NEW ADOPTION MEMOIRS
All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung
Adopted domestically from Korean birth parents, Chung spent her childhood as the only Asian face in her school and community, raised by parents who were told to assimilate their child and take a “colorblind” attitude. Like many adoptees, she grew up being told about her adoption as a comforting origin story: “They thought adoption was the best thing for you.” But what if the story were simply that, an untruth meant to assuage and explain? When she is expecting her first child, Chung is moved to search—and unearths layers of painful birth family secrets. All You Can Ever Know is one of the most powerful and beautifully written adoption memoirs published in recent years.
Someone Has Led This Child to Believe, by Regina Louise
As a young teen in foster care, Louise formed a swift bond with a caring social worker who attempted to adopt her, but the two were torn apart by a system that thought it knew better. This was the one bright spot in a childhood that was nothing short of horrific. And yet, Louise emerges from the worst of a broken foster system determined to confront her past and finally take charge of her future.
Somebody’s Daughter, by Zara Phillips
After a stifling childhood, Phillips embraced the glamour and freedom of the life of a backing singer. But by her early twenties, she realized she must confront her alcohol and substance addictions. Doing so also gave her the resolve to track down her birth mother and, eventually, her birth father—and find answers to the questions she was discouraged from voicing so many years before.
Those Three Words: A Birthmother’s Story of Choice, Chance, and Motherhood, by Christine Bauer
Bauer’s revealing memoir begins when she hears those three words (“You are pregnant”) and faces an unplanned pregnancy as a college student, and takes readers through her open adoption decision, and the ensuing three decades as a birth mother and mother.
> Read an excerpt from Those Three Words
NEW NOVELS WITH ADOPTION STORYLINES
That Kind of Mother, by Rumaan Alam
In Alam’s second novel, set in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1990s, the well-meaning but privileged and naïve Rebecca becomes deeply attached to her newborn son’s nanny. When Priscilla dies in childbirth, Rebecca adopts her son—though she is thoroughly unprepared for the ramifications of raising a black child as a white mother.
> Read an excerpt from That Kind of Mother
Famous Adopted People, by Alice Stephens
Two Korean adoptees, who have been best friends since childhood, find themselves together in Seoul. But while Mindy is trying to find her birth mother, Lisa is more focused on partying in the now than delving into her past—until she finds herself kidnapped and embarks on a surreal, wild ride. A darkly comic, incisive debut novel by a Korean adoptee.
Everything Under, by Daisy Johnson
This debut novel, shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, reimagines the Oedipus myth. Gretel grew up in a houseboat in the canals of Oxford, but spent her teenage years in foster care after her mother’s disappearance. Years later, a phone call sends her back to the canals, and back through her memories and deepest fears, in an ominous and shifting tale.
The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman
Set in Quebec in the 1950s, this wrenching novel is based on true events. After she becomes pregnant, teenage Maggie is forced to give up her daughter, Elodie, who grows up in a grim, abusive orphanage system. Years later, Maggie crosses paths with the boy she loved, who fathered Elodie, and sets out to find her daughter.
NEW CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT ADOPTION
A Most Unusual Day, by Sydra Mallery; illustrated by E. B. Goodale
What makes today so unusual? Caroline’s family is adopting a new baby sister! The usually calm and organized Caroline rushes to school, forgets her lunch, and daydreams in class. This is a charming read that captures the excitement of becoming a big sibling.
Speranza’s Sweater, by Marcy Pusey; illustrated by Beatriz Mello
Through her time in foster care, Speranza wears her beloved sweater for the connection to her birth family. But as the garment becomes threadbare, and starts to unravel, can she reweave a new meaning of family? This gentle tale recognizes the conflicting emotions a child might feel as she joins a new family through foster adoption.
My New Family in the United States: I’m Being Adopted from The People’s Republic of China, by Celeste Snodgrass; illustrated by Devika Joglekar
This book, written for older children who are preparing to be adopted (or have recently joined new families through international adoption) aims to ease their transition.
NEW YOUNG ADULT FICTION WITH ADOPTION THEMES
Sliding Into Home, by Nina Vincent
Thirteen-year-old Flip feels his life crumbling apart when he learns that his adoptive parents are divorcing and he’ll be moving to a new city and new school—and that he has to leave before his baseball league’s playoffs. Things start looking up when Flip befriends Ricki, who gives him a newfound sense of pride in his Guatemalan heritage, but the young teen soon faces another challenge in the form of a racist bully.
Losers Bracket, by Chris Crutcher
Annie, a gifted student, talented athlete, and brash personality, appreciates life with her well-meaning though somewhat rigid foster family, but desperately craves the love of her troubled birth family. When her five-year-old nephew goes missing at her swim meet, she must navigate and ultimately bring together the many different aspects of her life in order to find the boy.
More Than We Can Tell, by Brigid Kemmerer
Rev and Emma meet in an online game she created. She uses the game to escape from a turbulent home life; he was adopted by loving parents, but remains haunted by a traumatic childhood. As their relationship develops, they both learn what it means to truly trust someone else.
If Only, by Jennifer Gilmore
Gilmore’s 2016 novel for adults, The Mothers, centered on a hopeful adoptive couple. In this young adult work, she focuses her writer’s lens on an adoptee and a birth mother. Sixteen-year-old Ivy knows she is the same age as her birth mother when she placed her for adoption—but doesn’t know much more than that because it’s been 15 years since her mothers heard from Bridget. In chapters that alternate perspectives, we learn more about Bridget as a teen, deciding on adoption and choosing the parents who will raise her child, and Ivy’s search for answers.
The Length of a String, by Elissa Brent Weissman
As she prepares for her bat mitzvah, Imani is internally consumed with a longing to find her birth parents. She loves her close-knit family, but feels at odds as the only Black person in her Jewish community. After her great-grandmother dies, Imani discovers her old diary—and reads the story of Anna’s adjusting to a new life in America and a new adoptive family of her own.
Social Intercourse, by Greg Howard
This laugh-out-loud young adult novel delves beneath the surface of high school cliches. Jax, the star quarterback, has lived with his two mothers since they adopted him from foster care, but feel helpless as his “forever home” starts to fall apart. Beckett, one of the few openly gay teens at their South Carolina school, is trying to pull his father together after his mother left them. When Beckett’s dad starts dating one of Jax’s moms, the two boys form an unlikely alliance.
Hooper, by Geoff Herbach
Adopted as a teenager from an orphanage in Poland, Adam quickly takes to basketball, and his talent lands him a spot on a select team. Off the court, he struggles to deal with a bully, watch his single mother begin a new romantic relationship, and help his best friend when he lands in trouble. A fast-paced read that will appeal to more than just sports fans.
NEW NON-FICTION BOOKS ABOUT ADOPTION
Fun Games and Physical Activities to Help Heal Children Who Hurt: Get On Your Feet!, by Beth Powell, LCSW
Children’s brains respond to physical, creative play. In this wonderfully practical book, Powell describes tech-free activities that hold powerful therapeutic effects for children who have experienced trauma or neglect. Have fun with your child while building your bond and teaching valuable problem-solving, resilience-building skills.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo
DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the fraught defensiveness displayed by white people, like herself, at the slightest hint that they might be racist—or even when talk turns to racism. In turn, this anger and unwillingness to acknowledge racism and an insistence on being “colorblind” further shore up white privilege. An eye-opening read.
The Grandfamily Guidebook: Wisdom and Support for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, by Andrew Adesman, M.D., and Christine Adamec
Although millions of children around the world are currently being raised by their grandparents, there are few resources that specifically address these family units, which the authors refer to as “grandfamilies.” In this new guidebook, they provide insights from the 2016 Adesman Grandfamily Study along with a wealth of practical advice on navigating school, medical and behavioral concerns, talking with the children about their new “normal,” and more.
> Read an excerpt from The Grandfamily Guidebook