We all know the importance of reading to your kids at an early age. Medical experts now say we should start reading to them as early as an infant. Reading engages your child’s mind and prepares them for future events. It also leads to logical thinking skills, helps acclimate children to new experiences, and also enriches family ties and bonding between the parent and child. This is not new information to most parents and this principle goes for any child of any age. Yet when one or more child come into your family via adoption, the importance of reading books specifically focusing on the topic of adoption is at a heightened level.
When my husband and I knew we were planning to adopt, we wanted to educate ourselves as much as possible on adoption, and found ourselves regularly attending an annual conference about all aspects of adoption. In one of the seminars, a question was posed to a psychologist, “When do you tell your child they were adopted?” The question was simple, yet you could hear a pin drop because the room was full of anxious ears of parents wanting to know the exact answer. I for one had a pen in my hand ready to write some extremely rich and complex answer down in my note pad. What he said surprised us all with the simplest yet most profound answer: “A child should begin to know their adoption story as early as you begin to teach them that they are a boy or a girl.”
The subtlety of this answer struck me hard and I found myself not moving my pen but taking in that concept. For our family, we held our first born an hour after her birth mothers C-section, and we brought her home 48 hours later. I knew I didn’t want to one day drop a bomb of hidden details on her, but prior to this conference I did not know how or when to start the dialog of adoption with her and I think I overcomplicated the idea. Walking away from this conference with this golden information made my husband and I realize how much we wanted to stock our shelves with kids books about adoption.And we did. And our friends and family helped. We began reading books to our daughter about adoption as early as 6 months old.
Fast forward 2 years and my beautiful, crazy princess is now a toddler. I know there will be sensitive conversations that will take place in the future as she gets older. I know these books don’t address all of the important topics or upcoming conversations head on, but what I do know is that the topic of adoption will be commonplace around our house and the door is already open to discuss freely. As a mom, I don’t have to wonder when I should introduce my child to the story line of adoption. This has been introduced through many of the books we read. Through this, we have lightly begun to start the conversations. Of course she does not grasp the full picture of adoption yet, but the family model of adoption has been discussed often in these wonderful books and I have hope and a strong hunch that this preparation will only be beneficial for her and for us as parents.
In full transparency, I have fears. It is hard to read these books at times. Maybe the difficulty is for me because I have vulnerability in me that wonder if she will love me the same once she grasps it all, or if she will feel rejection or a sense of abandonment of any kind. Currently any difficulties are on me, never her. She loves the books. In fact, she brings them to me to read to her over any Dr. Seuss book.
So after two years of collecting many adoption books, here are our favorites to share. The great news is that there are a lot of options out there; however, there are a select few which I feel trump the rest.
This book is beautifully written and with underlying Christian metaphors. This book does reference a metaphor that correlates with initial infertility, which may not be in every family’s story; it’s not part of mine, yet the book relates to any mom who received her child through adoption. Fair warning, you will get choked up at the beauty and truth in this book. It has beautiful simplicity for children but also has deep beautiful layers of complexity that any mom or dad can relate to.
“This was the moment little tree had waited for all her life. It did not matter that the fruit branch came from another tree. From the moment the Farmer grafted the bud to her limb, she loved it as her own. The farmers plan was better than she imagined. “
The story line points toward an international adoption; however the book is wonderful for any child and their adoption story. The art work is vivid and beautiful. I have thought strongly about buying a second book just to rip out the pages to frame and decorate a kid’s room with. This book emphasizes how this child was dreamed for. It not only depicts the parent’s excitement but also their closest friends and family who are all waiting to meet this child.
“That night they took the baby home….Forever and always we will be your mommy and daddy. Forever and always you will be our child.”
This is my daughter’s favorite book so of course it has to be in the top 5. Although adoption is not specifically mentioned, it is implied, and it specifically celebrates families who have different nationalities/ethnicities under one roof. My toddler is beginning to notice her hair is different than mine and her little sister’s. This story helps to put words to her thoughts and I see her mind working and processing when we are reading it. The book mentions one sister’s beautiful curly hair that goes “boing, boing, boing” and another sister’s hair is “straight, straight, straight.” The artwork is almost psychedelic, and the story line is simple yet fun. It is not fancy, not deep, but is important in its own right. The story line celebrates 2 girls who are sisters: one with thick course curly hair, and one with fine thin blond hair. It then goes on to celebrate the different skin tones. It really is a wonderful book.
“”My little sister has the prettiest big brown eyes. Her eye lashes are really long. They curl up, up, up. Mommy says my sister’s eyes melt her heart…..Mommy says that my eyes are the color of the bright happy sky: Blue, Blue, Blue!”
This book spells out how much the child was always wanted, loved and wished for. Another strong message displayed is the respect and honor they give the birth mother in the story line. Giving honor to the birth mother no matter the past, is also giving honor to your child, so this theme is of importance. The main characters in this book are two bears; however, the topic of transracial adoption is touched on which can always be of benefit if your child has a different race than you as the parent.
“Why did you wish for me mama?…..Because, explained mama, I had an empty place in my heart that I wanted to fill with love for a special child like you. Someone who would be my cuddly little one and I would be his Mama.”
Create Your Own Book
Yes you, even if you are not the parent! Write a book from your point of view, meeting the child, and how excited you were. Your child would LOVE this!
Every adoption story is different. Sometimes the birth mother chose the family. Sometimes the child was adopted via the foster care system. Sometimes the child is from another country. There is not one book that is going to hit every detail of your child’s story in the way that you can. Keep in mind that if you are going to write a book, always tells the truth. If the child’s birth mother did not choose the parents, make sure you do not embellish or falsify anything. Even if you are doing it out of kind motives this will cause greater harm down the road. The truth is always important. Of course, remember that your audience is a child. At times your adoption story may have details that are not yet appropriate for a child’s mind to grasp, but tell their story in a way that is 100% truthful and from your point of view. This book can be on construction paper with pictures taped on. You don’t have to get fancy. This will be the best adoption book they could receive.
Each of these books is beautifully written while dealing with a topic that is delicate. These books are the icebreaker to my child’s story. They help us explain to her how much we wished and wanted and prayed for her before we ever met her.
If I am honest with myself … these books touch me as a mom because they are about my story as a parent too.