How it Feels to be Adopted ,
by Jill Krementz
This book contains 19 short chapters - each containing the thoughts of an individual child about what it is like to be adopted. Their ages range from eight to sixteen. The book was written in the 1980's and I was surprised at the variety of adoptions represented - transracial, international, foster care, infant, older child, 1 single mother and 2 single fathers!
I have not yet had the chance to use this book with my 3-year-old but I believe it will make an interesting starting point for discussion as she gets older. The children in the book have a wide variety of feelings about being adopted, comments and reactions of peers, their birth parents and their adoptive parents. Some children talked about having mixed feelings toward a possible future search for birth parents while a couple of the children were able to discuss what it was like to be unexpectedly contacted by a birth parent. Some of the children were even able to contrast their thoughts and feelings about being adopted with those of their siblings, also adopted into their family.
While reading the stories, I was struck by the maturity of what the children had to say. It isn't clear how much the author guided their discussions but the children all seemed to have well formed, well analyzed thoughts on their personal histories. I'm sure this is a book I will come back to many times.
Mommy Far, Mommy Near
by Carol Antoinette Peacock
Albert Whitman & Co., 2000
This adoption story features a young girl named Elizabeth who was adopted from China when she was a baby. Knowing that she and her sister were born in China, Elizabeth reasonably concludes that that's where all babies come from. Although it's clear that she and her mom talk about adoption, her idea of what being adopted is, is limited.
The story progresses as Elizabeth's mom finds many openings to talk to Elizabeth about adoption. An emotional part of the book is when Elizabeth encounters a Chinese mother with her own daughter and thus realizes the bigger picture of adoption - that she has lost her own birth mother.
Mommy Far, Mommy Near's best virtue is that it serves as a model - to both parents and children - for talking about and trying on adoption feelings. Always choosing a cozy and safe place, Elizabeth's mother repeatedly provides opportunities to explore issues of what make a family belong together, sameness and differences, separation and loss, and having two mothers. The book succeeds by illustrating how a child's ability to understand adoption is not a onetime event that resolves, but is a process that evolves over time.
Seeds of Love: For Brothers and Sisters of Internationally Adopted Children
by Mary E. Petertyl, Illustrated by Jill Chambers
Folio One Pub, 1997
When I decided to adopt again, I searched for a book that would explain the necessary trip abroad to my daughter. Seeds of Love is a perfect book for this. Told from a child's point of view, the story tells of a little girl's confusion, happiness, loneliness and ultimately her love for her new sister.
The book answers a child's questions about what parents are doing far away. It also comforts a child and helps to give ideas for things the child can do with a caregiver while parents are traveling to and from a new sibling's birth country.
This book is appropriate for preschoolers to middle childhood aged children. I found this book very helpful and plan to tape it for my daughter to listen to with her grandparents while I am in Russia.
The Mulberry Bird
by Anne Braff Brodzinsky
Perspectives Press, 1996
This book tells of a mother bird's struggles to care for her baby bird and the difficult decision she makes that she must find a better home for her baby bird. The mother bird finds a family that has both a mother and father bird with a safe home for baby bird. The book uses the metaphor of birds instead of people to describe the sad story of a single mother's struggle to accept her limitations and the needs of her baby bird.
While this book is more serious than other children's books available, it is appropriate to help explain to a child while a birth mother may love her child, she still might not have the ability to care for her child.
Publisher age recommendation: 4 to 8 years old
The Family Book
by Todd Parr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2003
While not specifically about adoption, this book was a favorite of both our daughters. It is full of bright, cheerful images. Each one provides a very matter-of-fact statement related to how different families are ... "Some families are big .... some families are small ... some families live near ... " etc. Interspersed with statements about how families can be different, are statements about characteristics shared by all families. For example, all families like to hug one another.
This book covers a wide range of different types of families (adoptive, single-parent, multi-racial, gay & lesbian, and more!) in a very simple, straightforward format. We loaned it to the kindergarten classroom and the teacher commented on how engaged all the children were by the book. It recently came out in paperback making it even easier to add to your home library.
Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids
This is a wonderful book to show multi-racial cildren pictures of children who look like them. Each page is dedicated to one child. Included with the picture is a list of the countries that make up the child’s ethnicity and sometimes a picture the child has drawn or created. I have been looking at this book with my two year old for months. He loves to kiss the other babies and point to kids who have curly hair like him. This is a fantastic book for all ages and would make a great gift.
Books for Adults
Title: Jean Paton and the Struggle to Reform American Adoption.
Author(s): Carp, E. Wayne.
Available from: University of Michigan Press
Abstract: This book highlights the activism and achievements of Jean Paton (1908-2002), an adoption activist that fought to reform American adoption.
Title: Dear Ellen: Birth Parents on Their Minds.
Author(s): Singer, Ellen.
Journal Name: Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) Newsletter
Abstract: This advice column explains that adopted teens may find the subject of birth parents especially uncomfortable to discuss with their parents.
Title: Becoming a 'Chinese-American' Parent: Whiteness, Chinese Cultural Practice, and American Parents of Children Adopted from China (Chapter 12 in Race in Transnational & Transracial Adoption).
Author(s): Traver, Amy E.
Available from: Palgrave Macmillan
Abstract: A study interviewed 91 Americans interested or involve di n an adoption form China to compare and contrast white American, Asian-American, and African-American parents’ participation
Title: Race in Transnational & Transracial Adoption.
Author(s): Treitler, Vilna Bashi.
Available from: Palgrave Macmillan
Abstract: Part of a series that explores intimate relationships and family organization, this text focuses on the impact of race in transnational and transracial adoption.
Title: Race is a Fiction...Coloring Children and Parents Nonetheless (Chapter 1 in Race in Transnational & Transracial Adoption).
Author(s): Treitler, Vilna Bashi.
Available from: Palgrave Macmillan
Abstract: This chapter traces the history of international and domestic transracial adoption worldwide and discusses colorblindness and race-awareness in adoption.
Adopting on Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adopting as a Single Parent
by Lee Varon
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2000
I was amazed to find an entire book on the subject of single-parent adoption. I was not surprised that many books on adoption have helpful single chapters on the subject of single adoptive parents, or that there are various books on the topic of raising (birth) children alone, but it was wonderful and encouraging to find a book devoted to the process of adopting and raising a child as a single parent.
Adopting on Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adopting as a Single Parent is written by Lee Varon, a social worker who has adopted two children, one from El Salvador and one from Russia. The book explores just about everything: hopes, fears and ambivalence; the pros and cons of different types of adoption (international and domestic); the home study and paperwork; adoption by gay and lesbian parents; finances; talking to friends and family about adoption; and creating a support network.
Adopting on Your Own focuses on thinking through and completing the process of adopting and so it's an indispensable resource for potential parents. It's not about actually raising a child of a different race or from a different country. Maybe Varon needs to write that book next!
by Adam Pertman
Basic Books, 2001
If you really want to know the politics of adoption and you really want to know why adoption can be so expensive, then this is the book for you.
The author has done extensive research and has documented and explained very well the politics and business of adoption. Surprisingly, his explanations make sense and are very interesting to read. Some facts, like the involvement of some religions in adoption, were real eye-openers for me. I wish that I could get the author's take on the whole "internet twins" case. He has a way of making distressing facts understandable. If you are a story person, this book is also a good read. Pertman is an adoptive parent himself, and he tells his own and the stories of many others, all parts of the triad, in a very readable and catchy manner. There are heartaches here as well as triumphs. He is balanced and writes about many different ways that families can be born through adoption. He particularly has some good insights about open adoption.
In discussing this book with other adoptive parents who have read it, the only thing missing is an examination of support groups. Many of us are involved in one or more support groups. Many of us feel the need to be with others who have experienced the joy and yet the uniqueness of adoption and need to share these things with others who understand. A section on this would have made the book more useful for adoptive triad members.
Despite this lack of information, I do recommend this book highly. It really enlightened me and enabled me to discuss adoption, not just as an adoptive parent, but as a more knowledgeable person.
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self
by David M. Brodzinksy, Ph.D.; Marshall D. Schechter, MD; Robin Marantz Henig
Doubleday, New York, 1992
This excellent book discusses in depth the lifelong impact being adopted can have on an adoptee. Using actual statements of adoptees at different stages in their lives, combined with developmental theory, the book gives insightful information on what it is like to be an adoptee. What is so great about this book is it talks about "normal" issues an adoptee might experience. It recognizes that personalities vary immensely, and people will react differently to the same issue. Being Adopted is not a parenting book, it is a book that provides invaluable insight on adoption through the life cycle.
Finding Fish: A Memoir
by Antwone Quenton Fisher
After watching the movie Antwone Fisher, I wanted to read the book to find out how much was real and how much was "Hollywood." While the movie is much more condensed and emphasizes different relationships and portions of his life, the general story line and feel are the same.
In the book, Antwone Fisher takes you through his life, starting with the relationship between his birth parents and the murder of his father before Antwone was even born. His youth was spent in the foster care system with a brief stay in a group home. He wound up on the streets before enlisting in the military and then finally settled into his current situation.
He received a copy of his records from the state and is able to integrate notes from his case workers into his narrative. He also includes his own analysis of how he found the strength to cope and survive in an abusive foster home. Against incredible odds, this story does have a hopeful message and a surprisingly happy ending
His story includes painful episodes of abuse. If you are considering watching the movie or reading the book with your children, you may want to preview the material first.
This is an emotional but well written book. While it is painful to read the unfair and cruel life some children endure, it is simultaneously encouraging to realize the strength some have to overcome their upbringing.
Keys to Parenting an Adopted Child
by Kathy Lancaster
Barrons Educational Series, 1996
I have read many books on parenting adopted children due to the fact that I am an adoptive parent and a Librarian. This book is perhaps one of the easiest to understand and easiest to use. The information is not new or radical. If you have read other books on this issue, you don't need to rush to buy this one. However, if you are thinking about adoption or just getting started with the process, this is a good book to consider. Especially useful are the appendices at the end of the book and the information and/or questions at the end of each chapter. This book gives parents so many ways to get connected with the adoption community that it is invaluable. This book may not answer all a parent's questions but it gives many ways to find the answers.
Making Sense of Adoption: A Parent's Guide
by Lois Ruskai Melina
Harper Perennial, 1989
The most complete and useful book on talking to your children about adoption. The author incorporates her knowledge of children's cognitive development and presents sample dialogues that children will understand at each stage -- toddlerhood, preschool age, etc. You will refer to it again and again as your child grows.
Perspectives on a Grafted Tree: Thoughts for Those Touched by Adoption
compiled by Patricia Irwin Johnston
Perspectives Press, 1983
Extraordinarily moving poems by birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees.
Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child
by Holly vanGulden & Lisa M. Bartels-Rabb
Crossroad, Herder & Herder, 1995
This is a classic adoption book that most people will enjoy and learn from. The first chapter is "Parenting is Parenting - Or is it?"
Real Parents, Real Children is an honest look at how adoptive families are similar and different from families formed by biology whether it is an interracial adoption or same race adoption. The authors look at developmental tasks that all children go through and how these tasks have different "twists" when children are adopted.
It also acknowledges that not all children enter families as infants and that children entering families later in life will have different life issues. There is also a section on grief, bonding, identity and adulthood.
Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past
by Betsy Keefer & Jayne E. Schooler
Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 2000
There is a wealth of information in Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child. This is probably the best adoption book I have read in the last 8 years. It is easy to read and has very specific insights and practical information for parents on a variety of topics. Parents of small children will find ideas on how to share an adoption story with their child. The harmful effects of family secrets and not telling children important details of their adoption are included. One of the strengths of Telling the Truth is providing parents helpful ideas on talking about difficult and painful birth family history to a child who was adopted. While many experts in the field of adoption have written about the emotional turmoil many children face, Telling the Truth is the only book I have read that provides practical guidance in helping children understand painful histories and at the same time acknowledges you can't "fix the pain of adoption."
Adoption through a child's eyes: developmental stages
A fact finding mission: how to gather what you need to know
Sharing the hard stuff
Transracial or transcultural adoption: talking about adoption within a minority family
Kinship foster care and adoption
Opening a closed adoption for school-aged children
Opening a closed adoption - the teenage years
Communication about adoption in the classroom
Telling the Truth is one of the best books out there for adoptive families. Both families newly formed by adoption and the seasoned parent will find this book informative.
The Family of Adoption
by Joyce Maguire Pavao
Beacon Press, 1999
I am a real believer in truth and honesty in all aspects of adoption. If you are too, then you will really like and agree with this book.
The author is the executive director of the Center for Family Connections and the founder and director of PACT (Pre/Post-Adoption Consulting Team) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She lectures widely on adoption issues. She believes that adoption is the process involving all members of the adoption triad. This process is lifelong and has predictable stages of development for each member. She believes very strongly in finding families for all children. These families must include all persons who in some way have connections with the child, including birth, foster and adoptive families, if this is at all possible. The author is an adoptee. She has insights that not all adoption professionals would have.
I found this book easy to read and very affirming. The idea that adoption and parenting are a process is one I especially hold dear. When I finished this book, so many of the author's ideas really struck a chord with me. Specifically, the ideas about honesty and communication with children are the ones I really believe in. I strongly recommend this book to all persons involved with adoption.
Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft
by Mary Hopkins Best
Perspectives Press, 1998
I looked and looked for books that spoke to the unique issues of toddler adoption. This is the only one I've found. It is EXCELLENT - an absolutely essential resource for anyone adopting a toddler.
This book spoke the unspoken concerns that I can only imagine other adoptive parents have, yet it reassured me and saved my sanity at times. It offered practical advice as well as sound emotional support.