The most recommended books about adopted children

Who picked these books? Meet our 36 experts.

36 authors created a book list connected to adopted children, and here are their favorite adopted children books.
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What type of adopted children book?


The Primal Wound

By Nancy Newton Verrier,

Book cover of The Primal Wound

Anna Anderson Author Of Survival Without Roots: Memoir of an Adopted Englishwoman

From the list on growing up adopted.

Who am I?

I am adopted. I am a birth mother and also a mother through adoption. I have lived through all ‘three faces’ of adoption and know how each ‘face’ affects millions of people's lives all over the world. I am passionate that conversations around adoption need to come out of the closet and the secrecy surrounding the subject must disappear. By writing my books, I am on a mission to support adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive parents and help them realise they are not alone. After publication of my first book in the Survival Without Roots trilogy, I am humbled that people are reaching out to say that reading Book One has helped them so much.  

Anna's book list on growing up adopted

Why did Anna love this book?

I recommend this book as it explains what to take into consideration when trying to understand the adopted child. I am adopted and did not realise that a lot of the lifelong trauma I have felt was related to adoption. It is a must-read for adopted people, adoptive families, birth parents, and adoption professionals. 

By Nancy Newton Verrier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Primal Wound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Primal Wound is a seminal work which revolutionizes the way we think about adoption. It describes and clarifies the effects of separating babies from their birth mothers as a primal loss which affects the relationships of the adopted person throughout life.. It is a book about pre-and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss. It gives adoptees, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior. It lists the coping mechanisms which adoptees use to be able to attach and live in a family to whom they are not related…

Far from the Tree

By Robin Benway,

Book cover of Far from the Tree

Jamie Jo Hoang Author Of My Father, The Panda Killer

From the list on loving what makes you different.

Who am I?

All my life, I’ve struggled with accepting who I am. It’s no secret that the Vietnam War was unpopular in America; as such, I spent my adolescence hiding who I was. Literature like this didn’t exist when I was a kid. If it had, I think I would’ve seen myself differently. As a writer, I explore similar themes in my work and highlight the importance of discussing how our childhood experiences (good and bad) shape us. Uniformity is a destroyer of identity; my mission is to show how loving what makes us different allows us to love the differences we see in others.

Jamie's book list on loving what makes you different

Why did Jamie love this book?

This book is powerful. When three biological siblings find one another they’re all at different stages.

Grace, at sixteen, has just given birth. Joaquin, the older brother, has bounced around foster care homes. And the youngest, Maya, searches for traces of herself in her new bio siblings. I imagine all kids who are adopted, at some point, struggle with why they were given up. These three are no different, but they are so dynamic and lovable, and despite Joaquin’s struggles, he shines as an older brother who wants nothing but the best for his sisters.

Watching these kids love each other is, in a way, watching them learn to love themselves, and it’s so darn beautiful. 

By Robin Benway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Far from the Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Sometimes, family hurts each other. But after that's done you bandage each other up, and you move on. Together. So you can go and think that you're some lone wolf, but you're not. You've got us now, like it or not, and we've got you.'

When 16 year-old Grace gives up her baby for adoption, she decides that the time has come to find out more about her own biological mother. Although her biological mum proves elusive, her search leads her to two half-siblings she never knew existed.…


By Michael Ondaatje,

Book cover of Divisadero

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From the list on set in France with themes to match.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Why did Rosalind love this book?

Although it begins in California, this novel develops into a story set in France. Two sisters, separated by their father after a violent incident, search for each other and eventually connect via a French recluse, whose life one sister is researching. I love Michael Ondaatje’s writing and this book in particular for its daring sweep of geographical and emotional territory. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is the 1970s in Northern California. A farmer and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work the land with the help of Coop, the enigmatic young man who lives with them. Theirs' is a makeshift family, until they are riven by an incident of violence - of both hand and heart - that 'sets fire to the rest of their lives'. This is a story of possession and loss, about the often discordant demands of family, love, and memory. Written in the sensuous prose for which Michael Ondaatje's fiction is celebrated, "Divisadero" is the work of a master story-teller.

This Heavy Silence

By Nicole Mazzarella,

Book cover of This Heavy Silence

Linda MacKillop Author Of The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon

From the list on protagonists in intergenerational relationships.

Who am I?

Because of the presence of my four beloved grandparents throughout my growing up years, (all four of my grandparents even attended my wedding), I’ve always enjoyed relationships with older people. My comfort with older people translates into my friendships where many of the women in my life are quite a bit older than me. These intergenerational relationships offer wisdom and experience that informs my own life. I hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and have written one novel for adults and one for middle-grade readers. My past jobs include being a television engineer, an adjunct professor, and a publishing professional.

Linda's book list on protagonists in intergenerational relationships

Why did Linda love this book?

Single and self-sufficient Dottie O’Connell farms her 300 acres with strength and independence, not needing anyone. When she finds herself the primary caretaker to her friend’s young daughter Mattie after the girl is orphaned by a tragic fire, Dottie suddenly is thrust into guardianship with a young person she had no desire to raise. While I admired Dottie for taking on such a life-changing responsibility, at times I couldn’t fathom Dottie’s choices involving the girl. Thankfully, the author peels away the layers of Dottie’s wounds, allowing us at least to understand her while maybe not agreeing with her. Each of us has a Dottie story that influences our decisions for good or for bad. 

By Nicole Mazzarella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Heavy Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an unforgettable debut novel about the nature of forgiveness, the debts we owe, and the mysteries of what we call grace. When Dottie Connell adopts her best friend's daughter out of a combination of spite and loyalty, she must confront her ideas on motherhood, sexuality, and God. Set in rural Ohio, "This Heavy Silence" spans ten years in Dottie's life. She loves the land despite its bitterness and hardship. She raises her adopted daughter and farms her family's three hundred acres in a time and place unaccustomed to independent women. Her struggle to buy back the farm comes…

Surviving the White Gaze

By Rebecca Carroll,

Book cover of Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

Matthew Pratt Guterl Author Of Skinfolk: A Memoir

From the list on heartbreaking memoirs of race and adoption.

Who am I?

I was raised as one of two white kids in a large, multiracial adoptive family by loving parents who wanted to change the world. Our parents were thoughtful about adoption, ambitious about the symbolism of our family, and raised us all to be conscious about race, to see it, and to guard against it. But the world is a lot bigger than our house and racism is insidious and so, in a way, we all eventually got swallowed up. So I started thinking hard about the dynamic relationship between race and adoption and family when I was just a kid, and I’ve never really stopped. 

Matthew's book list on heartbreaking memoirs of race and adoption

Why did Matthew love this book?

The writing is gorgeous, but it is the story – heartbreaking at first and then, as it closes, heartwarming – that grabs you.

Rebecca Carroll, marked as black, is adopted by white parents and raised in an all-white town. Determined to learn more about herself, she sets out to reconnect with her birth parents, but what she learns is a set of hard, painful truths. As the thread slowly unspools, her white birth mother is also revealed as abusive and controlling.

Still searching for a sense of who she is, Carroll discovers her own blackness through found family, and by doing so challenges her readers to cling tight to anyone who makes us whole. 

By Rebecca Carroll,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Surviving the White Gaze as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Esquire Best Book of 2021

A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America.

Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.

Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a…

The Sun Sister

By Lucinda Riley,

Book cover of The Sun Sister

Alana Woods Author Of A Legal Affair

From Alana's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Intrigue queen Editor extraordinaire Traveler Reader

Alana's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Alana love this book?

This is the sixth in a series called The Seven Sisters based on The Pleiades star constellationBorrowing books from the local library on an extended stay overseas, I chose this without checking if it was part of a series. 

Since then, I've been compelled to buy the rest as the storyline was too intriguing, atmospheric, and enthralling to walk away from. The sun sister is Electra D'Aplièse, a supermodel with seemingly everyone and everything at her feet.

But after the death of her adoptive father, she spirals into an alcohol and drugs tailspin. Then, a letter from a complete stranger saves her. I haven't read all seven books as yet, but those I have are equally enthralling and well-told.

By Lucinda Riley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sun Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the frenetic atmosphere of Manhattan to the magnificent wide-open plains of Africa, The Sun Sister is the sixth epic tale in the Seven Sisters series by the number one bestseller Lucinda Riley. A breathtaking story of love and loss, inspired by the mythology of the famous star constellation.

To the outside world Electra D'Apliese, in her mid-twenties, seems to have it all: as one of the world's top models, she is beautiful, rich and famous.

Yet Electra's already tenuous control over her state of mind has been rocked by the death of her father, Pa Salt, the elusive billionaire…

Book cover of The Love That Split the World

Isabel Strychacz Author Of Starling

From the list on capturing the magic of small towns.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town myself and have always loved books that create characters from the setting. I want to feel immersed and captivated by the place, as well as the people and stories within the pages. The setting of an eerie small town is one of my favorites, because of the feeling that anything magical or mysterious could happen there. My book Starling takes place in a strange small town where odd things are everyday occurrences. There are many books that use small towns as setting for a speculative story, but these are some of my favorites!

Isabel's book list on capturing the magic of small towns

Why did Isabel love this book?

This book is small town Americana at its best—and at its strangest, and most magical. It reflects on the bittersweet moments after high school in a rural Kentucky town. When our main character starts seeing strange things that aren’t really there (or are they?) and she meets a mysterious boy, her entire future may change forever. It’s like a surrealist Friday Night Lights, full of heart and destiny and the paths not taken.

By Emily Henry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Love That Split the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Natalie's last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start...until she starts seeing the "wrong things." They're just momentary glimpses at first - her front door is red instead of its usual green, there's a pre- school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn't right. That's when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls "Grandmother," who tells her: "You have three months to save him." The next night, under the stadium…

Silas Marner

By George Eliot,

Book cover of Silas Marner

Rebecca Rosenblum Author Of These Days Are Numbered: Diary of a High-Rise Lockdown

From the list on community and connection.

Who am I?

I’ve always been deeply interested in how people connect to those around them—it is something I write about constantly. My first novel, So Much Love, was about how a community reacts to terrible loss and uncertainty, and my recent book of nonfiction, These Days Are Numbered, is about how my own community—and I—reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am always looking at how humans human, separately and especially together. That is one of the joys of narrative fiction for me—the way we can use it to examine our behaviour and interactions, and how we form relationships and communities. I hope these books enthrall you as much as they did me.

Rebecca's book list on community and connection

Why did Rebecca love this book?

Yes, it’s a Victorian novel but it’s also the slenderest and sweetest one, by my lights.

Cast out from his narrow religious community by the acts of a dishonest friend, Silas Marner flees to a new village and resolves to live a life apart, money his only security. Then along comes a tiny child in need and Silas cannot help but help—even though this new challenge comes on the heels of a devastating robbery.

The man’s generosity has the effect of opening him up to the generosity of others until, little by little, he becomes a part of the community he has lived apart from for so long. There is never a bad time to read this lovely, hopeful little novella about the worst and best of human nature. 

By George Eliot,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Silas Marner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gold! - his own gold - brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away!

Falsely accused of theft, Silas Marner is cut off from his community but finds refuge in the village of Raveloe, where he is eyed with distant suspicion. Like a spider from a fairy-tale, Silas fills fifteen monotonous years with weaving and accumulating gold. The son of the wealthy local Squire, Godfrey Cass also seeks an escape from his past. One snowy winter, two events change the course of their lives: Silas's gold is stolen and, a child crawls across his threshold.


Tropic of Violence

By Nathacha Appanah,

Book cover of Tropic of Violence

Catherine Cusset Author Of Life of David Hockney

From the list on by French women.

Who am I?

I am a French novelist, the author of fifteen novels, many of which are memoirs, so I am considered a specialist of "autofiction" in France, of fiction written about oneself. But I also love writing about others, as you can see in my novel on David Hockney. Beauvoir, Sarraute and Ernaux were my models, Laurens and Appanah are my colleagues. Three of the books I picked would be called memoirs in the States, and the other two novels. In France, they are in the same category. All these women write beautifully about childhood and womanhood. I love their writing because it is both intimate and universal, full of emotion, but in a very sober and precise style. 

Catherine's book list on by French women

Why did Catherine love this book?

I was immediately engaged in the story of a nurse who follows a man to Mayotte and, unable to conceive, adopts a child whom she brings up by herself after the man abandons her. She dies abruptly, however, and the story changes completely, turning into an intense, violent novel about children in the slums. The orphan who fled after his mother's death is horribly abused by another young teenager who is a gang leader, and can free himself only by killing him in the end. I am in awe of Nathacha Appanah for her ability to capture the voice of street children. This is a poignant, powerful, and beautifully written novel about harassment, cruelty, and possession. 

By Nathacha Appanah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marie, a nurse on the island of Mayotte, adopts an abandoned baby and names him Moise, raising him as a French boy. As he grows up, Moise struggles with his status as an "outsider" and to understand why he was abandoned as a baby. When Marie dies, he is left alone, plunged into uncertainty and turmoil, ending up in the largest and most infamous slum on Mayotte, nicknamed "Gaza".

Narrated by five different characters, Tropic of Violence is an exploration of lost youth on the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. Shining a powerful light on problems of…

Book cover of The Perks of Loving a Wallflower

Katherine Grant Author Of The Viscount Without Virtue

From the list on historical romances for intersectional feminists.

Who am I?

As a historical romance reader, I’m a sucker for stories about the glamorous aristocracy falling in love. While Regency and Victorian romances have explored feminism for at least the last two decades, the genre often falls short of asking more of itself. Of course the debutante shouldn’t need a man – but while the story liberates her, it doesn’t take any notice of the non-aristocratic,  non-Anglican, non-White, less-abled, and/or non-cishet straight characters around her. I yearned for stories that required my favorite aristocrats to acknowledge, examine, and leverage their privilege. All five of these authors deliver – without forgetting our favorite tropes and genre conventions!

Katherine's book list on historical romances for intersectional feminists

Why did Katherine love this book?

When I want a historical romance that knows exactly what it is and how to hit the right notes with each of its tropes, I turn to Erica Ridley.

Take the opening conceit of The Perks of Loving a Wallflower: It felt so familiar to read about a shy heroine who has a secret group of bluestocking friends and who is trying to avoid her parents’ matchmaking schemes.

From there, however, Ridley uses the conceit of a missing cipher to match Philippa with Tommy, a master of disguises and rejecter of labels.

Through a very fun, comforting historical romance plot, we get to explore gender roles, identity, and class snobbery.  

By Erica Ridley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Perks of Loving a Wallflower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a master of disguise, Thomasina Wynchester can be a polite young lady-or a bawdy old man. She'll do whatever it takes to solve the cases her family takes on. But when Tommy's beautiful new client turns out to be the highborn lady she's secretly smitten with, more than her mission is at stake . . .

Bluestocking Miss Philippa York doesn't believe in love. Her heart didn't pitter-patter when she was betrothed to a duke, nor did it break when he married someone else. All Philippa desires is to decode a centuries-old manuscript to keep a modern-day villain from…

Book cover of J. M. Barrie & the Lost Boys

John Leonard Pielmeier Author Of Hook's Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself

From the list on pirates and children.

Who am I?

Peter Pan was the first book I remember being read to me when I was four. At the age of thirty-two, I discovered the real J.M. Barrie. I read everything I could of Barrie’s and even wrote a one-person play about him. This led me to discover R.L. Stevenson, Treasure Island, and the world of (fictional) pirates. On a visit my wife and I made to Robinson Crusoe Island, I came to believe (through deductive logic and vivid imagination) that this was the three-dimensional embodiment of Neverland. Barrie always envisioned himself as Hook, and though I longed to be Peter, I fear that my soul was a pirate’s soul. Hence Hook’s Tale. 

John's book list on pirates and children

Why did John love this book?

Okay, this isn’t exactly about pirates, but it is about children who play at pirating and whose summer adventures with an author named Barrie inspired him to write his play Peter Pan. The children were George, Jack, Peter (and later Michael and Nico) Llewelyn-Davis, and they became the center of Barrie’s creative life. “I have no recollection of having written Peter Pan,” he later wrote. “He belongs rather to the five without whom he never would have existed and the play is streaky with them still. I suppose I made him by rubbing the five of them violently together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame. That is all he is, the spark I got from my boys.”

When I first read this book I had to put it down at the end of nearly every chapter – because I was sobbing and my tears made it impossible…

By Andrew Birkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked J. M. Barrie & the Lost Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enchanting biography of J. M. Barrie, the man who created Peter Pan and his Lost Boys

"For an insightful exploration of Barrie and the boys who inspired him, nothing rivals [this book]."-Norman Allen, Smithsonian Magazine

J. M. Barrie, Victorian novelist, playwright, and author of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, led a life almost as magical and interesting as as his famous creation. Childless in his marriage, Barrie grew close to the five young boys of the Llewelyn Davies family, ultimately becoming their guardian and devoted surrogate father when they were orphaned. Andrew Birkin draws extensively…

Somewhere Out There

By Amy Hatvany,

Book cover of Somewhere Out There

Cheri Krueger Author Of Thanks, Universe

From the list on strong women and the difficult choices mothers face.

Who am I?

I wrote this book to give my mother an alternate life. She was a mother at age fifteen, mother of five by twenty-seven, and a grandmother by thirty-three. Being a parent defined her life, but she did not enjoy motherhood and was very frank on the subject. Thanks, Universe is my way of giving Mom her freedom and even though she never read anything I wrote, I like to think she would have approved of Pauline and the choices she made.

Cheri's book list on strong women and the difficult choices mothers face

Why did Cheri love this book?

A contemporary family saga, this book highlights the struggles of mothers and the difficult choices they face to keep their children safe.

A nature vs. nurture story that contains shocks and surprises and will bring you to tears. The structure is interesting as the reader knows more about what’s going on than the three main characters, creating suspense and tension.

By Amy Hatvany,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Somewhere Out There as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them-and grew up in tragically different circumstances-reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn't even know her birth mother's name-only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie's own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie…

Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Bruce Bishop Author Of Unconventional Daughters: An Engrossing Family Saga on Two Continents

From the list on Nova Scotia, Canada.

Who am I?

I developed a love for James A. Michener’s sweeping novels as a young man, which coincided with an early stage of my career as a travel journalist. I was fortunate to find myself in places all over the globe that he had written about, and these countries were somehow made more vivid to me because of his words. It wasn’t until the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 that I switched from writing non-fiction to fiction. In doing so, I realized that the small part of the world in which I had been born and raised – Nova Scotia, Canadawas as fascinating and interesting as any place I had visited. 

Bruce's book list on Nova Scotia, Canada

Why did Bruce love this book?

I’m convinced that many young readers in the last century (and this one) have been compelled to become writers themselves if they read Anne of Green Gables (published in 1908) and became enmeshed in the life of spunky, red-haired orphan, Anne Shirley.

The story takes place in Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, and recounts the tale of a child who is mistakenly placed in the care of a pair of middle-aged siblings on their farm.

While I became addicted to reading every Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novel when I was young, Anne of Green Gables was a book special to my heart because it was set in the same part of the world in which I was born.

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Anne of Green Gables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne of Green Gables is the classic children's book by L M Montgomery, the inspiration for the Netflix Original series Anne with an E. Watch it now!

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It's not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to…

A Little Ray Of Sunshine

By Kristan Higgins,

Book cover of A Little Ray Of Sunshine

Sylvie Kurtz Author Of Christmas by Candlelight

From Sylvie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Fiction Author Book Coach Dog Mom Avid Reader Amateur Baker

Sylvie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Sylvie love this book?

Like Harlow, the main character, I’m the eldest of a large family, so many of the story elements resonated with me—being the responsible one, taking care of the littles, etc.

I understood why Harlow made the decision she made. I loved the quirky characters and the complicated relationships, especially between the adoptive parents, the child, Harlow, and her family. I also loved the Cape Cod setting.

By Kristan Higgins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Little Ray Of Sunshine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A kid walks into your bookstore and… Guess what? He’s your son. The one you put up for adoption eighteen years ago. The one you never told anyone about. Surprise!
And a huge surprise it is.
It’s a huge surprise to his adoptive mother, Monica, who thought she had a close relationship with Matthew, her nearly adult son. But apparently, he felt the need to secretly arrange a vacation to Cape Cod for the summer so he could meet his birth mother…without a word to either her or his dad.
It’s also a surprise— to say the least—to Harlow, the…

Unnatural Selection

By Andrea Ross,

Book cover of Unnatural Selection: A Memoir of Adoption and Wilderness

Vanessa McGrady Author Of Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption

From the list on adoption and what it means to be a family.

Who am I?

I don’t just write stories, I study them. I’ve noticed that nearly every major hero/ine’s journey and epic tale has an adoption component. From Bible stories and Greek myths (adoption worked out well for Moses, not so much for Oedipus) to Star Wars through This Is Us, we humans are obsessed with origin stories. And it’s no wonder: “Where do I come from?” and “Where do I belong?” are questions that confound and comfort us from the time we are tiny until we take our final breath. As an adoptive mother and advocate for continuing contact with birth families, I love stories about adoption, because no two are alike. They give us light and insight into how families are created and what it means to be a family—by blood, by love, and sometimes, the combination of the two.

Vanessa's book list on adoption and what it means to be a family

Why did Vanessa love this book?

This beautifully told tale of an adoptee searching for her original family is set against her ongoing relationship to the Southwest’s most awe-inspiring terrain, and the people who bring her there. I loved this book because it showed her evolution as a wilderness lover, romantic partner, and mother as she navigated fitting into various incarnations of family, which felt just as perilous, frustrating, and rewarding as finding the right footholds in the natural world. While we are all from Mother Earth, our earthly parents can be critical to a deeper understanding of who we are as people.

By Andrea Ross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Adopted at birth, Andrea Ross grew up inhabiting two ecosystems: one was her tangible, adoptive family, the other her birth family, whose mysterious landscape was hidden from her. In this coming-of-age memoir, Ross narrates how in her early twenties, while working as a ranger in Grand Canyon National Park, she embarked on a journey to discover where she came from and, ultimately, who she was. After many missteps and dead ends, Ross uncovered her heartbreaking and inspiring origin story and began navigating the complicated turns of reuniting with her birth parents and their new families. Through backcountry travel in the…

American Baby

By Gabrielle Glaser,

Book cover of American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption

Betty Culley Author Of The Name She Gave Me

From the list on adoption feels.

Who am I?

I went into foster care at nine months old, was adopted three years later, and as an adult I was reunited with five siblings I never knew I had. I’ve spent my whole life wondering or searching for the truths about my past. 

Betty's book list on adoption feels

Why did Betty love this book?

The dedication of this non-fiction book says, " all families separated by a culture of secrecy.” The book flap says, “Gabrielle Glaser breaks the secrecy that surrounded a lucrative network of adoption agencies, doctors, and social scientists.” One reason I knew I had to read this book was that it talked about Louise Wise Agency, the adoption agency I was adopted through. They are now closed, but their practices have since come under scrutiny. Because of their methods, I was told lies that I lived with for most of my childhood and was kept from reuniting with my siblings when they first started searching for me.

By Gabrielle Glaser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

The shocking truth about postwar adoption in America, told through the bittersweet story of one teenager, the son she was forced to relinquish, and their search to find each other.

During the Baby Boom in 1960s America, women were encouraged to stay home and raise large families, but sex and childbirth were taboo subjects. Premarital sex was common, but birth control was hard to get and abortion was illegal. In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Her enraged family sent her to a maternity home, and after she gave birth,…