International Adoption

Suggested books for kids adopted from china

I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie Kitze (ages 2-5).

Maya’s Journey Home by Susan Lindsley and Tina Christiansen (ages 3-6) – When this book arrived in the mail, my 13-year-old daughter picked it up to read while I was cooking dinner. “Aww, this is so sweet” was her assessment, and I agree. This sweet book tells the story of how two little pandas in a Chinese orphanage find their forever families. The bright watercolor illustrations are wonderful.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis (ages 4-8) is based on Lewis’s adoption of her daughter. It starts with a letter to Chinese officials and ends with Lewis taking her new daughter back to America to meet her new family. I Love You Like Crazy Cakes is full of beautiful illustrations and offers abundant reassurances of love to adopted children.

We See the Moon

We See the Moon by Carrie Kitze (ages 4-8) – Wonderful book to open the birthparent and adoption dialog between parent and child. This is a story written from the child’s perspective, asking the questions that dwell in their hearts about their birthparents…What do you look like? Where are you now? Do you think of me? It will help children use the moon as a private tool to connect with a family that is always with them in their hearts.

The White Swan Express

The White Swan Express: A Story about Adoption by Jean Okimoto and Elaine Aoki (ages 4-8) – Tells the Chinese adoption story of both couples and singles.

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.


My China Workbook by Beth O’Malley (ages 6-10) – An interactive tool redesigned for school-age children to help them explore what it means to be adopted.


When You Were Born in China by Sara Dorow (ages 6-teens) – Photo essay of a Chinese adoption.


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.


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.


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.


Kids Like Me in China by Ying Ying Fry (ages 9-up) – This book is written by an eight year old who returned to visit the orphanage she lived in. Great pictures and story.


Arthur: Big Brother Binky is a fantastic DVD on international adoption. Arthur’s best friend, Binky, is about to become a big brother. His parents are adopting a baby from China. I just love this DVD.

Image credit: Trey Ratcliff
books for kids adopted from korea

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.

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.

We Adopted You, Benjamin Koo!

We Adopted You, Benjamin Koo by Linda Walvoord Girard (ages 4-8).

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.

Chinese Eyes

Chinese Eyes by Marjorie Waybill (ages 4-8) – Addresses how to handle hurtful comments.

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.

When You Were Born in Korea

When You Were Born in Korea by Brian Boyd (6-teens) – Photo essay.

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

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (ages 9-12) – A story about an orphan girl raised in 12th century Korea.

When My Name Was Keoko

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park (ages 9-12) – Two siblings search for and try to maintain their cultural identity in Japanese-occupied Korea.

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.

Dreaming of a World

Dreaming a World: Korean Birth Mothers Tell Their Stories by Sangsoon Han (ages 12-adult) – A collection of stories from Korean Birth Mothers about their experience of giving up a child for adoption.

I Wish for you a Beautiful Life

I Wish for You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children edited by Sara Dorow (ages 12-adult).

Transracial adoptions book recommendations

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. This is not a children’s book, but would be appropriate for teens. It would be particularly powerful for parents and teen to read together. It shows a diversity of feeling and captures the experience of transracial/transcultural adoption from people who have lived the experience. As one adult adoptee said: “It was touching and heartbreaking and very healing for me.”

Image Credit: travel oriented
books for kids adopted from latin america

I am Latino, the Beauty in Me

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: An Adoption Tale

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz (ages 2-8). Story of parents flying to a far away place to pick up their baby girl.

We Wanted You

We Wanted You by Liz Rosenberg (ages 4-10) – Story of a little boy from Latin America growing up.

Carolyn's Story: A Book about an Adopted Girl

 Carolyn’s Story: A Book about an Adopted Girl by Perry Schwartz (ages 4-10) – Story of a girl adopted from Latin America.

Image credit: Vytautas Š?rys
Books for kids africa

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.

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.

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.

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books for kids adopted from russia


Mishka (2-8) by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista – A Russian adoption as told through the eyes of a stuffed bear.

Borya and the Burps

Borya and the Burps: An Eastern European Adoption Story by Joan McNamara (ages 3-6) – Cute tale from the child’s perspective written by my friend Joan, a kind, compassionate woman who is both an adoptive mom and an adoption social worker.

Adoption is Okay

Adoption Is Okay by Sylvia Rohde (ages 3-10) – Tells the story of a Russian adoption.

When I Met You

When I Met You by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista (ages 3-8).

Image credit: BillDamon
books for kids adopted from vietnam

Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Sugarman

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.”

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.

When You Were Born in Vietnam by Therese Bartlett (ages 6-teens) – Photo essay.

Image credit: Andrea Schaffer

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