Transracial and Transnational Adoption Books for Adults

Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections
edited by Jean MacLeod and Sheena McRae

A manual for adoptive parents that covers the ages from "birth through pre-adolescence," this book offers articles (most of which are relatively brief) from many different contributors on a very wide variety of topics relevant to parenting an adopted child, with an emphasis on topics relevant to parenting the internationally adopted child. Many of the articles are accompanied by a list of resources for further reading.

Pact says: A wonderful tool, easy to read and the suggestions are on target, making this a perfect gift for extended family.
Beyond Good Intentions
by Cheri Register

Cheri, the white mother of two adult daughters adopted from Korea, has written ten essays about pitfalls that well-meaning parents like herself can easily slip into. The author’s advice is based on her own experience of raising her daughters, her daughters’ reflections on their childhoods, and the experiences of many other adult international adoptees. She is direct and honest in looking at herself and what worked as well as what did not work for her daughters and the many other adoptees she has worked with and interviewed.

Pact says: These essays offer a thoughtful, candid look at the intersection between parental feelings and expectations and an adopted child’s emotional needs, whether they were adopted internationally or domestically.

Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib
by Jaiya John

Transracial adoption remains a potent and charged idea in American social life. Now, the children of these adoptions are coming of age as adults. Dr. Jaiya John, through his honest memoir, presents us with a voice from deep within the heart of this cultural and psychological phenomenon. The first Black child in the history of New Mexico to be adopted by a white family, John’s story is a landmark. John’s adoptive parents taught him how to love; hence, he could readily accept and envelope his biological family. He takes a spiritual view of his path through adoption and life.

Pact says: A heartfelt memoir with a spiritual viewpoint.

BrownBabies.jpg Brown Babies, Pink Parents
by Amy Ford

Brown Babies Pink Parents is a practical guide for Caucasian parents who are raising Black children. Author Amy Ford is the adoptive mother of three African American daughters. With firsthand experience in facing the challenges of Transracial adoption, she addresses a multitude of concerns from basic skin and hair care, racial socialization, accepting white privilege, and ways to celebrate the diversity of your family.

Pact says: Despite an unfortunate title that appears to trivialize race, this really is a helpful book with an upbeat, but realistic tone.

Daughter of the Ganges
by Asha Miro

Daughter of the Ganges is a moving, 2-part account of the author’s search for her roots in India, from where she was taken as an almost 7- year old to be adopted by a loving couple from Barcelona, Spain. The first part of the book details her first trip back to India as a 27-year-old, yearning to find the missing pieces in what little information she has about her first seven years of life. It is in the second part of her book, detailing her second return to India and her search for biological family, that her story takes some surprising turns, and where her simple language is used to greatest effect in describing what she discovers, and how it impacts her.

Pact says: She writes eloquently about the importance to her of searching and finding that connection, of seeing herself reflected in biological family members and of finally being able to imagine what her life would have been like had her circumstances been different. This last is a question that she had struggled with throughout her life in Barcelona.

Dim Sum, Bagels and Grits: A Sourcebook for Multicultural Families
by Myra Alperson

Alperson will take you on a thoughtful, provocative and cheerful personal journey into the identity issues of multicultural adoptive families through her own experience of adopting her daughter Sadie from China as a single mother. This fascinating introduction to the diversity of approaches and attitudes among such families is enriched by voices not often heard from. Including lively stories from transracial adoptees and adoptive parents along with the author's own straightforward views.

Pact says: Alperson's approach provides a wonderful jump start to the thinking of anyone considering transracial adoption.

Finding Fernanda.jpg Finding Fernanda
by Erin Siegal

If you think of international adoption as an altruistic way of “helping” children from other countries, you will find Finding Fernanda by investigative journalist Erin Siegal an eye-opening book. How can we be sure if children are really “orphans” or stolen children?

Pact says: The vast majority of adopting parents don’t want to steal anyone’s child, but their desperate desire to become parents can lead them to place unreasonable levels of trust in anyone who might help them in that quest—turning them into obvious targets for “helpers” who are corrupt and unscrupulous. .

harris-narratives.jpg Harris Narratives, The
by Sue Harris O'Conner

Sue is rare in her ability to create narratives that are both raw and honest while also being instructive in the deepest sense. If you pay attention, you will gain insight into the truest aspects of the intersection of race, adoption and humanity in the context of transracial adoption. Take the opportunity to be moved and educated about how to be a better parent and better child welfare advocate.

Pact Says: These intimate narratives address the deepest experiences of race, culture, identity and self esteem in a very personal way that is both brilliant and joyful. Every person, parent and professional working in or touched by adoption should read this.
In Their Own Voices
by Rita Simon & Rhonda Roorda

In this collection of interviews conducted with Black and biracial young adults who were adopted by white parents, the authors present the personal stories of two dozen individuals who hail from a wide range of religious, economic, political, and professional backgrounds. How does the experience affect their racial and social identities, their choice of friends and marital partners, and their lifestyles? In addition to interviews, the book includes overviews of both the history and current legal status of transracial adoption.

Pact says: This book should be in the library of every transracial adoptive family. Rhonda’s personal experience as an African American woman raised by white parents makes this volume compassionate and real.

In Their Parents' Voices
by Rita Simon and Rhonda Roorda

This is a collection of interviews conducted with the parents of Black and biracial adult adoptees who were interviewed for In Their Own Voices. In addition to personal interviews, the book also includes overviews of both the history and current legal status of transracial adoption in America.

Pact says: This book offers insights from experienced parents who discuss their experience and their children’s from the long view of having completed the task of raising their children. Another important contribution to the literature on transracial adoption.

SiblingsVoices.jpg In Their Siblings Voices
by Rita J. Simon & Rhonda M. Roorda

A companion collection of interviews conducted with the white siblings of black and biracial adult adoptees who were interviewed for In Their Own Voices. The narratives collected here detail the many sides of the transracial adoption experiment. The book offers more balanced insights from individuals whose parents made the decision for them but now offer their insights and reactions to the expeirence from their unique point of view.

Pact Says: This volume is the capstone in a landmark trilogy. There is no other work like it. It is historic, important, and provocative, with many findings that will be the primary source for scholars, as well as anyone interested in this complex subject.

Inside-transracial-adoption-second-edition.jpg Inside Transracial Adoption, Second Edition
by Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg

Completely revised in 2013, this rewritten classic "moves beyond the debate to offer real solutions to real challenges. Reinforces the message that race matters, racism is alive, and families built transracially can develop binding ties." “Eloquent, interesting, and intensely practical, you can’t read this book without thinking differently about your own life as a child, a parent, and a member of our diverse society.” “Brimming with facts, examples, challenge and inspiration, and plenty of hard-nosed practical advice.” “Every adoption professional and transracial parent should read this book.”

Pact says: Humbly, since Pact’s co-founders wrote it, we think it’s pretty good!

LittlePrinces.jpg Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
by Conor Grennan

29-year old Conor Grennan begins a year long trip around the world with 3 months of volunteer work in a Nepalese orphanage to justify the extravagance. As his friends mentioned and he himself realizes as he stands on the doorstep, he has absolutely no skills for the job. Humility, insights into culture and the difference one person can make abound.

Pact says: The adoption triad has a lot to learn from this book, particularly those involved in international adoption.

LuckyGirl.jpg Lucky Girl
by Mei-Long Hopgood

Mei-Ling Hopgood has written a wonderful memoir, Lucky Girl, about her reunion with her birth family in Taiwan. With her clear prose and journalist’s eye for detail, she creates a compelling story of how the relationship begins and how it develops over the years through visits and letters.

Pact says: One of the strongest aspects of Lucky Girl is the way Hopgood captures the complexity of reunion. As their relationships develop beyond first impressions, she learns some of the secrets and painful events that have shaped her birth family and the lives of her siblings. This inevitable evolution takes her readers on a rollercoaster ride of joy and sorrow, disillusionment and acceptance.

mamalita.jpg Mamalita
by Jessica O'Dwyer

Mamalita is an honest, gripping first person account of a very difficult Guatemalan adoption a few years before the country was "closed" due to widespread corruption in 2007. O’Dwyer is not blind to the ambiguities of her privilege as a upper middle class American trying to adopt a baby in a third world country, although in her eagerness to have a child, she sometimes looks the other way.

Pact Says: Worth noting is that a few years after the adoption was completed, O'Dwyer was able to find Olivia's birth mother, the book ends with a moving description of her reunion with Olivia.
once.jpg Once They Hear My Name
edited by Marilyn Lammert and Mary Anne Hess

Nine adult Korean adoptees ranging in age from 25 to 53 speak in interviews about their struggles growing up and how they’ve chosen to navigate the complex journey towards identity acceptance. Each adoptee’s story appears to be transcribed verbatim; phrases spoken out loud are fine in conversation, but translated to paper they sometimes weaken the story’s impact.

Pact says: For a person who is new to the experiences of transracial adoption, this book is certainly worthy.

Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption
by Jane Jeong Tranka, Julia Chinyere Oparah and Sun Yung Shin, Editors

Although transracial adoption is generally considered win-win, it has too often exacted a heavy toll on children when white parents approach it from a color blind or child-saving mentality. Through gripping essays, poetry and are, transracially adopted writers and artists from around the world carefully explore explore this most intimate aspect of globalization.

Pact says: Experts on their own experience, the writers of Outsiders Within offer an illuminating and provocative glimpse in to the world of transracial adoption that will make many of us uncomfortable but validates the lives of those children currently placed for adoption across racial and cultural lines. A must read!

parenting-as-adoptees.jpg Parenting as Adoptees
by Adam Chau & Kevin Ost-Vollmers

Through fourteen chapters, the authors of Parenting As Adoptees give readers a glimpse into a pivotal phase in life that touches the experiences of many domestic and international adoptees—that of parenting. The authors, who are all adoptees from various walks of life, intertwine their personal narratives and professional experiences, and the results of their efforts are insightful, emotive, and powerful.Includes contributions by: Bert Ballard, Susan Branco Alvarado, Stephanie Kripa Cooper-Lewter, Lorial Crowder, Shannon Gibney, Astrid Dabbeni, Mark Hagland, Hei Kyong Kim, JaeRan Kim, Jennifer Lauck, Mary Mason, Robert O’Connor, John Raible, and Sandy White Hawk.

Pact says: Most, though not all, of the adoptees were adopted transracially.
RedDustRoad.jpg Red Dust Road
by Jackie Kay

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different color from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, the journey that Jackie Kay undertakes is full of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. Taking the reader from Glasgow to Lagos and beyond, Red Dust Road is revelatory, redemptive and courageous, unique in its voice and universal in its reach. It is a heart-stopping story of parents and siblings, friends and strangers, belonging and beliefs, biology and destiny, and love.

Pact says: Jackie had wonderful adoptive parents who did everything to support their daughter's identity, racially and in adoption - this book underscores the reality that adoption is truly a lifelong issue. Susan Ito says, "Red Dust Road is the best adoption memoir I have ever read!"

seeds_cover.jpg Seeds From A Silent Tree
by Tonya Bishoff & Jo Rankin

A collection of poetry, fiction, and personal narratives written exclusively by Korean adopted people. Explores issues of adoption, identity, race, and sexuality. Born in one culture, raised in another, assigned new names and families, thirty men and women write of their complex experiences.

Pact says: Presents some of the core issues of being adopted from a Korean perspective. Collections from the voices of adoptees are always helpful to opening a wider discussion of adoption for both parents and children.

This many miles from desire web store.jpg This Many Miles from Desire
by Lee Herrick

Lee’s poems are a collection of wise, heartfelt, honest poems that feel like songs, sad songs you play alone at midnight to remind your soul to live. In settings as diverse as Korea, Latin America and Fresno, California, the poems speak of the emotional experience of being adopted, of one man’s search for identity, of the problem of abandonment--but most of all, they speak of the constancy of love.

Pact says: There is no blame or bitterness here at all. These are songs of grace and acceptance and joy.
Transnational Adoption: A Cultural Economy of Race, Gender and Kinship
by Sara Dorow

Dorow provides an honest and intriguing look at hard topics, discussing the children who are available for adoption, for example, Dorow describes how the “industry” of adoption encourages the invisibility of special-needs children, while the “healthiest,” and thus most “salable” children get the best care in orphanages. Also addresses institutional racism, gender and class issues in adoption.

Pact says: This is a challenging read. Dorow brings her sociologist’s sensibility to this academic text. She insists that we look at the whole truth, including who benefits and who is served when adoptions happen.

Transracial Adoption and Foster Care: Practice Issues for Professionals
By Joseph Crumbley

This book describes specific ways practitioners can work with transracial families to ensure that children develop positive racial and cultural identities. Dr. Crumbley also addresses such concerns as cultural competence and recruitment of adoptive and foster parents of color. Case studies and “myths” of transracial adoption provide valuable background information.

Pact says: Joe Crumbley is one of the adoption world’s clearest thinkers about transracial placements. Informed by his expertise as a clinician and his experience as a Black American, he has created an important book for anyone interested in the identity development of adopted children of color.

Voices from Another Place
edited by Susan Soon Keum Cox

Voices from Another Place is a from-the-heart collection of poetry, fiction, memoir, essay, photography and artwork, created by adopted Koreans after adulthood. Their diverse and unmistakably honest voices cast light on issues common to all adoptees, to those who were internationally adopted in particular and to Koreans who have grown up in American or European cultures. The importance of connecting to one’s full identity, including culture and country of origin is made clear through their open sharing of works expressing their deepest experiences.

Pact says: Highly recommended.

Wanting A Daughter, Needing a Son
by Kay Johnson

A well-researched study of child abandonment and adoption in China. The author offers a historical explanation of China's "one-child" policy, as well as an explanation of the pressures that lead families to decide to parent boys, not girls. The author also discusses the informal adoption system through which many families in China do, in fact, take in and keep their girls.

Pact says: This book is ESSENTIAL reading for any family adopting from China.

White Parents, black children webstore.jpg White Parents, Black Children: Experiencing Transracial Adoption
by Darron T. Smith, Cardell K. Jacobson and Brenda Juárez

The book takes very seriously this gap between white and Black in understanding the world around us: that is, recognizing that this world was designed by and for white people, while exploiting and excluding non-white people.

Pact says: Conscious transracial parenting, where the accent is on race, is not easy. Reading White Parents, Black Children leaves white parents with the essential and very personal question: “Am I willing and able to fundamentally change if and when I decide to parent a Black child?”
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