International Adoption

International Adoption

Featured Books:


The Jade Dragon by Carolyn Marsden and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh (ages 8-12) – This is a fairly easy to read chapter book about two Chinese American girls. One girl was born in America to Chinese immigrants and the other girl was born in China and adopted by an American family. The girls are in second grade so I think it would be appropriate for 8 year olds rather than waiting until the suggested age of 9. After some initial reluctance the girls become friends and develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be Chinese-American.

Finding Family in a Far-Away Land by Amanda Wall (ages 4-8) – This is a thoughtful, sometimes light-hearted story of how two children can experience the same thing but respond differently. Ari and Priya are adopted from India into a diverse new family and a new country. The book provides a glossary cultural terms so readers can also learn facts about the characters’ Indian culture. This book is a good resource for families who want to learn together about how people process their stories. It hopes to open conversations for adoptees to process their own adoption story.

New Clothes for New Year's Day

New Clothes for New Year’s Day (ages 3-6) by Hyun-joo Bae – This is not an adoption book, but a great way to introduce Korean culture. This beautiful picture book shows a young Korean girl welcoming in the New Year in classic Koran style. It’s nice to have a book that features Korean New Year celebration rather than the Chinese New Year.

Bee-Bim Bop!

Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park. (ages 4-7) – Oh, I love this book, and not just because I love the dish. A busy Korean mom and her young daughter prepare bee bim bop for dinner. In addition to learning about a traditional Korean dish, you’ll also get a picture of Korean family life.

Asian Children's Favorite Stories

Asian Children’s Favorite Stories: A Treasury of Folktales from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia by David Conger, Patrick Yee, Marian Davies Toth, and Kay Lyons (ages 4-8) – A collection of 13 stories from several Asian countries. Note: a bear’s violent death is depicted in one of the tales.

Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Sugarman (ages 4-8) – On the eve of adopting a baby girl from Vietnam, a Jewish family reflects on their happy preparations for her arrival and their eagerness for her to become an addition to their family, as well as a blessed part of the Jewish people. Brothers Jacob and Gabriel raise the points that their new sister will be Vietnamese, Jewish and American all at the same time. It’s a good look at how to honor an adopted child’s birth culture while also including her in her new culture. “Now the baby had three names. She had a Vietnamese Name: Le Thi Hong. She had an English name: Rebecca Rose. And she had a Hebrew name: Rivka Shoshanah.”

Additional Books:

Waiting for May

Waiting for May by Janet Morgan Stoeke (ages 5+) – Written from the perspective of a brother awaiting the adoption of his new little sister from China, this book is can be used to introduce siblings to the idea of adoption, or explain the Chinese adoption process to a child adopted from China.


Finding Joy by Marion Coste (ages 5-8) – This book explain the reason why baby girls are abandoned in China in a non judgemental way. The book also talks about the joys and concern of the prospective adoptive parents. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful.


Three Names of Me by Mary Cummings (ages 8-11) – This is a sweet story told from the perspective of a girl adopted from China. The title derives from her explanation of why she has three names (one unknown from her birth parents, one from the orphanage, and one from her parents). The emphasis in on the love between parent and child, but it also addresses the love between birth mother/first mother and child.


An-Ya and her Diary by Diane René Christian (ages 9+) – Story of a pre-teen child adopted from China. It tackles issues of adoptee loss, race and challenges along the attachment journey. The novel is told in diary format and chronicles ‘An-Ya’ as she transitions from life in a Chinese orphanage to life in the United States. It is suitable for tweens/teens and adults.

Equalland: Where Everyone Equally Matters by Romi Nation (ages 2-12) – A rhyming story about a beautiful land where all are welcome. The characters a diverse group of children who show us that our differences make us unique and can unite us in beautiful ways. The book opens conversations about diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and kindness. Transracial adoptive, foster, and kinship families will appreciate seeing themselves in the families of the book.

Babies Can't Eat Kimchee!

Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee! by Nancy Patz (ages 4-7) – This is the tale of a big sis and a new baby and has nothing to do with adoption. The big sister recites what she can do that the baby can’t. The family is Korean American and through the story you get to know more about Korean culture.

The Land of the Dragon King

The Land of the Dragon King and Other Korean Stories by Gillian McClure (ages 4-8) – Collection of nine Korean folk tales suitable for younger readers.

Land of the Morning Calm: Korean Culture

Land of Morning Calm: Korean Culture Then and Now by John Stickler (ages 7-teens) – This is the best culture book I’ve found for elementary age kids.

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (ages 10-12) — This novel for young readers is filled with fascinating information about life and art in ancient Korea. The main character, an orphan named Tree-ear, struggles to pay off his debt to a master potter.  Tree-ear experiences shame, fear, gratitude, and love, and the hearts and minds of the characters are not so removed from those of people today.  A Newbery Medal winner, this book is suitable for ages 10-12. 

Tales of a Korean Grandmother

Tales of a Korean Grandmother: 32 Traditional Tales from Korea by Frances Carpenter (ages 9-12) – Collection of traditional Korean folk tales.

Korean Children's Favorite Stories

Korean Children’s Favorite Stories by Kim So-Un and Jeong Kyoung-Sim (ages 9-12) – An older collection of thirteen Korean folk tales that contains new illustrations.

Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies

Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner- “Let me tell the story this time, Momma,” says a 4 year old Asian boy. “Once I was a picture you held in your hand,” he begins, and tells how he “flew through night and moon and stars” to his new home. He was frightened on the plane ride but held tight to the picture of his new family. When he arrived, his parents welcomed him at the airport with open arms. Although this book was more a reflection of older style international adoptions where the child was escorted rather than the parents traveling to bring the child home, it is still a sweet tale and was one of my family’s favorites. The country is not specified, but looks east Asian and is probably Vietnam.

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. 

Featured Books:

I Am Latino: The Beauty in Me by Myles and Sandra Pinkney (ages 2-8) – This is a wonderful picture book celebrating all aspects of being Latino, from the food to the language. This is not an adoption specific book, just an affirmative book for being brown and from a Latin American country.

My Pig Amarillo

My Pig Amarillo by Satomi Ichikawa (ages 2-8) is not an adoption book, but is about All Saints Day in Guatemala and would be a good intro to Guatemalan culture.

Over the Moon

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz (ages 4-8) – This brightly illustrated picture book tells the story of follows a couple’s airplane trip “over the moon and through the night” to a “faraway place” where they adopt a baby girl. Inspired by Katz’s own trip to adopt her daughter from Central America, it’s an excellent tool to read to a young child to introduce adoption, especially international adoption.

Featured Books:

Mommy's Heart Went Pop

Mommy’s Heart Went POP! by Christina Kyllonen and Peter Greer (ages 4-8) – A beautifully illustrated children’s book about adoption from Africa.  It focusses on how excited the parents are to meet their new child and how much they love them.

Africa is Not a Country

Africa Is Not A Country by Margy Burns Knight (ages 6-10) – While not specifically about adoption, Africa Is Not A Country is a celebration of African culture and a great introduction for a child to their birth culture.

Additional Books:

Yafi's Family

Yafi’s Family: an Ethiopian Boy’s Journey of Love, Loss and Adoption by Linda Pettitt (ages 4-8) – The story of a six-year old Ethiopian boy’s adoption.  It focuses on Yafi’s relationship with his family, both his first family in Ethiopia and his new family.  A great book, especially for an older child who has memories of his family.

Many People to Love by Anna Maria DiDio (ages 4-8) — The first book in her “L.I.F.E.” series (Love Inspires Families Everywhere), this beautifully illustrated children’s book explores some of the challenging aspects of an adoptee’s adaptation to a new family and culture. The author draws upon personal experience in this story about how a blended family is created, providing a tool for parents to encourage conversation around the complex and delicate issues for adoptees and their families, teaching that love is what makes a family.  

Featured Books:

Many People to Love by Anna Maria DiDio (ages 4-8) — The first book in her “L.I.F.E.” series (Love Inspires Families Everywhere), this beautifully illustrated children’s book explores some of the challenging aspects of an adoptee’s adaptation to a new family and culture. The author draws upon personal experience in this story about how a blended family is created, providing a tool for parents to encourage conversation around the complex and delicate issues for adoptees and their families, teaching that love is what makes a family.  

Additional Books:

When I Met You

When I Met You by Adrienne Bashista (ages 2-9) — This picture book describes a child’s life before and after she was adopted from Russia.  Based on the author’s personal experiences, it includes scenes from an orphanage in Russia and the child’s Russian birth mother.  A great conversation starter about the unique culture of Russia and the joy that adopting a child brings to a family.

Miska: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Bashista (ages 4-8) — A stuffed bear named Mo and a little boy in Russia wait for the day they’ll go home with a family.  Through Mo, the author expresses the longing and confusion that often surround a child’s adoption as they wait to meet their new parents and go home with them. Seeing adoption through the eyes of a teddy bear allows adopted children a safe way to see themselves, their feelings, and their adoption journey.  They, too, may learn what Mo learns on the last page: I’m right where I belong. 

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