Books on Transracial Adoption for Adoptive Parents
W.I.S.E. Up! Powerbook (ages 6-16) – Created by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) in 2009, the W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook is designed to help adopted children and children in foster care learn how to confidently handle both personal and general questions about adoption. The book presents realistic situations that adopted and foster kids are likely to encounter, and guides parents and kids through different approaches to answering. Organized around the acrostic W.I.S.E., kids learn that they can Walk away, reply that It’s private, choose to Share something, or Educate others. I used this as a discussion starter to be read to my kids when they were in early to mid-elementary school and then left is where they could access it when they were older.
A Euro-American on a Korean Tour at a Thai Restaurant in China by Chris Winston. I wasn’t exactly sure where to include this book. It is not really an adoptive parenting book, yet it talks about adoptive parenting issues. It is not really a transracial adoption book, yet it talks about raising transracially adopted kids. Since the chapter on race and transracial adoption is so strong, I decided to include it here. This book is an honest account of one mother’s journey to bridging the gap between her two transracially internationally adopted kids with their birth culture. If you are interested in going beyond culture camps and cooking lessons, this book is a jewel. Winston explores the ups and downs of her desires to create a truly dual culture for her kids. Ultimately she founded the Korean Adoptee/Adoptive Network. BTW, don’t you just love the title?!
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama. This well written memoir is an honest portrayal of the successes and struggles of being raised as a black child in a white family. Although Obama is mixed race, the world perceived him as black, and he had to learn to live in American society as a black man. His journey was not always smooth and his struggles were not those of an average American adolescent, but he survived and obviously has flourished. The love and support of his mother and grandparents supported and grounded him. This is a great resource to help white parents understand from a black child’s perspective what it is like to be raised in a white family and society. It was written shortly after he left law school, and is not a political book.
Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib by Jaiya John Dr. Jaiya John was the first black child in the history of New Mexico to be adopted by a white family. In this emotionally honest memoir he talks about being raised in a white family. He was loved deeply by his adoptive parents and it is through their love that he puts all the pieces of past and future. This is a book for parents or teens, but I suggest that you read it first so you can talk with your teen about it.
Dim Sum, Bagels and Grits: A Sourcebook for Multicultural Families by Myra Alperson. Alperson adopted her daughter from China as a single mom. I like this book for many reasons, mostly the voice and the the fact that she includes the stories of adult transracial adoptees. Great book if you are considering adopting across racial lines.
In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption by Rhonda Roorda (adult transracial adoptee) – We loved this book for its insight and its message. It is a great starting place for transracial adoption parents to have a better understanding of what it means to be black in America. Roorda also does a good job of summarizing the history of transracial adoption in the US. There is an appendix full of tips for parents on how best to raise interracially adopted kids. This one is a keeper and belongs on the bookshelf of any parent who adopts across racial lines. While appropriate for all types of transracial adoption, it is specifically written for adoptions where the parents are white and the kids are black. Listen to our interview with Rhonda Roorda on the Creating a Family radio show – Adult Transracial Adoptees Teach Us About Adoption
In Their Own Voices, In Their Parents’ Voices, and In Their Siblings’ Voices by Rita Simon & Rhonda Roorda – In Their Own Voices is a collection of interviews with young adult transracial adoptees, and In Their Parents’ Voices, as the title suggests, is an interview of parents who have adopted in the first wave of transracial adoptions. In Their Siblings’ Voices is a story of 20 white non-adopted siblings who grew up with black or biracial brothers and sisters. The first book answers the questions like, “how does being raised by parent’s of a different race affect a young adult’s racial and social identities, their choice of friends and marital partners, and their lifestyles?” In the second book, parents discuss what worked in parenting and what would they do different. In the third book, the children of the families in the other two books share their experiences with multiracial adoption.
Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption edited by Jane Jeong Tranka, Julia Chinyere Oparah and Sun Yung Shin. I’ll have to be honest that this was a hard book for me to read; however, this collection of essays, focusing on the darker side of transracial adoption, is important for us to consider since the authors are the ultimate experts–adult transracial adoptees. I question whether they are a representative sample, but I imagine the editors would say that it wasn’t their intent to give a representative view.
Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff. Although written by a mother who adopted transracially in a U.S. open adoption, this book addresses hard issues any family formed by adopting across racial lines may also face
A Single Square Picture by Katy Robinson. Memoir by an adult Korean who was adopted at age seven and returned to Korea to search for her birth family.
After the Morning Calm: Reflections of Korean Adoptees edited by Sook Wilkinson and Nancy Fox. Collection of essays by adult Korean adoptees expressing a range of emotions and experiences.
Beyond Good Intentions: A Mother Reflects on Raising Internationally Adopted Children by Cheri Register. Interesting viewpoint of a mom of two children adopted from Korea who are now adults.
Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall. Written primarily from the perspective of Caucasian parents adopting African American children domestically, but still useful information.
Voices from Another Place: A Collection of Works from a Generation Born in Korea and Adopted to Other Countries by Susan Soon-Keum Cox – This book is a collection of poetry, fiction, memoir, essay, photography and artwork by adult adoptees adopted from Korea to the US. It is crucial for parents of younger adopted kids to understand the experience of transracial/transcultural adoption from the perspective of the adopted person. This book collects a diversity of such voices and is highly recommended. As one adoptee said: “My mother wished she would have had this book when I was growing up. It gives the adoptee parents a glimpse of how the adoptee may feel.”
Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children by Rachel Garlinghouse – Transracial adoption can be a daunting and exhilarating journey, and at times you feel isolated and lost. However, with this conversational and practical guide in hand, you will be able to adopt with confidence and parent with education, empathy, and enthusiasm. The book includes extensive resource lists, discussion/reflection questions for adoptive parents, and advice and research from experts in the adoption field.
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