5 Young Adult Novels with Adoption Storylines

This summer, steer your tweens and teens in the direction of some compelling books about adoption and adoption issues.

Jennifer Galan July 02, 2016
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You know the old song: “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” That song isn’t meant for moms with kids who have been out of school for 48 hours and have already forgotten anything other than how to manipulate the X-Box controls or leave naked popsicle sticks on the porch. Head over to your local library and sign those filthy hordes up for the summer reading program they will have going on, and maybe steer them in the direction of some compelling books about adoption and adoption issues. Below are some great young adult titles that fit the bill.

See No Color by Shannon Gibney is a gorgeous coming-of-age novel that focuses on the sticky situations that can arise in transracial adoption: The lead character not only has to navigate her way through a changing body, and the interest in boys that comes along with it, but is the only person of color in her immediate circle. Add to that a birth father who tries to reach out and parents who are determined to raise her “just like everyone else.”

 A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt focuses on adoptee Simone who has no desire to live any life other than the one she has, until her parents encourage her to meet with her birth mother, Rivka, for the first time. She learns about her heritage, her birth mother’s story, and finds she is able to fit more than one mold.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan has genius, multiracial adoptee Willow at the center. She is uprooted when her parents die in a car crash and has to navigate social services, new experiences, and new families. This novel has won all sorts of awards and, although adoption is not the most important facet of the story, it is at the heart of Willow’s character. 

When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright features a trans-racial adoptee who struggles with divorcing parents and finds her center when she discovers gospel music at a local church. 

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher features the Holy Grail of young adult adoption fiction—a male protagonist! It has also been banned in some schools because of language and theme, (pretty high school appropriate) so be aware before you introduce it to your younger readers. But the story of underdogs uniting to stick it to the popular kids is both heart-breaking and wryly entertaining.

What Young Adult literature have your kids fallen in love with? Any adoption titles? Let me know in the comments—we can always use a good recommendation!

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Jennifer Galan

Jennifer Galan mothers four kids (one adopted, three biological) all while living the nomadic life of a military wife. She is a strong advocate for open adoptions, education reform, feminism, kindness, and naps. Mostly naps. Her favorite Doctor is number ten, and she is a proud Ravenclaw.


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