Book recommendations for preparing to adopt (possibly)
June 2, 2013 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I am seeking book recommendations to prepare myself and my husband for adoption. Do you know of any reading material that is just fantastic and must be read, or that was very helpful to you? Further clarification inside.

My husband and I are recently married, 30 years old, in the US. We have confirmed infertility and assisted reproduction is not an option at all for us. Neither is using a donor. We've determined that if we do end up having a child, it will need to be through adoption. Due to the cost and timing, this probably won't take place for a few more years.

I am seeking out reading material in the mean time. We are not religious at all, and I find a lot of adoption blogs/book reviews skew this way, so that is one complicating factor. I am interested in reading books that hit some of the following points:

- soup to nuts discussion of the adoption process (where to begin, etc)
- discussion of the socialization of adopted children
- cultural background of adoption
- first-person accounts, from either and any side of adoption
- coping with infertility: not so much the journey through assisted reproduction, more the spiritual/philosophical side of it

There are just so many books out there! It's hard to know where to start or what is worth reading. Are there any that are really interesting or really spectacular, that you know about? I have a couple years here to do some in depth reading. I have no experience with adoption, hence coming at it as a blank slate.

Thank you for your recommendations!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The actress Nia Vardalos has a great one that just came out; she describes the roller coaster she went through during the infertility/trying to adopt phase, and then describes what happened when they decided to adopt a toddler from foster care. The book is a great read, and also has an appendix with resources for those looking to foster-adopt.
posted by JoannaC at 7:51 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I liked Dan Savage's book The Kid about his and his husband's adoption of their son.
posted by purpleclover at 7:55 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey there, I'm a mom through adoption. I'd encourage you to read as much as possible by adult adoptees, as the literature is generally heavily skewed towards adoptive parents. Jane Jeong Trenka is excellent. In particular I recommend The Language of Blood. The blog Harlow's Monkey is also excellent.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:10 PM on June 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I found great food for thought in "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew."

I also loved Deborah Gray's books about attachment and adopting. Some of it is about older child adoption, but really, it is helpful for any adoptive parent.

Regular parenting books were helpful too, but for me they were helpful in the context of the adoption parenting books I also read.

Good luck and best wishes from another adoptive parent!
posted by mamabear at 8:12 PM on June 2, 2013

My mom has worked in adoption for over 25 years. I don't know offhand what titles she'd recommend, but if you drop me a memail I'd be happy to ask her for some suggestions.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:47 PM on June 2, 2013

You should be aware that there is a deep, deep divide between "our pre-destined child is out there waiting for us; fairy dust!" and "adoption is systematically flawed and deeply abusive" in the literature. Any individual's book recommendations are going to pretty squarely reflect where they sit on that continuum. I prefer Adoption Nation to other guide books, because of all the mainstream books I think it does the best job of balancing the triad.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:45 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm with bluedaisy on this. I wish I had read 2-5x as many adoptee books before and during the adoption process, than the adoptive parents' stuff. Oh, and anything at all by birthparents. The coverage is so heavily skewed towards adoptive parents that you need to make a determined effort to find at least equal coverage from adoptees and their first families. There is a huge disconnect between what adoptees experience and what their adoptive parents imagine is happening. The more you listen to adoptees - including the angry bitter ones! - the more you will get what a big complex choice adoption is. A wonderful and terrible event. And adoptees' experiences change as they change - adoption is not a single static event.

Fosterhood in NYC is fantastic for domestic US adoption and fostering. She has active forums too.

Adopting the Hurt Child is a good solid overview of potential problems and helped us figure out what we could and couldn't sign up for at the initial stage.

I had to force myself to read The Primal Wound - I skimmed bits in the end - and there was a memoir of Guatemalan adoptions that I read and yet somehow completely missed the chapter on corruption until I read it a second time after our adoptions were completed and that chapter registered at last. You have to really push at your blind spots and look at what's uncomfortable and difficult to read about so that you can sort that out before your child arrives.

Basically, I would get maybe The Kid, the Nia Vardalos' book looks a lot of fun, and then about 20-30 adoptee and birth family memoirs. I wish I had.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:05 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife is executive director for a local adoption agency, and says they recommend the following books to all their prospective adoptive couples...


Open Adoption Experience
Lois Ruskai Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia

Raising Adopted Children
Lois Ruskai Melina

Making Sense of Adoption
Lois Ruskai Melina

Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child
Holly van Gulden and Lisa M. Bartels-Rabb

Talking with Young Children About Adoption
Mary Watkins and Susan Fisher


Adoption (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood)
Fred Rogers

The Day We Met You
Phoebe Koehler

How I Was Adopted
Joanna Cole

Adoption is for Always
Linda Walvoord Girard

Mulberry Bird
Anne Braff Brodzinsky
posted by Thorzdad at 4:36 AM on June 4, 2013

She also recommends Tapestry Books as a good resource for adoption-related books.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:38 AM on June 4, 2013

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