We all tend to “catch up” on our reading in the summer, not necessarily because we have more time, but because we tend to unplug and relax more. Nothing goes hand in hand with a memorable trip better than a great summer read! From fiction to non-fiction and even children’s books, each of these tomes will help you become more educated about the unique nuances of adoption whether you are an adoptee, adoptive parent, or just someone who is interested in learning more about the adoption community.
If you’re in the process of adoption or thinking about doing so, you should definitely pick up one (or all of these). I can’t say this enough: reading and doing research are key to knowing what you’re doing when it comes to adopting! It can be a tricky process to navigate and reading helped me feel more confident!
Are you a fan of taking a paperback to the beach or the pool? Check out one of these fiction favorites about adoption that have been popular reads this summer. (I’ve seen all three of these at airports while I’ve been traveling these last few months, so if you forgot to bring a good book, you may be able to snag one of these on your next layover!)
The Risk of Us by: Rachel Howard
I read this book in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down and have raved to many about its honesty and ability to pull the reader right into the story of a family who is adopting an older child through foster care. This story doesn’t sugarcoat the truth: foster care is hard. My heart broke numerous times while reading this knowing that there are numerous families in our country in this same situation. But ultimately, as we know to be true as well, love always prevails. Honestly, this is so well written that you’ll be sucked in from the first sentence, so make sure you have a few hours to just sit and read this one! Order yours today.
That Kind of Mother by: Rumaan Alam
I was told about this book by a librarian this summer and checked it out immediately. A story about a woman who essentially learns how to be a mother from her nanny adopts the nanny’s child when she dies unexpectedly. She, however, is unprepared for the trials of transracial adoption. I think this is a good foray into the greater conversations of transracial adoption that need to be happening today, but there is still work to be done. A good introduction though for people who haven’t grasped this concept. This is also beautifully written and a novel that is difficult to put down. Snag your copy today.
Before We Were Yours by: Lisa Wingate
Based on true events, this story takes place in the 1930s and follows one family, detailing how the children were kidnapped and moved to a Tennessee orphanage. This is a sad story, but one that details an often forgotten and disturbing aspect of adoption in our country’s history. This is a must-read, but have tissues handy and get ready to be repulsed at the treatment of children in our country’s not-that-long-ago history. Get your copy here.
Though fiction books are more popular and I’m loving that adoption is becoming more common in popular fiction reads, I definitely prefer to dig into true stories to learn more about adoption, particularly when they come from the perspective of adoptees themselves.
All You Can Ever Know by: Nicole Chung
I can’t say enough amazing things about this book or Chung herself. I reviewed this for Adoption.com in February and have since read it several more times, taken notes, and have passed it on to other adult adoptees and adoptive parents. Chung discusses her own story of being adopted in the 1980s. From cultural representation to finding her birth family, she shares the intimate details of her own story and learning more about herself through her journey. This book is a critical must-read for parents who have adopted children outside of their own race as this is eye-opening to how this feels to a child and educates us how to do better. I also have suggested this to several adult adoptees who have been searching for their birth families or who are contemplating that journey because this book honestly explains those feelings, roadblocks, and self-discovery along the way. Order this one on Amazon immediately. You won’t be sorry!
In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption by: Rhonda M. Roorda
This is the most “well-loved” book on my bookshelf at the moment. While I like to keep my books pretty pristine, this one is has a worn cover, bent binding, and is thoroughly highlighted and filled with notes in the margins and post-it notes.
Roorda, an adoptee herself, shares a multitude of perspectives about transracial adoption. From those who lived through the Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era to those who have experienced transracial adoption themselves, this is a particularly important book in my library. It discusses the obstacles black Americans have overcome, the work that needs to be done, and is a required reading for parents who have or who plan to adopt black children. I was particularly drawn to the stories that discussed the need to ensure that black children are exposed to racial mirrors, cultural understanding and representation, and about the importance of hair care and maintenance. This is not only an important read for parents, but for their families, social workers, and frankly, anyone who wants to learn more to do better, but also for those who are going to come into contact with children who are a different race than the family who is raising them. I can’t recommend this highly enough. Roorda has her own lived experience that makes her an expert in this topic, but additionally, interviews countless others who share these sentiments and are voices that we should be listening to. Get a copy now.
The Baby Scoop Era: Unwed Mothers, Infant Adoption and Forced Surrender by: Karen Wilson-Butterbaugh
In doing research for an adult adoptee learning more about her birth family through DNA websites, I came across this book and was drawn into the history of adoptions in the 1940s through 1970s. Wilson-Butterbaugh explains a sad and shocking reality in our history of women being forced to place their children for adoption. Due to the social stigma of being an unwed mother, many women would go to homes for women who wished to give birth to their children quietly and who were often coerced to sign away their rights to parent their children either by their own families or unfortunately, but those who were caring for them and their children.
There are stories of women waking to find their children gone to the harsh reality of women not realizing that they were being set up to have their child taken from them. This book is written from stories of women who placed children at this time. The harsh reality is that many of these women may have passed away by the time their biological children search for them, but in many cases, because of the time of the adoption, there is a chance that these individuals don’t even find out that they were adopted until their parents pass away, if at all, and don’t search for their birth families. This is a great historical perspective that sheds light on something we are still learning more about each day thanks to people sharing their own stories of adoption in the Baby Scoop Era. Learn more now.
The Not in Here Story by Tracey Zeeck
This is another book that I can’t stop talking about—to everyone that will listen! I got a copy of this last year after hearing about it from another mom who had adopted. I literally bought copies for everyone I knew who had adopted to give to their kids and was thrilled to review it for Adoption.com this summer. This is the story of the Seeks who are checking daily for a baby in Mrs. Seek’s belly, only to learn that their baby wasn’t in her baby, but in another woman’s. This is a beautiful story that depicts the heartache couples face when they struggle with infertility. However, thanks to its simplicity and amazing illustrations by David Bizzaro, this is a must-read for all children. My daughter loves the book more than any other on her shelf. I had been struggling with deciding how to help educate her school about adoption and was lucky enough to have copies donated for her entire preschool class last year and again this coming year, so that her classmates and their families could understand adoption more. Guess what? It turns out everyone loves the book. I still have parents thanking me for sharing it with them, and I can’t wait to do this every year. Buy a copy for everyone you know!
How I Was Adopted by: Joanna Cole
Though this book is 20 years old, it stands the test of time and is the book that my husband chose to read to my daughter nightly from her infancy. This is the story of one girl’s own adoption and prompted my daughter’s new favorite daily story: her own adoption story. I’m grateful for this easy read and its place in my daughter’s own education about adoption and her transition from baby to kid understanding the nuances of adoption. This is another great book to gift to adopted children, but also one to read yourself if you have people in your life who are a part of the adoption triad to learn more about the proper terminology to use and how to discuss adoption with kids of all ages. Order one from Amazon and check it out.
The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story by: Anne Braff Brodzinsky
This is one of the first children’s books about adoption that I purchased, mainly because I struggled with how to explain to a child about birth parents and why they would make an adoption plan for their baby. In this story, a bird is trying to care for her baby bird when a storm scatters her nest, making it difficult for her to create a secure home for her baby. This story beautifully illustrates the sacrifice that birth families make for their children out of love for them. A psychologist who has also adopted, Brodzinsky does an amazing job of explaining a sensitive subject like this to children. I highly recommend this book—get your copy here.
Finding Adoption-Related Books
Though there have been more and more books coming out about adoption that are gaining attention on mainstream media, you might want to look around to make sure that you aren’t missing anything. My favorite places for recommendations are social media, Goodreads, and adoption groups online.
Check out these other lists of books that you might like:
No matter your age or your choice of book, there are countless books out there available to you about adoption. I’d love to hear about your favorites!
Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.