16 books directly related to adoption 📚

All 16 adoption books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby

By Kathleen Silber, Phyllis Speedlin,

Book cover of Dear Birthmother: Thank You for Our Baby

Why this book?

The pioneering godmother of the open-adoption movement in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Silber did ground-shaking work to bring transparency to the adoption process, which ultimately, is better for the mental health of all parties involved. In Dear Birthmother, a primer of sorts, she helps adoptive parents understand the love, humanity, and loss intrinsic to placing a child for adoption. I love this book because it shines a light on the much-deserved compassion to these women who give up so much in search of a better life for themselves and their children.

Hello from Renn Lake

By Michele Weber Hurwitz,

Book cover of Hello from Renn Lake

Why this book?

Aside from the fun coincidence that I share my surname with the lake in this book, I fell in love on page one because one of the narrators is actually the lake! Chapters alternate between Renn Lake and 12-year-old Annalise, whose family owns lakeside cabins. Annalise has always felt a special connection to this water. When a toxic algae bloom threatens Renn Lake, she and her friends fight to save it. I grew up on a lake in Washington State that became clogged with Eurasian Milfoil, a highly invasive plant affecting water quality, fish, and other things. Remembering what it felt like to see my local lake transform, and how powerless I felt to help it, I rooted for Annalise and her friends and felt hope for this new generation of activists.

See No Color

By Shannon Gibney,

Book cover of See No Color

Why this book?

This coming-of-age novel features a sixteen-year-old star baseball playing girl, but that’s just the beginning. Alex is biracial, raised in a white family, and she struggles to find where she fits in. Race, gender, identity, adoption, body image – this novel explores hard-hitting issues with the complexity they deserve. I especially appreciate that the author wrote from her own experience as a transracial adoptee.

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

By Gabrielle Glaser,

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

Why this book?

The dedication of this non-fiction book says, "...to 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.

Instant Mom

By Nia Vardalos,

Book cover of Instant Mom

Why this book?

First of all, Nia Vardalos is just hilarious. She could write an Ikea assembly brochure and it would probably be side-splitting. But in the book, she tells about being a rising star (a great story on its own) who had it all – except a baby. After a grueling battle with infertility, she eventually came around to the idea of adoption, and started to learn more about the fost-adopt process of taking an older child who is unlikely to reunite with their original family. With great heart, she tells the roller-coaster story of bringing a 3-year-old with attachment challenges into her life—and the inevitable universality of motherhood. “Nothing prepared me for the life I would feel for my child. Nothing prepared me for how quickly it happened for me. And here’s what I just figure out now: no one is ever prepared. In a way, we’re all instant moms.” She’s just so good.

Little Fires Everywhere

By Celeste Ng,

Book cover of Little Fires Everywhere

Why this book?

In this seemingly perfect neighborhood, all that glitters is not gold. This is the story of the unraveling of Shaker Heights, an opulent neighborhood in Ohio. A single mother and her daughter rent a house and change all the unwritten rules in this seemingly perfect community. The story unfolds in a matter that you simply must know, literally, what is going to happen next. The characters are well developed, and you find yourself rooting for the underdog. 

We Can Talk About It: A Conversation Starter for Foster and Adoptive Families

By Whitney Bunker, Jena Holliday (illustrator),

Book cover of We Can Talk About It: A Conversation Starter for Foster and Adoptive Families

Why this book?

As a therapist, longtime foster/adoption advocate, and fost/adopt mama, I’m always looking for books that help adults have healthy, child-driven conversations with kids. More than most, kids in foster care and adoptive placements need safe spaces to feel their feelings, navigate life changes, and experience caring adults. Debut author Whitney Bunker brings her personal experiences as a foster/adoptive mama and Executive Director / Co-Founder of City Without Orphans to do just that. We Can Talk About It shows kids that the healthy, supportive adults in their lives are safe places for the questions that will come, while simultaneously modeling for adults how to be that safe place. This book is just one of many beautiful ways Bunker and her organization seek to serve hurting but hopeful families.

Love You From Right Here

By Jamie Sandefer, Pamela Goodman (illustrator),

Book cover of Love You From Right Here

Why this book?

Sandefer, a foster mama herself, wanted to give other foster parents words of comfort to give to their own hurting foster children. Love You From Right Here does just that. Kids in foster care have had so many choices taken from them. I love how this book gives some back. Sandefer has created a place where children can see another child’s agency protected and cared for, where the adult invites (instead of forces) and the child responds when he or she is ready. Sandefer’s story does a beautiful job of illustrating that trust and safety aren’t to be rushed, but developed through patience, kindness, and empathy. Kids and adults need this book.

Belonging: A Memoir

By Catherine Corless,

Book cover of Belonging: A Memoir

Why this book?

In her book Belonging: A Memoir of Place, along with her personal journey, Corless shares her research and activism work towards justice for the lost babies of the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Her book is an excellent resource to learn about the institutions where unmarried mothers paid their penance and gave birth to their “illegitimate” children. Her book includes heart-wrenching accounts from former residents. 

I’ve had several exchanges with Catherine since 2010 when she responded to a query I had posted regarding the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Catherine Corless has brought worldwide attention to a scandal she uncovered: 796 missing burial records of children born in the Tuam Mother Baby Home.

Whale Talk

By Chris Crutcher,

Book cover of Whale Talk

Why this book?

I once traveled in a compact car across Michigan with Crutcher, my wife, and daughter. His conversation was as magnificent as his prose. Whale Talk brings together a group of high school misfits that comprise their school's swim team. Guess what? The school doesn't have a pool, which is fine because only one of them can swim anyway. Read and enjoy a master at work in Crutcher.

Two Dads: A Book About Adoption

By Carolyn Robertson, Sophie Humphreys (illustrator),

Book cover of Two Dads: A Book About Adoption

Why this book?

This book gets triple points in my opinion, as it specifically addresses adoption by two dads who are an interracial couple. There are very few children’s books that cover all of these topics and even fewer that do it as simplistic and easy as this one. We have this one in our personal library and it has been one of our go-to books for helping our own daughter who my husband and I adopted.  

Indians in the Family: Adoption and the Politics of Antebellum Expansion

By Dawn Peterson,

Book cover of Indians in the Family: Adoption and the Politics of Antebellum Expansion

Why this book?

When I give talks about Jackson, audience members often bring up his “adoption” of Lyncoya, a Creek Indian boy, as an argument against his racist and violent treatment of Native Americans. Peterson delves into that episode, and similar events in the lives of Jackson and men like him, to explain what elite white “adoption” of Native children actually meant and how it reflected larger national themes of acquisition and subjugation. 

What Happens at Night

By Peter Cameron,

Book cover of What Happens at Night

Why this book?

Anyone who reads one Peter Cameron book will read them all. In his latest novel, a married couple ends up at a grand hotel in a strange European country of fading glory, amid guests who are both eccentric and troubling. At times it’s hard to know whether what is happening is really happening; at times it’s all too acid and real. I hesitate to call this book a comedy, because it’s unsettling. But it’s also magical and memorable, and you won’t want to check out and depart its pages.

Unnatural Selection: A Memoir of Adoption and Wilderness

By Andrea Ross,

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

Why 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.

A Mother for Choco

By Keiko Kasza,

Book cover of A Mother for Choco

Why this book?

A Mother for Choco is a classic in the world of adoption books. Told through the lens of a bird looking for his mama, children learn that not all family members look alike! So many foster and adoptive children (and even the children of multi-ethnic birth families!) struggle to identify their place in a family that looks different from them. This story helps to shape the idea that family members can have different hair color, skin color, height, and other varying features from the parents or siblings of the home—and still be family. This is so powerful and important for kids developing their sense of identity and belonging, regardless of their origin.


By Joan Bauer,

Book cover of Soar

Why this book?

I love this story so much I’ve read it at least four times. What an endearing narrator! Everybody needs a friend like Jeremiah with his sense of humor, bravery, and love of life. Bauer always makes us laugh out loud on many pages, then she’ll break your heart for just a sentence or two. While reading and re-reading this middle-grade novel, I learned a lot about how to tell a heartwarming story that makes readers quickly turn pages to see what happens next. But with Bauer’s books, not too quick. You don’t want to miss a word!