November, my favorite month of the year, welcome.
The weather cools down, the leaves scatter on the ground, and we celebrate adoption. That’s right, adoption.
November exists for more than just turkeys, football, and shopping. This month is also National Adoption Month: a time to celebrate, raise awareness, and learn about the complexities of adoption. Each group within the adoption triad—adoptee, birth family, and adoptive family—has a unique perspective from their experiences.
As an avid reader, my favorite way to learn is through books. I love stories. Characters in a book illustrate the tough stuff of life in ways that no other medium can. They struggle, cry, explore, laugh, and love in the space of three hundred pages (or sometimes more!).
This National Adoption Month, I focused on books featuring adoption. I hope these books will enrich your understanding and compassion as they have mine.
Current Read: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos
Nia Vardalos is amazing. I’ve cried, laughed, and sympathized with her through the first few chapters of Instant Mom and can’t wait for more. This adoption memoir takes readers through Vardalos’s personal journey to adoption and gives helpful tips along the way. From Goodreads, “Vardalos explores innovative ways to conquer the challenges all new moms face, from sleep to personal grooming, and learns that whether via biology, relationship, or adoption—motherhood comes in many forms.”
I finished Secret Daughter a couple of days ago and really liked it. It features the stories of an adoptive family from the U.S. pursuing an international adoption from India. I appreciated the varied perspectives—readers hear from each person within the adoption triad—and the dual settings of California and Mumbai, India. In some ways a cautionary tale, each character wrestles with adoption throughout the novel and readers witness their mistakes along the way. The errors of the adoptive parents are particularly instructive as they neglect the importance of cultural and ethnic identity.
Well, dang (a phrase coined by Ginny herself), this book kept me tense for a whole week. From Goodreads, “After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her. Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.” Ginny teaches readers about a myriad of important things: family, adoption, foster care, trauma, and autism. It is also featured this month in the Diverse Books Club as our adult read for Differing Abilities. I listened on audiobook and definitely recommend it!
I love, love, love this book! Through the Diverse Books Club, I started reading more middle grade novels which exposed me to a whole new realm of literature. WARNING: Grab the tissues for this one.
From Goodreads, “Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe in forever. So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future.”
Where to begin with this one? Little Fires Everywhere has literally been everywhere this fall and for good reason; Celeste Ng writes about delicate, yet complicated, family matters with such poise. I savored this book while also squirming through much of the story. It jarred me and made me uncomfortable, particularly as an adoptive mom with a child of a different ethnicity. But I was okay with it, because Ng made me think. Her story lines are never black and white; they are always quite subtle and nuanced. Adoption is the same; there are no “right” ways to do it, but plenty of “wrong” ones.
Two years ago, I wrote a post with three ways to support adoption—without adopting. In it, I mentioned the importance of sensitivity and learning. These non-fiction books featuring adoption provide great insights to the process. In addition, they give anyone and everyone practical steps to take in support of adoption.
From Goodreads, “One adoption social worker called In On It “the adoption book for everyone else”: the grandparents and friends, neighbors and colleagues, aunts and uncles, teachers and caregivers of adoptive families. In On It contains helpful advice and instructive anecdotes from adoptive parents, adult adoptees, adoption professionals, and the friends and relatives of already established adoptive families. The author, an adoptive parent herself, has written an informative, friendly and very useful adoption guide that informs and enlightens readers even as it offers them a warm welcome into adoption.”
From Goodreads, “Open adoption isn’t just something parents do when they exchange photos, send emails, share a visit. It’s a lifestyle that may intrude at times, be difficult or inconvenient at other times. Tensions can arise even in the best of situations. But knowing how to handle these situations and how to continue to make arrangements work for the children involved is paramount. This book offers readers the tools and the insight to do just that.”
From Goodreads, “A stirring call to Christian families and churches to be a people who care for orphans, not just in word, but in deed…Adopted for Life [is] a popular-level, practical manifesto for Christians to adopt children and to help equip other Christian families to do the same. He shows that adoption is not just about couples who want children-or who want more children. It is about an entire culture within evangelicalism, a culture that sees adoption as part of the Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself.”
The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption: The Wit & Wisdom You Need for the Journey by Rachel Garlinghouse
Rachel’s book is the only one on this list that I haven’t yet read. However, the holidays are approaching and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! I love her blog, White Sugar Brown Sugar, and her passion for transracial adoption.
From Goodreads, “Choosing to adopt can be overwhelming, rendering you anxious, hopeful, and confused. This no-holds-barred guide gives you the authentic offerings of Rachel Garlinghouse’s ten-year (and counting) commitment to encouragement, education, ethics, and empathy. From the day you first consider adoption, through the home study process, the waiting, placement, and finalization, Rachel offers you both practical and heartfelt guidance, as well as self-reflective laugh-out-loud moments.”
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you know of other great books featuring adoption? Let me know in the comments below!
This post is a part of the Quick Lit link up with Modern Mrs. Darcy. Go to her site for more great reads!