Dim Sum, Bagels and Grits: A Sourcebook for Multicultural Families by Myra Alperson – This sourcebook offers families a guide to the tangled questions that surround identity in transracial and international adoptions. As the adoptive Jewish mother of a Chinese daughter, Alperson provides personal as well as professional insight into topics like combining cultures in the home, confronting prejudice, and developing role models. In addition to drawing on extensive interviews with transracial families, her book includes a wealth of on-line and conventional resources for finding books, food products, toys, clothing, discussion groups and heritage camps to help families build a multicultural home.
W.I.S.E. Up! Powerbook – 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 their story and answer questions from others on their own terms. 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.
Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall – The classic authoritative guide to navigating the challenges and issues that parents face when they adopt a child of a different race and/or culture. Transracial adoption can work well for kids and families if parents acknowledge that race and adoption matter and educate themselves to meet the challenges they face. This book is designed to support transracial adoptive parents during that lifelong learning process. Inside Transracial Adoption is filled with real-life examples and specific strategies for success. Written primarily from the perspective of Caucasian parents adopting African American children domestically.
Black Baby White Hands: A View from the Crib by Jaiya John – Dr. John, a former professor of social psychology at Howard University, 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, but still faced confusion and difficulty growing up in an overwhelmingly white community. The book focuses on his struggles growing up one of the very few black people in his family/community/school. It is through the love of his family that he puts all the pieces of past and future together.
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. Obama wrote Dreams from My Father shortly after he graduated law school, before he entered politics.
Beyond Good Intentions: A Mother Reflects on Raising Internationally Adopted Children by Cheri Register – This collection of essays examines 10 potential pitfalls that well-meaning adoptive parents can fall into and how to successfully navigate them. Topics range from wiping away your children’s past to believing that race doesn’t matter to appropriating your children’s heritage. An honest look at some of the issues that transracial and international adoptive parents must face.
In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption by Rhonda Roorda – This book is a great starting place for transracial adoption parents to have a better understanding of what it means to be black in America. Roorda 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 transracially adopted kids. This one’s 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 podcast – 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 – This trio of books looks at transracial adoption through the eyes of the adoptees, their parents and their adopted siblings. In Their Own Voices is a collection of interviews with young adult transracial adoptees, and answers questions such as how does being raised by parents of a different race affects a young adult’s racial and social identities, their choice of friends and marital partners, and their lifestyles. In Their Parents’ Voices, as the title suggests, is a collection of interviews with parents who have adopted in the first wave of transracial adoptions, and focuses on what the parents through work and what they would do differently. In Their Siblings’ Voices is a story of 20 white non-adopted siblings who grew up with black or biracial brothers and sisters and their experiences with multiracial adoption.
Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption edited by Jane Jeong Tranka, Julia Chinyere Oparah and Sun Yung Shin – This collection of essays, fiction, poetry, and art give a less optimistic view of transracial adoption, and I’ll admit that this was a hard book for me to read. However, it’s not fair to our children to look at transracial adoption with our rose-tinted glasses firmly on, and this point of view, which focuses 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.
A Euro-American on a Korean Tour at a Thai Restaurant in China by Chris Winston – A great book with a great title. I wasn’t initially 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. She ultimately ended up founding the Korean Adoptee/Adoptive Network.
From Beyond the Skies by Juli Boit – Juli Boit brought a tiny baby into her home 5 days after his mother passed away during child birth in Kenya. They named him Ryan and adopted him through a complicated international adoption process. When Ryan was six months old, he and two of his siblings were diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Thus the journey of accessing the best possible care for the three children began for Juli and her husband Titus. This is a story of love and courage, and the new life one finds when in the darkest of places.
You Should Be Grateful by Angela Tucker — We have long been fans of Angela Tucker, and this book has increased our admiration. It provides great insight into transracial adoption from the adoptee’s point of view. And somehow, in the midst of providing really valuable information, Angela has succeeded in writing a really great book that keeps you interested from beginning to end. She intertwines her own personal story throughout, and you feel compelled to keep reading to find out what happened next. We highly recommend.
Love at the Border: An Adoption Adventure by Anna Maria DiDio — The author shares an intimate behind-the-scenes look at her family’s journey of their international adoption of an older child. Having been raised in an orphanage in Mexico, six-year-old Priscilla said she wanted a home of her own, but leaving behind her biological mother and the women who raised her is devastating. She also leaves behind her language, food, culture, and friends while learning how to be a daughter and a sister. In this fifteen-year memoir, author Anna Maria Didio reveals her struggles as an adoptive mother and breaking down barriers as she creates her family. Recommended to inspire readers interested in international adoption.
Somewhere Sisters by Erika Hayasaki — This is the story of newborn twin girls separated at birth in 1998. While Ha is raised in a rural Vietnamese village by her aunt with sporadic electricity and frequent monsoons, her twin, Loan, is adopted by a wealthy white American family. They renamed her Isabella, and she and her adoptive sister grow up attending a predominantly white Catholic school, playing soccer, and preparing for college. When Isabella’s adoptive mother learned of her biological twin back in Vietnam, all of their lives changed forever. Designated an NPR Best Book of 2022, this is a richly textured, moving story of sisterhood and coming of age. It is told through the remarkable lives of young women who have redefined the meaning of family for themselves.
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