Adoption Books: Parents' Stories

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Editor's Picks

My favorite books by adoptive parents are those that combine the facts and emotion of the experience with practical information and humor. The extremes of dry narratives and heavy doses of sentimentality don’t appeal to me, so don’t look for them here, and watch for updates as I continue to read.

1) Secret Thoughs of an Adoptive Mother
by Jana Wolff. If ever a book looked into the heart and revealed what was lurking there, this is it. The author writes about the semi-open adoption of her son in this book about our very human insecurities, questions, hopes and fears, all overshadowed by love. It can bring tears of laughter; it can be sobering in its honesty.

2) The Russian Word For Snow: A True Story of Adoption
by Janis Cooke Newman. This story of the author’s adoption of her son from Russia is captivating in its humor and humanity. It draws the reader in as a participant rather than just an observer. And it makes a good case for the overhaul of international adoption procedures and regulations.

3) The Greatest Gift: Reflections on International and Domestic Adoption
by Betsy Buckley. This collection of adoption journeys, including the author’s, covers an enormous range of experiences including open and closed, single parent (single men, too), older child, special needs situations, and more. A very human look into our families.

4) An Empty Lap: One Couple’s Journey to Parenthood
by Jill Smolowe (1997) This story from infertility to international adoption is as much an examination of issues that can divide and unite a couple as it is about the actual adoption process. The author and her husband disagreed about adoption to the point where it threatened their marriage. (ISBN 0671004360)

5) Salvador’s Children: A Song for Survival
by Lea Marenn. In 1984, the author adopted her then eight year old daughter from El Salvador, and this is very much their story. Set against the backdrop of the war that orphaned her daughter, Marenn tells her story and her daughter’s memories as they build a life together. Extraordinarily touching.

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