Best International Adoption Books – 2019 Top Picks


At the end of World War II, adoption becomes more inclusive. The Boys and Girls Aid Society took the initiative to campaign “Operation Brown Baby.” It addressed the difficulty of placing children of color for adoption. The aim of the campaign is to find adoptive homes for children, even if from a different race. From then on, international adoption has thrived to reach the status it has in the present.

Best International Adoption Books

With such change, hopeful adoptive parents now are getting into international adoption. They need resources and references in going through the adoption process and trans-racial adoptive parenting. Hence, this article provides 10 books about international adoption. These tackles the fundamental concerns of most adoptive parents as well as of the transracial adoptees.

  1. The Connected Child
  2. The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child
  3. Adopting in America: How to Adopt Within One Year (2018-2019) 6th edition
  4. Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years
  5. Adoption Beyond Borders: How International Adoption Benefits Children
  6. Saving International Adoption: An Argument from Economics and Personal Experience
  7. In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories
  8. Inside Transracial Adoption
  9. Ya Sama!: Moments from My Life
  10. All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

Below are the details of the books:

The Connected Child

The Connected Child is a book written by research psychologists Karyn B. Purvis, David R. Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine. They specialize in adoption and attachment.

The book discusses how to create bonds, develop trust, deal with challenging behaviors, and discipline with love. These are critical in raising an adopted child, especially internationally adopted. It’s a given that it involves differences in appearance, language, culture, history of trauma, and of special needs. The book is also helpful for those who seek something to read that are about adoption in general.

The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child

The book covers everything that hopeful adoptive parents should know about the international adoption process. It answers even the basic questions of whether adoption is right for the prospective adoptive parents. Also, what it is like returning home with the adoptee. And how can the transition be made easier for both the adoptive parents and the adoptee.

These are the specific topics to expect upon flipping the pages of the book:

  • A simple breakdown of the differences between domestic and international adoption. This is for prospective adoptive parents to have an idea which of the two adoption programs is more appropriate.
  • Advice and discussion on important factors to consider when choosing a country. It includes the wait times and the estimated cost, all in charts for easy comparison. 
  • Discussion that tackles the potential health issues based on recent researches and interviews with doctors that specialize in international adoption.
  • Figures, worksheets, and a suggested system for the preparation and organization of the extensive documentation of paperwork.
  • Tips on parenting that are helpful in enhancing attachment. Also, suggestions that address the issues that come with raising an internationally adopted child.
  • Stories of adoptive parents and their advice at every stage of the international adoption process.
  • Information regarding the stage of selecting an adoption agency and financial planning, and preparing for the home study.  It also deals with traveling internationally, evaluating the child’s health, and integrating the new family with the new family member.

About the Author

Written by Dawn Davenport – an attorney and a mother of four. One of her children is an international adoptee from Korea. The book can help adoptive parents in managing the expected roller-coaster of emotions along treading the path of international adoption. Davenport does not sugarcoat her experiences in this book. Those includes exploring the risks of adoption such as developmental delays, attachment issues, and other potential problems. However, it also emphasizes the rewards at the same time.

Adopting in America: How to Adopt Within One Year (2018-2019) 6th edition

This book offers a full explanation of the different types of adoption programs. Those are independent, agent, and intercountry or international adoption. Also, it includes the best, yet little known, options. Additionally, it explores the States that have the best laws and permits non-residents to adopt. This is all to provide the many hopeful adoptive parents with convenience.

Adopting in America details the following:

  • The keys to selecting the best agency or attorney
  • Reviews of each state’s unique laws and procedures (When does she sign her consent to the adoption? How long does she have to change her mind? What are the rights of the birth father? and the like)
  • Lists of adoption attorneys within each state with their biographies
  • Special strategies in locating a birth mother quickly to select hopeful adoptive parents for a newborn adoption
  • A discussion on the red flags of adoption
  • A guide on obtaining free medical care for the birth mother
  • A guide on choosing the best program
  • A guide on how to use adoption registries to learn about children waiting for adoption in the foster care system

Adopting in America is written by Randall Hicks. He is a nationally-recognized adoption attorney, frequent lecturer, and television commentator on adoption-related subjects. Also, he has completed more than 1,000 independent, agency, and intercountry adoptions in his thirty-plus years as an adoption attorney. Hicks wrote the book in a direct and simple style. It provides helpful content, organizations, and resources to assist in adoption planning and parenting.

Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years

Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child is a guide for adoptive parents. It deals with preparing for an adopted child’s arrival at home. Also, in raising the child through his or her teen years. 

Best International Adoption Books

The book is written by Patty Cogen, a mother of two children, one of whom was adopted from China. As an educator and psychologist, Cogen leads First Year Home groups for adoptive families. She advises parents all over the United States. She serves as an aide in dealing and raising internationally adopted children. Also, she helps in decoding the intricacies of adoption and child development.

“Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child is a remarkably comprehensive and useful resource for both parents and practitioners. This book is a wise roadmap that anyone adopting internationally should have for easy reference.” —Susan Soonkeum Cox, Vice President, Holt International Adoption Agency

“Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child is a wonderful, thoughtful resource for adoptive parents. As both a therapist and a parent, Patty Cogen offers valuable, practical advice with hands-on suggestions and great tips. This is a book that will grow with you as you navigate your parenting journey.” —Carrie Kitze, Author of We See the Moon, and I Don’t Have Your Eyes

Adoption Beyond Borders: How International Adoption Benefits Children

Adoption Beyond Borders is a book that promotes international adoption as a viable path to child welfare. The book explores the effects of putting children in foster care institutions. How the said environment is affecting their developing brains, cognitive abilities, and social and emotional functioning. Also, the book tackles the issues of identity for an international adoptee. The cultural and racial gaps between the adoptive parents and the adoptee.

The author addresses the challenges by putting in discussions and guides. Those are for building strong emotional bonds. Additionally, it touches the issue of dealing with the special needs of the child. This child might have an experience of early neglect and deprivation. The book sees an internationally adopted child as someone who needs a strong and supportive environment where one can flourish.

Adoption Beyond Borders is written by Rebecca J. Compton, who also features in the book her first-hand accounts of her own adoption journey as she visited a Kazakhstani orphanage daily for nearly a year. 

Saving International Adoption: An Argument from Economics and Personal Experience

This book explores and analyzes the oppositions regarding international adoption. These are arguments of many government officials, international bureaucrats, and social commentators on “the best interests” of the child.

The arguments include but are not limited to the following:

  • First, the claim that adoption deprives children of their “birth culture”
  • Second, the claim of threat to the children’s racial identities
  • Third, the claim that international adoption encourages widespread child trafficking.

The authors see these arguments as but a smokescreen for protecting national pride.

This book offers a challenge of embracing the market forces in international adoption so that they could be properly regulated. Also, it offers the concept of open adoption where birth and adoptive parents can meet. With it, they can privately negotiate the exchange of parental rights.

Saving International Adoption is written by Mark Montgomery and Irene Powell. They were economics teacher at Grinnell College for 27 years. Both are researchers of higher education and employment policy, childcare, and gender discrimination. They have three grown children—a birth daughter, a domestically adopted son, and a son from Sierra Leone in West Africa. They offer their economic analyses and provocative analogies from other policy realms and their own experience with the adoption process.

In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories

In Their Own Voices is a collection of interviews. These are from black and bi-racial young adults who are adopted by white parents. They hail from a wide range of religious, economic, political, and professional backgrounds. This book is an address to the continuous debate of the effects of international or transracial adoption.

Best International Adoption Books

It presents the personal stories of two dozen individuals with the aim to determine how the international adoption experience affects the following:

  • racial and social identities
  • choice of friends and marital partners
  • lifestyles

The author of “In Their Own Voices” is Rita J. Simon, a former University Professor in the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law at American University. Her co-author is Rhonda Roorda, she’s adopted by a white family and a recipient of the 2010 Judge John P. Steketee Adoption Hero Award from the Adoptive Family Support Network (MI) and the Friend of Children and Youth Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). Simon and Steketee had the history and current legal status of trans-racial adoption, also included in the book.

Inside Transracial Adoption

Inside Transracial Adoption is a book written to give support to international or transracial adoptive parents. It seeks to answer their doubts and questions. For instance, whether the type of adoption a positive choice for the adoptees. Or, how can the children grow up in an adoptive family without losing their birth heritage. Additionally, how can the adoptive parents support the children after placement.

The book is filled with real-life examples. Also, it includes specific strategies for success. In addition, it’s an in-depth explanation of the realities to prepare for in raising a child of color. The setting may be in a multicultural or a predominantly white community. Moreover, it incorporates the latest research about positive racial identity and multicultural families. The book reflects recent developments and trends in adoption.

Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg, offer insights for all transracial adoptive parents to make the lifelong journey of international or transracial adoption not as complex and challenging as it seems. They are drawing on research and decades of experience as adoption professionals, also, from their personal experience of adopting transracially.

Ya Sama!: Moments from My Life

Ya Sama! Moments from My Life is an autobiographical account of the life of Tatyana McFadden. She is one of the all-time great athletes in sports history in the field of wheelchair racing. Tatyana was born in Russia in 1989, diagnosed with spina bifida, which is a congenital defect of the spine. It’s a condition wherein part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. A lot of cases of the disease led to the paralysis of the lower limbs, and a few to mental handicap. As though getting such a rare disease upon birth is already unfortunate, Tatyana spent her first three years in St. Petersburg orphanage, where she received little medical care. However, getting adopted internationally by US adoptive parents, although they were told not to expect the child to live for long, made the tables turn for Tatyana.

Ya sama is a Russian expression, which means “I can do it.” This has been Tatyana’s guiding belief that she can do anything she sets her mind and imagination to do. With this, she conquered spina bifida and used her unique circumstance to thrive, which made her the record-breaking wheelchair racing athlete and Paralympic medalist she is now. She is also an activist who works to raise awareness about the inequity between able-bodied and para-athletic sports. 

Ya Sama! Moments from My Life is a great illustration of how an international adoption can impact the lives involved with it, the adoptive parents, and, ultimately, the life of the child.

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

All You Can Ever Know is a book about the life of Nicole Chung as she tells it. She was born in Korea, severely premature. The reason why her Korean birth parents placed her for adoption.  A white family in Oregon town adopted and raised her. Nicole is made to believe that her birth parents made the ultimate sacrifice. The said sacrifice is giving her up for adoption in the hope that she grows up with a better life. However, little did her adoptive family know of her struggles with prejudices as an Asian-American and as a writer. Eventually, she became more curious about her roots, wondering if the story of her birth parents’ sacrifice was true.

Nicole Chung frankly tells the story of her search for the people who gave her up. She eventually found out that it inadvertently corresponded with the birth of her own child. She tells a profound and poignant chronicle of surprising connections and the upshot of discovering painful family secrets. This book is for those who struggled or are struggling with the idea of whether they fit in or not.

Final Thought

International or transracial adoption does not start and end with the adoption process itself. It carries on while the adopted child is growing up, which makes it complex and even more challenging. Nonetheless, there is not so much threat from it if the adoptive parents are packed with knowledge and are well-equipped. They must be ready to educate their children about the things that matter over race and adoption, love and acceptance.

RELATED QUESTIONS

Can prospective adoptive parents demand the adoption of service providers for shorter international adoption process duration? 

Usually, adoption service providers or adoption agencies provide prospective adoptive parents with an estimation of time by which they process the adoption. However, it is important to note that the adoption does not solely rely on the service providers or agencies. The countries or states from which the adoptions are taking place have their own rules and regulations as well. On the other hand, should the agencies be delaying or denying the placement of a child solely on the basis of race and national origin, there are laws that strongly prohibit them from doing so such as Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) and the Interethnic Placement Act and could support the adoptive parents in such cases.

Are there any other support available to adoptive families other than financial? 

The social worker that conducts the home study may be able to provide the names of other adoptive parents. Provided that, it is applicable. And most importantly, it does not violate other adoptive parents and adoption agencies. Also, information about an adoptive parent support group should be available from them. Some agencies pair an adoptive parent/s or a waiting family with a “buddy” family. The latter must have already adopted a child with similar circumstances. Others even sponsor their own parent group to ensure that the adoptive families are receiving emotional support. The support group are people who can actually relate to them.

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Eni Gordove

is a freelance writer who has a degree in Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science. She has also taken Bachelor of Laws, making her adept in domestic and international adoption regulations and processes.

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