'Room in my Heart'
Forest Grove stepmother, stepson pen children's book.
For children, adjusting to a new family member can be quite challenging especially when the change is a new stepparent coming into the picture. Sometimes, it can even be difficult for the newcomer.
Thats how Forest Grove resident Amy Aalto felt when she married her husband Paul nearly nine years ago.
Aalto grew up in Oregon and cherished books and writing from a young age. When she became a full-time mom to her stepson Jeremiah, her dream of writing a childrens book became a mission.
Sometimes, when a new parent comes into a family, issues of loss and abandonment can come into play, she said. We were dealing with some tough feelings around heartbreak, confusion this is something that many blended families deal with.
Aalto searched far and wide to find a childrens book on the subject that could help Jeremiah adjust to the big changes coming. But to her surprise, nothing turned up.
Thats when she and Jeremiah began to collaborate on a book that could give children in similar situations a voice. With the help of her son, theyve crafted a genuine perspective and story in the form of Room in My Heart.
The new book provides a look at a childs feelings as they accept a stepparent and adjust to a new family life. The work encourages the acceptance of love from a new parent without feeling guilt or the need to choose between a birth parent and a stepparent.
When Jeremiah was five, we wrote some drafts, said Aalto. I was never really good at drawing, so eventually we ended up hiring an illustrator.
Now, Jeremiah is 14 years old, and the book was published in back in May. Although its been quite a process, Aalto and Jeremiah are excited to get the word out.
I really think its an amazing thing, said Aalto. It really touches on how we feel about one another.
Weve definitely grown a lot, I even call her mom now, said Jeremiah. Weve been through a lot of things, and over the years weve really gotten closer together.
The book even sparked future plans for the duo to author more books together. Room in My Heart could be the first of many works by Aalto and Jeremiah they plan to tackle more subjects as well as some fantasy stories.
We really think itll hit a chord for the right audiences, Aalto said.
She holds a bachelors degree in sociology from the University of Oregon, and currently lives in Forest Grove with her family. Both Aalto and Jeremiah have reached out to libraries around Washington County to promote their recent work, and have a couple of in-person appearances coming up.
Theyll be at Jans Paperback, 18095 S.W. Tualatin Valley Highway, in Aloha on Oct. 22 and Dec. 3 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to greet people while discussing Room in My Heart.
Being a stepparent, full time non-biological parent, and everything in between is hard work, said Aalto. I hope this book helps other parents who love and care for a child every day thats not theirs biologically, but theirs in every other way.