Adoption Reads: 5 Children’s Books About Adoption

When my husband and I adopted our daughter, we wanted to make sure that she grew up being aware about adoption. Many adoption professionals explain that telling a child their story regularly will help them understand adoption in much the same way as they know their own name–it’s just something they know. I’m a firm believer that the right books not only give us knowledge, but help us find representation, and help us grow our empathy skills. Books do such a wonderful job of helping parents, educators, counselors, and social workers tackle tough conversations in a way that reaches a child where they are. The books in this article aren’t only wonderful for adoptees, but also for all children and adults to gain awareness about adoption.


How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole

We have had to purchase numerous copies of this book in our house. It was the first adoption book we bought for our daughter and seven years later, it remains her favorite. This book does an amazing job of clearly explaining adoption in a way that even young children can digest. It’s the perfect “intro” book into adoption, birth parents, and the overall process of adoption. This book is also helpful because although everyone’s adoption story is different, there are some similarities and for my daughter, this helps her realize that she’s not the only one who has become someone’s child in this way. 


The Not in Here Story by Tracey Zeeck

This is my personal favorite children’s book about adoption. It’s another very age appropriate book that fully explains adoption, but also struggles with infertility. It’s the story of the Seek family, who are waiting for a baby, but the baby never comes. Through a beautiful story with such fun illustrations by David Bizzaro, kids can learn that there is more than one way to build a family. This book is so colorful that children also choose it a lot on their own, which is helpful if you have a reluctant reader. If you have had issues with fertility, fair warning, this is a tear jerker, but it also helps children grasp the unique ways that a family is built and even start to understand that not every woman is able to carry a baby, which is often a hard concept for young children. 

Read a full review and interview with author, Tracey Zeeck, here


Tell Me Again about The Night I was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

A major player in the children’s adoption canon, Tell Me Again about The Night I was Born has essentially paved the way for many children’s books. My daughter received this book as a gift from an adult adoptee as an infant. This is such a celebratory book about adoption and in my opinion, helps children who might be struggling with belonging. This is also a great book for teachers to have in their classrooms to educate other children of the nuances of adoption to create a safe and open environment for adoptees in the classroom.


The Mulberry Bird by Anne Braff Brodzinsky

This is another book that is well loved in my house and that I have bought for my daughter’s classroom and library. I like this for older readers who can comprehend more advanced ideas. This book explains in more simple terms why a birth family may need to make an adoption plan for their child. In this instance, the mama bird is unable to keep a safe and dry nest for her baby bird, no matter how hard she tries, so she chooses another family of birds to raise her child. This is so helpful to begin or continue having discussions with your child about birth mothers. This is a great book for adults as well who may not understand the complexities of adoption. The Mulberry Bird adequately depicts birth mothers as those who love their children so much that they selflessly make another plan for them. I can’t say enough good things about this book and feel that it’s as relevant to adults as it is for children and belongs on every family’s bookshelf, whether they’re directly impacted by someone in the adoption triad or not. 


Adoption is Both by Elena S. Hall

This is a new addition to our personal adoption library and I love it so much. It has created so many opportunities for some of the harder conversations around adoption. This book acknowledges that while children may feel happy in their homes, it’s all right if they’re also sad not to be with their birth families. Hall’s book acknowledges that there are two sides to adoption: happiness and grief. These feelings are natural and this book validates that for children. Even though my daughter is older, this is still a book that is helpful to her and it’s now on my list of books to give to new families that have adopted. 

In my very humble opinion, it is so important to read from others’ lived experiences. I’m a college professor and researcher and to me, there’s no better way to learn than to gain experiences in person, but also, through well written books. Though children’s books like these are still eye opening and beneficial to adults, I would suggest picking up one of these books to read to continue to help build your knowledge and awareness of adoption.