Summer is winding down and you either are starting back to school very soon or have already started. And while this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have more down time—there is a chance you might get a few minutes to yourself to read something that isn’t Goodnight Moon or Dragons Love Tacos for the millionth time. If you’re looking for some books about adoption here are a few that I loved.
Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison
This is one of the first books recommended to me when we were considering foster care and adoption. The author does not shy away from the reality of how difficult foster care can be. I especially appreciated the chapter that discussed Kathy who had a parent visit with a foster child’s mom. She described her judgment of the parent in her mind. She described some petty behavior she perpetrated. She was honest about her feelings but ultimately came to the conclusion that sometimes “in the best interest of the child” doesn’t mean the person that can provide the most stuff.
The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier
This is a difficult read but worth the effort. It discusses the trauma that every adoptee experiences when they are removed from his or her birth mother. I don’t love the fact that my children will and do grieve the relationship they could have had with their birth family. I do love my children, though, and learning more about how their brains are wired and the grief they will face and may be currently facing is worth doing.
Honestly Adoption: Answers to 101 Questions About Adoption and Foster Care by Mike and Kristen Berry
This book delivers exactly what it says it does. The authors are candid about the trials and tribulations of adoption and foster care. They don’t refrain from being honest about the hard parts. This couple is doing wonderful things for other parents of adopted children. They’re letting them know they are not alone. In a world where it can be difficult to not feel isolated, this book is a lifeline.
I especially appreciated the humor and honesty. Because sometimes if you don’t laugh you will absolutely start crying and have a very hard time stopping.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
This is a fictional tale about a very real scandal that took place. The story draws you in and keeps you hanging on to every word. This book led to a second novel, this one non-fiction. Before and After is the true story of the horrific and shocking ways adoptees were separated from their families. Because of Before We Were Yours, many more people were made aware of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal.
This book had me riveted from the first page. It was an amazing and awful look into the not-too-distant past. In fact there are survivors still finding out about their history.
This book will not give you tremendous insight into the current tapestry of foster care and the adoption of today. What it will do is give you some context to the seemingly erroneous argument that some people have against adoption: that it is unsafe and unethical. It is no mystery where people got the idea that adoption is unethical. This is a worry that will likely take a great deal more time to eliminate.
Hello I Love You by Ted Kluck
Hello I Love You is a real-life story about the adoption of 2 young boys from Ukraine. It’s heartfelt, poignant, and funny. It touches on very real emotions many adoptive families face both while waiting for a match and post-placement. I saw myself reflected in many of the stories. The anticipation, sleepless nights, and gigantic mix of emotions that come with adoption.
There’s a chapter on infertility that rang true with me. Being a part of a church with seemingly hundreds of happy, fertile, multi-child homes—a church that goes out of its way to extol the virtues of having children—is rough.
Each of these books has a special place in my heart as integral to my adoption knowledge pre- children. All of them resonated differently post-adoption. I recommend them to anyone who is curious about adoption and foster care.
A few books worth mentioning but that were less important to me personally were: The Connected Child, The Connected Parent, The Body Keeps Score, and Orphan Train.
I thought these books about adoption were worthwhile reads. The Connected Child was required reading for our foster care training. The Connected Parent, the later published companion to The Connected Child is a different perspective on the same concept.
The Body Keeps Score is a must-read to understand childhood trauma and the fallout thereof. It reads more or less like a textbook. I enjoyed it, and the information was very insightful. I can’t in good conscience recommend a book as a casual read that could be part of a college class.
Orphan Train is about, you guessed it, the historical horror show that is the orphan train. The book tries to paint an honest picture but it is a little too one-sided in my opinion. All in all though, if you take it with a grain of salt and not as an accurate historical account, it’s a decent time.
Christina Gochnauer is a foster and adoptive mom of 5. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Letourneau University. She currently resides in Texas with her husband of 16 years, her children ages 3, 3.5, 4.5, 11, and 12, and her three dogs. She is passionate about using her voice to speak out for children from “hard places” in her church and community.