One of the findings of my research was that the adoptive parents and adoptees have a terrible time navigating school systems, mental health systems and other systems that fundamentally did not understand the unique needs of adopted individuals and adoptive parents.
This is a list of my recommended books and resources specifically aimed for professionals. In particular I recommend these resources for teachers and school counselors, mental health professionals, medical professionals, adoption/child welfare workers, and those working with youth and adults in the areas of drug and alcohol dependency, homelessness, and juvenile corrections.
I also suggest you look at the page on adoption history. If you are working with individuals with adoption experiences and their families, understanding the historical contexts of their experiences and the way adoption has been constructed and shaped is important.
Transracial and Intercountry Adoptions edited by Rowena Fong and Ruth McRoy. This book covers a range of topics including information and consideration of developmental, cultural, health, and behavioral concerns, history and policy of adoption, ethnic identity formation, trauma, mental health treatment, and the challenges of gay or lesbian adoptions, issues in school and community related to transnational and transracial aspects of adoption. Self-disclosure: I have a chapter in this book.
A Child’s Journey Through Placement by Vera Fahlberg. Unfortunately this book is sometimes hard to find but it is by far the book I recommend the most. Falhberg applies an attachment lens as well as developmental lens to children in the child welfare system and those who have been adopted. For child welfare workers this is the book if you were to only have one; I think Fahlberg has very much a child’s pov focus throughout.
Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief by Pauline Boss. Boss developed the theory of ambiguous loss and while she does not go in-depth with the theory as it applies to foster care and adoption, it applies remarkably well. In this book Boss outlines the theory and any professional will be able to make the connection between how adopted children and birth parents (and adoptive parents) experience the ambiguous loss as a result of the adoption.
Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David Brodzinsky, Marshall Schecter and Robin Marantz Henig. I recommend this book for its developmental focus. The authors apply Erikson’s psychosocial development theory to adopted individuals, and they include the whole lifespan, which is important as adoption has life-long repercussions and impact.
Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens by Debbie Riley with John Meeks. This is a highly recommended book for any clinical mental health professional working with adopted adolescents.
Far Away From the Tigers: A Year in the Classroom with Internationally Adopted Children by Jane Katch. This book was an easy read and full of thoughtful case examples of the ways educators can be sensitive to the needs of intercountry adopted children. This is primarily aimed toward educators for pre-school and elementary-aged children.
The Children Who Lived: Using Harry Potter and Other Fictional Characters to Help Grieving Children and Adolescents by Kathryn and Marc Markell. Highly recommended book for anyone working therapeutically with adopted children and adolescents. The authors wrote this book to help children grieving over the death of a parent or close loved one, and the strategies and activities apply well to those who have lost parents through child protection or adoption. This book is activity-based and counselors and therapists can use these activities as a starting point for using other books and stories as starting points for working with adopted children and teens.
Adoption Nutrition. Many adopted children have eating issues as a result of food deprivation, restriction issues (restricted variety of foods, restricted times for meals) and other reasons. Parents and professionals need to understand that forcing protocols about food on adopted children can be a point of contention that may interfere with the child’s development in the adoptive family, including bonding. I recommend reviewing the information at the Spoon Foundation’s Adoption Nutrition website. You can order a free, downloadable booklet as well (professionals can order print copies for training purposes as well).