Jackie Gillard: Conceived in my Heart


Our Family's Top 8 Adoption Books For Kids

And The Reasons Why We Love These Great Stories

I love books, and I know I'm not alone in that regard. From time to time, I am asked to recommend good adoption books, as they are obviously important educational tools.

So, I've decided to go public with my list!

I've provided a detailed review of our top four picks, and then a brief description of the remaining four below.

1. A Mother for Choco, by Keiko Kasza  

Things We Like About This Book:

  • Talking animal characters, of course!
  • Choco, a colourful bird with no family but a desire for a mommy, encounters various animals and asks them if they are his mommy, to which they all respond "no" based on their lack of matching Choco's appearance. This is a wonderful way to exemplify society's erroneous belief that families must look the same!
  • Choco meets a bear, who not only doesn't look like him, but already has three other animal children—a pig, an alligato,r and a hippo—who obviously don't look like her, either. This is a young child-friendly example of trans-racial adoption.
  • The bear asks Choco what a mommy would DO, rather than what she would look like, and when Choco describes what mommies do, the bear offers to do those things and "adopts" Choco into her family. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the focus on parenting ACTIONS rather than physical appearance—again, another fantastic illustration of what trans-racial adoption is all about.
  • At one point, when the bear offers to be Choco's mommy, Choco is surprised and declines, stating that the bear doesn't look like him at all. The bear's response—"My goodness! That would make me look very funny!"—and the illustration of the bear with Choco's yellow feathers, blue-tipped wings, striped legs, and puffy cheeks makes my daughter laugh every time. It also teaches her (and us) to love, respect, and appreciate our differences as unique, and to not yearn to look like one another.

Potential Concerns for Some Readers:

  • There may be a concern with Choco and the animals (other than the bear) believing that a mother and child must look the same. Sadly, this is a reality in much of society and I think it is a realistic example that draws the reader in, only to discover that this belief is actually incorrect, and that it is really what a parent doesnot what a parent looks likethat makes them a qualified parent.
  • Some people may not like adoptees being represented as animals, or an adoptive mother represented as a bear. I have no issue with it because the book is intended for very young children who may not easily identify with, or be amused by, human characters.
  • There is no mention of Choco's birth family, either before the bear adopts him, or after. Good adoption parenting means lots of discussion and focus on a child's family or families (if the child had foster care or multiple caregivers) prior to adoption. These families are a vital part of a child's emotional and physical make-up and should not be obliterated from a child's life.

2. How I Was Adopted, by Joanna Cole

Things We Like About This Book:

  • My daughter asks to read this book over and over again!
  • The story is narrated in the first person by Samantha, a young girl who was adopted, which helps children relate to her.
  • Samantha asks questions about the reader that promote conversation, like "Were you adopted?" and "Do you know how old you were when you were adopted?"
  • The text uses positive adoption language, like "I was adopted" instead of "I am adopted."
  • Samantha relates some of her genetic traits to her birth family of origin. "Some special traits about me were there when I was born - my blue eyes, my curly hair..."
  • Samantha explains adoption in a unique way: "Some children stay with the woman who gave birth to them. Some children do not. Some need to be adopted." I like this because it avoids pointing any blame or decision-making towards the birth mother/family.

Potential Concerns for Some Readers:

  • There is an explanation of where babies grow and how they are born, with illustrations. I prefer the term "uterus" over "tummy" or "belly," but not all people do. The explanation of birth"The uterus squeezes and squeezes and the baby comes out into the world!"may prompt more questions than some people are comfortable answering, depending on a child's age. There is also an illustration of the baby inside the uterus and another of the baby being born, but there is no text mention or illustration of vaginas. Nonetheless, if your child is like my daughter, be prepared for them to ask lots of questions or study this part of the book with intensity!
  • There is no discussion of birth family after Samantha is adopted, aside from the mention of genetic physical traits.
  • There is no discussion of negative feelings about any part of the adoption journey, except a brief statement that it was hard for the adoptive parents to wait for their adoption. While I do think it's a good thing to have positive adoption books available, especially for young children who may not be able to verbalize that their "big feelings" of sad or mad stem from anything adoption-related, I also feel there should be at least some mention of the myriad of feelings a child of Samantha's age would be feeling about her adoption, such as sadness about not being able to know her birth mother. I know my daughter would personally relate to a book that shared both negative and positive feelings, because that's the reality of adoption.

3. We Belong Together, by Todd Parr

4. The Family Bookby Todd Parr

Things We Like About These Books:

  • All of Todd Parr's children's books are written with such simple words, yet they are packed with powerful messages.
  • The big colourful pictures that resemble a child's drawings appeal to kids, and his quirky humour injected in the least expected parts of his books still make my daughter laugh at parts she's read a hundred times!
  • The illustrations in We Belong Together depict many different kinds of familiesgay, biracial, single-parent.
  • The text focuses on some things that adoptable children need or want, and represents the adoptive families as being able to provide some of those things, repeating the message "We belong together because...," which helps children who were adopted feel that they belong in their family.
  • The text also provides that the child is giving something to the families, which is the reality of adoption. It is not simply the adoptive family giving everything to the child in a charitable waychildren who were adopted give so much unknowingly to their families, as well!
  • The Family Book is a great accompaniment, because it discusses all the different types of families in our society and makes every single one of them acceptable and normal and nothing to get jazzed up about. Which is exactly the kind of message I want my daughter hearinglove and acceptance!

Potential Concerns for Some Readers:

  • Again, this is a "positive aspects only" adoption book. It is very hard to find books that deal with the negative aspects of adoption, and while we often have discussions with our daughter about her negative feelings about adoption, books that focus on the positive parts only are not a bad thing to help support a positive outlook.
  • Again, there is no mention of birth or pre-adoption foster families.

To avoid making this post a book unto itself, here are a few more adoption-related books with just a quick description of each, that kids may also enjoy:

5. What is Adoption?, by Sofie Stergianis and Rita McDowall 

Provides a great explanation of the process of adoption. This is a book that I have bought for my daughter's classrooms and school library.

6. I Wished for You: An Adoption Storyby Marianne Richmond

A cuddle-time story for little ones that addresses trans-racial adoptees not looking like their parents. There are numerous mentions of God's involvement in the character's adoption.

7. A Sister for Matthewby Pamela Kennedy

A good book for bio kids who will be gaining or have a sibling via adoption.

8. Over The Moon: An Adoption Taleby Karen Katz

Adoptive parents' description of their wait, excitement, and travel to adopt their child internationally.

Please note that this list is only a fraction of the many adoption books in publication! I have included these because they are our family's favourites.

Do you have a favourite adoption book? Tell me about it below!

Thanks for reading my post! If you enjoyed it, you may also want to check out how I came to be a mom, or you might want to know some other places to find adoption information.