in spite of his admission that “the laws of contamination are, in fact, little known”, he set his sights on one Elizabeth Fenton—his “unconscious messenger of death”.

The hunt for ‘patient zero’ begins

Elizabeth Fenton, a person with epilepsy, had been admitted to West Riding Asylum on 17 September 1849. She came from the nearby Gomersal Workhouse, where she had been for the past six years after her husband, a stonemason, abandoned her and their two children. Although her transfer had been recommended some weeks earlier, when the local official called at the workhouse to take her to the asylum, it took people at the workhouse by surprise.

Strokes of ill luck might, in part, explain the disastrous chain of events which followed. Two residents at the Gomersal Workhouse had died of cholera the night before Fenton was transferred; one of them normally slept in the same room as her. Yet authorities may have been lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that Fenton had not had direct contact with these residents before her transfer. She had suffered an unusually violent seizure that week, and so had spent most of her last nights in the workhouse restrained in a chair in another room. And the day before her transfer, she had been given a laxative to help relieve constipation. An early warning sign of cholera infection, diarrhoea, was thus concealed.

By the evening of her first day in the asylum, Fenton had developed symptoms. She was isolated immediately, as it had become clear that an outbreak was underway in Gomersal Workhouse. Her room was locked, and access restricted to a select few. But within a week, four more women had fallen ill. From that point on, the disease spread like wildfire through the female as well as male patient populations of the asylum.

Since the male cases were known not to have had any direct contact with any of the female cases, and the original four women were not even thought to have seen Fenton, Wright was stumped to explain whether the mode of transmission was “gaseous or solid, material or immaterial, vegetable or animal, magnetic or electrical”.

But he was firm in his conclusion that “infection was in some way brought into the asylum by that patient”. He cinched his argument by referring back to the 1832 pandemic, which the asylum had escaped unscathed. The only difference, he argued, between the two contexts was that no new patients from infected districts had been admitted in 1832, whereas in 1849, they had: Fenton. Case closed.

Yet Wright pursued this line of investigation further, with prosecutorial zeal, by turning his attention to Gomersal Workhouse. Fenton had brought the disease from Gomersal to West Riding Asylum—but how, in the first place, had it arrived at Gomersal?

From the medical officer at the workhouse, Wright learned that on 6 September “a dirty Irish woman, and her four children, were brought into the workhouse”. Showing signs of cholera, they had been taken to the workhouse hospital, where the mother had died just hours after arrival. One of her children died “a day or two after”; the exact timing was not thought worth recording. And just a day before Fenton was transferred to the asylum, two other women at the workhouse died.

As we know all too well from COVID-19, Aids and other recent pandemics, the hunt for the first person to fall ill—known as “patient zero”—collides with other vectors of stigmatisation. In the case of COVID-19, this has been clear above all in the horrifying rise in anti-Asian racism and xenophobia worldwide.

By 1849, the arrival in England of hundreds of thousands of Irish displaced by the Great Famine had contributed to wider anti-Irish sentiment, cementing a prejudicial association with poverty, dirt and disease. Forced into desperate living conditions, including dog kennels and cellars, this was an association which drew vicious strength from the staggeringly high death rates among the Irish during times of epidemic disease. As well as being epidemiologically unhelpful, Wright’s explicit identification of a local Irish patient zero fed into growing anti-Irish racism and a representation of the Irish as carriers, rather than fellow sufferers, of the disease.

The human cost rises

With cholera loose in the institution, the medical officers and attendants at West Riding Asylum tried to fight it using the full arsenal at their disposal: removal of patients to a separate cholera ward; improvements in diet—including “extra allowances of tea and brandy for supper”; fumigation of wards; and laundering of all bed sheets and clothes.

But as in the current pandemic, there was no cure, no vaccine. By the end of the year, more than 100 residents had died of cholera. Nineteen had died in just a single day towards the end of October.

In what Wright evidently considered to be a small mercy, the patients “generally did not appear to be much affected by fear, nor were they aware of the extent of the mortality”. But just as in today’s care homes, for the staff of the institution, it was traumatic. “It was a period of awful emergency, and the consternation of all was increased by the fearful mystery of the pestilence, the rapidity of its attack, without previous symptom or warning, and the little more than failure of every effort, to mitigate its course, or avert its progress.”

Amid this horror, it is unsurprising—particularly, unhappily, to us now—that residents were not the only fatalities. On November 4 1849, Mrs Reynolds, the chief nurse of the ward set up to tend to cholera cases, died of the disease.

In a separate report in November 1849, the director of the asylum quoted Reynolds as saying: “If I should die, I shall have the satisfaction on my death bed of knowing that I have done my duty.” Wright later wrote movingly of “her heroic and unremitting devotion to her duties” and “her kindness and humanity”.

Reynolds was not alone in being held up for praise. In 1851, the director of the asylum looked back on the service of all staff in these harrowing months “with gratitude and admiration”. And while noting that “no pecuniary recompense can adequately remunerate such services”, he drew attention to the princely sum of £264 which had been distributed among staff by the visiting justices, and a further—unspecified but “very large”—sum disbursed by a visiting magistrate (there to oversee Wright’s investigation) in a private capacity.

There is a poignant coda to this story, however. In contrast to the “substantial tokens of public approbation” the surviving officers and attendants had received, Wright used his report to draw attention to the sad inadequacy of Reynolds’s final resting place: a grave “without a mark to record her fate”. He pleaded with the magistrates and medical officers to make contributions so that her life and service could also be properly remembered.

Were lessons learnt?

Wright rounded off his report with a “lessons learnt” section—a genre with which we are likely to become all too familiar in the coming months and years.

While noting that changes to diet and fumigation appeared to bear some fruit, the lesson Wright was desperate to hammer home was the importance of “the precaution of not admitting into the asylum fresh patients from infected districts”. In that respect, his advice was much stricter than that issued by the Board of Health, the body charged with the control of epidemic disease, whose confident assurances—he suggested—had influenced people “to disregard all risk of communication”.

Wright concluded: “We have been fatally taught, that it is most important to use every possible vigilance to avert the approach of cholera; for, if it once find an entrance, no human resources are of much avail, to mitigate its intensity or abate its ravages.”

The colossal asylums of the 19th century may no longer be with us, but the parallels haunt us still. The risk to care homes was clear early in the contemporary crisis, according to chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. And the vulnerability of institutionalised populations was not only foreseeable; doctors during the 1849 cholera outbreak tried to pass down lessons to future generations.

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