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Adoption Books for Parents

  • From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption by Deanna Kahler- From the author: "In addition to my personal story of what I went through to become a parent, I also offer suggestions and resources for others, including tips for dealing with grief, an adoption Q&A, a list of possible agencies, questions to ask an agency, etc."
  • The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole by Lori Holden- This is one wise book. Sure, it is full of the practicalities of open adoption (the how-tos), but it is the spirit of this book that truly shines. This is a must read for every adoptive and expectant parent at the beginning of their adoption journey.
  • Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos- In this memoir, actress Nia Vardalos chronicles her journey through infertility and foster care adoption. Nia was interviewed on the Creating a Family radio show, and her story was discussed on the Creating a Family blog.
  • March Into My Heart: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters, and Adoption by Patty Lazarus- A mother of two biological sons who decides to adopt a daughter after her own mother's death. This memoir chronicles that four-year journey through the domestic infant adoption process.
  • Truly Yours: Wise Words on the Miracle of Adoption by Laura Dail. A collection of stories and thoughts about adoption in a newly-published edition. It is written with adoptive families in mind, and contains resource lists for both children and adults.
  • Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir by Jessica O’Dwyer. Although it is the story of a Guatemalan adoption, its appeal is universal to all adoptive parents—especially those who adopt internationally. I liked this book because it was well written and “a good read”, but I loved this book because of the way O’Dwyer handled the ethics of international adoption.  It is tempting as an adoptive parent to become defensive, to gloss over the ethical dilemmas inherent when wealthy people from developed countries adopt babies from poor people in undeveloped countries.  It is equally tempting for “reformers” to over simplify the ethics and the solutions. The reality is that often international adoptions are a blur where the white and black hats are not at all clear.  O’Dwyer captures the gray with a refreshing lack of defensiveness or editorializing, allowing us to ponder what we would do if faced with the same situation. This book is well worth the read.
  • The Reluctant Family" is an article I wrote for The Rainbowkids Newsletter about how to handle family members who are less than enthusiatsic about your adoption plans.
  • I Don’t Care If He Goes To Harvard, But . . . is a great fact sheet on parental expectations provided online by The Center for Adoption Support and Education.
  • "Children's Understanding of Adoption: Adopted Children vs. Non-Adopted Children" is a free online fact sheet provided by The Center for Adoption Support and Education which looks at how children understand the concept of adoption at different ages.
  • Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child by Holly van Gulden and Lisa M. Bartels-Rabb. This is a great resource.
  • Raising Adopted Children, Revised Edition: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent by Lois Ruskai Melina. Another great book. It provides an overview of many of issues surrounding adoptive parenting, such as attachment, contact with biological family, and adopting older children.
  • Making Sense of Adoption: A Parent's Guide by Lois Ruskai Melina. Anything by Lois Melina is worth reading. She is wise and practical.
  • The Open Adoption Experience - A Complete Guide for Adoptive and Birth Families by Lois Ruskai Melina is an authoritative and reassuring guide to the issues and concerns of adoptive and birth families through all stages of the open adoption relationship.
  • Twenty Things Adoptive Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge I agree with some things in this book and disagree with others, but I still consider it a must read for adoptive parents because it opens our eyes to differing points of view. The author is an adoptee and an adoptive grandmother. I interviewed her and you can listen to the interview on the radio page of this website.
  • Adoption Today Although not as popular or as slick looking as the other adoptive parenting magazine, this is a jewel of information and shouldn't be overlooked.
  • Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul: Stories Celebrating Forever Families by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and LeAnn Thieman L.P.N. This is a collection of heart warming stories (I know that is an overused adjective, but in this case, it's true) about adoption and the families created. I'm a sucker for the Chicken Soup books and this one is no exception.
  • China Ghosts by Jeff Gammage. This memoir is written by a father adopting from China, which is a nice change from the usual and gives us interesting insights of his journey.
  • Faces of Layla: A Journey Through Ethiopian Adoption. Photography by Emma Dodge Hanson, text by Melissa Fay Greene and Jennifer Armstrong. A wonderful photo essay book of the children and caretakers at Layla House in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • Adopting:Sound Choices, Strong Families by Pat Johnston. This is Pat's latest book and is terrific. It incorporates the information from several of her previous books, including Adopting After Infertility. I interviewed Pat for the radio show, Creating A Family. You can listen to our interview on the radio page of this website.
  • The Family Focus is the national newsletter from Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (FRUA). This is a great printed resource full of interesting articles and resources. It is primarily applicable to families that adopt from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. To sign up go to At this website you can also find a wonderful forum for families that have adopted from Russia and other Eastern and Central European countries. I list them as an additional resource in the appropriate country charts as well.
  • The Child Welfare Information Gateway has a number of free publications to help parents learn about adoption, including a online brochure titled Adoption : Where Do I Start?. This is a good introduction. For a list of all publications, go here.
  • The Post-Adoption Blues by Karen Foli and John Thompson. This is really more a book about the post adoption transition period and provides some helpful suggestions for parents who are in the midst of a difficult adjustment. I interviewed Karen for Creating a Family. Go to the radio page to hear our interview.
  • "Preparing a Welcome Book to help children transition into your family" This article and sample pages was written by Beth O'Malley of Adoption Lifebook fame.
  • Adoption Lifebook, a Bridge to Your Child's Beginnings by Cindy Probst A workbook style book for international adoptive families focuses on explaining your child's unique story. Not specific to your child, but to internationally adopted kids in general. Good resource.
  • Beneath the Mask by Debbie Riley, M.S. and John Meeks, M.D. Aimed at helping adopted teens and strengthening the family unit. This book offers a step-by-step assessment process; clinical intervention strategies; a wealth of case histories; treatment resources and therapy tools; and writing & art therapy samples. The book discusses the six most common adoption "stuck-spots" for adopted children as they age.
  • Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib by Jaiya John. Dr. John was the first black child in the history of New Mexico to be adopted by a white family. In this emotionally honest memoir he talks about being raised in a white family. He was loved deeply by his adoptive parents, but still faced confusion and difficulty. It is through the love of his family that he puts all the pieces of past and future together.
  • Talking About Birth Parents. This is a well written article on the importance of talking to your children about their birth parents even if they don't bring it up. Ellen Singer, with The Center for Adoption Support and Education, writes: "The major reason adoptive parents wrestle with the concept that their child could feel loss is based firmly in the fact that adopting their child has brought them joy. Associating sadness or negativity with their happiest moment is virtually impossible. For some there is the feeling that acknowledging the significance of birth parents somehow diminishes their place as parent. For others embracing birth parents can resurface unresolved feelings of loss adoptive parents experienced prior to adoption, like infertility."
  • Adoption is a Family Affair! What Relatives and Friends Must Know by Patricia Irwin Johnston.  I like most books by Pat Johnston and this is no exception.
  • Adoption Learning Partners has online courses titled "Let's Talk Adoption", "Finding the Missing Pieces", and "Becoming Your Child's Best Advocate". There is no fee unless you want a certificate of completion.
  • While We Wait: Spiritual and Practical Advice for Those Trying to Adopt by Heidi Schlumpf.  This book is written by a mother who has struggled through the adoption process herself.  It is designed to offer spiritual grounding for frustrated and stressed-out prospective parents who are waiting for children.  Each reflection is followed by a prayer for God to comfort and help prospective adoptive parents.  Specifically, chapters address the choice to adopt, coping with different seasons and special holidays while waiting for an adoption to come through, the emotions and challenges faced by people who are waiting with prospective parents, the range of emotions felt by those who are waiting, coping strategies for dealing with the wait, and spiritual resources to sustain prospective parents.
  • Finding Aster by Dina McQueen. This Ethiopian adoption story, is a fascinating memoir that follows one woman’s journey to motherhood via international adoption. The title could just as easily have been, Finding Dina, for it is truly a memoir of discovery for the author as she relives the life decisions she has made leading up to the maternal evolution to become a mother.
  • Labor of The Heart: A Parent's Guide to Decisions and Emotion in Adoption by Kathleen L. Whitten, Ph.D.  Dr. Whitten combines her expertise as a developmental psychologist with her experiecne as an adoptive mother to guide parents through the challednges of adoption decisions.
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