Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.


Favorite Reads of 2013

Many new books with adoption storylines or themes were published in the last year. Here are your favorites, for parents and children, with our picks added to the list.

by the readers and editors of Adoptive Families


Breeding in Captivity book cover

In her witty, irreverent, yet poignant memoir, Stacy Bolt recounts her quest to have a child at "advanced maternal age" with the help of an RE (Really Expensive fertility specialist), and then through domestic adoption. "An amazing account of the ups and downs of fertility treatments and the unknowns of adoption. I found myself laughing out loud as I read the entire book in one sitting." —BECKY

NO MATTER WHAT, by Sally Donovan
No Matter What book cover

After adopting siblings with a history of abuse and neglect from the British foster system, Donovan and her husband realize that love alone won't heal their children. The author is disarmingly honest about their post-placement challenges—the outbursts (theirs and hers) and tenacity (theirs and hers) as they all ultimately let down their guard and learn to love.

INSTANT MOM, by Nia Vardalos
Instant Mom book cover

"Funny, touching, and extremely honest. Vardalos starts with her time making My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when, it turns out, she was having an absolutely brutal time with multiple IVF tries. And then her desire to ‘have a baby' turned into a desire to ‘be a parent.' Anyone who adopted from foster care or internationally, like me, will relate to the struggles they had when they first brought their daughter home. A great read!"—HEATHER

THE EYE OF ADOPTION, by Jody Cantrell Dyer
The Eye of Adoption book cover

"I believe every woman currently waiting to adopt, or who knows someone who's waiting, should read this book. It amazed me how Jody so perfectly described feelings that I had myself. It helped me to understand that my feelings and emotions are completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I absolutely loved this book."—HOLLY

The Eye of Adoption book cover

You would expect a memoir of motherhood and adoption by a comedian and former SNL cast member to be funny. And it is. But Julia Sweeney’s tale of adopting her daughter as a single mother, then later marrying and moving with her family from Los Angeles to Chicago, is also warm and real and sharply observed.


ADOPTED, LIKE ME, by Ann Angel; illustrated by Marc Thomas; ages 8+
Breeding in Captivity book cover

Let your child know that, through adoption, he or she joins the likes of George Washington Carver, Marilyn Monroe, John James Audubon, Aristotle, and others. The 19 short biographies of famous adoptees are accompanied by richly colored paintings.

I AM LATINO: THE BEAUTY IN ME , by Sandra L. Pinkney; photos by Myles C. Pinkney; ages 3-6
No Matter What book cover

The team that brought us Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children created another wonderful book with simple text and full-color photos. Seeing a child in a book who looks like them is powerfully affirming for any child, and I Am Latino illustrates the diversity of people of Latino descent. 

CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT ADOPTION?, by Anne Braff Brodzinsky; illustrated by Rosy Salaman; ages 7+
Instant Mom book cover

"Funny, touching, and extremely honest. Vardalos starts with her time making My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when, it turns out, she was having an absolutely brutal time with multiple IVF tries. And then her desire to ‘have a baby' turned into a desire to ‘be a parent.' Anyone who adopted from foster care or internationally, like me, will relate to the struggles they had when they first brought their daughter home. A great read!"—HEATHER

BORN FROM THE HEARTby Berta Serrano; illustrated by Alfonso Serrano; ages 3-6
The Eye of Adoption book cover

Reactions to Born from the Heart have been mixed. Some think it takes the pregnancy metaphor of a heart that grows bigger and bigger, necessitating clothes from "a special store for special moms like her," too far. Others see the tale, which the author based on her own early talks with her son, as light fantasy and "a cute way to explain adoption to a child." —KAT

ABC, ADOPTION AND ME, by Gayle Swift with Casey Swift; illustrated by Paul Griffin; ages 5+
The Eye of Adoption book cover

Although the "ABC" concept makes it seem that this would be a book for younger kids, this collaboration between an adoptive mother and her daughter tackles weighty topics. "What I love about this book is how it touches on many aspects of adoption that could be difficult to talk about, but not in a threatening or forceful way. It can be used over and over again as children grow—my 16-year-old even found it thought-provoking." —SUSAN


THE MOTHERS, by Jennifer Gilmore
Breeding in Captivity book cover "I heard an interview with Jennifer Gilmore on Fresh Air and I thought she made the process sound miserable—a ridiculously long wait with one scam after another. But I was really impressed with how balanced the book was. She got so many of the details right—the way a relationship with a friend changes when she has a baby and you’re still waiting, the info meetings at the agency—at times, it felt like she just changed a few names and published a (well-written, well-edited) diary of her adoption wait." —MIRIAM
No Matter What book cover

Eleanor Sweet, adopted as a baby, is pursuing an adoption with her husband when he backs out at the last moment. She determines to go forward with the adoption on her own, but needs support—and some answers—so she hires Isabelle to locate her birth mother. "I liked the character of the 'search angel.' So many people who help others are hiding a secret pain themselves...." —JEN

AND THEN I FOUND YOU, by Patti Callahan Henry
Instant Mom book cover

Twenty years after Patti Callahan Henry’s sister placed a baby for adoption, Henry was contacted by the young woman. With her sister’s permission, the novelist wrote a fictionalized account of her experiences leading up to the adoption plan and through the emotional reunion. 


The Eye of Adoption book cover

Arleta James, a therapist specializing in adoption and attachment, has been working closely with families for more than a dozen years. Her expertise shines through in this comprehensive guide (not just for families pursuing a second adoption!) that’s filled with real-life examples and practical advice.

THE OPEN-HEARTED WAY TO OPEN ADOPTION, by Lori Holden with Crystal Hass
The Eye of Adoption book cover

"This is a beautifully honest, thoughtful, and enlightened guide—a book I wish my parents could have read before they adopted me. Keeping the well-being of the adopted child in mind, Lori explains why it’s so important to help heal the split between a child’s biography and biology. I encourage you to set aside any pre-conceived thoughts you have about openness in adoption and take a look. I recommend this to all of the adoptive and foster families I work with." —LESLI 

TO THE END OF JUNE, by Cris Beam
The Eye of Adoption book cover

"Cris Beam’s book about the U.S. foster care system, is important, insightful, and depressing. I think anyone involved in foster care should read it. I find myself convinced that children should remain with their (birth) parents if at all possible, given the state of the system. Children often seem to be deeply damaged by foster care and by being separated from their parents, no matter how flawed. And I write this as an adoptive mother."......... —PAT

THE CHILD CATCHERS, by Kathryn Joyce
The Eye of Adoption book cover

"Don’t be hesitant about reading The Child Catchers due to its controversial topic [the evangelical adoption movement]. Joyce uses facts and true stories to detail how religion and finances have affected international adoption. Her book will inspire you to advocate for a more ethical way to find homes for orphans overseas." —DANIELLE



COUNTING BY 7S, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Breeding in Captivity book cover

WIllow Chance, adopted transracially as an infant, has mastered several different languages and diagnostic medical texts by age 12. Although she has trouble fitting in at school, her parents have always understood her. After they die in a car crash, she must find a new place to belong. You’ll fall in love with and root for Willow and the rest of the quirky cast in this utterly charming novel.


ME, HIM, THEM, AND IT, by Caela Carter
No Matter What book cover

High school junior Evelyn wanted to throw off her good-girl reputation and get her parents’ attention, but never planned on getting pregnant. After she decides to carry the baby to term, she’s sent to live with her beloved Aunt Linda (adopted from China), her partner Nora, and their African-American daughters, adopted from foster care, and comes to understand family in a new way.

AFTER ISAAC, by Avra Wing
Instant Mom book cover

Three years after his brother’s death, at age 11, 16-year-old Aaron Saturn is just coming to terms with the loss. But when his parents announce their plans to adopt a baby girl from China, he’s once again thrown off-course. Avra Wing deftly captures the voice of her teenaged narrator, and explores the topics of friendship, family stability, and grief, alongside adoption and racism.


What to Read Next? Reading any of these and want to compare notes? Want some bedtime reading suggestions for your little one? Have some other titles to suggest? Join the Adoption Book Club group on on

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