Adoption Themed Must-Reads

adoption books

Rachel Garlinghouse, adoptive mother and author, reviews a handful of adoption themed books and shares her picks. 

Below are some fabulous adoption themed titles to keep you inspired, entertained, and educated.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns (Margaret Dilloway)

Galilee Garner pours her money, energy, and heart into her roses. The one thing that brings her joy while she spends many evenings hooked up to a dialysis machine. Gal’s world is shaken when her niece, a teenage girl with an unpredictable mother, comes to live with her. Gal faces balancing raising a teenager, attempting to win rose competitions, her kidney disease, and her job as a high school biology teacher.

Make Me a Mother: A Memoir (Susanne Antonetta)

Antonetta shares her experience as the mother of Jin, her son adopted from South Korea. Like many adoptive families, they face the ups and downs of adoption as Jin ages from an infant to a teenager.

Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother’s Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder (Tina Traster)

Traster and her husband adopt Julia from Russia. They notice early on that Julia is different than other children. Exuding odd behaviors such as not making eye contact, charming strangers while failing to attach to her parents, and constantly moving and talking until collapsing in exhaustion. One day when Julia is a few years old, Traster sees an interview on television that clicks with her and concludes that Julia has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The adoption themed book focuses on discovery, honesty, hope, and healing.

Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn’t Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift (Carolyn and Sean Savage)

The Savages decide to have a baby with the help of IVF and are able to conceive. Shockingly, there was a mistake. Carolyn was implanted with another couple’s embryo. The Savages decide to carry the baby to term and sign the baby over to his genetic parents. The authors chronicle the ups and downs that occurred before, during, and after the pregnancy.

The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman)

Tom Sherbourne and his new wife Isabel take a position at an isolated Light House. Their dreams of adding to their family are dashed when Isabel miscarries and gives birth to a stillborn child. One day the couple discovers a boat containing a dead man and an infant girl and despite her husband’s ongoing reservations, Isabel claims baby Lucy as her own instead of reporting the incident. A few years later, the couple discovers that their lack of disclosure will have dire consequences.

Carried in Our Hearts: The Gift of Adoption: Inspiring Stories of Families Created Across Continents (Dr. Jane Aronson)

Aronson’s book is an anthology of essays where adoptive parents share their various experiences with the different stages of adoption. Essayists include celebrities and everyday people who adopted children from all across the world.

The Willoughbys (Lois Lowry)

In this young adult novel, award-winning Lowry tells the story of the four Willoughby children who are despised by their parents. The parents contrive a plot to get rid of the children so they can live their lives without distraction or disruption. However, it’s the children who triumph in a surprising twist of fate.

The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption(Kathryn Joyce)

Joyce reveals some of the often-disguised realities of adoption, including children who aren’t really orphans being placed in adoptive homes, adoption workers manipulating biological parents into placing children into their care, and children being adopted into abusive homes. Joyce also discusses the rhetoric that is popular the adoption industry, the use of perks offered to con domestic mothers into placing their children with adoptive parents, and the part some churches play in driving up adoption numbers.

The Snow Child: A Novel (Eowyn Ivey)

Faina isn’t an ordinary child. She was created with snow by Jack and Mabel and comes in and out of their lives throughout many years, leaving the couple confused, infatuated, and torn. This magical novel’s characters challenge readers to confront adoption truths: loss, love, and challenges that oftentimes, others do not understand.

White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

Astrid Magnussen’s mother, Ingrid, is in prison for murder, leaving Astrid in the hands of the foster care system. Astrid is moved from foster home to foster home, learning valuable lessons along the way and finding her inner strength. But as she learns to think for herself, her mother continues to attempt to control Astrid.

Whistling Past the Graveyard (Susan Crandall)

Nine-year-old Starla is tired of her tyrant grandmother and unsupportive father, so she runs away. She accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling with a white infant, in the hopes of traveling Nashville to find her biological mother. A series of unforeseen events clash race, class, and dreams, as Starla is mothered by Eula.

Girls Like Us (Gail Giles)

Quincy, a bi-racial girl raised in a foster home, and Biddy, an overweight young woman whose grandmother refuses to love and support Biddy in the way that she desperately needs, graduate from their special education program and become roommates and employees in the home of an elderly woman named Elizabeth. As the girls slowly become friends with one another and with Elizabeth, Biddy reveals that she was forced to place her daughter, a product of rape, for adoption, and Quincy deals with a tragedy of her own.

Calling Me Home: A Novel (Julie Kibler)

Unlikely friends Isabelle, an elderly white woman with a secret past, and Dorrie, an African American hairstylist and mother of two, travel to a funeral in Ohio. Along the way, the pair do crossword puzzles (tinged with symbolism) and slowly reveal their past truths and present realities to one another.

Hypothetical Future Baby: An Unsentimental Adoption Memoir (Claudia Chapman)

When Chapman learns that having a biological child is a medical gamble, she and her husband choose to adopt from Ethiopia. With humor and honesty, Chapman describes her journey to parenthood. From the before-motherhood Mother’s Day, to governmental red tape, to the plenitude of fertile women all around her. This no-rose-colored-glasses look at adoption will have readers laughing, crying, and smiling.