This is the full introduction, as published in the hardback version of the book.

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When a beloved grandparent or uncle or brother dies; when we lose a parent or a cherished child to death, the loss feels so great, so sad, so final. We yearn to see them once again, to hear their voice, to feel their presence. If only we could be with them again!

Some take comfort in the belief that after we die we will be reunited with the souls of our deceased loved ones in spirit, in heaven. But what if you knew it was possible to be with them again in this lifetime, without having to die first? What if I told you there is strong evidence that the souls of our loved ones who die can return from heaven to be with us again—not in a dream or vision, or through the aid of a medium or psychic—but in reality, through reincarnation as a baby born into the family?

It is possible. The true stories I share with you in this book are a stunning testimony to the reality of reincarnation within the same family: grandfathers return as their own great-grandsons, uncles return as their own nieces, mothers switch places with their daughters. And perhaps the most amazing revelation is that children who die tragically young can return to the same mother within a few years.

All the stories in this book center around very young children, some as young as two years old, who begin talking of their past lives spontaneously, with no prompting or hypnosis. The child’s family, in most cases, is a typical American family who did not believe in reincarnation before it happened to them. Yet the evidence they see coming from their own child convinces them that a deceased relative has been reborn into their family.

You will follow the process of discovery from the moment these families first suspect their child is a relative reborn. Typically, around the time the child begins to talk in full sentences, he or she will begin to make shockingly accurate statements about the life of the deceased relative—facts a toddler has absolutely no way of knowing. Or the family recognizes specific behaviors in the child that mirror the relative’s unique quirks and personality. In some cases they see that the child’s body has birthmarks that exactly match wounds or scars the deceased relative had on his body at the time of death—marks that cannot be attributed to heredity.

I had been researching children’s past lives for more than a decade when I first took notice of these special cases of family return. They showed me something I hadn’t seen before. They demonstrate dramatically how personal reincarnation can be, and how emotions and relationship issues persist from one life to the next. Discovering family return has deepened my understanding of reincarnation, no less, and shifted the focus of my research.

When I began investigating children’s past lives in 1988, I came to it not as a researcher or even a writer, but as a mother looking for answers for what happened with my own children. It all began one afternoon as we were sitting around the kitchen table. My daughter was triggered to remember dying long ago in a house fire, and my son gave a realistic description of dying amid the horror and chaos of a Civil War battle. I was astounded by what I heard, because at the time I had no idea children could remember their past lives. Yet what my children were saying was so realistic, so detailed, and the emotions so appropriate, I knew it was nothing they had seen on TV or overheard from adult conversation. I knew this as their mother. The clincher came a few days later when I realized that both children had been suddenly healed of chronic conditions as a result of remembering their past lives.

This was so unexpected and amazing, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities and filled me with questions. I had to know more about what had happened to my kids. And I wondered: if it could happen so naturally with them, how many other children remember their past live too? I searched bookstores and libraries (this was in the days before the Internet) for a book that could answer my questions and tell me what to do next. In my search I discovered the work of Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia, who has spent forty years documenting and verifying thousands of cases of children’s past life memories. His incredible research confirmed that what had happened to my children was not that unusual; it is a natural phenomenon that happens to children all over the world. I was grateful to him for that. But Dr. Stevenson says nothing in his writings about practical matters—nothing about what a parent should do when a child has a past life memory. Many of my questions remained unanswered.

Since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I began doing my own research. I went to graduate school and got a degree in counseling, and I began collecting my own cases. Gradually I realized that nobody else had the material or cases I had, so I wrote a book to explain the phenomenon in plain terms and to provide useful advice for parents. I wrote the book I had been searching for since 1988, but couldn’t find.

After Children’s Past Lives was published in 1997, I began receiving hundreds of fascinating emails from around the world. Readers shared their own stories and thanked me for helping them understand what they were seeing in their own children. They were as relieved as I had been to learn that their child’s past life experiences were not uncommon and that the memories could be so beneficial. As more people heard about my research from my TV and radio appearances, lectures, and website, the cases poured in.

I began to notice an intriguing pattern in the new cases. Many of them were about deceased relatives being reborn into the same family. I had reported two cases of this type in Children’s Past Lives and had even coined the term "family return" at that time, but I thought they were the exception to the rule and I didn’t give them much attention. Now, from the growing number of family return cases I was seeing, I realized they deserved a closer look.

What struck me most about these family return stories was how personal and emotionally charged they are for the parents and family. They are not like the typical cases in my first book in which a child remembers being some unknown stranger from the remote past. The families in the new cases find themselves face to face with the reincarnation of a relative, a person they were close to and knew well. It is so very real and immediate for them, and the emotional issues that arise have the complexity of any close relationship resumed after a long+ absence. For these families, reincarnation ceases to be a fuzzy metaphysical concept; instead, it comes into focus as a practical reality, something they observe and experience directly in their everyday lives.

I began to include these new cases in my lectures. Each time I did I would hear audible gasps as people in the audience thought about their own families and suddenly realized that the child they joked about as being "just like great-grandpa" really is. Or they would be inspired simply to know that a beloved spouse, mother, child, or grandparent they missed so much could actually return to them as a new baby in the family. Some reflected on their own deaths and were comforted to know that they, too, might someday return to be with their loved ones again.

I discovered that these stories hold powerful lessons for everyone, not just parents. Some give fresh insight into metaphysical questions, such as how we choose our parents and the circumstances of our next life. Others cast a new light on the delicate issues of miscarriage and abortion. Common to all the stories is the lesson that death is not the end of life, and that relationships continue after death by the everyday miracle of reincarnation.

Now I share these family return stories with you in hopes that they give you the same inspiration and comfort they have given others. I believe you will find, as I did, that they are rich with spiritual lessons and heart-warming surprise.

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