I am frequently asked about good books about adoption. This page lists the books I have read that have informed or influenced me in some way. These books range from academic to popular press and are heavily biased towards the adoptee perspective. What you will not find here (for the most part) are adoptive parent memoirs or “how to adopt” books. If adoptive parents have authored some of these books listed here, then I have found something more substantive in their pages than their personal “adoption journey.”
This is an admittedly biased list of recommendations. There are many more adoption books out there than what I’ve listed here. If you are an adoptee and are looking for resources for your own journey, these books and films could be a good place to begin. I don’t agree with all of the positions and opinions expressed in these books, but if they are listed here then they all have given me a lot of fodder for further exploration.
Please contact me at harlowmonkey at gmail dot com if you have suggestions for other resources or would like me to review your book. However I won’t promise a good review or a recommendation, or even a listing on this website and I will provide my honest, critical review so be forewarned.
For more books about adoption with an adoptee-centric perspective, a great resource is the Adoptee Reading Resource website.
ADOPTION BOOKS – GENERAL
A Sealed & Secret Kinship: Policies & Practices in American Adoption by Judith Schachter Modell and Kinship with Strangers: Adoption and Interpretations of Kinship in American Culture by Judith S. Modell.
Both of these books are very informative and thought provoking. Kinship with Strangers was one of the first academic books on adoption that I read.
Provides some much-needed historical contexts for adoption. These books continue to be helpful resources for my research, as it helps me understand the trajectory of adoption practices throughout the last two hundred years in the United States.
Some thought provoking essays, though I can’t say I thought all of the essays were uniformly engaging. My thought was that it addressed feminists views when it comes to adoptive parents, particularly mothers, but this book lacked engagement with the birth mother’s perspective and the degree to which parenting a child is part of reproductive choices from a feminist philosophical perspective.
I include Pertman’s ubiquitous book merely for its popularity and anyone who is well-read in adoption probably needs to skim this book in order to understand why it is so popular among media and the public. An easy-to-digest book, squarely from an adoptive parent perspective. As an adoptee who wanted to be able to critique adoption systems, I read this to get a sense of the populist adoptive parent perspective.
I appreciate this book for tackling ethical issues in adoption that are often swept aside; I assign chapters of this book to my students in my Permanency in Child Welfare courses.
One of the best adoption history books in my opinion. I particularly like Herman’s concept of “kinship by design” and how it has taken what we would like to believe is a practice aimed at finding homes for children into a practice designed to find children for parents.
Berebitsky takes on maternalism in the Progressive Era and the impact of the social work and Progressive Era politics and ideology on adoption.
Using case studies from one state’s adoption agency, Melosh analyzes adoption practices in this informative book.
ADOPTION BOOKS – UNDERSTANDING ADOPTION ISSUES
A fascinating ethnographic study of the attachment industry, centered on the geographic location where controversial attachment therapies emerged. Any professional who is interested in attachment therapy needs to read this book.
ADOPTION BOOKS – TRANSRACIAL
The reason I did not include this anthology of adoptee stories with the other anthologies in the adoptee authored page is because none of the editors are adoptees. However I recommend this book for the stories that adoptees share about their experiences.
Search and Reunion
Understanding Birth Parent Perspectives
Raising Children of Color