When it comes to preparing to adopt transracially or continuing your education as a white adoptive parent, I fully believe in listening to adoptee voices. Books written by transracial adoptees can be the best material for adoptive parents to learn from because they share the honest perspective of what it means to grow up as a transracial adoptee in a white family.
These stories can help build an adoptive parent’s understanding about the beauty—and trauma—that can be part of an adoptee’s story; from searching for their birth family to figuring out where they fit.
All of the books included in this list are #OwnVoices, meaning they were written by the marginalized community the book depicts (in this case, transracial adoptees). These books will not only help further work on anti-racism but can also bring awareness to the nuances of adopting a child from another race.
Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related
Jenny Wills uses beautiful prose to take the reader along the journey of finding her birth family while diving into the complexities of race, gender, and class. She takes us on her return trip to Seoul where she connects with her birth mother, father, and other relatives while staying in a guesthouse for transnational adoptees. Adoptive parents will learn about the aftereffects of a child’s removal from a family, and an adoptee’s need to connect with their roots.
See No Color
Sixteen-year-old Alex does not have any qualms about being a biracial adoptee in a white family, but she struggles with getting teased for acting “too white.” When she finds hidden letters from her birth father, the confusion that it brings causes her to feel conflicted about her desire to connect with her birth father and also not to upset her (adoptive) parents. Adoptive parents can learn that being content in their adoptive family does not erase the desire to learn more about one's roots, and the sense of obligation to their adoptive parents as they search for answers.
For Black Girls Like Me
Even though this book is aimed at middle-grade readers, it’s a great starter for an adoptive family to further conversations about race and mental health. Makeda, the main character, is a Black adoptee in a white family and follows their family’s big move to New Mexico, which takes her away from the only Black girl she knows. Adoptive parents can learn how transracially adopted children can feel without racial mirrors and how it can be difficult develop their identity.
In this book, we follow Rowan's tumultuous journey towards self-acceptance where she struggles with the need to feel grateful that she was adopted while finding her self-worth. In Lauren Sharkey's riveting debut, she uses her voice to depict the side of transracial adoption that many shy away from. Adoptive parents may feel uncomfortable going with Rowan on her quest to belong, but it is an invaluable resource to understanding what some adoptees may face and be too hesitant to share with their parents.
Growing Up Black in White
Hofman writes a moving memoir that illustrates the difficulties of understanding one's racial identity as not only a transracial adoptee but as a biracial man. This is a memoir that adoptive families can learn more about the nuances of finding one's identity while finding their own voice.
Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption
Susan shares her breathtaking journey for the truth, after she discovers that her adoptive father lied about the death of her birth parents. New questions plague her as she starts her own family and then meets her biological parents in her 30s. Prospective and current adoptive parents should be encouraged to read it, not only because it shows the importance of being honest with your child, but also illustrated the value of forgiveness, and self-acceptance.
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