I have mentioned many times in my writings that there are not enough positive depictions of adoption in media. There are very few realistic depictions as well. I hope the books mentioned here are proof that this is changing. Since my husband and I started the adoption process nearly six years ago, I have searched far and wide for amazing books on the topic of adoption. I have read many books for adults but there were fewer for kids. Now that my daughter who was adopted internationally has been home for three years our library has grown and I have been so blessed to find many books that depict families like ours. Some of these books were self-published and not easy to find so I hope this list helps families start their own adoption library.
Trigger warning: I should mention that many parents are aware that all these books can be difficult for adoptees to read. The theme of adoption can be painful for some children. We celebrate adoption in our family but we also recognize that there is often hidden pain and unresolved trauma in children who were adopted. These books can be triggering so please read through them before exposing them to your child. That being said these stories can also be healing and help children work through painful topics in a safe way. To see that others feel the same can be so healing for our children
1. Adoption is Both by Elena S. Hall
This lovely little gem of a book was written by an adult adoptee who wanted to address the topic of adoption in a way even young children can understand. Adoption is Both discusses the good parts as well as the challenging parts of adoption. Hall is clear in this book that children are free to have complicated feelings about their adoption journey. A child can love their new family but also miss their biological ties. Many adopted children feel that way but do not have words to express it. This children’s book gives them and their caregivers words to work through all the complicated emotions surrounding adoption. Hall’s children’s book is for the whole family. The simple yet engaging illustrations are perfect for individuals that suffer from sensory processing issues. I highly recommend this little book with big emotions!
2. Babies Come from Airports written by Erin Dealey and Illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell
This book is geared towards families that adopt internationally and tells the story as much through the illustrations as through the words. The book is from the point of view of a young boy who was adopted and is waiting for his baby sister to come home after being adopted overseas. There is humor in the child’s misunderstanding of where babies actually come from. He thinks they come from airports because that is where his family went when he was adopted and that is where he meets his baby sister for the first time.
There are maps, pictures and so much multimedia in this book that I often see new surprises each time we read it as a family. My daughter was adopted internationally and we are growing our family through adoption again, so this book has been an amazing learning tool in preparing her for a new brother. This heartwarming tale is perfect for the family that is growing their family through adoption or just another great addition to your adoption media library.
3. Adopted Twice for Kids: Biblical Stories of Adoption for Today’s Adoptees by Lyndy Stokes and Illustrated by Clair Williams
This is a short but very sweet book that shows the different types of adoption throughout the Bible. Did you know there was step parent adoption in the Bible? Did you know there are stories of birth mothers and adoptive mothers working together to give their children the best life? Adoption is not a new idea and this book walks the reader through familiar stories but highlights how God has used adoption all throughout his plan for humanity. The stories are simplified and the illustrations are simple as well as beautiful. This is perfect for individuals who struggle with sensory processing. The characters in the Bible are just like us today and have the same emotions and even struggles our children face. This lovely, little book shows that all our families have more in common than we may think. This is a quick read and can lead to longer and deeper conversations about adoption in the Bible.
4. Finding Family in A far Away Land: An Adoption Story Written and Illustrated by Amanda Wall
This book is near and dear to my heart because my daughter is adopted from India. This book is based on a true story of sisters adopted from India after living in an orphanage. It chronicles their journey through poverty, homelessness, losing their biological family, and eventually their adoption and resettlement in the United States. While the book is positive for the most part, there are sections that are hard to read and they may be painful for your child who may have experienced some of the same traumas these girls survived. Despite the pain, there is beauty in a story that ends in a happy family. I especially loved the narrator explaining the culture shock of new clothes and new foods and a pet dog.
This book has some more mature themes and is a bit longer so it may be better for older children. This story is a treasure that we will return to over and over again as our daughter grows and understands her own journey from India to her new home here as well.
5. We Choose You by Tony and Lauren Dungy and Illustrated by Guy Wolek
All parents through adoption dread the day when their child comes home with the family tree project. Sometimes it is a simple show and tell about your family and sometimes it is a complicated endeavor, but for children who are adopted this can bring up painful memories and force them to face issues they are not ready for. This book tells the story of a boy who comes home with the dreaded family project, but he is conflicted with his complicated questions about his mom and dad who adopted him.
Many children struggle to ask these questions because they do not want to hurt their parent’s feelings. Some parents do not bring up subjects because it just doesn’t occur to them or they do not want to cause their child pain. This story is an amazing way for parents and children to tackle these questions in a safe way. The young boy in the book asks his parents hard questions, but they assure and always answer him with love and understanding. They are never offended by the tough questions. This is a great example of how we as parents can approach the big conversations with love and grace.
I was crying by the end of this heartwarming and beautiful story of a family that chose each other through adoption. The illustrations are works of art and the storytelling is simple enough for a child and at the same time nuanced enough for parents to have the difficult conversations their children need to feel free to have. I highly recommend this book as you will read it many times over the years.
We love stories and we love to read in my family. Having books around the house that show families that look like us and question the world as we do is so helpful to adopted children. These books and many more show our children that they are not alone in this big world. There are other families that have come before us and they wrote these wonderful stories for us to cherish and enjoy. So I hope you too can read these books with your children and maybe someday write your own story.