Whether you are considering growing your family through adoption, are currently drowning in paperwork as you finish up your journey before pick-up, or have already brought your child(ren) home, finding new resources to support you is always an important way to grow. People around the world have sought after books to help them navigate life’s difficult waters. Some are comforting, as you sit and read it aloud while rocking your child to sleep, and others are meant to awaken your soul, encourage growth, and help pull you out of the muck. Below are some of the favorite books about adoption found in our poll of adoptive parents and adult adoptees.
Books for children and Families
Studies have shown that telling children about their adoption story as early as possible is the best way to help them accept and learn to love their personal life story. These books about adoption have been loved by adoptive families everywhere and would make wonderful gifts to those who are currently in the adoption process or have already brought their young children home.
1. “The Elephant With Small Ears” by Cindy R. Lee
This book and its partner books (“Doggie Doesn’t Know No,” “It’s Tough To Be Gentle,” “Baby Owl Lost Her Whoo,” “The Penguin and the Fine-Looking Fish,” and “The Redo Roo,” all written by the same author) are listed under the Karyn Purvis website as part of their HALO project. These books aim to help children through life’s difficult ups and downs while maintaining and following TBRI (trust-based relational intervention) values. In this particular book, “The Elephant With Small Ears,” Elly the elephant’s small ears won’t grow. They won’t grow because she is scared, and since they are so small, she often can’t hear her parents. She is viewed as disobedient since she isn’t able to follow instructions. But, as her parents help her feel safe, her ears start to grow and she is able to obey her parents better. This book encourages the concept of felt safety and listening to your child to help them learn that you, as parents, are a safe haven for them. This book is geared towards children, but it is extremely helpful to parents as they read it aloud.
2. “Baby Owl Lost Her Whoo” by Cindy R. Lee
A partner book to the one listed above and another reading within Karyn Purvis’ HALO project, this TBRI-centered book helps both children and adults healthily navigate situations where the child feels a loss of control. Studies have shown that children seek control when they are afraid, something many of us adoptive parents have seen within our own children’s actions. When baby owl loses control, this story helps teach the child how to let it go and instead spend their time having fun. This also reinforces the felt safety concept to parents, further encouraging the importance of creating a safe and loving atmosphere where the child can feel safe letting go of the control they are fighting so hard to keep.
2. “God Found Us You” by Lisa Tawn Bergren
This is an adorable story about a mother fox and her baby who have different colored fur. It goes through how the mama fox waited so long for the baby fox, which holds such a similar story to many adoptive parents. It respectfully and beautifully touches on little fox’s birth mama. This is a wonderful book for young children, and is sure to be a tearjerker for the mother as she reads it aloud.
3. “I Wished for You” by Marianne Richmond
This book is a great way to talk about your family’s adoption story in a more general way. It doesn’t discuss any specific way that the baby bear became a part of the bear’s family—it focuses on the mother bear wanting and wishing for baby bear and all the love the family has for him. It is a positive way to introduce your child’s story while incorporating a sweet story with beautiful illustrations.
4. “A Mother for Choco” by Keiko Kasza
“A Mother for Choco” tells the sweet story of a bird who doesn’t have a family and can’t find any animal that looks like him. But, when the mother bear starts to treat him as one of her own, and he meets her other children (a hippo, pig, and alligator), he learns that families don’t have to look alike. It’s a very sweet book with adorable illustrations that would be a perfect addition to an adoptive family’s library, especially if they are a multiracial family.
5. “Babies Come from Airports” by Erin Dealey
We personally used this book to help our biological children, who were very young when our adopted son came home, navigate their understanding of how our family came to be together. It is a beautifully illustrated rhyming book that celebrates international adoption. It positively portrays a multiracial and multiethnic family, which is such a great illustration to see for many families who look similar. This book would pair wonderfully with other books that specifically celebrate adopted children’s beginnings, before they joined their family.
6. “The Boy With Two Names” by Chelsey Blackketter Simmons
This book is for both adults and children, as it beautifully depicts the adoption triad and what the child’s first few days look like. It gently shows the love from both the birth family and the adoptive family, as well as the difficulties surrounding the transition. It is a wonderful book that celebrates all the aspects of family that surround an adopted child.
7. “Forever Families” by Natalie Sutyak
This is a simple picture book that provides a lovely read to families who have grown through adoption. “Forever Families” shows how God designs all different kinds of families, further shown with their portrayal of a multiracial family on the cover. This would make a wonderful gift to those who are pursuing adoption or have recently brought their child(ren) home.
8. “Shazam!” by DC Comics
Although not an adoption-focused book, it is a wonderful way to celebrate different family histories that many preteens and teenagers would connect with. Billy Batson (later known as Shazam!) is a foster child who moves into a new foster home with foster siblings. Billy has trouble connecting and acts out, but starts to find comradery with his foster siblings. He, through a series of events, becomes a superhero and learns to love and sacrifice for his new family. It is a great celebration of foster families, and it shows how foster children are heroes in their own way, as they have overcome a great deal throughout their lives. This would be a wonderful celebratory addition to the library of a young adult.
Books for Adults
As parents begin their adoption journey, or as they find themselves lost in the trenches of post-adoption issues, books about adoption can be a wonderful source of education to help prepare and equip parents for behaviors they may encounter (or already have encountered). We read some of these as preparatory education during our adoption process and have kept them in our library (which has grown as we have now been adoptive parents for almost 5 years). Some are more scientific in nature, but they all provide a different perspective that helps parents gain more compassion, empathy, and peace. These books about adoption are wonderful resources for adoptive parents, as we all have children from hard places.
1. “The Connected Child” by Karyn Purvis
This book is a cornerstone to many adoptive families as they’re waiting and wading in paperwork. As a functional learning guide to the TBRI method, this book focuses on the importance of and ways to build attachment in adoption. The significance of building trust through felt safety and disciplining with love is described as imperative means to building a healthy and healing relationship with your adopted child.
2. “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk
Although not solely focused on adopted children or families, this book focuses on children from hard places. Children who have experienced trauma, whether that be through neglect or abuse, have those experiences embedded into their bodies. For us adoptive parents, understanding the impact of our children’s traumatic beginning will immensely help us navigate how to parent them in a healthy and healing way. The author utilizes case histories to show the impacts of childhood trauma on the mental health of the individual. It is both scientific and compassionate, allowing it to be a good read for parents.
3. “The Lucky Few” by Heather Avis
This is a heartwarming story about a family that grew through adoption and embraced Down syndrome along the way. This book is a wonderful tribute to special needs adoption and how God can be found in unexpected ways. The family views their journey as beautiful, and they deem themselves “lucky” to have been chosen to have the children they have. This is an uplifting book to encourage families of special needs children, especially those who have joined a family through adoption.
4. “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel
“The Whole Brain Child” is a good book to add to your collection as you hunt for a lifeline while parenting a child who has undergone trauma. This book is for the layman, as even the psychological information is a simple read. The discussion of childhood development and how that affects brain activity is a crucial takeaway from this book. Many readers have claimed to have become “more patient” with their children after reading this book, as it gave them a deeper understanding of the “why” behind some of the behaviors they’ve been seeing at home.
5. “Wounded Children, Healing Homes” by Jayne Schooler, Betsy Keefer Smalley, and Timothy J. Callahan
Specifically written to parents who have adopted children from hard places, this book about adoption discusses the expectations many parents have when entering into their adoption journey, and how to help ease the letdown of those expectations. It also offers solutions for specific issues that families may encounter once their child is home, issues that stem from a traumatized past. Jayne Schooler, the first author listed, has been providing education to adoptive and foster care families and professionals for over two decades. Betsy Smalley is a licensed social worker who has been working with adoption professionals and adoptees for years. Finally, Timothy Callahan is a child and family psychologist. These three seem to make up a power team in terms of understanding the effects of childhood development and how parents can navigate these murky waters and help their children find healing.
6. “Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew” by Sherrie Eldridge
This unique book, written by an adoptee, provides insight into an adoptee’s mind and some of the things that they struggle with. This book was written to adoptive parents as a way to help them better relate to their child and help them know the internal struggles their child may be dealing with. From anger to shame to mourning, this adoptee discusses how a parent can help connect and work through those feelings experienced by their child. It would be a wonderful addition to an adoptive parent’s library.
A children’s library of positive adoption stories is a great way to not only introduce (and consistently discuss) your child’s history and how they joined your family, but it a great way to also support and encourage healthy discussion amongst all the children in your home, adopted or biological.
Building your library, as an adoptive parent, can be a helpful tool to use when you are drowning in behaviors that you don’t know what to do with. Seeking a therapist or counselor isn’t always feasible or applicable, so having books about adoption as tools in your arsenal—tools that can help you realign your perspective, reinforce the need for healthy and safe attachment, remind you of your child’s history and your journey as a family, and possibly even provide solutions to issues you are currently dealing with—can be crucial to your survival as a parent. Although this list is not exhaustive, it is a great place to start, whether you’re buying for yourself or for a friend.Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.