One of the best pieces of advice my husband and I received after we brought our daughter home from the adoption agency was to tell her every night how she came to be a part of our family. This way, when she is old enough to start asking questions, we already have it down. We don’t have to figure out what is age-appropriate, how to explain the tough and hard parts, and what we want to say in the span of just two seconds.
At first, I thought it was a little crazy to explain this big, intricate, beautiful story to a 2-week-old, big brown-eyed baby. Not that adoption is a taboo word or something we don’t want to talk about, but how do we explain it? I found myself looking for ways to explain it all and then remembered that for our baby shower, we asked for books in lieu of cards. I quickly read through them all and figured this would be a great starting point for us. We are avid readers in our house, and what better way to explain to our precious little girl how she came to be with us than a book with pictures and characters she can relate to and are age-appropriate?
As she has gotten older, these books have been a blessing to have. She has entered into that age where all she wants to do is read books all day every day, which I love being able to encourage in her. I’m so thankful that we have books that talk about not only infant domestic adoption, like ours, but international, foster, stepparent, and family adoption as well. We also love having books that talk about transracial adoption since we are a transracial family.
I’ve compiled a list of books below that hit all the different types of adoptions, race, family types, and settings.
Happy Adoption Day by John McCutcheon. What a wonderful book based on a beautiful song! The true treasure of this book is the illustrations by Julie Paschkis. Her art displays transracial families, single parents, gay parents, young parents, older parents, siblings, and only children. It’s wonderful to have a book that illustrates all of the many unique family types. A great bonus is that, in the back of the book, it has the sheet music for the Adoption Day Song the book is based on. So dust off the keyboard or the old recorder and sing/read along with this beautiful book.
Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis. You read that right, Jamie Lee Curtis, the famed actress is an adoptive mom! She wrote this book for her daughter who she adopted through an adoption attorney. This book is great for families who have suffered infertility as it quotes, “Tell me again how you couldn’t carry a baby in your tummy…” Here’s another relatable quote for families who have traveled to bring their little one home: “Tell me again about how you got on an airplane with my baby bag and flew to get me…” This book is filled with real-life situations, lightened with even better humor. The illustrations by Laura Cornell are so fun and witty. There are hidden gems like the ‘Tub O Lard’ diaper cream or the cup with teeth soaking on the grandpa’s nightstand that are going to keep children and parents giggling and interested for sure.
We Belong Together by Todd Parr. A friend’s daughter who is adopted bought this book for us. She wrote to our daughter, “I hope this book brings you joy. Love is love. Every child needs loving parents, and we found that. We’re all different but all the same. We belong together!” This encapsulates the book perfectly as the story is based on reassurance of why you and your child belong together, nothing else. There isn’t a backstory of how the family came to be, just that they belong together. Whether you were brought together through domestic, international, or foster adoption, this book is for you. The simple illustrations and bold colors are a surefire way to keep even the youngest readers’ attention.
God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren. This book is perfect for the religious family, family who has suffered infertility, the transracial family, and the single adoptive mother family. The story starts with the little fox asking his mother to tell him about how the little fox came to be with his mama fox. The watercolor illustrations by Laura J. Bryant are absolutely stunning. The choice to make the two foxes different colors is perfect. The intricate detail in the mother’s fur as she waits for her little fox doesn’t go unnoticed and hits home with any waiting adoptive mother. I dare anyone to get through this book without getting a little choked up.
I Wished for You by Marianne Richmond. This is by far my favorite story to read my daughter. The story is about a mama bear and her baby bear. It weaves together the baby bear’s story of how they came to be a family. The best part about this story is it’s customizable! How cool, right? The website to customize is very user-friendly, and you are able to preview the book before purchasing. The illustrations are soft in neutral colors, which is great for right before bedtime to ease the mind into sleep. I highly recommend this book for everyone in the adoption world. Whether you are a single parent home, transracial family, international or domestic adoption, or just someone who would love to gift a book to a friend or family member who is adopting, this book is for you.
And That’s Why She’s My Mama by Tiarra Nazario. What is a mama? That’s kind of an abstract thought, right? Well, this book picks apart that thought and explains what a mama is. She picks you up when you have a boo-boo; she tucks you in at night; she loves you. I believe this opens the door to those tough conversations that we as adoptive parents know will come. What is the difference between our child’s birth parents and adoptive parents? Ultimately, that’s the conversation you will have to have, but luckily, a book like this can help soften those hard conversations.
Over The Moon by Karen Katz. Did you travel to a faraway place to bring your child home? If so, this book is for you. Karen Katz wrote this story about her and her husband bringing their daughter home from Guatemala. From getting that anticipated phone call, flying in an airplane, to bringing that precious little one home, this story covers it all. I believe the most relatable part in the book is where the fruit seller, the neighbor, and the grandma keep asking if they have a baby yet. The illustrations in this book are beautiful. You can see Karen Katz’s background in costume design, graphic design, and art. It is vibrant in color, and the design is cohesive with our other favorite Karen Katz book, The Color of Us.
Yes, I’m Adopted by Sharlie Zinniger. If you had an infant adoption, this is the book for you. This book is very simple and doesn’t go into much detail, but it’s a great conversation starter about how adoption is built around love. The colors in this book are vibrant and beautiful. I’m a sucker for a narrator with red hair and freckles. You can’t beat a dollar book, in my opinion, so hurry and get this one.
The Adoption Tree by Kimberly James. This story is about a tiny tree that was growing then was uprooted and planted in a new perfectly chosen spot. I love the imagery of this story. What a beautiful example of adoption and a building block for future conversations. This is a great starter point to talk to our children about how their birth family, their heritage, and their culture are their roots. It even talks about their adoptive family and the family they will create when they grow.
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza. Have you read, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman? I thought it would be a great story to read to my daughter and a great conversation starter for adoption. Boy, was I wrong! It fell short in so many ways. But then I found A Mother for Choco! It is along the same lines but is so much better. Choco wants a mother and goes on a journey to find one. He finds a mama bear, and once at the bears’ home, he is introduced to her other children: a piglet, an alligator, and a hippopotamus. Choco learns that families can look different, and the thing that brings them together is love, no matter their shape or size. This is especially great for foster families and families made through foster adoption.
The Adoption Coloring Book: An Adoption Primer for Young Children by Larisa Collins. When I found this, I actually giggled with joy. What a fun and cool way to open up about talking about adoption. Ask any scholar and he or she will tell you that to get a child to open up and talk is through play, or in this case, coloring. This coloring book is meant for any and every type of adoption. International, domestic, infant, foster, and even stepparent adoption are displayed throughout this book. What’s even better is that with it being a coloring book, you get to determine what each person looks like, and I absolutely adore that. Because as we all know, families come in different shapes and colors.
I’m Yours by Ashley Cameron. I would suggest this book for the older child and for the Christian family who has internationally adopted. Kerri Gorecki, an adoptive mother of ten provides a beautifully written and illustrated adoption story. This story does a wonderful job of addressing the mix of emotions felt by both mother and daughter. Now, there is finally an adoption book that shows how God’s hand brings families together and equips them with the amazing love they need without ignoring the loss an adoptee suffers. Ashley wrote this book as she prepared to meet her daughter in China. All of the proceeds she makes from this book are donated to families who are in the adoption process. So not only do you get an amazing book, you yourself get to help bring a family together.
How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole. Sam has a story all her own and loves to share it. This book is great for infant adoption families. I love the fact that the narrator, Sam, will tell the reader a little bit of her story and then ask the reader about his. It’s a great way to get your child, and you, talking about your child’s own adoption story. I would suggest this story for older children just because Sam does talk about how, “every baby grows in a special place inside a woman’s body. That place is called her uterus.” And there are cartoon pictures of Sam’s birth mom pushing Sam out of her uterus. If that doesn’t bother you, then this is the book for you!
Forever Family by Kelly and Lindsey Bullard. This story uses “Gotcha Day” to explain how their son became part of their family. This is a great book not only for transracial families, but also for families who are adopting and want to explain to their biological children what adoption is. It explains everything so simply that anyone of any age can understand and also be so excited about adoption.
Our adoptive children have so many books they can now pick up and relate to. What an amazing world we live in that there are so many books out there that are just at the click of a “buy” button on the Internet or a quick search at the local library.
I hope you enjoyed reading a quick review of these books and found something that you and your child can relate to. Will you drop a comment below or share the article and tell us which books you have or are eager to read?
Khrystian Hembree is a proud military wife, a momma to an adventure-seeking and spunky little girl, and a freelance copywriter. She enjoys hosting playgroup, reading books, leading worship at her church, and anything that includes donuts and coffee.