Books About Adoption

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.

Happy reading!

ADOPTION BOOKS – GENERAL

sealed secret kinshipkinship strangersA 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.

 

adoption in americafamily mattersAdoption in America: Historical Perspectives (Edited by E. Wayne Carp) and Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption by E. Wayne Carp

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.

 

adoption mattersAdoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays

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.

adoption nationAdoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America by Adam Pertman

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.

 

ethics american adoption

Ethics in American Adoption by L. Anne Babb

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.

 

like our very own

Like Our Very Own: Adoption and the Changing Culture of Motherhood, 1851-1950 by Julie Berebitsky

Berebitsky takes on maternalism in the Progressive Era and the impact of the social work and Progressive Era politics and ideology on adoption.

 

strangers and kinStrangers and Kin: The American Way of Adoption by Barbara Melosh

Using case studies from one state’s adoption agency, Melosh analyzes adoption practices in this informative book.

 

 

 

ADOPTION BOOKS – UNDERSTANDING ADOPTION ISSUES

 

: A Child's Journey Through Placement by Vera Fahlberg

A Child’s Journey Through Placement by Vera Fahlberg

 

: Adopting the Older Child by Claudia L. Jewett

Adopting the Older Child by Claudia L. Jewett

 

: Adoption Healing ...a path to recovery by Joe Soll

Adoption Healing …a path to recovery by Joe Soll

 

: Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief by Pauline Boss

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief by Pauline Boss

 

: Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David M. Brodzinsky

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David M. Brodzinsky

 

: Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens by Debbie Riley

Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens by Debbie Riley

 

: Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up by Nancy Newton Verrier

Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up by Nancy Newton Verrier

 

: Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss by Claudia Jewett Jarratt

Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss by Claudia Jewett Jarratt

 

: Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness by Betty Jean Lifton

Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness by Betty Jean Lifton

 

: Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience by Betty Jean Lifton

Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience by Betty Jean Lifton

 

: Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew

Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew

 

: Shared Fate: A Theory and Method of Adoptive Relationships by H. David Kirk

Shared Fate: A Theory and Method of Adoptive Relationships by H. David Kirk

 

: The Children Who Lived: Using Harry Potter and Other Fictional Characters to Help Grieving Children and Adolescents by Kathryn Markell and Marc Markell

The Children Who Lived: Using Harry Potter and Other Fictional Characters to Help Grieving Children and Adolescents by Kathryn Markell and Marc Markell

 

: The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier

The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier

 

: The Psychology of Adoption

The Psychology of Adoption

 

imgresThe Road to Evergreen: Adoption, Attachment Therapy, and the Promise of Family by Rachael Stryker

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

 

: Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging by Eleana J. Kim

Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging by Eleana J. Kim

 

: Adoption in a Color-Blind Society by Pamela Anne Quiroz

Adoption in a Color-Blind Society by Pamela Anne Quiroz

 

: Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society edited by Katarina Wegar

Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society edited by Katarina Wegar

 

: Are Those Kids Yours?: American Families With Children Adopted From Other Countries by Cheri Register

Are Those Kids Yours?: American Families With Children Adopted From Other Countries by Cheri Register

 

: Babies Without Borders: Adoption and Migration across the Americas by Karen Dubinsky

Babies Without Borders: Adoption and Migration across the Americas by Karen Dubinsky

 

: Beyond Good Intentions: A Mother Reflects On Raising Internationally Adopted Children by Cheri Register

Beyond Good Intentions: A Mother Reflects On Raising Internationally Adopted Children by Cheri Register

 

: Birth Is More Than Once: The Inner World of Adopted Korean Children by Hei Sook Wilkinson

Birth Is More Than Once: The Inner World of Adopted Korean Children by Hei Sook Wilkinson

 

: Birthmarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America by Sandra Patton

Birthmarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America by Sandra Patton

 

: Blue-Ribbon Babies and Labors of Love: Race, Class, and Gender in U.S. Adoption Practice by Christine Ward Gailey

Blue-Ribbon Babies and Labors of Love: Race, Class, and Gender in U.S. Adoption Practice by Christine Ward Gailey

imgres-1.jpg

Children of the Storm: Black Children and American Child Welfare by Andrew Billingsley

 

 

: Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race: Korean Adoptees in America by Mia Tuan and Jiannbin Lee Shiao

Choosing Ethnicity, Negotiating Race: Korean Adoptees in America by Mia Tuan and Jiannbin Lee Shiao

 

: Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference by Heather Jacobson

Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference by Heather Jacobson

 

: Cultures of Transnational Adoption by Toby Alice Volkman

Cultures of Transnational Adoption by Toby Alice Volkman

 

: Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg & Beth Hall

Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg & Beth Hall

 

: International Adoption: Global Inequalities and the Circulation of Children edited by Diana Marre and Laura Briggs

International Adoption: Global Inequalities and the Circulation of Children edited by Diana Marre and Laura Briggs

 

: International Advances in Adoption Research for Practice edited by Gretchen Miller Wrobel and Elsbeth Neil

International Advances in Adoption Research for Practice edited by Gretchen Miller Wrobel and Elsbeth Neil

 

: International Korean Adoption: A Fifty-year History of Policy and Practice by Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist, M. Elizabeth Vonk, Dong Soo Kim and Marvin D. Feit

International Korean Adoption: A Fifty-year History of Policy and Practice by Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist, M. Elizabeth Vonk, Dong Soo Kim and Marvin D. Feit

ProductImageHandler.png

Invisible Asians: Korean American Adoptees, Asian American Experiences and Racial Exceptionalism by Kim Park Nelson. 

: Somebody's Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption by Laura Briggs

Somebody’s Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption by Laura Briggs

 

: The Ethics of Transracial Adoption by Hawley Fogg-Davis

The Ethics of Transracial Adoption by Hawley Fogg-Davis

 

: The Kinning of Foreigners: Transnational Adoption in a Global Perspective by Signe Howell

The Kinning of Foreigners: Transnational Adoption in a Global Perspective by Signe Howell

 

: The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past by Karin Evans

The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past by Karin Evans

 

: The Traffic in Babies: Cross-Border Adoption and Baby-Selling between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972 by Karen Balcom

The Traffic in Babies: Cross-Border Adoption and Baby-Selling between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972 by Karen Balcom

 

: Transnational Adoption: A Cultural Economy of Race, Gender, and Kinship by Sara Dorow

Transnational Adoption: A Cultural Economy of Race, Gender, and Kinship by Sara Dorow

 

: Transracial Adoption and Foster Care: Practice Issues for Professionals by Joseph Crumbley

Transracial Adoption and Foster Care: Practice Issues for Professionals by Joseph Crumbley

 

: Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption, and Orphanage Care in China by Kay Ann Johnson

Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption, and Orphanage Care in China by Kay Ann Johnson

 

: West Meets East: Americans Adopt Chinese Children by Richard Tessler

West Meets East: Americans Adopt Chinese Children by Richard Tessler

 

: White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption by Darron Smith, Cardell Jacobson and Brenda Juarez

White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption by Darron Smith, Cardell Jacobson and Brenda Juarez

ADOPTEE/FOSTEREE BOOKS

See Adoptee authored books here, and adoptee memoirs here.

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

 

: Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States by Rickie Solinger

Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States by Rickie Solinger

 

: Dreaming a World: Korean Birth Mothers Tell Their Stories edited by Sangsoon Han

Dreaming a World: Korean Birth Mothers Tell Their Stories edited by Sangsoon Han

 

: Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945 by Regina G. Kunzel

Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945 by Regina G. Kunzel

 

: Following the Tambourine Man: A Birthmother's Memoir by Janet Mason Ellerby

Following the Tambourine Man: A Birthmother’s Memoir by Janet Mason Ellerby

 

: I Wish for You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children edited by Sara Dorow

I Wish for You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children edited by Sara Dorow

 

: Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare by Dorothy Roberts

Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare by Dorothy Roberts

 

: Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother's Journey by Karen Salyer McElmurray

Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey by Karen Salyer McElmurray

 

: The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the DecadesBefore Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the DecadesBefore Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

 

: Waiting to Forget: A Motherhood Lost and Found by Margaret Moorman

Waiting to Forget: A Motherhood Lost and Found by Margaret Moorman

 

: Without a Map: A Memoir by Meredith Hall

Without a Map: A Memoir by Meredith Hall

Raising Children of Color

 

Advertisements