Selected Books and Resources about Adoption, Foster Care, and Family Diversity
by Megan Dowd Lambert
My life as a White mother of seven children in a blended, multiracial, queer, adoptive family informs my work with EmbraceRace. I’m also a writer, an educator, and a children's book author, and I'm always searching for perspectives and stories that speak to our experiences as a diverse family. Four of my children (one daughter who is of Puerto Rican descent, an African American son and daughter, and a daughter who identifies as biracial with African American and Irish heritage), came home to our family at different ages through the foster-adoption system. Below are some of the resources and books that I and/or my children have found valuable, particularly with regard to navigating our lives and relationships in the context of adoption.
Resources that Center Adoptees’ Voices
- Our culture tends to center the voices and perspectives of adoptive parents like me, rather than those of adoptees and birth parents. So, the first thing I want to recommend is that readers check out this site for recommendations of books by and about adoptees: Adoptee Reading. I haven’t read all of the books mentioned, but I think this is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to uplift and center the voices and perspectives of adoptees.
- Look, too at this post on Books for Littles, which includes several of the books I list below, as well as other titles.
- The site Harlow's Monkeys is run by an adoptee and has lots of excellent resources, including a list of adoptee memoirs.
- Finally, visit Angela Tucker’s site, The Adopted Life, and watch her documentary “Closure.” Another great documentary is “Twinsters.”
Books that have been meaningful reads for me (and in many cases, for my kids)
- Chung, Nicole. All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir. Catapult, 2018. (A memoir by a Korean American transracial adoptee)
- DePrince, Michaela and DePrince, Elaine. Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer. Random House, 2014. (Early reader memoir by a Black adoptee born in Sierra Leone and her White American mother)
- Krishnashwami, Uma. Bringing Asha Home. Illustrated by Jamel Akib. Lee & Low Books, 2006. (Picture book focusing on a child’s anticipation of his sibling’s adoption)
- Lockingham, Mariame J. For Black Girls Like Me. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019. (Middle grade novel about a transracial adoptee, inspired by the author’s lived experience)
- Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere. Penguin Group, 2017. (Adult novel with one storyline about transracial adoption)
- O’Leary, Sara. A Family Is a Family Is a Family. Illustrated by Qin Leng. Groundwood Books, 2016. (An affirming, warm picture book depicting family diversity, including transracially adoptive families and foster families)
- Rotner, Shelly and Sheila M. Kelly. Families. Holiday House, 2015. (Picture book including photographs of diverse families, including multiracial families and transracially adoptive families, with a photo of five of my children.)
- Woodson, Jacqueline. Our Gracie Aunt. Illustrated by Jon J. Muth. (Picture book depiction of two children’s kinship foster-placement with an aunt that includes a remarkably sensitive depiction of the children’s mother)
More Book Recommendations – middle grade books
- Jung, Mike. Unidentified Suburban Object. Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2016. This middle grade novel is not about adoption, but its story opened up some of the best conversations I’ve ever had about adoption with two of my children. See my Embrace Race posts (here and here) about this book for more information.
- Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion. Penguin RandomHouse, 2003.
- Woodson, Jacqueline. Peace, Locomotion. Penguin RandomHouse, 2009. These companion verse novels for middle grade readers are about an African American child in foster care who is separated from his sister. She lives with another family after their parents tragically die in a fire, and this is one of the few books I’ve seen that depicts sibling separation as one of the losses that often accompanies adoption.
More book recommendations – picture books
Here are a few book suggestions that feature families that can be read as transracially adoptive families, though adoption is not mentioned. There are, of course, many other ways that these families can be understood, too.
- Broach, Elise. My Pet Wants a Pet. Illustrated by Eric Barclay. Macmillan, 2018. Adoption isn’t overtly mentioned in this picture book, which has illustrations that can be read as depicting a White adoptive mother with a child of color.
- Schwartz, Amy. Polka Dots for Poppy. Holiday House, 2016. Adoption isn’t overtly mentioned in this picture book, which has illustrations that include characters who appear to be a White single mom with three White daughters, and one daughter who appears Asian. Together, they can be read as an interracial adoptive family.
- Yum, Hyewon. Saturday Is Swimming Day. Penguin RandomHouse, 2018. This is another picture book that can be read as a book about an Asian child with an adoptive White mother.
Finally, two of my own picture books include depictions of adoption:
- Lambert, Megan Dowd. Real Sisters Pretend. Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. Tilbury House, 2016. (This story was inspired by a conversation I overheard between two of my daughters. It is focused on adoptive siblings in a multiracial, two-mom family who support each other when others don’t recognize their true bonds.)
- Lambert, Megan Dowd. A Kid of Their Own. Charlesbridge, 2020. (This companion title to my first picture book, A Crow of His Own, includes a subplot about a gay male couple adopting a child.)
Find more on Transracial Adoption
More on Transracial Adoption
Megan Dowd Lambert