By Wendy Welch
“Fall or Fly is a compelling, unvarnished glimpse into the complex world of foster care and adoption in modern-day Appalachia. Dr. Welch provides readers with a multifaceted view of the system through the eyes of children, foster parents, and caseworkers. It will surely become a treasured resource, not only for those interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents but for those who desire a more complete understanding of the foster care system.”
Senator Bill Carrico, Virginia State Legislature
“Fall or Fly offers a broad view of foster care in Appalachia…. Providing multiple perspectives alongside one another preserves tensions and contradictions that are necessary for (Welch’s) thorough exploration of foster care and adoption…. Welch provides … multiple stories and personal observations that have sometimes been missing from mainstream debate.”
“This book zeroes in on the foster care and adoption system in the Appalachian coalfields. It tells the story with an adept combination of close looks at the experiences of the three parties involved—the kids, the social workers, and the courts.”
Appalachian Mountain Books
Chaos. Frustration. Compassion. Desperation. Hope. These are the five words that author Wendy Welch says best summarize the state of foster care in the coalfields of Appalachia. Her assessment is based on interviews with more than sixty social workers, parents, and children who have gone through “the system.” The riveting stories in Fall or Fly tell what foster care is like, from the inside out.
In depictions of foster care and adoption, stories tend to cluster at the dark or light ends of the spectrum, rather than telling the day-to-day successes and failures of families working to create themselves. Who raises other people’s children? Why? What’s money got to do with it when the love on offer feels so real? And how does the particular setting of Appalachia—itself so frequently oversimplified or stereotyped—influence the way these questions play out?
In Fall or Fly, Welch invites people bound by a code of silence to open up and to share their experiences. Less inspiration than a call to caring awareness, this pioneering work of storytelling journalism explores how love, compassion, money, and fear intermingle in what can only be described as a marketplace for our nation’s greatest asset.
Wendy Welch is the executive director of the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium and the author, coauthor, or editor of six books, including Fall or Fly: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Foster Care and Adoption in Appalachia (also from Ohio University Press). She advocates for social justice in health care and other critical areas of development across Appalachia. More info →
Review in Appalachian JournalDownload
Save 20% ($18.36)
Save 20% ($39.96)
US and Canada only
Availability and price vary according to vendor.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
When Deborah Gold and her husband signed up to foster parent in their rural mountain community, they did not foresee that it would lead to a roller-coaster fifteen years of involvement with a traumatized yet resilient birth family. They fell in love with Michael (a toddler when he came to them), yet they had to reckon with the knowledge that he could leave their lives at any time.In Counting Down, Gold tells the story of forging a family within a confounding system.
Written in an accessible, engaging style and drawing on collaborative ethnographic research that the girls themselves helped conduct, Thinking Outside the Girl Box tells the true story of an innovative program determined to challenge the small, disempowering “boxes” girls and women are so often expected to live in.
In essays that take wide-ranging forms—ideal for creative nonfiction classes—established and emerging writers with roots in Appalachia take on the theme of silencing in Appalachian culture. They write about families left behind, hard-earned educations, selves transformed, identities chosen, and risks taken.
Sign up to be notified when new Adoption and Fostering titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.