Recommended Reading | The Village Family Service Center

The Village Family Service Center

Recommended Reading

The following reading resources are recommended for parents considering adoption. At the bottom is a list of resources appropriate for children:

  • 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas Phelan, PhD. Phelan’s method helps parents improve their children’s behavior and eliminate power struggles. Many families consider this book a lifesaver.
  • Adoption: A Handful of Hope by Suzanne Arms (Berkley, California: Celestial Arts, 1990) gives personal accounts of adoption and what it means to those individuals touched by adoption today.
  • Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It by Ray Guarendi. Guarendi, psychologist, husband and father of 10 adopted children, considers the most commonly asked adoption questions with insight, humor and a heart for the adoptive family. His aim? To dispel unsettling misperceptions about adoption, to encourage others to think about and act on adoption, and to guide adoptive parents to a more relaxed, rewarding family life for all involved.
  • Adoption Is a Family Affair! by Patricia Irwin Johnston. This book is a tool for helping those who care about us “get real” about our families and our future.
  • Adoption Parenting edited by Jean Macleod and Sheena Macrae. Easy-to-read reference book that comes from many sources. You will find practical advice on every imaginable topic.
  • Adoption Without Fear by James L. Gritter (San Antonio, Texas: Corona Press, 1989) includes the experiences of 17 couples who tell their accounts of open adoption, how they overcame their fears and came to embrace this new form of adoption.
  • Becoming Parents: How to Strengthen Your Marriage as Your Family Grows by Pamela L. Jordan, Scott M. Stanley & Howard J. Markman. Keeping your marriage intact and strong to support your growing family and the changes that occur with parenting.
  • Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control by Heather Forbes and B. Bryan Post, Ph.D. Clear explanations for troubling behaviors and practical strategies parents can put into place immediately.
  • Brown Babies, Pink Parents by Amy Ford. Amazing resource for transracial adoptive families. Along with insightful anecdotes, this book carries much practical information for white parents raising black kids.
  • Caring for your Baby & Young Child, Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Children of Open Adoption by Kathleen Silber and Patricia Martinez Dorner (San Antonio, Texas: Corona Press) presents two pioneers in the field of open adoption with evidence on how children in open adoption are doing. Examines actual adoption experiences and follows children from infancy to teens.
  • The Color of Man by Robert Cohen. Helpful information for the interracial family. Easy reading.
  • The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, PhD, David Cross, PhD, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine. This book will give a new understanding to your child who was adopted from another country. The authors explain how living in an institution and coming home to a foreign country affect a child.
  • Dear Birthmother Thank You for our Baby by Kathleen Silber and Phylis Speedlin (San Antonio, Texas: Corona Press, 1991, updated since) is a classic collection of letters passed back and forth between birthparents and adoptive families.
  • Dim Sum, Bagels and Grits: A Sourcebook for Multicultural Families by Myra Alperson. This book offers personal as well as professional insights into such topics as combining cultures, confronting prejudice, developing role models, and locating multicultural resources.
  • The Family of Adoption by Joyce Maguire Pavao. This indispensable book examines the ways children process adoption at different developmental stages. You will reach for it more than any other.
  • Hospitious Adoption: How Hospitality Empowers Children and Transforms Adoption by James Gritter. Building on his previous books, which promote the inclusion of birthparents, Gritter takes the approach that practicing goodwill, respect, and courage within the realm of adoption makes the process move smoother and enriches children's lives.
  • In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption: A Guide for Relatives and Friends by Elizabeth O’Toole. This is the book for the grandparents and best friends, colleagues and neighbors, aunts and uncles, teachers and caregivers of contemporary adoptive families. It offers advice, information and insights into contemporary adoption – especially for readers who are not themselves adoptive parents.
  • In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda. This book collects the results of interviews conducted with black and biracial young adults who were adopted as children by white parents. Their personal stories bring an insider’s viewpoint to the issues of transracial adoption.
  • Inside Transracial Adoption by Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg. This incredibly rich resource isn’t the easiest book to read, but it’s well worth the effort.
  • Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O’Malley. Creating a lifebook for your child can be a daunting task. O’Malley guides you through it.
  • Loved by Choice by Susan Horner & Kelly Fordyce Martindale. A heart-warming perspective on many aspects of adoption. Personal stories address each member of a triad. From birth parents to adoptive parents stories of how adoption, through the grace of God has positively affected their lives. 
  • Loving Across the Color Line: A White Adoptive Mother Learns About Race by Sharon E. Rush. In this moving, heartfelt memoir of a mother and daughter’s loving relationship, the author describes how her eyes were opened to the harsh realities of the American social divide. Only by living with her daughter through day-to-day encounters did she learn that racism was far more devastating to Blacks than most Whites can ever image.
  • Making Room in Our Hearts by Micky Duxbury. Interviews with professionals, birthparents, adoptive parents, and children put open adoption into perspective for all involved.
  • Of Many Colors: Portraits of Multiracial Families by Peggy Gillespie. This book tells the stories of 39 families who have bridged the racial divide through adoption or interracial marriage. In these pages, parents and children speak candidly about their lives, their relationships, and the ways in which they have dealt with issues of race.
  • The Open Adoption Book by Bruce M. Rappaport (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1992) is a comprehensive guide to the experience of open adoption. It has been called an exciting exploration of the most modern form of adoption today and a view into adoption practices of the future.
  • Open Adoption: A Caring Option by Jeanne Warren Lindsay (Buena Park, California: Morning Glory Press, 1988) speaks about the practice of openness in adoption, citing real-life experiences. Helps everyone understand this trend toward more openness, honesty, and trust among those participating in adoption.
  • The Open Adoption Experience by Lois Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia (Harper Collins, 1993.) Two leading experts provide an authoritative and reassuring guide to the issues and concerns of adoptive and birth families through all stages of the open adoption relationship.
  • Openness in Adoption: Exploring Family Connections by Harold D. Grotevant & Ruth G. McRoy. Provides recent longitudinal research findings about the practice of open adoption and the impact on participants. 
  • Parenting with Love and Logic, Teaching Children Responsibility by F. Cline & J. Fay; NavPress
  • The Post-Adoption Blues by Karen Foli, PhD and John Thompson, MD. Post-adoption depression is a real condition, but it’s no often written or talked about. This standout book offers support, understanding, and solutions.
  • Racism Explained to My Daughter by Tahar Ben Jelloun. This is a father’s thoughtful responses to his daughter’s questions about race, accompanied by insightful essays.
  • The Spirit of Open Adoption by James L. Gritter (San Antonio, Texas: Corona Press, 1997). A candid, intensely personal and highly readable account of an agency that switched from closed to open adoptions in 1980. The author, an outspoken and ardent advocate for openness in adoption, warns that adoption seems to be moving from a professional service to a moneymaking business.
  • What to Expect: The Toddler Years by Heidi Murkoff. This isn’t an adoption book, but it is invaluable to a first-time mom. It will help distinguish normal behavior from expectations.
  • You Can Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption by Julie Gumm. Author shares proven strategies from her own experience as well as from others that include applying for grants, creative budgeting, and fundraising that prospective adoptive parents can use to prepare for and avoid those high costs associated with adoption.

Children's Books on Adoption

  • A Family for Baby Bear by Kevin Fletcher-Velasco.

  • A Plan in My Heart by Mary Grossnickle.

  • Adoptive Families are for Keeps by Lissa Cowan. Tara, the main character in this book is moving from her foster home to an adoptive placement. Young readers can share her story through the coloring and activity pages.

  • At Home in This World – A China Adoption Story by Jean MacLeod. This is the honest, lyrical reflection of a pre-adolescent girl on what she knows of her adoption from China and the strength she gains from her acceptance of her bittersweet experience.

  • Black Is Brown Is Tan by Arnold Adoff. This warm, loving story was the first children’s book to feature an interracial family.  A generation after its first printing, it’s still a must-have.

  • Borya and the Burps by Joan McNamara. This refreshing tale is one of the few to acknowledge the differences between parents’ and children’s experiences of adoption.

  • Carla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman. This book reminds us that the unusual doesn’t have to be bad, it can in fact, be surprisingly terrific if we give it a chance.

  • The Color of Us by Karen Katz. This story explores how everyone in the neighborhood is a different shade of brown – from peanut butter to chocolate – and does a great job of subtly explaining that people are all different shades of the same color. 

  • The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf (Random House)

  • Dizzy by Jonah Winter. This biography of African-American jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie is an inspiring story of overcoming abuse and using music to transform anger.  Beautifully illustrated, this story is a great conversation starter about how to handle anger toward birth parents

  • Every Year on Your Birthday by Rose Lewis. In this follow-up to the wildly popular "I Love You Like Crazy Cakes," we learn how the story’s heroine and her single mom celebrated birthdays 1 through 5.

  • Every Little Thing adapted by Cedella Marley. Beautifully illustrated book based on “Three Little Birds,” by her father, Bob Marley, and can be either read or sung to the song. The emphasis on regulating stress provides a model for kids to deal with their emotions about being adopted.

  • Everyone Serves Soup by Norah Dooley (Carolrhoda Books, Inc.)

  • Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee. Multiculturalism is woven so naturally into the illustrations of babies and families.

  • Families by Susan Kuklin. Kuklin celebrates the diversity of American Families in her fun-to-read, fun-to-see book. The publisher recommends this book for children ages 4 through 8 but easily extends through age 12.

  • Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez. Story of a teenager growing up in rural Vermont. Milly was adopted from an unspecified South American country with a history of violence against its people. This book is a window into the shadow life children may lead even when their parents work to enhance an understanding of adoption and their culture.

  • God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren. When Little Fox asks his mother to tell his favorite story, Mama Fox recounts the day he arrived in her life, from God to her arms.

  • Hairs Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros (Random House)

  • Happy Adoption Day! by John McCutcheon. Hands-down, a favorite book celebrating adoption. The text would work for any child of any race, adopted from any place, by one or by two parents – it’s brilliant in its simplicity.

  • Horace by Holly Keller. In this book for young children, readers meet a little leopard who’s being raised by tigers. Horace expressed a wish to find his biological parents.

  • I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race Conscious World by Marguerite A. Wright.

  • In My Heart by Molly Bang. As mom heads off to work, she assures her child that he stays in her heart throughout the day. Delightful text and vibrant illustrations make this a cozy read-aloud for bedtime or anytime.

  • It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr. This book’s title says it all. The bold, cheerful, kid-friendly illustrations drive home the message.

  • Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester. Lester discusses race as an aspect of identify, in an engaging tone, with appealing illustrations.

  • Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou. Poetic words are illustrated with abstract paintings by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Reading it can encourage a child to open up about his fears and emotions.

  • Megan’s Birthday Tree by Laurie Lears. When Megan learns that her birthmother is getting married, she’s afraid of being forgotten. One of the few children’s books on this topic, this book portrays a healthy, open adoption realistically and with charm.

  • Motherbridge of Love by Xinran. This book is beautifully illustrated, and so touching.

  • The Mulberry Bird Story of an Adoption by Anne Braff Brodzinsky (Perspective Press). A book for ages 5-10 with the story of the love for her baby that led a birthmother to make difficult decisions. Designed to answer children’s questions about why they were adopted.

  • My Mei Mei by Ed Young. A little girl who couldn’t wait to become a big sister needs some time to grow into the role. Young accompanies this sweet tale, based on his family’s own story, with some of the most stunning illustrations ever to grace a children’s book.

  • Never Never Never Will She Stop Loving You by Jolene Durant. For ages 4-8.

  • Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be by Robert Ballard. Ages 10-18.

  • Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story by Lori Rosove. Story of belonging in a family, despite differences. Gives an understanding of how friends and family members who were adopted may be feeling. Helps explain adoption to friends and relatives’ children.

  • Sam’s Sister By Juliet C. Bond. Represents the emotional aspects of open adoption from a child’s prospective. 

  • Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney. This gorgeous book of photographs celebrates the beauty of African-American children.

  • The Rainbow Egg by Linda Hendricks.

  • The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas. This book encourages children to talk about and accept racial differences.

  • Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis. Wonderful story of a private, domestic adoption can be used as a conversation starter with any child about his or her adoption story.

  • Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner. Charming storybook, narrated by a young boy. Great for international adoptees.

  • We See the Moon by Carrie Kitze. Ages 4-8.

  • We Wanted You by Liz Rosenberg. The story begins at Enrique’s high school graduation, and unfolds through a flashback to his birth, adoption, and happy childhood. Parents will appreciate the poignant narrative as much as their kids do.

  • We’re Different, We’re The Same by Bobbi Kates. This wonderful book reminds us that, even though our outward appearances may be different, we’re really similar.

  • Where are My Birth Parents: A Guide for Teenage Adoptees by K. Gravelle and S. Fischer. Ages 13-18.


Our adoption services are provided through a partnership between The Village Family Service Center and Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. We offer adoption servicespost-adoption search and disclosure services, and pregnancy counseling, with locations in Fargo, Grand Forks, Williston, Minot, and Bismarck.