The best adoption-related autobiographies that help adoptive parents to be better parents (and people)

Who am I?

I am an adoptive parent and I often use stories to help my children to understand and process emotive topics. While we were going through the adoption process, I couldn’t find any stories that adequately explained why some children can’t stay with their birth families, so I decided to create my own! I found the waiting during the adoption process quite unbearable and put every spare minute to good use, reading books by adoptees and birth parents, so that I could understand the experiences of the people affected most by adoption. These autobiographies were a tough, emotional read at times, but they all changed me for the better. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Delly Duck: Why A Little Chick Couldn't Stay With His Birth Mother

What is my book about?

When Delly Duck lays an egg, she is excited for it to hatch. But she doesn’t really know how to keep an egg safe, or how to look after her chick when he hatches. See how a concerned goose tries to help Delly to learn how to care for her chick, in this touching adoption story.

The story includes symbolism that is open to appropriate interpretation by the parent, carer, or other adult reading this story with a child. The beautifully-illustrated story includes animal characters that may reflect common behaviours and responsibilities of several of the key people involved in the foster care and adoption process.

The books I picked & why

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Reuben’s Story: From Birth to Adoption

By Joanna Clifton, Cai Clifton (illustrator),

Book cover of Reuben’s Story: From Birth to Adoption

Why this book?

After his adoption was finalised, 8-year-old Cai asked his mother to help him create a story to share with his friends, to explain his story, and together they used his words to create Reuben’s Story. The short, powerful story is written in “Reuben’s” voice, discussing the events that led to him being in foster care, then adopted. He talks in a matter-of-fact way, as 8-year-olds do, about things that 8-year-olds should never experience, and about his life after adoption. I initially bought this for my children, but read it myself first and found it incredibly moving. I recommend that all adoptive parents read it, especially those who adopted older children. 

Reuben’s Story: From Birth to Adoption

By Joanna Clifton, Cai Clifton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reuben’s Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reuben is adopted when he is old enough to remember his time with his birth family, various foster care placements, and the transition to his adoptive family, after meeting his adoptive parent, Taylor, at an activity day. Reuben's account is written in his own voice, which makes the story engaging and accessible to young readers.

This book is based on a true story of a boy's journey from birth, through foster care, to adoption, as an older child. It can be used to help older adopted children with life story work, where the events can be related to and compared…


Survival Without Roots: Memoir of an Adopted Englishwoman

By Anna Anderson,

Book cover of Survival Without Roots: Memoir of an Adopted Englishwoman

Why this book?

As soon as I heard about Anna Anderson, I knew I had to read it. Anna is in the unique position of being adopted as a child, then becoming a birth mother, and finally adopting children herself. It did not disappoint. Anna talks openly about how her adoptive parents treat her, and her feelings towards them as a result of their very different parenting approaches. Anna shares her emotions in such a way that you can’t help but reflect on your own parenting, and it has made me think carefully about how the things I say could affect my son’s self-esteem. 

Survival Without Roots: Memoir of an Adopted Englishwoman

By Anna Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Survival Without Roots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ‘Survival Without Roots’ memoir trilogy portrays the melting pot of emotions experienced by many adoptees associated with their lack of identity, as they spend a lifetime wondering …

'Is there anyone out there who looks like me, talks like me and thinks like me?'

As an adoptee, a birth mother and an adoptive parent, Anna Anderson tells her story with compassion, humility and grace arising from her first-hand experience of all ‘three faces’ of adoption.

Book One is set in the ‘50s and ‘60s and captures her first eighteen years after being adopted as a baby and transported to…


Are You My New Mum?

By Astrid Peerson,

Book cover of Are You My New Mum?

Why this book?

I found this short, emotional story impossible to put down. I read it in one sitting, spent the next few days thinking about it, then read it again. Astrid talks about her childhood, including the events that led to her being taken into foster care, and her fear and confusion when this happened. Astrid talks about her experiences of sibling contact in foster care and after adoption, which I found really interesting. Adoptive parents should read this, to help understand how their children may feel if they have siblings placed elsewhere.

Are You My New Mum?

By Astrid Peerson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Are You My New Mum? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you my new mum? Tells of the harrowing true story of the Peerson siblings. You'll read the disturbing words written by Astrid, of the abuse herself, and her siblings endured on a daily basis.

Unloved, abused, and neglected by their biological parents.

Astrid's father, an evil, narcissistic, pedophile, who abused his position as the head of of the household.
Astrid's mother, who sat back and allowed the abuse to go on, for many years, even sometimes joining in.

Astrid tells her story from childhood abuse, being taken to a children's home, being in a few foster homes, finding a…


Baby of Mine: A Birthmother's Journey Through Forced Adoption

By Laura Anderson,

Book cover of Baby of Mine: A Birthmother's Journey Through Forced Adoption

Why this book?

It’s difficult to find the words to do this autobiography justice. A likable and engaging birth mother shares the events that led to the removal of her sons by social services and talks about the incredible friendship she later develops with the mother who adopts them. This book made me imagine how my son’s birth parents may feel, and is essential reading for any adoptive parent struggling to find or maintain empathy for birth families. I felt inspired by Laura’s strength, selflessness, and personal growth, and admire the relationship she now has with her sons’ new mother, which is so beneficial to their sons.

Baby of Mine: A Birthmother's Journey Through Forced Adoption

By Laura Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Baby of Mine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the young age of 17, Laura is pregnant and naïve. Upon welcoming her little boy, CJ, into the world life isn’t as perfect as she’d hoped, and she ends up a single mother. Falling into the arms of someone from her past; Laura is soon swept up in a monsoon when her 5-month-old son is unexpectedly injured and social services step in and take him from her care.

Trapped in an abusive marriage and pregnant for a second time, will Laura find the courage to walk away, when doing so means she will lose another son? Will there ever…


The Birth Father's Tale

By Andrew Ward,

Book cover of The Birth Father's Tale

Why this book?

It is rare to find the view of a birth father in a story or online, so I was keen to read this to help widen my perspectives. This insightful, reflective autobiography helped me to imagine how my son’s birth father may be affected by the adoption. Andrew shares how the loss of his son to adoption has affected so many of his choices throughout the rest of his life. I read this around the time that I was due to write a contact letter to my son’s birth parents, and I feel that it helped me to write something that I hope his birth parents will find supportive and reassuring, rather than a superficial update to “tick the box.”

The Birth Father's Tale

By Andrew Ward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Birth Father's Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first-ever British birth-father memoir, Andrew Ward reflects on his own experience of losing a child to adoption to show how a traumatic teenage incident complicated his life. Thirty years after the adoption Ward set out to break down barriers, find his son and seek resolution. In this book he describes his search and, through flashback stories, illustrates how being a birth father has impacted on his relationships with women, career decisions, writing projects and assembly of attitudes. This is a book about secrecy, shame and self-punishment, but it is also a book about wonderful friendships, amazing coincidences and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in adoption, foster care, and mothers?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about adoption, foster care, and mothers.

Adoption Explore 30 books about adoption
Foster Care Explore 32 books about foster care
Mothers Explore 60 books about mothers

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like We Can Talk About It, Love You From Right Here, and Dear Birthmother if you like this list.