Adoption Books & Films

As part of Madison Adoption Associates’ commitment to making sure every parent is informed about the issues involved in parenting an adopted child, we require that each adoptive parent read at least 3 books as part of their adoptive parent preparation.

Click here:  Madison Adoption Associates Continuing Ed Form

Most of the books listed below can be purchased through,, or checked out from your local library.

If you have a recommendation of a book that was helpful to you, please let us know at!



The Adoption Decision: 15 Things You Want to Know Before Adopting
Laura Christianson, 2007
In North America, more and more families are adding members through adoption. And there are more ways to adopt–and kinds of adoption–than ever.  This quick-start resource will help prospective parents consider key emotional and spiritual issues up front…”before” they plunge into the near-overwhelming mass of details and start to run into roadblocks, even dead ends.  Recounting real-life miracles and mishaps of adoptive families, the author will help prospective parents–and their friends and family members–think through adoption’s challenges and joys, and confidently move forward from a firm emotional and spiritual footing.

Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years
Patty Cogen, 2008
This book guides parents in promoting an internationally adopted child’s social and emotional adjustment, explaining how to help a child adopted between the ages of six months and five years bond with his or her new parents, become a part of the family, and develop a positive self-image that incorporates both American identity and ethnic origins. Other topics include how (and why) to tell the child’s story from the child’s point of view; how to handle sleep problems and resistance to household rules; and how to encourage eye contact, ease transitions and separations, and deal with problematic anniversaries (birthdays, adoption day, Mother’s Day). With advice on language and school difficulties and the development of self-control and independence, Cogen guides adoptive parents from the initial meeting through their child’s teen years. It’s an indispensable resource, not only for parents, but also for therapists and educators who work with adopted children.

Risk and Promise: A Handbook for Parents Adopting a Child from Overseas
Ira J. Chasnoff, MD, Linda D. Schwartz,  PhD, et al, 2006
Research and clinical experiences of the four author-doctors, who have each worked with internationally adopted children.  This book hopes to help prospective adoptive parents make well-informed decisions with the little information they are given in adoption referrals.

The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child
Dawn Davenport, 2006
From the initial decision – Is adoption right for you? – through returning home with your child, this book takes parents step by step through the entire process of adopting a child from another country.  You will find an easy-to-understand analysis of the differences between domestic and international adoption; advice on choosing a country, including 25 important factors to consider, such as the waiting times involved and the estimated costs for each of the top placing countries, with charts for easy comparison; a detailed discussion of the potential health issues based on the latest research and interviews with doctors who specialize in international adoption; worksheets and a suggested system for preparing and organizing the extensive paperwork involved; parenting tips to enhance attachment and suggestions for addressing the issues that come up in raising an internationally adopted child; real parents’ stories and advice at every stage of the process; plus all of the information you need to select your agency, plan financially, prepare for the home study, travel sensibly, evaluate your child’s health and integrate your new family.  This book also helps parents manage the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the territory.

The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building a Healthy Adoptive Family
Jayne E. Schooler, Thomas C. Atwood, 2008
This powerful resource addresses the needs and concerns facing adoptive parents while offering encouragement for the journey ahead. Adoptive families deal with a special dynamic that affects the whole family. They face unique issues of attachment, adjustment, and identity. Being prepared for crisis points are critical in order to make a lasting family relationship.

With Eyes Wide Open: A Workbook for Parents Adopting International Children Over Age One
Margi Miller, M.A. and Nancy Ward, M. A., L.I.C.S.W., 1996
This book will help you prepare for one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences you will ever have—taking a child with life-experiences into your heart and your life, to be a part of you forever.
***This book cannot be counted toward your required reading if you are taking the online course based on this book***

Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
Sherrie Eldridge, 1999
This book aims to inform adoptive parents of the unique issues adoptees face, such as adoptee anger, mourning, shame and adoption acknowledgment, while using case studies to illustrate how parents can better relate to their adopted child. The voices of adopted children are poignant, questioning and they tell a familiar story. This book teaches parents how to help their children free themselves from feelings of fear, abandonment and shame.

Twenty Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed
Sherrie Eldridge, 2009
An invaluable resource guide filled with practical advice to help adoptive parents form closer bonds with their children.  This book features 20 ways to confidently and competently address the specific challenges of raising adopted children.  This book is sensitive to all aspects of the adoptive parents’ journey and tackles many difficult, loaded issues including the importance of telling children the truth—positive and negative—about their origins as soon as possible; communicating heart-to-heart even when angry; when to seek professional help; and understanding their own needs as well as their children’s. Each chapter opens with a story about a family problem that is bound to resonate with readers and has imagined letters to parents from the young child, teen and adult adoptee’s point of view. Helpful direction and assignments appear in boxes, sidebars and bulleted lists.

The Family of Adoption: Completely Revised and Updated
Joyce Maguire Pavao, 2005
A family and adoption therapist, and adoptee herself, Pavao explains to adoptive parents, birthparents, adult adopted people and family, as well as to those who work with children, the developmental stages and challenges one can expect in the life of the adopted person.

The Handbook of International Adoption Medicine: A Guide for Physicians, Parents, and Providers
Laurie C. Miller, MD, 2005
An overview of the specialized medical and developmental issues that affect internationally adopted children, offering guidelines to the physicians caring for these children and their families before, during, and after adoption. The reader will learn how to advise families prior to an international adoption, how to perform an effective initial screening assessment of the newly arrived child, and how to recognize and manage developmental and other more long-term problems as they emerge.

Raising Adopted Children
Lois Ruskai Melina, 1998
A comprehensive guide to the special issues of parenting adopted children, covering circumstances important to all adoptive parents. Drawing from child development, psychology, sociology, medicine, and also the experiences of adoptive parents, it examines the child’s physical, emotional and psychological development at every age. There are chapters on special topics such as the multiracial family, behavior problems and single parent adoption. A long-standing classic in the field is updated with a new section on international adoption.

Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child
Holly van Gulden and Lisa M. Bartels-Rabb, 1995
A wealth of information awaits you in this book. It offers insight into how adopted children commonly think and feel about being adopted. It explains why, and in what way, adopted children grieve for their birth parents and suggests ways that adoptive parents can help them to come to a healthy resolution of this grief. This book offers confidence and assurance, as well as sought-after answers to lifelong questions. Dr. Jerri Jenista calls this book the “…Dr. Spock of raising adopted children.”

A Child’s Journey Through Placement
Vera Fahlberg, 1991
For some children, being in placement is only a brief stop on the way to being reunited with their parents or placed with an adoptive family. Others may wander in and out of foster care, mental health facilities, throughout their childhood. This book provides the foundation, resources, and tools to help professionals and parents support these children on their way to adulthood.

Adoption Is a Family Affair! What Relatives and Friends Must Know
By Patricia Irwin, 2001
A book that will be invaluable to you during your adoption journey! Read it then share it with family and friends!


Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special Needs Kids (Updated)
Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D. and Regina M. Kupecky, L.S.W., 2009
Adopting children who have experienced past emotional and physical atrocities, interruptions in parent-child bonding cycles, losses, and inappropriate behaviors can generate much frustration and heartache. This book is a frank and poignant portrayal of the sad and often brutal reality of adoption. But more importantly, it is a source of valuable information, hope and inspiration for adoptive and foster parents, therapists, teachers, social workers, and all others whose lives interact with these children.  Without avoiding the grim statistics, this book reveals the real hope that hurting children can be healed through adoptive and foster parents, social workers, and others who care.

Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow
Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D. and Regina M. Kupecky, L.S.W., 2009
Some adoptees come to their new homes with hurts from the past that can affect an entire family. With time, patience, and informed parenting, your adopted child can heal, grow, and develop beyond what seems possible now. This book explains how to raise your child with loving wisdom, resolve, and success, while preserving your stability and sanity.

Special Needs Adoptions: Practice Issues
Ruth G. McRoy, 1998
This book outlines what formulates a successful match between adoptable children with special needs and their prospective parents, and how the current placements can be improved.  It recognizes the challenges of building families through adoptions and offers specific training suggestions for special needs adoptive families and agency workers in order to improve adoption outcomes for children.

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
Peter Levine, 1997
This book presents simple “first aid” tools to help prevent traumatic reactions from developing in the aftermath of “overwhelm” and injury.

Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma
Deborah D. Gray, 2007
With higher and higher percentages of children joining their families not as newborns, but from domestic or international foster care or from orphanages abroad, both parents and the professionals with whom they consult need new skills.

The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction
Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., 2005
Is your child difficult? Picky? Oversensitive? Clumsy? Unpredictable? Inattentive? If these words describe your child, he/she may actually be suffering from Sensory Integration Disorder, a frequently misdiagnosed condition that can manifest itself in abnormal activity levels, problems with motor coordination, or inappropriate sensitivity to sensation and movement. Learn how to recognize and treat children with this common disorder.


The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family
Karyn B. Purvis, David R. Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine, 2007
The adoption of a child is always a joyous moment in the life of a family. Some adoptions, though, present unique challenges. Welcoming these children into your family-and addressing their special needs-requires care, consideration, and compassion. Written by two research psychologists specializing in adoption and attachment, this book will help you build bonds of affection and trust with your adopted child, effectively deal with any learning or behavioral disorders, and discipline your child with love without making him or her feel threatened.

Nurturing Attachments: Supporting Children Who are Fostered or Adopted
Kim S. Goldin, 2007
This book combines the experience and wisdom of parents and carers with that of professionals to provide support and practical guidance for foster and adoptive parents looking after children with insecure attachment relationships. It gives an overview of attachment theory and a step-by-step model of parenting which provides the reader with a tried-and-tested framework for developing resilience and emotional growth.  The book offers sound advice and provides exercises for parents and their children, as well as useful tools that supervising social workers can use both in individual support of carers as well as in training exercises. This is an essential guide for adoptive and foster parents, and professionals.

Becoming a Family: Promoting Healthy Attachments with Your Adopted Child
Lark Eshleman, 2005
This book helps adoptive parents recognize and respond to the signs of broken attachment. This practical guide offers clear and effective strategies for parents to help their children overcome their uncertain past and embrace the love of their new parents.

Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents
Deborah Gray, 2002
Many adopted children come to their families at an older age. Adoptive parents may need help in understanding how prior experiences and changes in caregivers, culture, and language can create challenges for children trying to form attachments in their new families. This book provides advice about obtaining a proper diagnosis, building a caring professional team, using various approaches to parenting and teaching, and finding a therapist who is adequately informed, prepared, and experienced.

Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft
Mary Hopkins Best, Ed.D., 1998
Increasingly, adoptive children are entering their forever families past the age of infancy but not yet as older children. This book covers all aspects of adopting and parenting these young children: making an informed decision whether or not to adopt; preparation and education; forming attachments; behavior management; and more. This book fills a long-neglected hole in available adoption literature.

Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children
Daniel A. Hughes, 2006
Hearts are for loving, but hearts fractured by early neglect or abuse don’t know how to love. The composite figure of Katie, a fragmented, tormented, isolated girl in foster care who is filled with terror, shame, rage, and despair, exposes the tragedy of the unattached child. It alternates Katie’s story with an analysis of the effects of her early life experiences. This book realistically portrays the experiences of poorly attached children and offers practical strategies for helping them overcome their difficulties.

Healing Parents: Helping Wounded Children Learn to Love & Trust
Michael Orlans, Terry Levy, 2006
This book gives parents/caregivers the information, tools, support, self-awareness, and hope they need to help a wounded child heal emotional wounds and improve behaviorally, socially, and morally. It is a toolbox filled with practical strategies and research that helps parents/caregivers understand their child, learn to respond in a constructive way, and create a healthy environment.

Understanding Attachment: Parenting, Child Care, and Emotional Development
Jean Mercer, 2005
This book will be especially valuable for those unfamiliar with attachment theory and research. Mercer provides a concise and jargon-free summary of attachment theory and successfully reveals how developments in the assessment of attachment promoted the evolution of attachment theory to what it is today.

Parenting From the Inside Out
Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell, 2004
How many parents have found themselves thinking:  Am I destined to repeat the mistakes of my parents?  Child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and early childhood expert Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., explore the extent to which our childhood experiences actually do shape the way we parent. Drawing upon stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, they explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories, which will help them raise compassionate and resilient children.  Born out of a series of parents’ workshops that combined Siegel’s cutting-edge research on how communication impacts brain development with Hartzell’s 30 years of experience as a child-development specialist and parent educator, this book guides parents through creating the necessary foundations for loving and secure relationships with their children.

If you are adopting an older child, please read at least one of these books:

Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding and Appreciating Their Journeys
By Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., 2009
This book offers new insights and parenting strategies relative to adolescents, especially adopted adolescents. Parents will find humor and relief as they realize their role in their child’s journey. Once you understand your role in their journey, you will be more effective in your role as a parent.  Keck helps you understand and appreciate the complicated journey that adopted adolescents face.

Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child
Trish Maskew, 2003
This thorough guide to the adoption of older children argues that there’s a big gap between the fantasy of adoption and its reality. While it was once thought that lots of love and a good home would take care of the problems inherent in adopting a child, families and social workers now know that that is not true. Raising adopted children is not the same as raising birth children, and Maskew offers ideas and advice that are both practical and extensive. She deals with racism, problems around the holidays, disabled and special-needs children, and international adoptees. In a society that still views adoption as second best to birthing a child, Maskew sees that with commitment and support as the keys, love will come along.

Beneath the Mask – Understanding Adopted Teens
Debbie Riley, M.S. with John Meeks, M.D, 2005
Working with adopted adolescents is complex. The key to successful therapy and healthy development is to help the adolescent discover and accept the person within. Parents will discover: the six most common adoption stuck-spots; the complexities of adoption; the adopted teen’s quest for identity; how therapy may help the adoptive families learn and grow together. Therapists and clinicians will discover: a broad knowledge base on adoption; a step-by-step assessment process; clinical intervention strategies; a wealth of case histories; treatment resources and therapy tools; writing and art therapy samples.

Parenting Your Adopted Older Child: How to Overcome Unique Challenges & Raise a Happy & Healthy Child
Brenda McCreight, 2002
This comprehensive guide by an adoption expert provides specific parenting strategies for the growing number of people who adopt children over two years old. Parents learn to identify their child’s needs, meet such challenges as aggressive behavior and attention deficit disorder, and create a sense of belonging.

Creating Ceremonies : Innovative Ways to Meet Adoption Challenges
Cheryl A. Lieberman and Rhea K. Bufferd, 1998
A guide to producing and enacting family scripts which mark key transitions in adoption for school age children. These ceremonies are a way to acknowledge the loss of transitions, even in happy situations, and provide a hopeful context to acknowledge the changing circumstances.  For adoptive families, where the history is not a shared one, the rites and traditions commonly relied upon to negotiate transitions and to withstand internal or external stressors do not exist.

If you are completing a transracial adoption, please read one of these books:

Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference
Heather Jacobson, 2008
This book follows white adoptive mothers as they navigate culture keeping: from their motivations, to the pressures and constraints they face, to the content of their actual practices concerning names, food, toys, travel, cultural events, and communities of belonging. It explores how women think about their children, their families, and themselves as mothers as they labor to construct or resist ethnic identities for their children, who may be perceived as birth children (because they are white) or who may be perceived as adopted (because of racial difference).  The choices these women make about culture, Jacobson argues, offer a window into dominant ideas of race and the “American Family,” and into how social differences are conceived and negotiated in the US.

Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children
Donna Jackson Nakazawa, 2004
A guide to helping multiracial children of all ages develop confidence and a healthy understanding of their uniqueness.  This book is useful for raising multiracial children in a color- and race-conscious world.

Inside Transracial Adoption
By Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg, 2000
Using a careful blend of academic research, social reality, and personal experience, this book provides creative, confident, pro-active, and provocative guidance for prospective parents considering transracial adoption for the first time and for those who are experienced veterans. This book offers direction for building close, loving, and very real families consisting of individuals who are proud and culturally competent members of differing races.

Cross Cultural Adoption: How to Answer Questions from Family, Friends, and Community
Amy Coughlin, Caryn Abramowitz, 2004
Written as a guidebook for adult relatives and friends of adoptive families, this book puts the power of information where kids seek it most–in the mouths of their parents and caregivers.  The family unit is becoming the new, scaled-down model for the “great American melting pot.” All of these cross-cultural families engender questions, particularly from small children: “Who are her real parents? Where is she from?” If adults aren’t careful, the answers can have devastating effects; if they are careful, the answers can lay a solid foundation for a developing wisdom about love, families, and relationships.

Dim Sum, Bagels and Grits
Myra Alperson, 2001
An invaluable handbook “for multicultural families formed through adoption,” this book provides an expansive resource directory for everything from adoption agencies and publications to Web sites and sources for multicultural toys. The book outlines some of the specific issues facing multi-ethnic families, along with strategies for dealing with them. Alperson’s frank style, along with the abundant interviews laced through the book, lends a supportive tone to discussions of both the struggles and joys that multicultural families experience. For readers just beginning to consider cross-cultural adoption or those already in the thick of it, this fine book should be at the top of their resource list.

In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories
By Rita J. Simon & Rhonda M. Roorda, 2000
This book is the story of every person who has lived in an environment in which he or she didn’t quite fit…. Yet, while the stories in the book are universal, they are also deeply personal and incredibly touching. You cannot read this book without being changed.

Are Those Kids Yours?: American Families With Children Adopted From Other Countries
Cheri Register, 1990
A guide to becoming a visibly international family and answering the usually well-intentioned questions of others.

Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib
By Jaiya John, 2005
Here is a brazenly honest glimpse into the mind and heart of that child, a true story for the ages that flows like a soulful river—separated from his mother at birth, placed into foster care, adopted, and finally reunited with his biological family in adulthood—an astounding journey of personal discovery. Jaiya John has opened the floodgates on his own childhood with this piercing memoir. Magically, this book finds a way to sing as it cries, and to exude compassion even as it dispels well-entrenched myths. This story is sure to find itself well worn, stained by tears, and brushed by laughter in the lap of parents, adolescents, educators, students and professionals.


Brothers & Sisters in Adoption: Helping Children Navigate Relationships When New Kids Join the Family
Arleta M James, 2009
Brothers and Sisters in Adoption offers insights and examples and proven tools for helping newly configured families meet the needs of all its members.

Thicker than Blood: Bonds of Fantasy and Reality in Adoption
Selma Kramer, 2000
This book addresses the impact of adoption on biological parents, adoptive parents, adopted children, and siblings.


Message From an Unknown Chinese Mother
Xinran, 2010
This book tells the stories of Chinese mothers whose daughters have been wrenched from them, and also brings us the voices of some adoptive mothers from different parts of the world. These are stories which Xinran could not bring herself to tell previously – because they were too painful and close to home. In the footsteps of Xinran’s Good Women of China, this is personal, immediate, full of harrowing, tragic detail but also uplifting, tender moments. Ten chapters, ten women and many stories of heartbreak, including her own: Xinran once again takes us right into the lives of Chinese women – students, successful business women, midwives, peasants, all with memories which have stained their lives. Whether as a consequence of the single-child policy, destructive age-old traditions or hideous economic necessity… these women had to give up their daughters for adoption, others were forced to abandon them – on city streets, outside hospitals, orphanages or on station platforms – and others even had to watch their baby daughters being taken away at birth, and drowned. Here are the ‘extra-birth guerrillas’ who travel the roads and the railways, evading the system, trying to hold onto more than one baby; naive young student girls who have made life-wrecking mistakes; the ‘pebble mother’ on the banks of the Yangzte still looking into the depths for her stolen daughter; peasant women rejected by their families because they can’t produce a male heir; and finally there is Little Snow, the orphaned baby fostered by Xinran but ‘confiscated’ by the state. The book sends a heartrending message from their birth mothers to all those Chinese girls who have been adopted overseas (at the end of 2006 there were over 120,000 registered adoptive families for Chinese orphans, almost all girls, in 27 countries), to show them how things really were for their mothers, and to tell them they were loved and will never be forgotten.

Waiting Child: How the Faith and Love of One Orphan Saved the Life of Another
Cindy Champnella, 2004
An extraordinary story of human resilience in the face of tremendous odds. Adopted by an American family at age four, Jaclyn goes to her new home with a great burden. Her new family had to leave behind a little boy who had been under her charge at the Chinese orphanage. Jaclyn inspires two families, several agencies, and two governments to cooperate to reunite her with “her baby.”

Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage
Kay Bratt, 2010
The true story of adversity and triumph in one woman’s fight against bureaucracy to help orphaned children.

Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption, and Orphanage Care in China
Kay Ann Johnson, Amy Klatzkin, 2004
Why are there so many healthy infant girls in Chinese orphanages? Those who have been touched by adoption from China often speak those very words. This book provides the most thorough answer to date.

China Ghosts: My Daughter’s Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood
Jeff Gammage, 2008
Moving from the U.S. to China and back, here is a poignant true story of fatherhood, family, and one determined couples triumphant struggle to adopt a baby in a foreign land.

Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past
Karin Evans, 2008
Over 18,000 Chinese children, most of them girls, have been adopted by Americans. This book explores the emotional and political complexities that create families across the boundaries of culture and geography.

The Lucky Ones: Our Stories of Adopting Children from China
Ann Rauhala, 2008
From the early stages of the adoption process to bringing the child home, this collection of personal stories reveals why parents who have adopted children from China feel—despite the challenges they’ve endured—truly lucky.

Adopting a Daughter from China
Denise Harris Hoppenhauer, 2006
Written for first time parents, the practical advice offered here combines the challenging aspects of parenthood, with personal experience and the unique needs of adoptive families.  This easy to read, book covers every aspect of adopting from China: preparing the nursery, changing a name, the baby wardrobe, child development, selecting a pediatrician, child safety, feeding baby, the wait, packing for your trip, travel to China, early days together, pre and post-adoption resources, and more.

Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches
Russell D. Moore, 2009
A manifesto calling Christians to adopt children and to equip Christian families going through the process. Offers biblical foundations for adoption and identifies adoption as a Great Commission priority in evangelical churches.

After the Dream Comes True: Post Adoption Support for Christian Families
Michelle Gardner, 2004
As families lovingly and obediently welcome adopted children into their hearts and homes, there are many issues with which they need to deal. This book helps families consider these issues from a scriptural perspective and challenges families to see adoption as an opportunity to learn to trust and obey.

Adopting a Toddler: What Size Shoes Does She Wear?
Denise Harris Hoppenhauer, 2004
This book covers all aspects of toddler adoption and the immediate requirements for raising a toddler.

A Passage to the Heart: Writings from Families with Children from China
Amy Klatzkin, 1999
The articles in this book, taken from FCC (Families with Children from China) chapter newsletters, discuss all aspects of adoption from China.

Mei Mei Little Sister: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage
Richard Bowen, 2005
The Chinese believe an unseen red thread joins those in this life who are destined to connect. For photographer Richard Bowen, that thread led him to China’s state-run welfare institutions, where there are thousands of children, primarily girls, growing up without families to take care of them. Mei Mei presents a poignant glimpse of just a few of these remarkable children. Composed against neutral backgrounds, these portraits capture the girls’ inner lives, away from their often bleak surroundings. The images show an almost endless range of expressions: small faces filled with longing and hope, joy and sadness, humor and mischief, defiance and despair. Through the camera’s eye these young children are no longer orphans, but individuals whose personalities are as vital, distinct, and beautiful as any mother’s child. When that unique human being comes into focus, the connection is made and the red thread becomes visible. And once seen, the bond can never be broken.


How I Became a Big Brother
Dave Moore, 2008
This is a simple story of how a little boy who doesn’t have any siblings suddenly becomes a big brother to an adopted child. The story is told from the point of view of the toddler and touches on many of the concerns and fears that a child might be experiencing when their family decides to adopt.

I Wished For You: An Adoption Story
Marianne Richmond, 2008
This book follows a conversation between Barley Bear and his Mama as they discuss how they became a family. Barley asks Mama the questions many adopted children have, and Mama lovingly answers them all.

God Found Us You
Lisa Tawn Bergren, 2009
This book will resonate with many adopted children as well as their adoptive parents. A nice introduction to adoption for any child, adopted or not.  This is a story of a mother with an unfulfilled heart longing to love a child. So she waited and believed, and seasons changed while she prayed “like crazy” and one day, she believed God would bring a Little Fox for her to love. Finally, her prayers and dreams come true, and Little Fox comes into her life. It is a story he loves to hear over and over about the day he came home. And so, Mama Fox explains to Little Fox how lonely she was before God brought him for her to love. She tells him how she waited and prayed for him, how he would look, and how he would smell. This is a charming story about adoption, when faith and hope are given free reign and the timing is given to God, whose timing is always perfect.

Three Names of Me
Mary Cummings, 2006
A gentle, sensitive story of international adoption told through the eyes of a Chinese-American girl. Ada Lorane Bennett explains how she came to have several names–the first was from her birth mother and is buried deep in her heart, another she received at the orphanage, and the third came from her adoptive parents. The theme of family should interest most children, but adopted youngsters will relate to Ada’s feelings as she considers her past as well as present circumstances. This is a warm and simplistic story, with a positive message on adoption.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes
By Rose Lewis, 2000
Based on the author’s own experience, this heartfelt story follows a woman on her journey to adopt a baby girl from China. From paperwork to plane flight, the narrative chronicles the baby’s trip from a crib in a big room shared with many other babies to her own crib in her own room. The delicate watercolors perfectly complement this charming text, a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the world.

I Don’t Have Your Eyes
Carrie Kitze, 2003
Family connections are vitally important to children as they begin to find their place in the world. For transracial and transcultural adoptees, celebrating the differences within their families as well as the similarities that connect them is the foundation for belonging.  As parents or caregivers, we can strengthen our children’s tie to family and embrace the differences that make them unique. Each child will have their own story and their own special place to belong. While others may notice the physical differences between us on the outside, inside we are the same.

Every Year on Your Birthday
By Rose Lewis, 2007
In this delightful companion to the “New York Times” bestseller “I Love you Like Crazy Cakes,” Lewis and Dyer capture the richness of both Chinese and American cultures in a poignant tribute to the growing bond of love only a parent and child can know.

Borya and the Burps – An Eastern European Adoption Story
By Joan McNamara, 2005
A good introduction for young, recently adopted children, and a conversation starter for slightly older children ready to talk what adoption has meant in their lives.  This book acknowledges the sense of security and comfort that many children have with their “familiar” life in an orphanage compared to the unknowns of a family.  The book illustrates some of the confusion children feel when they are removed from multiple caretakers and groups of children and are moved into a loving family with a sensory-enriched home environment. With their whole world turned upside down, children struggle to make sense of these changes and ultimately blossom within a family who will be theirs forever. Families who have adopted from other regions of the world will also find this story valuable.  Comments while reading about what was the same and what was different for their child can personalize this story.

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale
By Karen Katz, 2001
Bright illustrations set the mood for this loving story of adoption. The text is reassuring throughout, reflecting the joy of the new parents and ending with the “forever and always” that is the promise of adoption. The foster parents are pictured. The first day includes the first telling of the adoption story to the baby girl, “You grew like a flower in another lady’s tummy.” Adopted children need to know that they were born like other children, and did not appear magically without human connection.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born
By Jamie Lee Curtis, 2000
A sweet and sunny look at adoption, the story is framed as a much-loved and clearly much-requested family tale, and rings true from beginning to end. Combining wit (“Tell me again how you carried me like a china doll all the way home and how you glared at anyone who sneezed”) with candor (“Tell me again how you couldn’t grow a baby in your tummy, so another woman who was too young to take care of me was growing me”), Curtis deftly addresses the logistics of adoption in a matter-of-fact manner that radiates love and reassurance. It’s hard to imagine a warmer celebration of the special joys of an adopted family.

A Mother for Choco
By Keiko Kasza, 1996
Cheerful illustrations decorate the charming tale of a youngster’s search for a loving parent. Choco believes that physical similarity is a prerequisite for family relationships. He asks a series of animals who bear a resemblance to him if they might be his mother, but all turn him away. Choco is pleasantly surprised when Mrs. Bear takes an interest in him, plays with and cuddles him, and ultimately offers him a home. The presence of other “adoptees”’ is made obvious as a young alligator, hippopotamus, and pig welcome Choco into his new family. A multicultural message may also be read into this satisfying story with appealing illustrations and a very happy ending.

The Day We Met You
By Phoebe Koehler, 1997
The sun shone bright the day we met you”–and it continues to radiate its warmth throughout this unadorned tale of an adoption. Eager to pick up their new baby, the parents-to-be describe their preparations and purchases: “We bought diapers and pajamas . . . so you would be dry and warm.” Friends and neighbors share the excitement by providing a quilt and a cradle; Grandpa brings reassurance in the form of a teddy bear. When the happy couple hold their smiling infant for the first time at the book’s conclusion, the joy is almost palpable. Designed to be read aloud to an adopted child, Koehler’s first picture book addresses an important issue in a loving, direct style.

Beginnings: How Families Come To Be
By Virginia Kroll, 1994
Sketches illustrate various ways to enlarge a family: birth, adoption, guardianship, single parenthood and so on. Each features a child asking a parent to tell “the story of me,” “how you became my now mom,” etc. The responses are loving and reassuring as well as instructive. Kroll carefully selects children from a variety of backgrounds and it is respectful and never condescending. This is an agreeable reminder that happy families come in all colors and combinations.

What Country Do They Come From?
By John and Jane Sardos, 2011
Born in the year of the dragon, little Jaynie embarks on a journey of self-discovery and learns from her mother how she became a special part of her very unique family.  To purchase, go to


All About Adoption: How Families are Made & How Kids Feel About It
Marc Nemiroff, 2003
A book for children who already understand the concept of adoption, this book explores all the different feelings kids can experience as they grow up. Provides sections for parents discussing the unique practical and emotional dimensions of adoptive children and their families, and offers many suggestions.

Adopted and Wondering: Drawing Out Feelings
Marge Eaton Heegaard, 2007
This art therapy book helps children cope with the emotional impact of adoption. Children can use this book’s interactive exercises to develop a strong, secure identity and sense of being loved.

Help I’ve Been Adopted
Brenda McCreight, 2010
This book will answer many of the questions that new (and long time placed) adoptees have about their lives. It is full of helpful suggestions to promote discussion between the adoptive parents and the child.

At Home in This World, A China Adoption Story
Jean MacLeod, 2003
This book addresses the underlying feelings and emotions that color the world of the China adoptee. It effectively describes and empowers a young girl looking for acknowledgement, empathy and emotional validation. It also enables pre-teen readers to put their early lives into perspective, while emphasizing the supportive love that encircles them within their own families.

Adopted Teens Only: A Survival Guide to Adolescence
Danea Gorbett, 2007
All adopted teens have questions, but not every adopted teen knows how to approach these questions or how to handle the intense emotions and high stress often associated with them. This book offers confirmation that what you feel, think, wonder, and worry about as an adopted teen is normal and important, and helps you acknowledge and celebrate the unique gifts and many advantages of growing up adopted.

All About Adoption: How to Deal with the Questions of your Past
Anne Lanchon, 2006
Written in a style attractive to teens, this book deals with issues of self-identity, family relationships, biological roots, and relationships with peers.  It’s casual style helps make it easy to open up the topics for family discussion.

The Secret of Me: A Novel in Verse
Meg Kearney, 2007
The acclaimed story of an adopted teenager’s quest to find her place among family, friends, and the wider world.

The Face in the Mirror: Teenagers and Adoption
Marion Crook, 2000
Being a teenager in today’s complex world is a difficult enough task, but adopted teens have a unique struggle: to discover their identity and a sense of belonging and place in the world, which often means coming to terms with their past.  Written for both teenagers and adults, it is a frank discussion of the issues surrounding adoption, and in particular what adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents should know when adopted teens want to discover their past.


Somewhere Between – This film profiles Chinese adoptees in contemporary America. It is a deeply moving documentary illustrating that even the most specific of experiences can be universally relatable. Of the roughly 80,000 girls who have been adopted from China since 1989—a decade after China implemented its One Child Policy—the film intimately follows four teenagers. These four wise-beyond-their-years, yet typical American teens, reveal a heartbreaking sense of self-awareness as they attempt to answer the uniquely human question, “Who am I?” They meet and bond with other adoptees, some journey back to China to reconnect with the culture, and some reach out to the orphaned girls left behind. In their own ways, all attempt to make sense of their complex identities. Issues of belonging, race, and gender are brought to life through these articulate subjects, who approach life with honesty and open hearts. See more at:

Wo An Ni (I Love You) Mommy – The story of Fang Sui Yong, an 8-year-old orphan, and the Sadowskys, the Long Island Jewish family that travels to China to adopt her. Through her eyes, we witness her struggle with a new identity as she transforms from a timid child into someone that no one — neither her new family nor she — could have imagined.

Smile – Introduced to a volunteer opportunity with the Doctor’s Gift Program, Katie takes a trip to China, where she meets Lin, a girl with whom she shares a birthday.  Lin has a facial deformity that discourages her from ever showing her face, but her friendship with Katie helps her to start to see life in a new way. (Dir. Jeffrey Kramer)

The Official Story – A story about adoption and Argentina.

Tsotsi – Academy Award Best Foreign Film 2006. Orphaned at an early age and compelled to claw his way to adulthood alone, Tsotsi has lived a life of extreme social and psychological deprivation. The film is a psychological thriller in which the protagonist is compelled to confront his own brutal nature and face the consequences of his actions. It puts a human face on both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime and is ultimately a story of hope and a triumph of love over rage.

The Daughter from Danang – 2002 Sundance Film Festival Winner.  This documentary about the reunion between a Vietnamese born adoptee and her birth family. This film can be purchased from PBS; it was aired as part of the “American Experience” series in 2003.

First Person Plural – San Francisco International Film Festival Winner. This documentary about a Korean-born adoptee who unites her biological and adoptive families. It includes interesting exchanges between daughter and adoptive mom about transracial/cultural issues, as well as interesting discussions between daughter and birth family.

Crash – A provocative, unflinching look at the complexities of racial tolerance in contemporary America.

In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee – Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (First Person Plural, POV 2000) returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.

Off and Running – Tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results.