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"You're not my real mother!" A family handles these words with love, silliness, and a T Rex in this lively picture book.
"You're not my real mother!" A family handles these words with love, silliness, and a T Rex in this lively picture book.
215 backers pledged $30,165 to help bring this project to life.

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As Real As It Gets, a picture book for older adopted kids

$30,165

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As Real As It Gets will be a gift for any child – adopted, step, or foster – who might be thinking, “you’re not my mother,” but is afraid of how she will react if they let the words escape. The story seeks to reassure children that what they’re feeling is normal.

A young boy feels something monstrous growing inside him (like a cobra, a T Rex, a gas bubble), growing until it comes slithering, roaring, exploding out: “You’re not my real mother!” 

You're not my real mother!
You're not my real mother!

His mother reassures him: “I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up. I’m your mother in truth. Your mother. Forever.” 

I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up.
I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up.

A warm glow spreads inside him (like a flower in June, a cookie out of the oven, a hug). But the feeling doesn’t last. The monster is soon lurking again. One day, the monster is only as fierce as a 2-inch tall rubber T Rex, and it taunts him, “How long is forever, anyway?” The story ends on an “okay for now” moment of love and silliness: “Well, T Rex. Here’s the bad news. Forever for you means that you’ll always have those silly short arms, too short to pick your nose and too short to tickle your son.” (Please scroll to the bottom for the full text of the story. You can also read endorsements in the Comments section. And see a couple more sneak peeks of illustrations in the Updates section.)

Are you an adoptive family? A foster family? Do you have friends or family who are? Are you a social worker or family court judge? If so, you may know firsthand about the often messy, emotional, wonderful, and scary family growth that happens through adoption and foster parenting. And you probably know how few books address such families' experiences with child-centered stories that will make kids laugh (although they may make parents tear up). 

Between 2003 and 2013, 635,551 children were adopted out of the foster care system in the United States – an average of almost 57,000 a year. In 2013, over 6,000 children born internationally were brought into the U.S. by adoptive parents – 3/4 of the children were over the age of 1, and 1/4 over the age of 5. 

These are not children chosen as newborns, as books like Jamie Lee Curtis’s Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born so lovingly celebrate. They’ve had lives before adoption – often chaotic, neglectful, and/or abusive lives. Lives they remember. Lives they cannot just shed when they join a stable forever or foster family. While there are picture books for the transitional time of joining the new family, there are none that address the daily realities of living that new life. It’s as if there were only books about weddings, and none about marriage. With your help, we aim to change that. 

Why crowd funding? Let's face it, a book like As Real As It Gets is a niche book that will be best circulated through personal channels. In other words, it's a project built for crowd funding.

So what is crowd funding? Think of it as pre-selling a product to fund the creation of that product, much like buying a share in a community supported agriculture farm funds the planting for the following season and gets you the beautiful produce that will be grown. 

You can choose to support As Real As It Gets at a variety of levels, each with a different reward -- but no matter what you choose, you will be helping ensure that the project gets off the ground and adoptive families get a book that will make them smile and can help them navigate some of the rougher emotional waters. 

Please note that, despite what it says in the individual reward, for these last few days of the campaign, shipping anywhere is included in all reward levels. 

AS REAL AS IT GETS

Some kid on the playground was going on about the monster under his bed. Hah. I know where a real monster lives.

In my belly.

It’s like a coiled-up spitting cobra, poison dripping off its fangs.

Like a T Rex taking over my body, jaws opening wide for a prehistoric roar.

Like a gas bubble, stretching me until I’m a balloon about to pop.

I never know when the monster’s gonna attack.  

Once, it was when I had to put my backpack on the hook before having a snack. After that, it was when I had to pick up my wet towel before playing my video game. Last time, it was when I had to clean up all my toys before going out with my friends.

It’s a very particular monster.

It won’t help me against mean kids on the playground. Won’t make my teacher mark all my math answers right. Won’t eat peas for me, even though it knows how much I hate them.

All it takes is one “no” too many, and out it comes, slithering, roaring, exploding:

“You’re not my real mother!”

Everything stretches and slows down like I fell in a black hole. The monster always thinks this will be the time it shocks my mother, but she always says the same thing.

Sometimes she yells it in her “Go to your room!” voice.
“I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up. I’m your mother in truth. Your mother. Forever.”

Sometimes she whispers it in my ear in her “I love you” voice.
“I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up. I’m your mother in truth. Your mother. Forever.”

Sometimes she rolls her eyes and says it in her “I’m tired of saying this” voice.
"I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up. I’m your mother in truth. Your mother. Forever.”

She isn’t one bit scared, so the monster slinks off to hide.

After Mom defeats the monster, I might still yell and stomp my feet. Don’t tell anyone at school, but I might cry. I might even be so wiped out that I go to my room and fall asleep.

But something warm and sweet takes root in my belly, like a flower in June,

Or a cookie just out of the oven,

Or a hug.

The monster is quiet for awhile, but it’s always lurking, waiting for that warm thing to cool down.

[The boy is on his stomach, chin resting on his folded arms, staring at a T Rex toy.] Today, the T Rex is only as fierce as a 2-inch tall rubber toy, taunting me, “How long is forever, anyway?”

[Mom walks through the room just as] I whisper, “I don’t know.”

“What don’t you know?”

I don’t take my eyes off the T Rex. “He wants to know how long forever is.”

She plops down next to me and faces down the monster. “Forever means always. Longer than you can imagine. Longer than even I can imagine.”

My “okay” is kind of wobbly, so she calls to my dad, “How would you explain forever to a dinosaur?”

He frowns for a long time, and my heart pounds. “Here’s the bad news. Forever for you means that you’ll always have those silly short arms, too short to pick your nose and too short to tickle your son.”

Then he makes like a T Rex and chases me through the room.

I still don’t get “forever,” but this is good right now.

Risks and challenges

Since there are three of us in this project, we are hoping we have the risks covered! We have our book designer and printer lined up, and Amanda has lots of kids to help with the addressing and mailer-stuffing when the time comes to send out the books.

The words are done so the main challenge remaining after we are successfully funded is for Joel to finish his paintings on time, but with two successful Kickstarter campaigns under his belt already, he's got a great track record. If there are any delays, we'll let our backers know right away.

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    JOIN THE SQUAD - If you can't swing more money, no need to feel left out. Support the project at this level, and we'll send you a hand-written note of gratitude.

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    ONE SOFTIE - One (1) signed softcover book.

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    ONE TOUGH GUY - One (1) signed hardcover book.

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    ONE TOUGH GUY + TWO SOFTIES - One (1) signed hardcover and two (2) signed softcovers, mailed anywhere in the world :-)

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    FIVE SOFTIES + CALL WITH AMANDA BARTON - Five (5) signed softcover books plus one (1) up-to-60-minute call via Skype or telephone (or, travel permitting, a meeting). This is great for adoptive or foster parents (or support groups) who want/need to talk to someone who shares their experiences -- for support, encouragement, advice.

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    FIVE TOUGH GUYS + CALL WITH AMANDA BARTON - Five (5) signed hardcover books plus one (1) up-to-60-minute call via Skype or telephone (or, travel permitting, a meeting). This is great for adoptive or foster parents (or support groups) who want/need to talk to someone who shares their experiences -- for support, encouragement, advice.

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    GOLD LEVEL - This one is for you if you want to support the project, but don't need any rewards other than up to five (5) signed books, a handwritten note from Amanda, Joel, and Natalie -- and our eternal gratitude.

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    PLATINUM LEVEL - This one is for you if you want to support the project, but don't need any rewards other than up to five (5) signed books, a handwritten note from Amanda, Joel, and Natalie -- and our eternal gratitude.

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    ORIGINAL ARTWORK + 2 TOUGH GUYS - There are ten (10) 2-page spreads of Joel's original artwork available (you will select yours in the order in which you pledge). These are acrylic on paper, unframed, 14" x 28". You will also receive two (2) signed hardcover books.

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    SPONSOR PACK - This reward is for you if you've contacted us and we've agreed on an amount of books you'll get for this. Great if you want a box of books for an organization.

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Funding period

- (30 days)