Books for Kids Adopted from Foster Care

foster care adoption

children's books foster careadoption

Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway (ages 13+) – A captivating young adult fiction novel about the story of three teen siblings who were separated from each other in the foster system and, through a series of events, find each other. It’s obvious that the author has some depth of experience in the field of foster care, evidenced by her poignant portrayals of the teens’ sense of loss, abandonment, identity questions and even ambivalence about their individual stories. In addition to building relationships with each other once reunited, the teens have to navigate pretty difficult home-life situations. The conversations between the siblings have a ring of authenticity that is often very moving for the reader. Far From the Tree is a quick easy read and a great peek into an adolescent perspective on the twists and turns of foster care, foster to adopt, and the added layer of family dynamics that many teens are facing both in and out of the system.

Zachary's New Home

Zachary’s New Home: A Story for Foster and Adopted Children by Geraldine M. Blomquist & Paul B. Blomquist (ages 4-8) – Children in foster care have usually suffered painful separations from their families for reasons they may not understand, and are often very confused, angry, and sad. The story of Zachary the kitten’s journey through foster care and eventual adoption by a family of geese allows children to explore their experiences, problems, and emotions.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (ages 9-12) – In the throes of World War II, all Ada and her younger brother Jeremy care about is that they’re finally in a permanent home with their new legal guardian, Susan. However, Ada, damaged by 10 years of abuse, doesn’t ever feel safe. Living in the midst of a world war only adds to Ada’s constant worries, and from blackout screens to rations, the stress and strain felt in everyday Kent during World War II is plain. The two siblings want to settle in and get close to their new family, but unexpected events caused by the war force them to adapt yet again, coming in close quarters with new neighbors and learning more about history than they ever had before. The War I Finally Won is the sequel to Bradley’s Newbery Honor–winning The War That Saved My Life, but can stand alone.

Stellaluna by Jenell Cannon

Stellaluna by Jenell Cannon (ages 2-8) – While out searching for food, fruit bat Stellaluna and her mother are attacked by a vicious owl. Stellaluna is separated from Mother Bat and taken in by a family of birds where she must put aside her bat habits to fit in with her new family. But one fateful flight when she is separated from her adoptive siblings, Stellaluna is reunited with her bat family and learns that even though we’re different, we’re very much the same. A classic children’s book, Stellaluna is delightful story about temporary family.

WISE Up Powerbook

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 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.

A Different Home

A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story by Kelly DeGarmo (age 5-10) – A picture book telling the story of a young girl named Jessie as she adjusts to being placed in foster care and her new home. Written in simple language with beautiful illustrations, A Different Home is designed to help children in foster care, or moving to foster care, settle in and answer some of the questions they may have. It is accompanied by notes for adults on how to use the story with children.

Under His Wing

Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted, Orphaned, and Waiting Children’s Hearts by Sherrie Eldridge & Beth Willis Miller (ages 10+) – This religious curriculum is meant for children 9 and older. Written by adult adoptees, it uses the story of Moses to help adoptees work through issues surrounding their relinquishment and adoption. The comparisons to the best known biblical adoptee are designed to give kids hope and helps them to realize that there is a way to get through seemingly impossible sadness, depression, and anger.

Murphy's Three Homes

Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman and Kathy O’Malley (ages 3-8) – This book tells the story of a puppy named Murphy who is moved from place to place until he ends up at a home where he is loved and cared for. It is written for foster children, but it could also be used to introduce siblings to the concept of foster care adoption.

A Foster-Adoption Story

A Foster-Adoption Story: Angela and Michael’s Journey – A Therapeutic Workbook for Traumatized Children by Regina M. Kupecky and Christine Mitchell (ages 5-11) – A Foster-Adoption Story tells the story of Angela and Michael, a brother and sister, from their abusive birth family through the foster care system to their eventual adoption. They experience abuse, neglect, multiple foster care moves and sibling separation before eventually being adopted. The workbook is designed to foster discussions about the child’s time in the foster care system, multiple moves, separation issues, loyalty issues and siblings. A useful therapeutic tool to help children process their experiences and grief along the path to healing.

Finding the Right Spot

Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live With Their Parents by Janice Levy (ages 6-10) – The story of a young girl living with her foster parent, Finding the Right Spot poignantly captures the emotional ups and downs of being separated from her mother and living in unfamiliar surroundings. A great story about disappointment and reconciliation for all kids who can’t live with their parents, regardless of the circumstances. An afterward by Jennifer Wilgocki, MS, and Marcia Kahn Wright, PhD, discusses the emotional experience of children who are in foster care, kinship care, or otherwise not living with their parents, and the vital support that the adults in their lives can offer.

Family Day

Family Day: Celebrating Ethan’s Adoption Anniversary by Christine Mitchell (ages 4-8) – Family Day is the story of five year old Ethan and his family celebrating the one year anniversary of his adoption and discuss his birth family and adoption journey. Ethan’s joyful, yet curious approach to his special day brilliantly captures the feelings of foster care children wanting to be a part of an adopted family while also grieving the loss of their birth family. The book is an excellent way to start a discussion about why families might be motivated to adopt, how the process occurs, and the varied feelings associated with adoption.

Welcome Home, Forever Child

Welcome Home, Forever Child: A Celebration of Children Adopted as Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Beyond by Christine Mitchell (ages 2-8) – Author Christine Mitchell adopted her daughter from foster care at age four, and struggled to find a book that reflected her daughter’s journey to adoption. This book focuses on and celebrates the adoption of children after infancy. It is geared to help parents reassure children of their permanent place in the new family, and of how much they are wanted and loved.

And That's Why She's My Mama

And That’s Why She’s My Mama by Tiarra Nazario (ages 2-7) – This charming story celebrates diversity not only in family appearance, but in family size. It lets kids know that moms are wonderful, no matter what they look like or who they are, because moms take care of you no matter what. It’s not specifically about adoption, but it is about nontraditional families, and includes families formed through adoption and foster care.

Families Change

Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights (Kids Are Important series) by Julie Nelson (ages 4-7) – All families change and this book focuses on helping children know it is not their fault. The book reminds children that they can remember and value their birth family while also loving their new family. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers.

Kids Need to be Safe

Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Julie Nelson (ages 4-7) – Kids need safe places to live which, for some kids, means living with foster parents. In simple words and pictures, this book explains why some kids move to foster homes, what foster parents do and ways kids might feel during foster care. It also addresses the common fear that children are in foster care because of their bad behavior, making clear that the troubles in their lives are not their fault.

A Family Is a Family Is a Family

A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary (ages 4-7) – A heartwarming and whimsical story about accepting all types of family. The story starts with a kindergarten teacher asking her students to think about what makes their family special, a nerve-wracking assignment for a young girl in foster care who worries that her family is too different from her classmates. However, she soon learns that all her classmates’ families are different. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of step-siblings, and another has a new baby. As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them, the girl realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special. A wonderful book to introduce children to families that look different from their own, and to reassure adopted and foster children that there’s nothing wrong with their family looking different from others.

My Foster Care Journey

My Foster Care Journey by Beth O’Malley (ages 2-8) – A “ready-made” lifebook suitable for any child who has spent time in foster care. It captures essential information of the child’s journey and helps them make sense of their life. My Foster Care Journey is spiral bound and has 27 fill-in-the-blank pages, allowing foster parents to work quickly, and can complement any permanent goal (i.e.guardianship, runification, adoption).

For When I'm Famous

For When I’m Famous: A Foster/Adopt Teen LifeBook by Beth O’Malley (10+) – A workbook designed for the teen or tween who is tired of talk therapy, yet needs help with their complicated history of abuse/multiple moves. It has 31 fill-in-the-blank pages, starting with their birthday party invite list and ending with dreams for the future, and includes space for 14 different moves. This lifebook is geared towards older kids who are thinking about their future, their friends, school, activities, and their interests.

Elliot by Julie Pearson

Elliot by Julie Pearson (ages 5-8) – Elliot’s parents love him very much, but all is not well. One day a social worker named Thomas comes to visit, and Elliot’s world turns upside-down. The new families that care for the little boy are kind, but everything is strange and new, and the sudden changes make him want to cry and yell AND misbehave. Then, when it becomes clear that Elliot’s parents will never be able to take him back, Thomas sets out to find Elliot one last home – a forever, forever home with a family that will love and care for him no matter what. A sweet book to explain the foster care system to a kid, especially the transition to foster-to-adopt.

Three Little Words

Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter (age 13+) – The inspiring true story of the tumultuous nine years Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent in the foster care system, and how she triumphed over painful memories and real-life horrors to ultimately find her own voice. Ashley was removed from her mother at the age of four and spent the next nine years bouncing between fourteen different foster homes before finally finding her forever family. Three Little Words chronicles the trauma of being removed from her mother through the difficulties of foster care and the horror of an abusive foster family while also showing the need for compassion from everyone involved in foster care.


Sometimes… A Story of Transition For Foster and Adopted Children by Keri Vellis (ages 4-7) – Author Keri Vellis, a mother of six by birth and foster care adoption, wrote Sometimes… after she was unable to find age-appropriate books about foster care to read to her own children. Sometimes… follows the story of a timid foster child and a teddy bear as they learn about their new home. The book acknowledges that this transition can be frightening and is designed to help children understand and feel safe along their journey, all while providing comfort and acceptance into their new environment.

When I was Little

When I Was Little… A Child’s Journey in Overcoming Abuse & Trauma by Keri Vellis (ages 4-7) – Keri Vellis’s second book is written for children who have suffered from abuse or trauma. It tells the story of a child who struggles with emotions and learns to share difficult feelings and experiences with trusted individuals, eventually finding comfort and security in a safe and loving environment. An excellent tool for discussing difficult life experiences with young foster children.

Waiting to Forget

Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch (ages 10+) – A poignant story about two siblings who have been adopted from foster care but have not let go of their difficult past. The story is told from eleven-year old T.J.’s point of view, shifting between his memories of neglect and abuse and the uncertainty and struggles of the present day. A touching, heart-breaking read about survival, second chances and moving beyond the past to a better future.

Maybe Days

Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright (ages 4-7) – For many kids in the foster system, the answer to their questions is often maybe. Maybe Days is a straightforward look at the issues of foster care, the questions that children ask, and the feelings that they confront. The book also explains in simple terms the responsibilities of everyone involved – parents, social workers, lawyers and judges.

Home At Last

Home at Last by Vera B. Williams (ages 6-9) – After Lester is adopted by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, he develops a big problem—he can’t fall asleep. Night after night he creeps into his parents’ room and attempts to crawl in between his two daddies, confident that if he’s with them and their dog, Wincka, nothing bad will happen to him ever again. But no matter how happy Lester seems during the day, he still gets scared and worried at night! Appropriate for foster care or older child adoption, Home at Last touches on the range of emotions Lester feels as he learns to trust his new parents.

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 Image credit: Rodrigo Galindez