15 Noteworthy Adoption Books Published in 2019

Adoptive Families presents our annual roundup of new memoirs, novels, children’s books, and non-fiction with adoption storylines or themes, published in the last year.

Noteworthy Adoption Books Published in 2019



A Crazy-Much Love, by Joy Jordan-LakeA Crazy-Much Love, by Joy Jordan-Lake; illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

In this sweet picture book, addressed to the child, parents recount the adoption process and the love that continues to “spill out the windows and bust down the doors” as the she grows. Vibrant illustrations support the theme of an irrepressible, overflowing love.


Hair Love, by Matthew A. CherryHair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Zuri’s hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” When her father must style her hair for the first time, he finds he has a lot to learn—but is up to the challenge! This warm-hearted celebration of natural hair is a gorgeous adaptation of the 2019 Academy Award–winning Best Animated Short by the same name.

Coco & Olive: The Color of Love, by Michelle Madrid-BranchCoco & Olive: The Color of Love, by Michelle Madrid-Branch; illustrated by Erin Darling

“Mama, what is the color of love?” a puppy asks her doggie mother, beginning this comforting tale about family, diversity, and belonging. The author is both an adult adoptee and adoptive mother.



The Echo Park Castaways, by M. G. HennesseyThe Echo Park Castaways, by M. G. Hennessey

The tenuous balance three foster siblings have achieved is thrown off when Quentin, who is on the autism spectrum, joins their home. After 11-year-old Vic takes Quentin and 8-year-old Mara with him on an “epic quest” to try to track down Quentin’s mom, 14-year-old Nevaeh sets off to find them. The four face a series of obstacles and adventures that reinforces their bond.

For Black Girls Like Me, by Mariama J. LockingtonFor Black Girls Like Me, by Mariama J. Lockington

Eleven-year-old Makeda loves her family, but often feels at odds with her sister and parents through transracial adoption, wondering what her life would have been like if she’d grown up in a family that looked like her. When her family moves, and Makeda has to leave behind her best friend, a fellow Black girl adopted by white parents, she must grapple with questions of race and identity on her own. The author of this lyrical novel, told through letters, poetry, prose, and more is herself a transracial adoptee.

When I Was Summer, by J.B. HowardWhen I Was Summer, by J.B. Howard

Teenage Nora lives to play music, a passion her loving adoptive family just doesn’t understand. Thinking her birth mother might be the only one who can understand her interests and impulsive personality, she tracks down three women she believes could be her birth mother, then sets out to meet them under the guide of a three-city tour with her rock band.

Estranged: The Changeling King, by Ethan M. AldridgeEstranged: The Changeling King, by Ethan M. Aldridge

In the 2018 fantasy graphic novel Estranged, a changeling and human boy discovered they were swapped at birth, and come together to save the World Above and World Below. In this sequel, Edmund and Childe are adjusting to life in their birth families and kingdoms (not without some struggles), and reunite on a magical new quest, discovering more about the meaning of family and identity along the way.

The How & the Why, by Cynthia HandThe How & the Why, by Cynthia Hand

Although Cass’s parents have always spoken openly about the fact that she was adopted, and her best friend is a transracial adoptee, questions about her birth mother always hovered in the background of her idyllic childhood in her tight, loving family. When she turns 18 and applies to her state’s bureau of vital records, she finds some answers in a series of letters her birth mother wrote to her while she was pregnant.




Motherhood So White, by Nefertiti AustinMotherhood So White, by Nefertiti Austin

The author always knew she was meant to be a mother, but encountered hurdle after hurdle as she sought to claim that title as a single, African-American woman; American society, she realized, sees ‘motherhood’ through a white lens. Austin recounts the successful adoption of her son from the foster care system, ultimately carving her own path to parenthood.

> Read Nefertiti Austin’s essay, “Yes, Black Women Do Adopt

We Adopted Five Special-Needs Foster KidsWe Adopted Five Special-Needs Foster Kids: The Inspiring True Story of How an Absolutely Crazy Idea Led to One Very Big, Happy Family, by Ann Ellsworth

Ellsworth, a professional classical musician, and her husband decided to become parents, and, well, as the title says, ended up adopting not one but five children from U.S. foster care. She doesn’t shy from the challenges and tense moments they faced as they composed themselves into one big family, but tells the ultimately joyful story with humor and heart.

Rock Needs River, by Vanessa McGradyRock Needs River, by Vanessa McGrady

After a long adoption process, McGrady was thrilled to become a mother to baby Grace. When she learned that Grace’s birth parents had become homeless, she opened her home to them as well. Her memoir captures the murky emotional complexity of their highly unusual, extremely open adoption.





The Risk of Us, by Rachel HowardThe Risk of Us, by Rachel Howard

In this intimate, sometimes unsettlingly honest novel, a childless couple become fost-adopt parents. Seven-year-old Maresa is charming, talented, and spirited, but a past full of trauma has also left her susceptible to angry rages. What are these three people each willing to risk to become a family?

The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire LombardoThe Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo

In this intergenerational tale, four grown sisters have embarked on different life paths, each seeking to distinguish herself, while secretly fearing that she will never find a love as unconditional and encompassing as that of their inseparable parents. The family is thrown into tumult by the reappearance of Violet’s birth son, placed years earlier in a closed adoption.



Seven Core Issues in Adoption and PermanencySeven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency: A Comprehensive Guide to Promoting Understanding and Healing In Adoption, Foster Care, Kinship Families and Third Party Reproduction, by Sharon Kaplan Roszia and Allison Davis Maxon

The authors’ Seven Core Issues in Adoption model has been informing and guiding adoptive parents for decades. In this long-awaited book, they delve more deeply into each of the issues, including Loss, Rejection, Identity, and Mastery/Control, and expand the model to include foster and kinship care, as well as assisted reproduction.

The Adopted Teen Workbook, by Barbara NeimanThe Adopted Teen Workbook, by Barbara Neiman

This powerful resource offers a safe way for teen adoptees to explore questions of identity, loss, emotions, differences, and more, with stress-relieving exercises and prompts to start conversations.


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